A great deal of discussion in recent philosophy of language has centered on the idea that there might be hidden contextual parameters in our sentences. But relatively little attention has been paid to what those parameters themselves are like, beyond the assumption that they behave more or less like variables do in logic. My goal in this paper is to show this has been a mistake. I shall argue there are at least two very different sorts of contextual parameters. One (...) is indeed basically like variables in logic, but the other is very different, and much more like overt referring expressions. This result is of interest in its own right, to those of us who are concerned to map out the details of the semantic and pragmatic workings of language. But it will have some wider morals as well. One of the important issues behind the debate over hidden parameters has been how we can posit hidden structure in language, and how far such structure can stray from the intuitive forms and contents speakers see in communication. I shall argue that one sort of hidden parameter is surprisingly close to the contents and forms speakers find intuitive, while another is more remote. I shall show that the.. (shrink)
The material account of indicative conditionals faces a legion of counterexamples that are the bread and butter in any entry about the subject. For this reason, the material account is widely unpopular among conditional experts. I will argue that this consensus was not built on solid foundations, since these counterexamples are contextual fallacies. They ignore a basic tenet of semantics according to which when evaluating arguments for validity we need to maintain the context constant, otherwise any argumentative form can be (...) rendered invalid. If we maintain the context fixed, the counterexamples to the material account are disarmed. Throughout the paper I also consider the ramifications of this defence, make suggestions to prevent contextual fallacies, and anticipate some possible misunderstandings and objections. (shrink)
The paper aims to add contextual dependence to the new directival theory of meaning, a functional role semantics based on Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz’s directival theory of meaning. We show that the original formulation of the theory does not have a straight answer on how the meaning of indexicals and demonstratives is established. We illustrate it in the example of some problematic axiomatic and inferential directives containing indexicals. We show that the main reason why developing the new directival theory of meaning in (...) this direction is difficult is that the theory focuses on the notion of a sentence (and not the notion of an utterance). To add the latter notion to the theory, we introduce the idea of admissible contextual distribution being an interpretation of the hybrid expression view on indexicals and demonstratives. We argue that this idea introduces a small but important modification to the concept of language matrix and gives way to define two distinct concepts of meaning: for an expression type and for a use of an expression type. (shrink)
Gillian Russell has recently proposed counterexamples to such elementary argument forms as Conjunction Introduction and Identity. These purported counterexamples involve expressions that are sensitive to linguistic context—for example, a sentence which is true when it appears alone but false when embedded in a larger sentence. If they are genuine counterexamples, it looks as though logical nihilism—the view that there are no valid argument forms—might be true. In this paper, I argue that the purported counterexamples are not genuine, on the grounds (...) that they equivocate. Having defused the threat of logical nihilism, I argue that the kind of linguistic context sensitivity at work in Russell’s purported counterexamples, if taken seriously, far from leading to logical nihilism, reveals new, previously undreamt-of valid forms. By way of proof of concept I present a simple logic, Solo-Only Propositional Logic, designed to capture some of them. Along the way, some interesting subtleties about the fallacy of equivocation are revealed. (shrink)
It is commonly believed that the role of context cannot be ignored in the analysis of conditionals, and counterfactuals in particular. On truth conditional accounts involving possible worlds semantics, conditionals have been analysed as expressions of relative necessity: “If A, then B” is true at some world w if B is true at all the A-worlds deemed relevant to the evaluation of the conditional at w. A drawback of this approach is that for the evaluation of conditionals with the same (...) antecedents at some world, the same worlds are deemed as relevant for all occasions of utterance. But surely this is inadequate, if shifts of contexts between occasions are to be accounted for. Both the linguistic and logical implications of this defect are discussed, and in order to overcome it a modification of David Lewis’ ordering semantics for counterfactuals is developed for a modified language. I follow Lewis by letting contexts determine comparative similarity assignments, and show that the addition of syntactic context parameters (context indices) to the language gives the freedom required to switch between sets of relevant antecedent worlds from occasion to occasion by choosing the corresponding similarity assignment accordingly. Thus an account that extends Lewis’ analysis of a language containing a single counterfactual connective > to a language containing infinitely many counterfactual connectives >_c, each indexed by a different context name c, overcomes the limitations of traditional analyses. Finally it is also shown that these traditional accounts can be recovered from the modified account if certain contextual restrictions are in place. -/- . (shrink)
