In this paper, I discuss the similarity between Wittgenstein’s use of thought experiments and Relativity Theory. I begin with introducing Wittgenstein’s idea of “thought experiments” and a tentative classification of different kinds of thought experiments in Wittgenstein’s work. Then, after presenting a short recap of some remarks on the analogy between Wittgenstein’s point of view and Einstein’s, I suggest three analogies between the status of Wittgenstein’s mental experiments and Relativity theory: the topics of time dilation, the search for invariants, and (...) the role of measuring tools in Special Relativity. This last point will help to better define Wittgenstein’s idea of description as the core of his philosophical enterprise. (shrink)
One particular topic in the literature on Frege’s conception of sense relates to two apparently contradictory theses held by Frege: the isomorphism of thought and language on one hand and the expressibility of a thought by different sentences on the other. I will divide the paper into five sections. In (1) I introduce the problem of the tension in Frege’s thought. In (2) I discuss the main attempts to resolve the conflict between Frege’s two contradictory claims, showing what is wrong (...) with some of them. In (3), I analyze where, in Frege’s writings and discussions on sense identity, one can find grounds for two different conceptions of sense. In (4) I show how the two contradictory theses held by Frege are connected with different concerns, compelling Frege to a constant oscillation in terminology. In (5) I summarize two further reasons that prevented Frege from making the distinction between two conceptions of sense clear: (i) the antipsychologism problem and (ii) the overlap of traditions in German literature contemporary to Frege about the concept of value. I conclude with a hint for a reconstruction of the Fregean notion of ‘thought’ which resolves the contradiction between his two theses. (shrink)
On the basis of historical and textual evidence, this paper claims that after his Tractatus, Wittgenstein was actually influenced by Einstein's theory of relativity and, the similarity of Einstein's relativity theory helps to illuminate some aspects of Wittgenstein's work. These claims find support in remarkable quotations where Wittgenstein speaks approvingly of Einstein's relativity theory and in the way these quotations are embedded in Wittgenstein's texts. The profound connection between Wittgenstein and relativity theory concerns not only Wittgenstein's “verificationist” phase , but (...) also Wittgenstein's later philosophy centred on the theme of rule‐following. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss some of Maximilian de Gaynesford’s arguments regarding indexicals. Although I agree with his treatment of the first singular personal pronoun as a prototype of demonstrative expressions, I challenge his refusal to treat indexicals as complex demonstratives. To offer an alternative to this refusal I try to develop a common ground from different theories that consider indexicals as linguistic constructions that embed a nonlinguistic element, following an original idea in Frege’s latest writings. These views form the (...) backdrop on which we can put forward the claim of treating all indexicals as complex demonstratives. In the central part of the paper, I criticize each of de Gaynesford’s arguments against the reduction of indexicals to complex demonstratives. Besides, I propose a new definition of the concept of “demonstration” as a nonlinguistic feature of all indexicals in their referential uses, to contrast de Gaynesford’s rejection of the idea that demonstrations are an essential feature of indexicals. Eventually, I strengthen my claim by distinguishing indexicals from proper names and definite descriptions on the ground that only perceptual indexicals necessarily require an accompanying demonstration. However, the main point of the paper is a negative one, that is the rejection of de Gaynesford’s arguments against the reduction of indexicals to complex demonstratives. More work is needed to reach a positive conclusion on this topic. (shrink)
This paper is a comparison of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s theory of indexicals, especially concerning Frege’s remarks on time as “part of the expression of thought”. I analyze the most contrasting features of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s remarks on indexicals. Subsequently, I try to identify a common ground between Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations, and hint at a possible convergence between those two views, stressing the importance given by Frege to nonverbal signs in defining the content of (...) thought. I conclude by indicating a possible direction for further research. (shrink)
Keith Donnellan wrote his paper on definite descriptions in 1966 at Cornell University, an environment where nearly everybody was discussing Wittgenstein’s ideas of meaning as use. However, his idea of different uses of definite descriptions became one of the fundamental tenets against descriptivism, which was considered one of the main legacies of the Frege–Russell– Wittgenstein view; and I wonder whether a more Wittgensteinian interpretation of Donnellan’s work is possible.
