An “inferentialist” semantic theory for some language L aims to account for the meanings of the sentences of L solely in terms of the inferential rules governing their use. A “hyper-inferentialist” theory admits into the semantics only “narrowly inferential” rules that normatively relate sentences of L to other sentences of L. A “strong inferentialist” theory also admits into the semantics “broadly inferential” rules that normatively relate perceptual states to sentences of L or sentences of L to intentional actions. It is (...) widely thought that only the latter of these two sorts of semantic theories is at all viable. I argue here that the opposite is so. Negatively, strong inferentialism is viciously circular: including rules into the semantic theory that relate perceptual states to sentences of the language requires us to appeal, in individuating those perceptual states, to the very meanings for which we are supposed to be inferentially accounting. Hyper-inferentialism does not face this problem because it does not appeal to any nonlinguistic states. Positively, though hyper-inferentialism is widely thought to be a theoretical non-starter, I argue here that it is a genuine theoretical possibility insofar as it essentially includes cross-perspectival inferences, inferences along the lines of the one from the sentences “The ball is in front of n,” “The ball is red,” and “The lighting is good” to the sentence “n sees that the ball is red.” I make the further exegetical claim that Robert Brandom, though unanimously taken to be a strong inferentialist, is in fact a hyper-inferentialist. (shrink)
Statements containing epistemic modals (e.g., “by spring 2023 most European countries may have the Covid-19 pandemic under control”) are common expressions of epistemic uncertainty. In this paper, previous published findings (Knobe & Yalcin, 2014; Khoo & Phillips, 2018) on the opposition between Contextualism and Relativism for epistemic modals are re-examined. It is found that these findings contain a substantial degree of individual variation. To investigate whether participants differ in their interpretation of epistemic modals, an experiment with multiple phases and sessions (...) is used to classify participants according to the three semantic theories of Relativism, Contextualism, and Objectivism. Through this study, some of the first empirical evidence for the kind of truth-value shifts postulated by semantic Relativism is presented. It is furthermore found that participants’ disagreement judgments match their truth evaluations and that participants are capable of distinguishing between truth and justification. In a second experimental session, it is investigated whether participants thus classified follow the norm of retraction which Relativism uses to account for argumentation with epistemic modals. Here the results are less favorable for Relativism. In a second experiment, these results are replicated and the normative beliefs of participants concerning the norm of retraction are investigated following work on measuring norms by Bicchieri (2017). Again, it is found that on average participants show no strong preferences concerning the norm of retraction for epistemic modals. Yet, it was found that participants who had committed to Objectivism and had training in logics applied the norm of retraction to might-statements. These results present a substantial challenge to the account of argumentation with epistemic modals presented in MacFarlane (2014), as discussed. Keywords: Epistemic Modals, Relativism, Norm Conflicts, Retraction, Semantics, Truth Conditions, Argumentation. (shrink)
I summarize several of the main claims, arguments, and innovations in Stojnić's 2021 book. I then take issue with her foundational view, on which both the context of a conversation and the contents of context-sensitive expressions are wholly fixed by the history of a conversation together with grammatical rules.
In his reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit, Robert Brandom offers an interpretation of the Hegel’s notion of Erinnerung as a retrospective rational recollection of the process of determination of conceptual contents. This paper argues that this recollection is essential for the account of representation in Brandom’s normative pragmatics, but it is not obvious how such an operation could be made explicit in his inferential semantics. Finally, some consequences are discussed of this potential problem in the structure of normative inferentialism.