Natural languages are riddled with context-sensitivity. One and the same string of words can express many different meanings on occasion of use, and yet we understand one another effortlessly, on the fly. How do we do so? What fixes the meaning of context-sensitive expressions, and how are we able to recover the meaning so effortlessly? -/- This book offers a novel response: we can do so because we draw on a broad array of subtle linguistic conventions that determine the interpretation (...) of context-sensitive items. Contrary to the dominant tradition, which maintains that the meaning of context-sensitive language is underspecified by grammar and that interpretation relies on non-linguistic cues and speakers' intentions, this book argues that meaning is determined entirely by discourse conventions, rules of language that have largely been missed and the effects of which have been mistaken for extra-linguistic effects of an utterance situation on meaning. The linguistic account of context developed here sheds new light on the nature of linguistic content and the interaction between content and context. At the same time, it provides a novel model of context that should constrain and help evaluate debates across many subfields of philosophy where appeal to context has been common, often leading to surprising conclusions such as epistemology, ethics, value theory, metaphysics, metaethics, and logic. (shrink)
The popular interpretation of token‐reflexivism states that at the level of logical form, indexicals and demonstratives are disguised descriptions that employ complex demonstratives or special quotation‐mark names involving particular tokens of the appropriate expression‐types. In this article I first demonstrate that this interpretation of token‐reflexivism is only one of many, and that it is better to think of token‐reflexivism as denoting a family of distinct theoretical frameworks. Second, I contrast two interpretations of the idea of the token‐reflexive paraphrase of an (...) indexical sentence. The utterance approach claims that token‐reflexive paraphrases involve tokens of entire utterances. The sub‐utterance approach maintains that token‐reflexive paraphrases involve tokens of the particular indexical words used in the utterance. Next, I pose a problem that shows that neither of the two approaches is correct. The problem shows that the only viable version of the token‐reflexive proposition must somehow take into account the referential intentions of the speaker of the context. Therefore I conclude the article by sketching the framework of restricted intentional token‐reflexivism. I argue that it is an attractive semantic theory of distributed utterances that, among other things, enables automatic and intentional indexicals to be distinguished. (shrink)
The paper presents a new theory of perceptual demonstrative thought, the property-dependent theory. It argues that the theory is superior to both the object-dependent theory (Evans, McDowell) and the object-independent theory (Burge).
Kaplan’s influential (1989) makes a connection between the mode of reference of indexical expressions and the impossibility of a certain sentential operators, which he calls monsters. The impossibility of monsters has recently come under attack from several quarters, both theoretical and empirical. In this paper I consider monsters from a different perspective. I motivate the prohibition on monsters independently of intensional notions altogether, and understand it not as an empirical hypothesis, but as an adequacy criterion on formal systems intended to (...) capture the philosophical notion of direct reference. I show that Kaplan's formalism doesn't live up to this criterion, and sketch in preliminary fashion a formalism that does. (shrink)
I propose an apparatus for handling intrasentential change in context. The standard approach has problems with sentences with multiple occurrences of the same demonstrative or indexical. My proposal involves the idea that contexts can be complex. Complex contexts are built out of (“simple”) Kaplanian contexts by ordered n-tupling. With these we can revise the clauses of Kaplan’s Logic of Demonstratives so that each part of a sentence is taken in a different component of a complex context. I consider other applications (...) of the framework: to agentially distributed utterances (ones made partly by one speaker and partly by another); to an account of scare-quoting; and to an account of a binding-like phenomenon that avoids what Kit Fine calls “the antinomy of the variable.”. (shrink)
In the debate about semantic context dependence, various truth-conditional frameworks have been proposed. Indexicalism, associated with e.g. Jason Stanley, accounts for contextual effects on truth conditions in terms of a rich covert syntax. Truth-conditional pragmatics, associated with e.g. François Recanati, does not locate the mechanisms for context dependence in the syntactic structure but provides a more complex semantics. In this dissertation, the hypothesis that indexicalism and truth-conditional pragmatics are empirically equivalent is explored. The conclusion that the hypothesis is correct emerges, (...) when claims and accounts in the debate are made formally precise, within the framework of model-theoretic semantics. -/- . (shrink)
У статті з’ясовано проблему контекстної логіко-інтелектуальної експресивності та входження її до сфери категорії регулятивності. Із цією метою експресивність проаналізовано у двох її виявах – інгерентному та адгерентному. Доведено, що адгерентні експресивні засоби – стилістичні прийоми – беруть активну участь у регулюванні читацької діяльності. Продемонстровано інклюзивні відношення між експресемами та регулятемами, окреслено ядерно-периферійний ресурс регулятивних засобів.
