He is the son of Jean Recanati and half-brother of militant Trotskyist Michel Recanati. After secondary studies at the lycee Jacques-Decour and the Sorbonne, he received his degree in philosophy in 1974, he later studied at Oxford and the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), where he became lecturer in the areas of pragmatic linguistics and philosophy of language (1975-1990).
- Meaning and Force: The Pragmatics of Performative Utterances, Cambridge University Press, 1988
- Direct Reference: From Language to Thought, Blackwell Publishers, 1993, 1997
- Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta: An Essay on Metarepresentation, MIT Press, 2000
- Literal Meaning, Cambridge University Press, 2003; ISBN 0521537363
- Perspectival Thought: A Plea for (Moderate) Relativism, Clarendon Press, 2007
- Truth-Conditional Pragmatics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010
- Mental Files, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012; ISBN 978-0-19-965998-2
- Mental Files in Flux, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016; ISBN 978-0-19-879035-8
Recanati's work is analyzed or commented on in various published works, including:
- Saying, Meaning and Referring: Essays on François Recanati's Philosophy of Language edited by Maria Jose Frapolli; Palgrave Macmillan (2007) ISBN 978-1403933287
Jason Stanley of Rutgers University, reviewed Literal Meaning in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. He wrote: " In Recanati (1993, pp. 227-274), he argued that what is intuitively said by an utterance is affected by context in ways that could not be explained by any combination of Chomsky, Montague and Grice (that is, ordinary syntax and semantics, together with Gricean pragmatics). Since the publication of that work, he has been developing this thesis in detail. His arguments for the thesis he calls contextualism are brought together in characteristically clear and concise form in Literal Meaning." Stanley later comments "The problem with Recanati's appeal to circumstances of evaluation to justify incomplete semantic contents is that it is in tension with much of current linguistic research." and sums up: "In this book, Recanati does an extremely impressive job of laying out the interlocking commitments of his favored version of this position. Furthermore, he faces up to these commitments more honestly than almost any other member of the debate."
Kent Bach, of San Francisco State University reviewed Truth-Conditional Pragmatics in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Bach opened his review with the comment that "If you're unfamiliar with the title phrase of François Recanati's latest book, you'll naturally think he's proposing an alternative to truth-conditional semantics. And you'll be right. But not in the way you'd expect. And not in the way he intends." and summed up by saying "Thanks to Recanati's openness to diverse approaches, his fairness in critically examining competing views, his carefully nuanced argumentation, and his general thoroughness, to my mind the main rewards offered by the book Truth-Conditional Pragmatics can be derived by delving into its details. That's what I recommend doing."
- Francois Recanati - Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature
- Stanley, Jason (9 August 2005). "François Recanati: Literal Meaning". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Bach, Kent (31 August 2011). "François Recanati: Truth-Conditional Pragmatics". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 25 September 2013.