This volume brings together a diverse range of scholars to address important philosophical and interdisciplinary questions in the study of language. Linguistics throughout history has been a conduit to the study of the mind, brain, societal structure, literature and history itself. The epistemic and methodological transfer between the sciences and humanities in regards to linguistics has often been documented, but the underlying philosophical issues have not always been adequately addressed. -/- With 15 original and interdisciplinary chapters, this volume therefore tackles (...) vital questions relating to the philosophy, history, and theoretical interplay between the study of language and fields as varied as logic, physics, biology, classical philology and neuroscience. -/- With a four part structure, questions of the mathematical foundations of linguistics, links to the natural sciences, cognitive implications and historical connections, take centre stage throughout the volume. The final chapters present research related to the linguistic connections between history, philosophy and the humanities more broadly. Advancing new avenues of research, this volume is exemplary in its treatment of diachronic and cross-disciplinary interaction, and will be of interest to all scholars interested in the study of language. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the theoretical architecture of semantic atomism and its consequences with respect to natural language. In particular, it looks to explore the notion of possible concepts using the fundamental distinction between simple and complex concepts and expressions in Jerry Fodor’s atomism. The distinction is exploited to produce an unusual type of concept referred to as a correlate, which effectively mirrors complex concepts while maintaining a distinct underlying structure. Though harmless in and of themselves, (...) their presence in the context of polymorphemic expressions suggests that atomism harbors a tacit and unintuitive form of polysemy that is problematic in its own right and that leads to other complications, some of which may be demonstrated on the example of communication. These issues are tied to the way atomism is structured, and although they seem to have gone largely unnoticed, they appear to bear negatively on the adequacy of atomism where natural language is concerned. (shrink)
I have two aims for the present paper, one narrow and one broad. The narrow aim is to show that a class of data originally described by Lynsey Wolter empirically undermine the leading treatments of complex demonstratives that have been described in the literature. The broader aim of the paper is to show that Wolter demonstratives, as I will call the constructions I focus on, are a threat not just to existing treatments, but to any possible theory that retains the (...) uncontroversial assumptions that relative clauses always form a constituent with the nouns they modify, and that semantic composition proceeds sequentially and locally, with the inputs to interpretation having the structure syntax tells us they do. (shrink)
Ian Rumfitt (2000) developed a bilateralist account of logic in which the meaning of the connectives is given by conditions on asserted and rejected sentences. An additional set of inference rules, the coordination principles, determines the interaction of assertion and rejection. Fernando Ferreira (2008) found this account defective, as Rumfitt must state the coordination principles for arbitrary complex sentences. Rumfitt (2008) has a reply, but we argue that the problem runs deeper than he acknowledges and is in fact related to (...) the challenge of establishing proof-theoretic harmony. We motivate a distinctively bilateral criterion for harmony and show how the bilateralist can meet it. This also resolves Ferreira's complaint. (shrink)
The paper examines the theoretical merit of “semantic molecules” in Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM). Although semantic molecules are said to trace semantic dependence and necessity, compress complexity, and to account for what I call its productivity, that doesn't appear to be the case. This can be illustrated on the basis of a comparison of two explications for the same complex meaning—one containing a molecule and the other its decomposed elements. Counterfactual considerations suggest that the latter is not semantically dependent on (...) the lexicalized molecule and that it is, in turn, not necessary. The other side of the comparison cements the point. This leaves the issue of compression, complexity, and productivity—none of which are helped by semantic molecules, as they appear to do little more than conceal complexity. Meanwhile, they are not required to account for productivity. It seems that molecules may need to be rethought. (shrink)
A partir de la conformación de un modelo semántico fundado por la relación de presuposición se construye un entramado algebraico de carácter diagramático y articulación reticular, que considera y se apoya en la noción de orden como dimensión semiótica. Esta articulación relacional se realiza al abarcar diversos niveles de análisis, que van desde un nivel grafémico a un nivel discursivo. Se destacan de modo significativo los procesos complejos de composicionalidad semántica (asociados a modalidades de síntesis) en contraposición con procesos elementales (...) de aditividad (asociados a sumas analíticas). Asimismo, a lo largo del análisis, quedarán establecidos los elementos configuracionales para la articulación reticular de los sucesos pertenecientes a un relato, formando unidades discursivas complejas a través de esquemas narrativos. (shrink)