Logical form has always been a prime concern for philosophers belonging to the analytic tradition. For at least one century, the study of logical form has been widely adopted as a method of investigation, relying on its capacity to reveal the structure of thoughts or the constitution of facts. This book focuses on the very idea of logical form, which is directly relevant to any principled reflection on that method. Its central thesis is that there is no such thing as (...) a correct answer to the question of what is logical form: two significantly different notions of logical form are needed to fulfil two major theoretical roles that pertain respectively to logic and to semantics. This thesis has a negative and a positive side. The negative side is that a deeply rooted presumption about logical form turns out to be overly optimistic: there is no unique notion of logical form that can play both roles. The positive side is that the distinction between two notions of logical form, once properly spelled out, sheds light on some fundamental issues concerning the relation between logic and language. (shrink)
У статті з’ясовано специфіку морфологічного вираження суб’єктної синтаксеми в пасивних конструкціях сучасного адміністративно-канцелярського мовлення. Проаналізовано асинкретизм (суб’єкт дії) та синкретизм (суб’єкт-інструмент, суб’єкт-інструмент-час, суб’єктінструмент-об’єкт, суб’єкт-простір) семантики орудного відмінка субстантива та прийменниково-іменникового словосполучення. Матеріалом для дослідження слугували навчальні посібники та довідники з офіційно-ділового мовлення, датовані першими десятиліттями ХХІ ст.
У статті монопредикативні висловлення з синтаксичною синонімією, ускладнені дієприслівниковим або суб’єктним дієприкметниковим зворотами, розглянуто як феноменологічно редуковані вторинні системні (мовні) трансформи, актуалізовані у вигляді моносуб’єктних мовленнєвих інновацій з імпліцитно-експліцитною або з імпліцитноекспліцитною + експліцитною предикацією. Проаналізовано структурно-семантичні особливості таких висловлень та визначено ступінь ко(н)текстуальної пертинентності всіх членів віртуального (мовного) синонімічного ряду шляхом зворотної реконструкції (мовлення → мова) трансформаційних процесів із залученням альтернативного лінгвістичного експерименту.