In this paper, we present one of the main starting points of naturalism in ethics: Geach’s challenge against non-cognitivism. We try to find an answer to Geach’s challenge in the notion of family resemblance applied to ethics. In doing so we recover a not much-discussed influence of Moore on Wittgenstein’s conception of family resemblance, which leads us to define Wittgenstein as non-non-cognitivist in ethics. -/- Pre print (some changes in the published edition).
In what follows I consider the apparent contrast between two kinds of theories of context: a theory of objective context - exemplified in the works of Kaplan and Lewis - and a theory of subjective context -exemplified in the works of McCarthy and Giunchiglia. I consider then some difficulties for the objective theory. I don't give any formalization; instead I give some theoretical points about the problem. A possible result could be the abandon of the double indexing for a development (...) a multi-context theory (I give an example of a case). However other results could be possible and a challenge is posed to solve problems using the best results from each tradition of research. (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)
This work addresses the critical discussion featured in the contemporary literature about two well-known paradoxes belonging to different philosophical traditions, namely Frege’s puzzling claim that “the concept horse is not a concept” and Gongsun Long’s “white horse is not horse”. We first present the source of Frege’s paradox and its different interpretations, which span from plain rejection to critical analysis, to conclude with a more general view of the role of philosophy as a fight against the misunderstandings that come from (...) the different uses of language (a point later developed by the “second” Wittgenstein). We then provide an overview of the ongoing discussions related to the Bai Ma Lun paradox, and we show that its major interpretations include—as in the case of Frege’s paradox—dismissive accounts that regard it as either useless or wrong, as well as attempts to interpret and repair the argument. Resting on our reading of Frege’s paradox as an example of the inescapability of language misunderstandings, we advance a similar line of interpretation for the paradox in the Bai Ma Lun: both the paradoxes, we suggest, can be regarded as different manifestations of similar concerns about language, and specifically about the difficulty of referring to concepts via language. (shrink)
This volume contains essays that explore explicit and implicit communication through linguistic research. Taking as a framework Paul Grice's theories on "what is said," the contributors explore a number of areas, including: the boundary between semantics and pragmatics; the concept of implicit communication; the idea of the logical form of our assertions; the notion of conventional meaning; the phenomenon of deixis, which refers to when an utterance require context in order to be understood fully; the treatment of definite descriptions; and (...) the different kinds of pragmatic processes. (shrink)
In this paper we give some suggestions from etymology on the contrast between Kaplan’s direct reference theory and a neo-Fregean view on indexicals. After a short summary of the philosophical debate on indexicals (§1), we use some remarks about the hidden presence of a demonstrative root in all indexicals to derive some provisional doubts concerning Kaplan’s criticism of what he calls “sloppy thinker” (§2). To support those doubts, we will summarise some etymological data on the derivation of the so-called “pure (...) indexicals” from an original demonstrative root (§ 3). The aim of the paper is to consider etymological data as providing evidence for alternative theories of language and fostering new directions in linguistic and philosophical research on specific topics. (shrink)
“Tell me," Wittgenstein once asked a friend, "why do people always say, it was natural for man to assume that the sun went round the earth rather than that the earth was rotating?" His friend replied, "Well, obviously because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth." Wittgenstein replied, "Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?” What would it have looked like if we looked at all (...) sciences from the viewpoint of Wittgenstein’s philosophy? Wittgenstein is undoubtedly one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. His complex body of work has been analysed by numerous scholars, from mathematicians and physicists, to philosophers, linguists, and beyond. This volume brings together some of his central perspectives as applied to the modern sciences and studies the influence they may have on the thought processes underlying science and on the world view it engenders. The contributions stem from leading scholars in philosophy, mathematics, physics, economics, psychology and human sciences; all of them have written in an accessible style that demands little specialist knowledge, whilst clearly portraying and discussing the deep issues at hand. (shrink)
Meaning and Context-Sensitivity Truth-conditional semantics explains meaning in terms of truth-conditions. The meaning of a sentence is given by the conditions that must obtain in order for the sentence to be true. The meaning of a word is given by its contribution to the truth-conditions of the sentences in which it occurs. What a speaker … Continue reading Meaning and Context-Sensitivity →.