What is the concept of sense developed by Deleuze in his 1969 Logic of Sense? This paper attempts to answer this question analysing the three dimensions of language that Deleuze isolates: the primary order of noises and intensities ; the secondary order of sense ; and the tertiary organisation of propositions. What renders language possible is that which separates sounds from bodies and organises them into propositions, freeing them for the expressive function. Deleuze argues that it is the dimension of (...) sense that brings about this genesis of language, and he analyses in detail the three syntheses that bring about the production of this surface of sense. Yet Deleuze also distinguishes between two types of non-sense: the nonsense of Lewis Carroll's portmanteau words, which remain ensconced in the dimension of sense, and the more profound nonsense of Antonin Artaud's psychotic scream-breaths, which penetrate the almost unbearable world of the primary order of noise and intensities. In the end, the focus of Logic of Sense is less the surface domain of sense than the primary depth of corporeal intensities. What Deleuze calls a ‘minor’ use of language is nothing other than an intensive use of language that constitutes a principle of metamorphosis. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Truth-conditions are systematically determined when they are the output of an algorithmic procedure that takes as input a set of semantic and contextual features. Truth-conditional sceptics have cast doubts on the thesis that truth-conditions are systematic in this sense. Against this form of scepticism, Schoubye and Stokke : 759–793) and Dobler : 451–474.) have provided systematic analyses of utterance truth-conditions. My aim is to argue that these theories are not immune to the kind of objections raised by truth-conditional sceptics. (...) In particular, I argue that the use of Questions Under Discussion and ways of being is problematic. (shrink)
La vérité est le degré d’exactitude d’une représentation de la réalité. Nous postulons trois étapes cognitives : le psychon, produit par la perception ; le construit, produit par intellection; et l’acte de parole, produit par la communication. La vérité se trouve à la seconde étape; seuls les construits sont aléthiques. La vérité est une qualité qui vient en degrés. La certitude est le point d’aboutissement parfait et inaccessible de cette gradation ; il s’agit donc d’un concept idéal. Une thèse est (...) réputée vraie si son degré aléthique est acceptablement efficace, sinon la thèse est considérée comme fausse. En d’autres termes, nous jugeons vraie toute thèse n’ayant pas assez d’échecs pour qu’elle soit considérée fausse. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this paper, I present data involving the use of the Romanian slur ‘țigan’, consideration of which leads to the postulation of a sui-generis, irreducible type of use of slurs. This type of use is potentially problematic for extant theories of slurs. In addition, together with other well-established uses, it shows that there is more variation in the use of slurs than previously acknowledged. I explain this variation by construing slurs as polysemous. To implement this idea, I appeal to (...) a rich-lexicon account of polysemy. I show how such a theory can be applied to slurs and discuss several important issues that arise. (shrink)
Objective. Conceptualization of the definition of space as a semantic unit of language consciousness. -/- Materials & Methods. A structural-ontological approach is used in the work, the methodology of which has been tested and applied in order to analyze the subject matter area of psychology, psycholinguistics and other social sciences, as well as in interdisciplinary studies of complex systems. Mathematical representations of space as a set of parallel series of events (Alexandrov) were used as the initial theoretical basis of the (...) structural-ontological analysis. In this case, understanding of an event was considered in the context of the definition adopted in computer science – a change in the object properties registered by the observer. -/- Results. The negative nature of space realizes itself in the subject-object structure, the components interaction of which is characterized by a change – a key property of the system under study. Observer’s registration of changes is accompanied by spatial focusing (situational concretization of the field of changes) and relating of its results with the field of potentially distinguishable changes (subjective knowledge about «changing world»). The indicated correlation performs the function of space identification in terms of recognizing its properties and their subjective significance, depending on the features of the observer`s motivational sphere. As a result, the correction of the actual affective dynamics of the observer is carried