In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...) of taste and by proposing a general solution to the problem raised by it on behalf of the relativist. The core claim of the solution (" multiple indexing ") is that utterances of sentences containing perspectival expressions should be evaluated with respect to (possibly infinite) sequences of perspective parameters. (shrink)
It is common practice in formal semantics to assume that the context speciﬁes an assignment of values to variables and that the same variables that receive contextually salient values when they occur free may also be bound by quantiﬁers and λs. These assumptions are at work to provide a uniﬁed account of free and bound uses of third person pronouns, namely one by which the same lexical item is involved in both uses. One way to pursue this account is to (...) treat quantiﬁers and λs as monsters in Kaplan’s sense. We argue that this move should be avoided and explore an alternative route based on the idea that there is a variable assignment coordinate in the context and a variable assignment coordinate in the circumstance of evaluation, with the deﬁnition of truth in context identifying them. One fundamental challenge that arises in pursuing a uniﬁed account is to explain the difference in the way the gender presuppositions of bound and free pronouns project. The proposal that emerges from the attempt to meet this challenge is a non-indexical account of free third person pronouns and a new conception of the role and structure of assignment functions. (shrink)
Epistemic Contextualism is the view that “knows that” is semantically context-sensitive and that properly accommodating this fact into our philosophical theory promises to solve various puzzles concerning knowledge. Yet Epistemic Contextualism faces a big—some would say fatal—problem: The Semantic Error Problem. In its prominent form, this runs thus: speakers just don’t seem to recognise that “knows that” is context-sensitive; so, if “knows that” really is context-sensitive then such speakers are systematically in error about what is said by, or how to (...) evaluate, ordinary uses of “S knows that p”; but since it's wildly implausible that ordinary speakers should exhibit such systematic error, the expression “knows that” isn't context-sensitive. We are interested in whether, and in what ways, there is such semantic error; if there is such error, how it arises and is made manifest; and, again, if there is such error to what extent it is a problem for Epistemic Contextualism. The upshot is that some forms of The Semantic Error Problem turn out to be largely unproblematic. Those that remain troublesome have analogue error problems for various competitor conceptions of knowledge. So, if error is any sort of problem, then there is a problem for every extant competitor view. (shrink)
Recent work in formal semantics suggests that the language system includes not only a structure building device, as standardly assumed, but also a natural deductive system which can determine when expressions have trivial truth‐conditions (e.g., are logically true/false) and mark them as unacceptable. This hypothesis, called the ‘logicality of language’, accounts for many acceptability patterns, including systematic restrictions on the distribution of quantifiers. To deal with apparent counter‐examples consisting of acceptable tautologies and contradictions, the logicality of language is often paired (...) with an additional assumption according to which logical forms are radically underspecified: i.e., the language system can see functional terms but is ‘blind’ to open class terms to the extent that different tokens of the same term are treated as if independent. This conception of logical form has profound implications: it suggests an extreme version of the modularity of language, and can only be paired with non‐classical—indeed quite exotic—kinds of deductive systems. The aim of this paper is to show that we can pair the logicality of language with a different and ultimately more traditional account of logical form. This framework accounts for the basic acceptability patterns which motivated the logicality of language, can explain why some tautologies and contradictions are acceptable, and makes better predictions in key cases. As a result, we can pursue versions of the logicality of language in frameworks compatible with the view that the language system is not radically modular vis‐á‐vis its open class terms and employs a deductive system that is basically classical. (shrink)
Recent work in formal semantics suggests that the language system includes not only a structure building device, as standardly assumed, but also a natural deductive system which can determine when expressions have trivial truth-conditions (e.g., are logically true/false) and mark them as unacceptable. This hypothesis, called the `logicality of language', accounts for many acceptability patterns, including systematic restrictions on the distribution of quantifiers. To deal with apparent counter-examples consisting of acceptable tautologies and contradictions, the logicality of language is often paired (...) with an additional assumption according to which logical forms are radically underspecified: i.e., the language system can see functional terms but is `blind' to open class terms to the extent that different tokens of the same term are treated as if independent. This conception of logical form has profound implications: it suggests an extreme version of the modularity of language, and can only be paired with non-classical---indeed quite exotic---kinds of deductive systems. The aim of this paper is to show that we can pair the logicality of language with a different and ultimately more traditional account of logical form. This framework accounts for the basic acceptability patterns which motivated the logicality of language, can explain why some tautologies and contradictions are acceptable, and makes better predictions in key cases. As a result, we can pursue versions of the logicality of language in frameworks compatible with the view that the language system is not radically modular vis-a-vis its open class terms and employs a deductive system that is basically classical. (shrink)
The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...) characteristic dynamic effect they have on the context. I argue that pessimism about truth-conditions arises from an overly simplistic picture of content, context and their interaction. While I agree with the critics that an important aspect of modal meaning is the dynamic effect modals have on the context, I argue that they have mischaracterized the nature and the complexity of this effect. A more nuanced account of the interaction between modals and context shows that far from being incompatible with propositional meaning, the dynamic aspect of meaning is precisely what allows us to predict the correct propositional content of an utterance. (shrink)