The main point of the paper is the claim that a strong notion of cognitive context can answer the needs of a representation of dialogue context, with a higher generality than the "normative" notion suggested by Gauker. I will discuss some well known claims in the literature about communication and context, and I will suggest giving a central role to the notion of contract or semantic bargaining and to the normative constraints of indexicals and anaphora.
In this paper, I will discuss a well-known oscillation in Frege’s conception of sense. My point is only partially concerned with his two different criteria of sense identity, and touches upon a more specific point: what happens if we apply Frege’s intuitive criterion for the difference of thoughts to logically equivalent sentences? I will try to make a schematic argument here that will preempt any endeavor to make Frege more coherent than he really is. In sections A and B, I (...) will present two alternative Fregean ways to treat the sense of logically equivalent sentences. Frege really oscillated between two alternative conceptions of sense, and his inability to detect the contrast between the two alternative conceptions is partly due to his strong conception of rationality. To apply the criterion of difference of thoughts to logical matters, we may also use a weak notion of rationality, or at least a notion of rationality of human agents, with limited computational resources. The distinctions towards which Frege was striving are better understood nowadays from the point of view of the treatment of limited rationality, which imposes itself even in logical matters. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to discuss a general tendency in contextualism which is known as "radical contextualism". In the first part I state the well known paradox of semantic holism, as discussed in philosophy of language: if meaning is holistic there is no possibility to share any meaning. In the second part I present the different answers to this paradox, from atomism to different forms of holism. In the third part I give a criticism of the traditional interpretation of Wittgenstein (...) as a supporter of global holism. I stress some similarities between Wittgenstein's thought and Multi Context theories in artificial inteligence. In the last part I give some argument against a rigid interpretation of "local holism": I claim the need to give restrictions to local holim and to develop a study of the connections between "default" properties and high level rules which are studied in Multi−Context theories. (shrink)
Context is a concept used by philosophers and scientists with many different definitions. Since Dummett we speak of "context principle" in Frege and Wittgenstein: "an expression has a meaning only in the context of a sentence". The context principle finds an extension in some of Wittgenstein's ideas, especially in his famous passage where he says that "to understand a sentence is to understand a language". Given that Wittgenstein believes that "the" language does not exist but only language games exist, we (...) should conclude that he is speaking of the need to consider any sentence always in the context of a language game1. This general attitude is certainly attuned with the contemporary tendency to place contextual restrictions to the interpretations of our sentences. However we find so many kinds and forms of restrictions that this general attitude is not enough to give us a viable tool to find an order in the web of so many different theories of context. To look for an order or, at least a clarification, we may start with two contrasting paradigms of theories: the "objective" theory of contexts, where context is a set of features of the world, and the "subjective" theories of context, where context is the cognitive background of a speaker or agent in respect to a situation2. We have here not only two different ways of using the term "context" but also two different conceptions of semantics and philosophy. The different conceptions are normally associated, respectively, with the classical paradigm of model theoretic semantics (Kaplan, Lewis Stalnaker) on one hand and with the A.I. paradigm (McCarthy, Buvac, Giunchiglia) on the other hand. For sake of simplicity I will restrict my attention3 mainly to Kaplan 1989 and to McCarthy 1993 and Giunchiglia 1993. The two different conceptions can be summarised with the following schema: a) context as: set of features of the world.. (shrink)
In this paper I shall outline a short history of the ideas concerning sense and reference of a concept-word from Frege to model theoretic semantics. I claim that, contrary to what is normally supposed, a procedural view of sense may be compatible with model theoretic semantics, especially in dealing with problems at the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. A first paragraph on the paradox of the concept horse will clarify the attitude concerning the history of ideas that I assume in (...) this paper. In the second paragraph I will discuss some misunderstandings in the shift from the sense/reference distinction in Frege to the intension/extension distinction in model theoretic semantics. In the third I will show how a particular interpretation of the Fregean sense of a concept word may be of interest for model theoretic semantics. (shrink)
