Semantics as Model-Based Science

In Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.), The Science of Meaning: Essays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics. Oxford University Press. pp. 334-360 (2018)
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Abstract

This paper critiques a number of standard ways of understanding the role of the metalanguage in a semantic theory for natural language, including the idea that disquotation plays a nontrivial role in any explanatory natural language semantics. It then proposes that the best way to understand the role of a semantic metalanguage involves recognizing that semantics is a model-based science. The metalanguage of semantics is language for articulating features of the theorist's model. Models are understood as mediating instruments---idealized structures used to represent select aspects of the world, aspects the theorist is seeking some theoretical understanding of. The aspect of reality we are seeking some understanding of in semantics is a dimension of human linguistic competence---informally, knowledge of meaning.

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Author's Profile

Seth Yalcin
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

Fine-grained semantics for attitude reports.Harvey Lederman - 2021 - Semantics and Pragmatics 14 (1).
Model Theory, Hume's Dictum, and the Priority of Ethical Theory.Jack Woods & Barry Maguire - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:419-440.
Cognitive Significance.Aidan Gray - 2021 - In Stephen Biggs & Heimir Geirsson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. New York, NY, USA:

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References found in this work

Monsters in Kaplan’s logic of demonstratives.Brian Rabern - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):393-404.

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