Recently, there has been a shift away from traditional truth-conditional accounts of meaning towards non-truth-conditional ones, e.g., expressivism, relativism and certain forms of dynamic semantics. Fueling this trend is some puzzling behavior of modal discourse. One particularly surprising manifestation of such behavior is the alleged failure of some of the most entrenched classical rules of inference; viz., modus ponens and modus tollens. These revisionary, non-truth-conditional accounts tout these failures, and the alleged tension between the behavior of modal vocabulary and classical (...) logic, as data in support of their departure from tradition, since the revisionary semantics invalidate some of these patterns. I, instead, offer a semantics for modality with the resources to accommodate the puzzling data while preserving classical logic, thus affirming the tradition that modals express ordinary truth-conditional content. My account shows that the real lesson of the apparent counterexamples is not the one the critics draw, but rather one they missed: namely, that there are linguistic mechanisms, reflected in the logical form, that affect the interpretation of modal language in a context in a systematic and precise way, which have to be captured by any adequate semantic account of the interaction between discourse context and modal vocabulary. The semantic theory I develop specifies these mechanisms and captures precisely how they affect the interpretation of modals in a context, and do so in a way that both explains the appearance of the putative counterexamples and preserves classical logic. (shrink)
Since Kaplan : 81–98, 1979) first provided a logic for context-sensitive expressions, it has been thought that the only way to construct a logic for indexicals is to restrict it to arguments which take place in a single context— that is, instantaneous arguments, uttered by a single speaker, in a single place, etc. In this paper, I propose a logic which does away with these restrictions, and thus places arguments where they belong, in real world conversations. The central innovation is (...) that validity depends not just on the sentences in the argument, but also on certain abstract relations between contexts. This enrichment of the notion of logical form leads to some seemingly counter-intuitive results: a sequence of sentences may make up a valid argument in one sequence of contexts, and an invalid one in another such sequence. I argue that this is an unavoidable result of context sensitivity in general, and of the nature of indexicals in particular, and that reflection on such examples will lead us to a better understanding of the idea of applying logic to context sensitive expressions, and thus to natural language in general. (shrink)
We argue there is a clash between the standard treatments of context sensitivity and presupposition triggering. We use this criticism to motivate a defense of an often-discarded view about how to represent context sensitivity, according to which there are more lexically implicit items in logical form than has been appreciated.
This paper considers one aspect of the relationship between language and thought, focusing on a theory proposed by José Luis Bermúdez. Bermúdez argues that language is required for any kinds of thinking that involve thinking about thoughts, or what he calls 'intentional ascent'. I argue, to the contrary, that Bermúdez gives us no reason to suppose language is necessary for all instances of thinking about thoughts. Whilst I am broadly sympathetic to supra-communicative approaches to language, I seek to deny Bermúdez’s (...) particular thesis; I do so by showing that alternative representational formats, specifically maps, could play qualitatively the same role that language is supposed to play in his account of thinking about thoughts. (shrink)
Recanati takes for granted the conveyance conception of linguistic communica- tion, although it is not very clear exactly where he lies on the spectrum of possible variations. Even if we disavow all such conceptions of linguistic communication, there will be a place for semantic theory in articulating normative concepts such as logical consistency and logical validity. An approach to semantics focused on such normative concepts is illustrated using the example of “It’s raining”. It is argued that Recanati’s conception of semantics (...) as involving the pragmatics of saturation and modulation cannot account for the logical properties of “It’s raining. (shrink)
This paper outlines a truth-conditional view of logical form, that is, a view according to which logical form is essentially a matter of truth-conditions. The main motivation for the view is a fact that seems crucial to logic. As _§_1 suggests, fundamental logical relations such as entailment or contradiction can formally be explained only if truth-conditions are formally represented.§2 spells out the view. _§_3 dwells on its anity with a conception of logical form that has been defended in the past. (...) _§§_4-6 draw attention to its impact on three major issues that concern, respectively, the extension of the domain of formal explanation, the semantics of tensed discourse, and the analysis of quantication. (shrink)
Some philosophers, for example David Lewis, have argued for the need to introduce de se contents or centered contents, i.e. contents of thought and speech the correctness of believing which depends not only on the possible world one inhabits, but also on the location one occupies. Independently, philosophers like Robert Stalnaker (and also David Lewis) have developed the conversational score model of linguistic communication. This conversational model usually relies on a more standard conception of content according to which the correctness (...) of believing a content depends merely on the possible world one occupies. The aim of this paper is to develop a modified conversational score model that operates with centered contents. I begin by explaining how in principle centered contents can figure in the transfer of information from one thinker to another. Here I distinguish the local portability approach from the portable surrogate approach. Then I explain how these modes of information transfer can be exploited in a stalnakerian conversational model involving centered contents, proposing a modified update rule for assertion. (shrink)
Utterances in situated activity are about the world. Theories and systems normally capture this by assuming references must be resolved to real-world entities in utterance understanding. We describe a number of puzzles and problems for this approach, and propose an alternative semantic representation using discourse relations that link utterances to the nonlinguistic context to capture the context-dependent interpretation of situated utterances. Our approach promises better empirical coverage and more straightforward system building. Substantiating these advantages is work in progress.