The paper "Does Epistemological Holism lead to Meaning – Holism" (Cozzo, 2002) touches one of the main problems of a molecularist theory of meaning: how to restrict the class of inferences connected with a word, in order to define the sense of the word. I will discuss the starting point of this approach, mainly the pre-theoretical criterion against meaning holism: meaning holism, following a well-known argument by Dummett, reduces communication to a mystery. However there is a strong background assumption of (...) this argument: communication is sharing the same meanings. Accepting this assumption without acknowledging it makes the entire proposal more problematic than it appears at first sight. In what follows I will try to clarify the possibility of a different reaction to meaning holism, putting forward some distinctions which come to light when the above stated assumption is made explicit. Then, some other comments will follow on the difficulty of avoiding extreme meaning holism, even within Cozzo's elegant attempt to implement a molecularist vision; in the end, his notion of the sense of a word will appear to be difficult to define, if these holistic aspects of language take the space they deserve even in his theory. I conclude with two remarks regarding two relevant requirements for a theory of meaning (conservativeness and harmony). (shrink)
In this paper I give a reconstruction of Dummett’s main arguments concerning the theory of the occult origin of the Tarot, and discuss the reasons behind the success of the Tarot pack – in particular the Major Arcana – in the history of card games. I also provide some indication of the links between Dummett’s interest in the history of card games and aspects of his philosophical background. As I am not an expert on card games, this paper is mainly (...) a personal tribute to a side of Dummett’s work to which philosophers have in general paid little attention. (shrink)
The paper presents the history of Italian scholars and research centres that contributed to the emergence of the analytic philosophy of language in Italy in the second half of the twentieth century. After a brief description of the work completed in the ﬁfties, I describe the formation of a network of people interested in those contents and methods, trace the origins to the inﬂuence of different centres of research in the US and Europe and shortly describe the main events, seminars, (...) conferences and meetings linked to different universities and research groups. These early efforts created a background from which students and junior scholars could evolve and develop original research in that area. The central idea is that the work on the philosophy of language we made in Italy is part of a wider attempt at reconnecting networks of interactions among philosophers in Europe that were alive before the Nazi period. (shrink)
In her analysis of pejoratives, Eva Picardi rejects a too sharp separation between descriptive and expressive content. I reconstruct some of her arguments, endorsing Eva’s criticism of Williamson’s analysis of Dummett and developing a suggestion by Manuel Garcia Carpintero on a speech act analysis of pejoratives. Eva’s main concern is accounting for our instinctive refusal to endorse an assertion containing pejoratives because it suggests a picture of reality we do not share. Her stance might be further developed claiming that uses (...) of pejoratives not only suggest, but also promote a wrong picture of reality. Our refusal to endorse implies rejecting not only a wrong picture of reality but also a call for participation to what that picture promotes. (shrink)
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.25247/P1982-999X.2019.v19n1.p103-134• Esta obra está licenciada sob uma licençaCreative Commons Atribuição 4.0 InternacionalISSN 1982-999x|Pragmatic ambiguity and Kripke’s dialogue against DonnellanAmbiguidade Pragmática e o diálogo de Kripke contra DonnellanCarlo Penco (Universidade de Genova, Itália)AbstractIn this paper I discuss Donnellan’s claim of the pragmatic ambiguity of the distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite des-criptions. The literature on the topic is huge and full of alternative analysis. I will restrict myself to a very classical topos: the challenge posed by Kripke to Donnellan’s (...) distinction with the case of a dialogue on an attempt to update a misdescription. I claim that to treat the problem of the referential use of definite descriptions we need not only to take into account the context of utterance, but also the cognitive context with its epistemic restrictions and the possible different contexts of reception of the same utterance. I try to show different aspects of what can be called “pragmatic ambiguity”, which seem not correctly considered by Kripke, and connect them to the basic tenets of Grice Cooperative principle. (shrink)