out, which structures the current perception of space according to principle of the semantic fractal. Fractalization is a formation of such a subjective perception of space, which supposes the establishment of semantic accordance between the situational field of changes, on the one hand, and the worldview, as well as the motivational characteristics of the observer, on the other. -/- Conclusions. Performed structural-ontological analysis of the system formed by the interaction of the perceptual function of the psyche and the semantic field of the language made it possible to conceptualize the space as a field of changes potentially distinguishable by the observer, structurally organized according to the principle of the semantic fractal. The compositional features of the fractalization process consist in fact that the semantic fractal of space is relevant to the product of the difference between the situational field of changes and the field of potentially distinguishable changes, adjusted by the current configuration of the observer`s value-needs hierarchy and reduced by his actual affective dynamics. (shrink)
This book discusses the two main construals of the explanatory goals of semantic theories. The first, externalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of a hermeneutic and interpretive explanatory project. The second, internalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of the psychological mechanisms in virtue of which meanings are generated. It is argued that a fruitful scientific explanation is one that aims to uncover the underlying mechanisms in virtue of which the observable phenomena are made possible, and that a scientific (...) semantics should be doing just that. If this is the case, then a scientific semantics is unlikely to be externalist, for reasons having to do with the subject matter and form of externalist theories. It is argued that semantics construed hermeneutically is nevertheless a valuable explanatory project. (shrink)
Most theories of slurs fall into one of two families: those which understand slurring terms to involve special descriptive/informational content (however conveyed), and those which understand them to encode special emotive/expressive content. Our view is that both offer essential insights, but that part of what sets slurs apart is use-theoretic content. In particular, we urge that slurring words belong at the intersection of a number of categories in a sociolinguistic register taxonomy, one that usually includes [+slang] and [+vulgar] and always (...) includes [-polite] and [+derogatory]. Thus, e.g., what distinguishes ‘Chinese’ from ‘chink’ is neither a peculiar sort of descriptive nor emotional content, but rather the fact that ‘chink’ is lexically marked as belonging to different registers than ‘Chinese’. It is, moreover, partly such facts which makes slurring ethically unacceptable. (shrink)
Although there seems to be an agreement on what slurs are, many authors diverge when it comes to classify some words as such. Hence, many debates would benefit from a technical definition of this term that would allow scholars to clearly distinguish what counts as a slur and what not. Although the paper offers different definitions of the term in order to allow the reader to choose her favorite, I claim that ‘slurs’ is the name given to a grammatical category, (...) and I consequently trace a difference in kind between slurs and other kinds of group pejoratives. I rely on a novel approach to slurs that characterizes them based on their membership to a particular kind of register category, an often neglected sociolinguistic notion determining the social contexts in which registered terms are expected, tolerated or unacceptable. The paper also points out to the close link between words registered as [+derogatory] and their usage in the context of dominance relations of different kinds between users and recipients of slurs. By pointing out to this link I hope to underscore the political significance of slur usage, as well as to contribute further to the explanation why slurs are so damaging and unacceptable in most social contexts. (shrink)
Adam Elga has presented an anti-thermodynamic process as a counterexample to Lewis’s default semantics for counterfactuals. The outstanding reaction of Jonathan Schaffer and Boris Kment is revisionary. It sacrifices Lewis’s aim of defining causation in terms of counterfactual dependence. Lewis himself suggested an alternative: «counter-entropic funnybusiness» should make for dissimilarity. But how is this alternative to be spelled out? I discuss a recent proposal: include special science laws, among them the laws of thermodynamics. Although the proposal fails, it serves to (...) uncover the limits of Elga’s example. (shrink)
This article surveys the philosophical literature on theoretical linguistics. The focus of the paper is centred around the major debates in the philosophy of linguistics, past and present, with specific relation to how they connect to the philosophy of science. Specific issues such as scientific realism in linguistics, the scientific status of grammars, the methodological underpinnings of formal semantics, and the integration of linguistics into the larger cognitive sciences form the crux of the discussion.