In their chapter, Bourmayan and Recanati discuss the intransitive use of 'eat' and cognate verbs which take (on such uses) an indefinite implicit argument. Sometimes, Recanati pointed out in early work, the implicit argument of intransitive 'eat' seems definite ; there are also seemingly anaphoric and bound uses. How to account for them ? Recanati's early account invoked free enrichment, but Marti's negation test provides counter-examples to that account. Bourmayan and Recanati offer a new, situation-theoretic account, show that it can (...) handle the negation data, and discuss the implications of the account for the Recanati-Stanley debate over for the semantics/pragmatics interface. (shrink)
The modus operandi of this book is contextual—throughout he demonstrates how ideas emerge from or are inspired by particular environments. And the need to put philosophical ideas in their larger historical and cultural context so as to fully understand them is, as will be illustrated below, a facet of his philosophical method. Another of its facets is fallibilism, a deep commitment to subjecting all theories and concepts (in any field) to incessant scrutiny, testing, correction, and clarification. This suggests that a (...) totality of knowledge of the world or the absolute truth about things is a pair of ideals impossible of realization and approachable at best asymptotically. If his method is contextualist and fallilbilist, then his metaphysics is pluralistic. In his view reality is not reducible to just one single substance or principle but instead is constituted irreducibly of many different kinds of thing or principles. He is thus implacably opposed to any form of ontological monism—what James designates a “block-universe”—and Hegelian absolutism. Callaway conceives of the world as a Jamesian multiverse. Contextualism, fallibilism, and pluralism, then, are the themes brought to the fore in his book and which emerge from his travels at home and abroad. (shrink)
According to the Principle of Conditional Non-Contradiction (CNC), unless p is impossible, conditionals “If p, then q” and “If p, then not q” are jointly inconsistent. Although intuitively appealing, CNC gives rise to serious problems that semantic theories of conditionals validating it have to face. Most notably, an example of violation of CNC, as presented by Allan Gibbard, may lead to the conclusion that conditionals do not express propositions at all. In the preset paper we propose a new analysis of (...) Gibbard's argument showing that the violation of CNC is only apparent. Subsequently, we suggest a new way of defining truth conditions for conditional sentences. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate certain issues that have surfaced in the debate between truth-conditional semantics and truth-conditional pragmatics about meteorological sentences like "It is raining". First, I assess two criteria for unarticulatedness pertaining to the views (the Binding Criterion and the Optionality Criterion) and argue that both fail. Then I present one of the most powerful arguments against truth-conditional pragmatics: the so-called "Binding Argument". I show how the solution offered by Francois Recanati, consisting in appeal to "variadic functions", deflects (...) the argument and that it can be adopted by a relativist abut locations too. In the end of a the paper I suggest, with focus on predicates of personal taste, that relativists about other kinds of expressions can adopt Recanati's solution to block versions of the Binding Argument directed at their view. (shrink)
The paper addresses the problem which consists in that the semantic content of an utterance is often much richer than the content fixed by the semantic conventions and compositionality. The semantic content of an utterance is, therefore, supposed to involve so-called unarticulated constituents, over and above those articulated at the linguistic level. It is often claimed that this problem undermines traditional conceptions of semantics. The paper shows that every unarticulated constituent has to be determined at the syntactic level. Consequently, there (...) are no unarticulated constituents tout courts. This claim is resulting from a careful specification of the notions used to show that there are unarticulated constituents . Given these specifications, it is possible to develop a theory of syntactic ellipsis as a viable solution to the above mentioned problem. (shrink)