This paper tries to give some substance to local holism, a picture that seems to fit Wittgenstein’s analysis of the working of language. In the first part I state the well-known paradox of semantic holism, as discussed in philosophy of language: if meaning is holistic there is no possibility to share any meaning. In the second part I present the different answers to this paradox, from atomism to different forms of holism. In the third part I give a criticism of (...) the traditional interpretation of Wittgenstein as a supporter of global holism. As an alternative lecture I will suggest some lines of Wittgenstein's thought leading towards a definition of local holism. Eventually I will show connections with ideas developed in Multi Context theories in artificial intelligence, which help to show a possible direction of inquiry about restrictions on locality. (shrink)
[This is a larger version of the published article] In the discussion on semantic holism it has been claimed that A.I. is almost entirely holistic. In this paper I show that some of the main lines of research in symbolic artificial intelligence are not holistic; I will consider three classical cases: toy words, frames and contextual reasoning. I claim that these examples from A.I. can be interpreted as implementing molecularist intuitions about language. Eventually I suggest that some assumptions behind the (...) discussion on holism should be re-interpreted, expecially the usual references to Frege and Wittgenstein. (shrink)
In this paper I will compare some of Dummett and Davidson’s claims on the problem of communication and idiolects: how can we understand each other if we use different idiolects? First I define the problem, giving the alternative theses of (I) the priority of language over idiolects and (II) the priority of idiolects over language. I then present Dummett's claims supporting (I) and Davidson's claims supporting (II).
When “Sinning Against Frege” was published in 1979 I thought it should have given a real turn in the discussion on Frege’s ideas. Actually the impact was less then I imagined, and the problem was that – at the end of the story – Tyler Burge’s interpretation should have posed a shadow on the direct reference theories and the Millean criticism of descriptivist theories of proper names, based on the criticism of the identification of Frege’s notion of sense with linguistic (...) meaning or connotation1. In fact Burge (1979) claims that the identification of Frege’s notion of sense with the notion of linguistic meaning is a «basic misunderstanding» of Frege’s work2. This claim implies that Fregean senses are not like Mill’s connotations; therefore many direct-reference criticisms against Frege, which are grounded on Mill’s claims that proper names have no connotation, lose their efficacy. Burge, in giving specifications3, apparently accepts at least the idea that sense is an aspect of meaning, in particular «the aspect of meaning relevant to fixing the truth value of sentences». This feature is the “harmless” part of the assimilation of sense and linguistic meaning; but this assimilation becomes dangerous when context dependence is concerned. Revisiting Burge (1979), after more than two decades of debate on indexicals, may help to better understand the originality and the limitation of his claims. (shrink)
In this paper [submitted in 2008] I discuss the relation between truth and assertion. But the paper was never published, because the journal did not start (I don't know whether it started with another name and I wish all the best for this enterprise). After a while, I realized that what I had written was unclear and I tried to re-write with more details for "Agora filosofica". In this new paper I discuss in detail Kripke's example presented as a case (...) against Donnellan's distinction, and I claim that one of the two dialogues breaks Grice's Cooperation principle (and,in general, the charity principle). (shrink)
After presenting Kripke’s criticism to Frege’s ideas on context dependence of thoughts, I present two recent attempts of considering cognitive aspects of context dependent expressions inside a truth conditional pragmatics or semantics: Recanati’s non-descriptive modes of presentation (MOPs) and Kaplan’s ways of having in mind (WHIMs). After analysing the two attempts and verifying which answers they should give to the problem discussed by Kripke, I suggest a possible interpretation of these attempts: to insert a procedural or algorithmic level in semantic (...) representations of indexicals. That a function may be computed by different procedures might suggest new possibilities of integrating contextual cognitive aspects in model theoretic semantic. (shrink)