Recent work on the semantics and pragmatics of slurs has explored a variety of ways of explaining their potential to derogate, with the most popular family of approaches appealing to either: (i), the doxastic or evaluative attitudes or commitments expressed by — or (ii), the propositions concerning such attitudes or commitments semantically or pragmatically communicated by — the speakers who use them. I begin by arguing that no such speaker-oriented approach can be correct. I then propose an alternative treatment of (...) slurs, according to which they are semantically associated with both descriptive and directive content. On the view I defend, when speakers use slurs, they simultaneously propose to add an at-issue proposition to the conversational common ground and issue a not-at-issue directive to their interlocutors to adopt a derogatory perspective toward members of the targeted group. This proposal both avoids the problems faced by other accounts and opens up a novel way of thinking about the phenomenon of appropriation. (shrink)
This dissertation lays the foundation for a new theory of non-relational intentionality. The thesis is divided into an introduction and three main chapters, each of which serves as an essential part of an overarching argument. The argument yields, as its conclusion, a new account of how language and thought can exhibit intentionality intrinsically, so that representation can occur in the absence of some thing that is represented. The overarching argument has two components: first, that intentionality can be profi tably studied (...) through examination of the semantics of intensional transitive verbs (ITVs), and second, that providing intensional transitive verbs with a nonrelational semantics will serve to provide us with (at least the beginnings of) a non-relational theory of intentionality. This approach is a generalization of Anscombe's views on perception. Anscombe held that perceptual verbs such as "see" and "perceive" were ITVs, and that understanding the semantics of their object positions could help us to solve the problems of hallucination and illusion, and provide a theory of perception more generally. I propose to apply this strategy to intentional states and the puzzles of intentionality more generally, and so Anscombe's influence will be felt all through the dissertation. -/- In the first chapter, titled "Semantic Verbs are Intensional Transitives", I argue that semantic verbs such as "refers to", "applies to", and "is true of" have all of the features of intensional transitive verbs, and discuss the consequences of this claim for semantic theory and the philosophy of language. One theoretically enriching consequence of this view is that it allows us to perspicuously express, and partially reconcile two opposing views on the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian view, on which semantics is an internalistic enterprise concerning speakers' psychologies, and the Lewisian view, on which semantics is a fully externalistic enterprise issuing in theorems about how the world must look for our natural language sentences to be true. Intensional Transitive Verbs have two readings: a de dicto reading and a de re reading; the de dicto reading of ITVs is plausibly a nonrelational reading, and the intensional features peculiar to this reading make it suitable for expressing a Chomskian, internalist semantic program. On the other hand, the de re reading is fully relational, and make it suitable for expressing the kinds of word-world relations essential to the Lewisian conception of semantics. And since the de dicto and de re readings are plausibly related as two distinct scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates, we can see these two conceptions of semantics as related by two scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates. -/- In chapter two, titled "Hallucination and the New Problem of Empty Names", I argue that the problem of hallucination and the problem of empty names are, at bottom, the same problem. I argue for this by reconstructing the problem of empty names in way that is novel, but implicit in much of the discussion on empty names. I then show how, once recast in this light, the two problems are structurally identical down to an extremely fine level of granularity, and also substantially overlap in terms of their content. If the problems are identical in the way I propose, then we should expect that their spaces of solutions are also identical, and there is signi cant support for this conclusion. However, there are some proposed solutions to the problem of hallucination that have been overlooked as potential solutions to the problem of empty names, and this realization opens new non-relational approaches to the problem of empty names, and to the nature of meaning more generally. -/- In chapter three, titled "Intensionality is Additional Phrasal Unity", I argue for a novel approach to the semantics of intensional contexts. At the heart of my proposal is the Quinean view that intensional contexts should, from the perspective of the semantics, be treated as units, with the material in them contributing