It is quite popular nowadays to postulate various kinds of unarticulated constituents that have essential bearing on truth conditions of utterances. F. Recanati champions an elaborated version of contextualism according to which one has to distinguish two kinds of unarticulated constituents: those that are articulated at the level of the logical form of a given sentence and those that are truly unarticulated. Recanati offers a theory which explains the manner of incorporating truly unarticulated constituents into the propositions expressed. This theory (...) invokes variadic functions. The present paper shows that variadic functions are unnecessary because no constituents are truly unarticulated in the sense assumed by Recanati. An alternative explanation is offered according to which all propositional constituents are either explicitly or implicitly represented at the syntactic level. (shrink)
Jason Stanley has proposed that we can account for the effects of extralinguistic context on truth-conditional content whilst remaining loyal to a compositional semantics for natural language. This is possible, he argues, because there are covert variables present in the logical forms of certain sentences whose values are fixed relative to contexts, but which do not register in the overt structure of those sentences. In the present article I assess the plausibility of positing such variables in logical form, focusing particularly (...) on the examples Stanley provides in order to corroborate their presence. I argue that these examples are apt for an alternative treatment than that offered by Stanley—one which does not make recourse to covert variables, and is hence more credible. I end by spelling out some consequences of this argument for Stanley’s proposal. (shrink)
Many arguments are affected by context sensitivity, because they include sentences that have different truth conditions in different contexts. Therefore, it is natural to think that a general criterion for evaluating arguments must take context sensitivity into account. One way to give substance to that thought is provided by the definition of validity offered by David Kaplan within his theory of indexicals. However, the route indicated by Kaplan is hindered by a problem whose importance is often underestimated. This paper explores (...) a different route, and outlines a definition of validity that does not run into that problem. Its moral is that Kaplan's definition is not the only plausible definition. This is not to say that the definition outlined is the only plausible definition or that it is correct in some absolute sense. There might be equally important problems with it that the paper does not take into account. But until such problems are found and brought up, the departure from Kaplan's route remains a viable option. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a defence of a Russellian analysis of the referential uses of incomplete (mis)descriptions, in a contextual setting. With regard to the debate between a unificationist and an ambiguity approach to the formal treatment of definite descriptions (introduction), I will support the former against the latter. In 1. I explain what I mean by "essentially" incomplete descriptions: incomplete descriptions are context dependent descriptions. In 2. I examine one of the best versions of the unificationist “explicit” approach (...) given by Buchanan and Ostertag. I then show that this proposal seems unable to treat the normal uses of misdescriptions. I then accept the challenge of treating misdescriptions as a key to solving the problem of context dependent descriptions. In 3. I briefly discuss Michael Devitt’s and Joseph Almog’s treatments of referential descriptions, showing that they find it difficult to explain misdescriptions. In 4. I suggest an alternative approach to DD as contextuals, under a normative epistemic stance. Definite descriptions express (i) what a speaker should have in mind in using certain words in a certain context and (ii) what a normal speaker is justified in saying in a context, given a common basic knowledge of the lexicon. In 5. I define a procedure running on contextual parameters (partiality, perspective and approximation) as a means of representing the role of pragmatics as a filter for semantic interpretation. In 6. I defend my procedural approach against possible objections concerning the problem of the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics, relying on the distinction between semantics and theory of meaning. (shrink)
