The idea that an adequate semantics of ordinary language calls for some theory of events has sparked considerable debate among linguists and philosophers. On the one hand, so many linguistic phenomena appear to be explained if (and, according to some authors, only if) we make room for logical forms in which reference to or quantification over events is explicitly featured. Examples include nominalization, adverbial modification, tense and aspect, plurals, and singular causal statements. On the other hand, a number of deep (...) philosophical questions arise as soon as we take events into consideration. Are events entities of a kind? What are their identity and individuation criteria? How does semantic theorizing depend on such metaphysical issues? The aim of this book is to address such issues in some depth, with emphasis precisely on the interplay between linguistic applications and philosophical implications. Contributors: N. Asher, P. M. Bertinetto, J. Brandl, D. Delfitto, R. Eckardt, J. Higginbotham, A. Lenci, T. Parsons, A. ter Meulen, H. Verkuyl. A comprehensive introductory essay (pp. 3-47) is included. (shrink)
A critical review of the main themes arising out of recent literature on the semantics of ordinary event talk. The material is organized in four sections: (i) the nature of events, with emphasis on the opposition between events as particulars and events as universals; (ii) identity and indeterminacy, with emphasis on the unifier/multiplier controversy; (iii) events and logical form, with emphasis on Davidson’s treatment of the form of action sentences; (iv) linguistic applications, with emphasis on issues concerning aspectual phenomena, the (...) telicity/atelicity distinction, the treatment of statives, and temporal quantification. (shrink)
We are used to regarding actions and other events, such as Brutus’ stabbing of Caesar or the sinking of the Titanic, as occupying intervals of some underlying linearly ordered temporal dimension. This attitude is so natural and compelling that one is tempted to disregard the obvious difference between time periods and actual happenings in favor of the former: events become mere “intervals cum description”.1 On the other hand, in ordinary circumstances the point of talking about time is to talk about (...) what actually happens or might happen at some time or another. We talk about ‘now’ and ‘then’ in an effort to put some order in our description of what goes on. And since different events seem to overlap in so many different ways, a full account of their temporal relations seems to run afoul of a reductionist strategy. This raises two philosophical questions. The ﬁrst is whether we can actually go beyond time, as it were, i.e., whether we can take events as bona ﬁde entities and deal with them directly, just as we can deal with spatial entities such as physical bodies or masses without conﬁning ourselves to their spatial representations. This is a controversial issue (though probably not as controversial as it used to be), and ties in with a number of unsettled problems concerning, e.g., the structure of causality or the deﬁnition of adequate identity and individuation criteria for events. 2 The second question is whether we can perhaps do without time, i.e., whether we can dispense with time points or intervals as an independent ontological category and focus only on actual or potential happenings, in opposition to the form of reductionism mentioned above—in short, whether we can account for the temporal dimension in terms of suitable relations among events. This is also a highly controversial issue, and relates to the classical dispute concerning relational vs. absolutist conceptions of (space and) time.3 It is this second question that we intend to focus on here.. (shrink)
This paper expands on the theory of event structures put forward in previous work by further investigating the subtle connections between time and events. Specifically, in the first part we generalize the notion of an event structure to that of a refinement structure, where various degrees of temporal granularity are accommodated. In the second part we investigate how these structures can account for the context-dependence of temporal structures in natural language semantics.
The rapid dynamics of COVID-19 calls for quick and effective tracking of virus transmission chains and early detection of outbreaks, especially in the “phase 2” of the pandemic, when lockdown and other restriction measures are progressively withdrawn, in order to avoid or minimize contagion resurgence. For this purpose, contact-tracing apps are being proposed for large scale adoption by many countries. A centralized approach, where data sensed by the app are all sent to a nation-wide server, raises concerns about citizens’ privacy (...) and needlessly strong digital surveillance, thus alerting us to the need to minimize personal data collection and avoiding location tracking. We advocate the conceptual advantage of a decentralized approach, where both contact and location data are collected exclusively in individual citizens’ “personal data stores”, to be shared separately and selectively, voluntarily, only when the citizen has tested positive for COVID-19, and with a privacy preserving level of granularity. This approach better protects the personal sphere of citizens and affords multiple benefits: it allows for detailed information gathering for infected people in a privacy-preserving fashion; and, in turn this enables both contact tracing, and, the early detection of outbreak hotspots on more finely-granulated geographic scale. The decentralized approach is also scalable to large populations, in that only the data of positive patients need be handled at a central level. Our recommendation is two-fold. First to extend existing decentralized architectures with a light touch, in order to manage the collection of location data locally on the device, and allow the user to share spatio-temporal aggregates—if and when they want and for specific aims—with health authorities, for instance. Second, we favour a longer-term pursuit of realizing a Personal Data Store vision, giving users the opportunity to contribute to collective good in the measure they want, enhancing self-awareness, and cultivating collective efforts for rebuilding society. (shrink)
Temporal reference in natural language is inherently context dependent: what counts as a moment in one context may be structurally analysed in another context, and vice versa. In this note we outline a way of accounting for this phenomenon within event-based semantics.
This study evaluated the effectiveness of a 3-week intervention in which a co-located cooperation enforcing interface, called StoryTable, was used to facilitate collaboration and positive social interaction for six children, aged 8–10 years, with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). The intervention focused on exposing pairs of children to an enforced collaboration paradigm while they narrated a story. Pre- and post-intervention tasks included a “low technology” version of the storytelling device and a non storytelling play situation using a free construction game. The (...) outcome measure was a structured observation scale of social interaction. Results demonstrated progress in three areas of social behaviors. First, the participants were more likely to initiate positive social interaction with peers after the intervention. Second, the level of shared play of the children increased from the pre-test to the post-test and they all increased the level of collaboration following the intervention. Third, the children with ASD demonstrated lower frequencies of autistic behaviors while using the StoryTable in comparison to the free construction game activity. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the effectiveness of this intervention for higher functioning children with ASD. (shrink)