to the formation of a single predicate. However, this proposal is subject to a number of objections, including the criticism that taken at face value, this would render intensional contexts, which seem to be fully productive, non-compositional. I begin by discussing the concept of the unity of the phrase, and pointing to various ways that phrases can gain additional unity. I then proposes that the intensionality of intensional transitive verbs is best construed as a form of semantic incorporation; ITVs, on their intensional readings, meet all of the criteria for qualifying as incorporating the nominals in their object positions. I then give a semantics for ITVs that builds on existing views of the semantics of incorporation structures, and gesture at how this can be extended to intensional clausal verbs, including the so-called propositional attitude verbs. (shrink)
In this paper, a critical discussion is made of the role of entailments in the so-called New Paradigm of psychology of reasoning based on Bayesian models of rationality (Elqayam & Over, 2013). It is argued that assessments of probabilistic coherence cannot stand on their own, but that they need to be integrated with empirical studies of intuitive entailment judgments. This need is motivated not just by the requirements of probability theory itself, but also by a need to enhance the interdisciplinary (...) integration of the psychology of reasoning with formal semantics in linguistics. The constructive goal of the paper is to introduce a new experimental paradigm, called the Dialogical Entailment task, to supplement current trends in the psychology of reasoning towards investigating knowledge-rich, social reasoning under uncertainty (Oaksford and Chater, 2019). As a case study, this experimental paradigm is applied to reasoning with conditionals and negation operators (e.g. CEM, wide and narrow negation). As part of the investigation, participants’ entailment judgments are evaluated against their probability evaluations to assess participants’ cross-task consistency over two experimental sessions. (shrink)
This article maintains that the so-called theory-practice divide in legal education is not only factually false but semantically impossible. -/- As to the divide's falsity, practitioners have of course performed excellent scholarship and academics have excelled in practice. As to the divide's semantic impossibility, this article examines, among other things: -/- (1) the essential role of experience in meaning, -/- (2) the resulting inseparability of theory and practice in the world of experience, -/- (3) problems the divide shares in common (...) with debunked Cartesian dualism, and -/- (4) modern cognitive psychology’s notions of embodied meaning which further underscore the semantic impossibility of separating theory from practice in the world of experience. -/- Using insights from such examinations, this article also explores implications of a debunked theory-practice divide for, among other things, law school curriculums and law school faculty hiring standards. -/- Keywords: legal education, legal writing, semantics, theory, practice, experience, Charles Sanders Peirce, embodied meaning, cognitive psychology, Cartesian dualism, affordance knowledge, metaphor, George Lakoff, category, humanities, Langdell, pragmatism, semiotics, philosophy. (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)
In this paper, new evidence is presented for the assumption that the reason-relation reading of indicative conditionals ('if A, then C') reflects a conventional implicature. In four experiments, it is investigated whether relevance effects found for the probability assessment of indicative conditionals (Skovgaard-Olsen, Singmann, and Klauer, 2016a) can be classified as being produced by a) a conversational implicature, b) a (probabilistic) presupposition failure, or c) a conventional implicature. After considering several alternative hypotheses and the accumulating evidence from other studies as (...) well, we conclude that the evidence is most consistent with the Relevance Effect being the outcome of a conventional implicature. This finding indicates that the reason-relation reading is part of the semantic content of indicative conditionals, albeit not part of their primary truth-conditional content. (shrink)
In this chapter, I first explore the possible meanings of the expression 'non-metaphysical religion' and its relation to the realism and cognitivism debates (as well as these debates' relation to each other). I then sketch out and defend the germs of an alternative semantics for religious language that I call 'religious imaginativism'. This semantics attempts to move us away from the realism-antirealism debates in Philosophy of Religion and in this sense might count as 'non-metaphysical'. At the same time, it allows (...) that religious utterances may be truth-evaluable. This creates space for a "theism with God" (and for a "God of theism") without being running into the problems confronted by more metaphysical approaches. (shrink)