In the tradition of Stalnaker there is a number of well-known problems that need to be addressed, because revision of iterated belief modalities is required in this case. These problems have already been investigated in detail in recent works on DDL Leitgeb/Segerberg 2007)and DEL see e.g. Ditmarsch et. Another strategy would be to maintain and revise assumptions independently of the beliefs of an agent.I will briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of these views. In both views, assumptions constitute (...) the subjective context in which an agent interprets an utterance and encounters the world. The result of an interpretation is in turn checked against the agent’s original beliefs, and if the checking operation succeeds the agent revises his beliefs by the result in the normal way described by the AGM paradigm. The second of the above questions needs to be addressed on the basis of concrete examples. Considering utterance like David is ready’ or ‘John is tall’that from a contextualist viewpoint express semantically incomplete content in the sense of Bach is needed in order to obtain a useful model of the checking step, since fortunately not everybody believes everything that other people say. These requirements put the theory of interpretation based on assumptions in the frontline of ongoing research on the implementation of belief revision and update in dynamic logics. Such a theory might also be useful for contextualist accounts of strong knowledge, as it can be argued convincingly that when a knowledge ascription appears to be context-sensitive, this is so because the embedded proposition is context-sensitive and not because knowledge itself is context-sensitive. Hence,the context-sensitivity of embedded propositions in knowledge claims and how different agents in the same situation arrive at different assessments about them may be explained by an inferential theory of interpretation similar to the one outlined here but with another underlying concept of assumptions. Literature Alchourrón, C. E. ; Gärdenfors, P. & Makinson, D., 'On the logic of theory change: partial meet contraction and revision functions', Journal of Symbolic Logic, 510-530. Bach, K., 'Minimalism for Dummies: Reply to Cappelen and Lepore', Technical report, University of San Fransisco, Department of Philosophy. Bach, K., Context ex Machina, in án Gendler Szabó, ed.,'Semantics versus Pragmatics', Oxford UP, Oxford, pp. 16-44. Ditmarsch, H. v. ; Hoek, W. v. d. & Kooi, B., Dynamic Epistemic Logic, Kluwer. Gärdenfors, P., Knowledge in Flux, MIT Press. Leitgeb, H. & Segerberg, K., 'Dynamic doxastic logic: why, how, and where to? ', Synthese155, 167-190. Stalnaker, R., Assertion, in. Cole, ed.,'Pragmatics', Academic Press, New York, pp. 315-332. Stalnaker, R., 'Common Ground', Linguistics and Philosophy25, 701- -721. (shrink)
Argument from analogy is a common and formidable form of reasoning in law and in everyday conversation. Although there is substantial literature on the subject, according to a recent survey ( Juthe 2005) there is little fundamental agreement on what form the argument should take, or on how it should be evaluated. Th e lack of conformity, no doubt, stems from the complexity and multiplicity of forms taken by arguments that fall under the umbrella of analogical reasoning in argumentation, dialectical (...) studies, and law. Modeling arguments with argumentation schemes has proven useful in attempts to refine the analyst’s understanding of not only the logical structures that shape the backbone of the argument itself, but also the logical underpinning of strategies for evaluating it, strategies based on the semantic categories of genus and relevance. By clarifying the distinction between argument from example and argument from analogy, it is possible to advance a useful proposal for the treatment of argument from analogy in law. (shrink)
Abstract: A current debate in semantics and pragmatics is whether all contextual effects on truth-conditional content can be traced to logical form, or 'unarticulated constituents' can be supplied by the pragmatic process of free enrichment. In this paper, I defend the latter position. The main objection to this view is that free enrichment appears to overgenerate, not predicting where context cannot affect truth conditions, so that a systematic account is unlikely (Stanley, 2002a). I first examine the semantic alternative proposed by (...) Stanley and others, which assumes extensive hidden structure acting as a linguistic trigger for pragmatic processes, so that all truth-conditional effects of context turn out to be instances of saturation. I show that there are cases of optional pragmatic contributions to the proposition expressed that cannot plausibly be accounted for in this way, and that advocates of this approach will therefore also have to appeal to free enrichment. The final section starts to address the question of how free enrichment is constrained: I argue that it involves only local development or adjustment of parts of logical form, any global developments being excluded by the requirement for the proposition expressed to provide an inferential warrant for the intended implications of the utterance. (shrink)