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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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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Seth Yalcin
University of California, Berkeley

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

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