In this paper I apply a well known tension between cognitive and semantic aspects in Frege’s notion of sense to his treatment of indexicals. I first discusses Burge’s attack against the identification of sense and meaning, and Kripke’s answer supporting such identification. After showing different problems for both interpreters, the author claims that the tension in Frege’s conception of sense (semantic and cognitive) accounts for some shortcomings of both views, and that considering the tension helps in understanding apparently contradictory Fregean (...) claims about sameness of sense of sentences with indexicals. I conclude that the Fregean notion of sense, also in its cognitive aspect, cannot be reduced to linguistic meaning, and that the Fregean tension between two notions of sense may also explain the discussion Frege gives on the indexical “I”, proposing to develop a picture of indexicals as hidden complex demonstratives, as originally suggested by Burge. (shrink)
In this paper we give some formal examples of ideas developed by Penco in two papers on the tension inside Frege's notion of sense (see Penco 2003). The paper attempts to compose the tension between semantic and cognitive aspects of sense, through the idea of sense as proof or procedure – not as an alternative to the idea of sense as truth condition, but as complementary to it (as it happens sometimes in the old tradition of procedural semantics).
In this paper I shall deal with the role of "understanding a thought" in the debate on the definition of the content of an assertion. I shall present a well known tension in Frege's writings, between a cognitive and semantic notion of sense. This tension is at the source of some of the major contemporary discussions, mainly because of the negative influence of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, which did not give in-depth consideration to the tension found in Frege. However many contemporary authors, (...) after the first attempt by Carnap himself, have tried to make room both for a cognitive and semantic aspect of meaning. I claim that at least some of these attempts (Dummett, Perry and Chalmers) are seriously flawed, mainly due to the difficulty in making a proper connection between the two different conceptions of sense. I shall outline an alternative project, which takes into consideration Frege's requirements on antipsychologism and of the objectivity of thought, while maintaining a close connection between the two aspects of sense. (shrink)
A traditional argument is often used against Mill's theory of names (the meaning of a name is exhausted by its referent). Mill's theory implies transparency of proper names (coreferring proper names are substitutable salva veritate); but examples like Frege's and Quine's show that proper names are not transparent in belief contexts. This could be thought to be a reductio ad absurdum of Mill's theory. In " A puzzle about Belief" (1979; 1988) Kripke builds up an argument which aims to show (...) that the same problems, given by the principle of transparency of proper names, can also be generated without the use of that principle, but with some weaker and more general principles, which seem to be difficult to reject. (see Donellan) Therefore, the traditional argument against Mill's theory does not work. If you want to reject Mill's theory with some reductio ad absurdum, you should reject two very intuitive and apparently valid principles. The well known puzzle is based on the assumption that our speaker is normal non omniscient, sincere, reflective and not conceptually confused. The two principles used are the Disquotational Principle (DP) and the Translation Principle (TP). (shrink)
This programmatic paper is an attempt to connect some worries in the philosophy of language with some traditional views in artificial intelligence. After a short introduction to the notion of context in philosophy (§1), starting from the inventor of mathematical logic, Gottlob Frege, I list three debates in the philosophy of language where the solution is strongly undecided: §2 treats the debate between holism and molecularism; §3 describes the debate on the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics; §4 hints at a (...) solution of the debate between explicit and implicit view of incomplete descriptions. These debates may be considered case studies on what is happening to the notion of context in philosophy in the first two decades of XXI century; they push us to look for a unifying framework in which to frame those worries: I propose to shift the attention towards a representation of the basic abilities required to navigate across contexts (§5). In the conclusion, I use some suggestions from computer sciences as a contribution towards a better definition of what is meant by “pragmatic competence”, strictly connected to the philosophical enterprise (§6). (shrink)