Meaning Holism and Contextualism are standardly acknowledged to be similar relativistic theories that often lead to similar troubles, in particular to issues concerning instability. On the other hand, the main rival of Contextualism, which is Minimalism, is taken to be resistant to these problems. In effect, it seems inevitable to see Meaning Holism and Minimalism as natural enemies. In my paper, I attempt to reject such a view. My argumentation consists of three main parts. First, I argue that Minimalism does (...) not differ that much from Meaning Holism with respect to the instability issues as it also faces some of them (although in a slightly different way from the case of Holism of Contextualism). Second, I put forward several arguments to show that in fact Minimalism is not incompatible with the two versions of Meaning Holism I distinguish, namely Global Holism and Local Holism. I argue that a meaning holist has to accept some not uncontroversial principles to become an anti- minimalist – and vice versa. Finally, I demonstrate that Minimalism and Meaning Holism can be reconciled. Such a possibility occurs when something I called ‘purely semantic processes’ is allowed. The role of these processes is, roughly speaking, to protect literal meanings from being affected by strong pragmatic factors. (shrink)
The relation between slurs and their neutral counterparts has been put into question recently by the fact that some slurs can be used to refer to subsets of the referential classes determined by their associated counterparts. This paper aims to reinforce this relation by offering a way of explaining referential restriction that distinguishes between two kinds of slurs: those performing a normalizing role upon (some) individuals inside a class (mostly, a gender) and those used to derogate a marginalized out- group.
The meaning that expressions take on particular occasions often depends on the context in ways which seem to transcend its direct effect on context-sensitive parameters. ‘Truth-conditional pragmatics’ is the project of trying to model such semantic flexibility within a compositional truth-conditional framework. Most proposals proceed by radically ‘freeing up’ the compositional operations of language. I argue, however, that the resulting theories are too unconstrained, and predict flexibility in cases where it is not observed. These accounts fall into this position because (...) they rarely, if ever, take advantage of the rich information made available by lexical items. I hold, instead, that lexical items encode both extension and non-extension determining information. Under certain conditions, the non-extension determining information of an expression e can enter into the compositional processes that determine the meaning of more complex expressions which contain e. This paper presents and motivates a set of type-driven compositional operations that can access non-extension determining information and introduce bits of it into the meaning of complex expressions. The resulting multidimensional semantics has the tools to deal with key cases of semantic flexibility in appropriately constrained ways, making it a promising framework to pursue the project of truth-conditional pragmatics. (shrink)
Concept originalism, recently introduced and defended by Sainsbury and Tye, Tye, and Sainsbury, holds that “atomic concepts are to be individuated by their historical origins, as opposed to their semantic or epistemic properties”. The view is immune to Gareth Evans’s “Madagascar” objection to the Causal Theory of Reference since it allows a concept to change its reference over time without losing its identity. The possibility of reference-shift, however, raises the problem of misleading belief reports. S&T try to tackle the problem (...) by strengthening the sufficient condition for a truthful belief report. We will argue that, first, their solution fails, second, and more importantly, their diagnosis of the root of the problem is misguided, third, two initially appealing ways out of the problem fail, and fourth, the prospect of finding a solution to the problem within CO is dim. The view opens the Pandora’s box of reference-shift, in a wide range of cases, without providing the necessary semantic means to take care of them. (shrink)
A lightning fast summary of Yablo, Aboutness, cutting many corners in the interests of brevity. The emphasis is on “ways.” Substituting “ways for S to be true” in for “worlds in which S is true” improves a number of philosophical explanations. The subject matter of S is identified with S’s ways of holding in a world, or failing, as the case may be. S contains T iff T is implied by S, and T’s ways of being true are implied by (...) ways for S to be true ; this kind of way-implication is the same as subject matter inclusion. S’s surplus content over T is explained as that portion of the content of S that is not about whether T. Subject matter is cast throughout as a full partner in meaning. (shrink)
Even to disagree, we need to understand each other. If I reject what you say without understanding you, we will only have the illusion of a disagreement. You will be asserting one thing and I will be denying another. Even to disagree, we need some agreement.
