Max Kölbel

Universitat de Barcelona (UB)


After two years of studying various subjects at Freie Universität Berlin and acquiring a taste for analytic philosophy, I enrolled at King's College London in 1991, where I subsequently completed an MA (1992), an MPhil (1994) and a PhD (1997) in Philosophy. My first academic appointment was as a postdoc at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas of the UNAM in Mexico City. Later, I held positions at Swansea (UK), Cambridge University (UK), and the University of Birmingham (UK). I have been ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona since January 2008. I am a member of the research group LOGOS ( and contribute to two postgraduate programmes, one in Analytic Philosophy ( and one in Cognitive Science and Language (, the first of which I used to coordinate. My main interests are in philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology and metaethics.

Research interests

My research is in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology and metaethics. I am currently interested in the nature and purpose of semantic theories for natural languages, in the semantics-pragmatics distinction, in the way semantic theories should represent various forms of context dependence (including contextualism/relativism, de se content), in the ways in which language is used to transfer (and possibly generate) knowledge, and in the nature of objectivity.

Selected publications

Kölbel M 2016, ‘Aesthetic judge-dependence and expertise’, Inquiry-an Interdisciplinary Journal Of Philosophy, 59, 6, 589 – 617.

Kölbel M 2016, ‘Moralischer Relativismus’ In Rüther M (ed.) Grundkurs Metaethik: Grundlagen–Positionen–Kontroversen, Münster: Mentis, pp. 91–9.

Selected research activities

In 2016, I completed a collaborative four-year I + D project on Semantic Content and Conversational Dynamics (see I am now embarking on a new project on Foundations and Methods of Natural Language Semantics (jointly with Josep Macià).

“Subjectivity and Objectivity in Thought”, PLM-network workshop on Subjectivity in Thought and Language, 23 September 2016, Barcelona, Spain.

“Explaining what is said with What is Meant”, What is Said—What is Meant. 9–10 September 2016, Humboldt Universität Berlin, Germany.

“Is There Moral Objectivity?”, 21 Sept 2016, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

“What is Objectivity and How is it Possible?”, 20 Sept 2016, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

“Pants on Fire and Knickers in a Twist”, Mind and Language Seminar, 13 Jan 2016, Institut Jean Nicod, École Normale Supérieure Paris, France.