A response to certain parts of Rumfitt : I defend Davidson's project in semantics, suggest that Rumfitt's use of sentential quantification renders his definition of truth needlessly elaborate, and pose a question for Rumfitt's handling of the strengthened Liar.
Many papers have been devoted to the semantic turn Carnap took in the late 1930s after Tarski had explained to him his method for defining truth and his work on the establishment of scientific semantics. Commentators have often argued that the major turn in Carnap’s approach to languages had already been taken in the Logical Syntax of Language, but they have usually assumed that Carnap was happy to subsequently follow Tarski and adopt Tarskian semantics. In this paper, it is argued (...) that this assumption needs to be qualified and that Carnap was actually far from following Tarski when he decided to complement his syntactic method with a semantic one. Carnap and Tarski had different goals, divergent programs, and dissenting views on truth and semantics. After exploring several possible methods for the explication of logical concepts such as L-truth and L-implication, Carnap opted for definitions based on concepts he had found in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Waismann’s work on a logical interpretation of probability. Carnap’s reasons for taking a semantic turn are to be understood in the context of his principle of tolerance. He first hoped he could use Tarski’s technique to recover in the semantic setting the completeness result he had tried to establish in the Logical Syntax. His eventual adoption of non-Tarskian semantics can be accounted for by his program of a logical analysis of science—including empirical science—and his ambition to elaborate a unified logical framework for deductive, inductive, and modal logic, and for explicating analyticity. (shrink)
In “On Sense and Reference,” surrounding his discussion of how we describe what people say and think, identity is Frege’s first stop and his last. We will follow Frege’s plan here, but we will stop also in the land of make-believe.
This work is a study in the new field of paraconsistent logics. The authors attempt to give a formal characterization of the notions of indeterminate possible worlds and inconsistent possible worlds. The characterization works by constructing the non-standard worlds out of combinations of standard possible worlds either by taking those statements as true in a non-standard world which are true in both of two standard worlds, which generates indeterminate worlds, or by taking those statements as true in a non-standard world (...) which are true in either of two standards worlds, which generates inconsistent worlds. (shrink)
'Epistemic' accounts of vagueness argue that so called 'borderline' cases of a term actually always do (or don't) fall within that term's extension. What makes the case borderline is that this fact may be unknowable. Such epistemic theories have traditionally been taken to be unable to accommodate the intuitive connection between meaning and use. However, it will be argued here that if one endorses a type of 'Temporal Externalism' about meaning (according to which future linguistic developments can help determine the (...) semantic values of our current utterances), then one can both endorse epistemic accounts of vagueness and hold on to the traditional tie between meaning and use. (shrink)
The standard argument against ordered tuples as propositions is that it is arbitrary what truth-conditions they should have. In this paper we generalize that argument. Firstly, we require that propositions have truth-conditions intrinsically. Secondly, we require strongly equivalent truth-conditions to be identical. Thirdly, we provide a formal framework, taken from Graph Theory, to characterize structure and structured objects in general. The argument in a nutshell is this: structured objects are too fine-grained to be identical to truth-conditions. Without identity, there is (...) no privileged mapping from structured objects to truth-conditions, and hence structured objects do not have truth-conditions intrinsically. Therefore, propositions are not structured objects. (shrink)
The aim is to motivate theoretically a relevance approach to conditionals in a comparative discussion of the main alternatives. In particular, it will be argued that a relevance approach to conditionals is better motivated than the suppositional theory currently enjoying wide endorsement. In the course of this discussion, an argument will be presented for why failures of the epistemic relevance of the antecedent for the consequent should be counted as genuine semantic defects. Furthermore, strategies for dealing with compositionality and the (...) perceived objective purport of indicative conditionals will be put forward. (shrink)