Some expressions of English, like the demonstratives ‘this’ and ‘that’, are referentially promiscuous: distinct free occurrences of them in the same sentence can differ in content relative to the same context. One lesson of referentially promiscuous expressions is that basic logical properties like validity and logical truth obtain or fail to obtain only relative to a context. This approach to logic can be developed in just as rigorous a manner as David Kaplan’s classic logic of demonstratives. The result is a (...) logic that applies to arguments in English containing multiple occurrences of referentially promiscuous expressions. (shrink)
In an earlier defense of the view that the fundamental logical properties of logical truth and logical consequence obtain or fail to obtain only relative to contexts, I focused on a variation of Kaplan’s own modal logic of indexicals. In this paper, I state a semantics and sketch a system of proof for a first-order logic of demonstratives, and sketch proofs of soundness and completeness. (I omit details for readability.) That these results obtain for the first-order logic of demonstratives shows (...) that the significance of demonstratives for logic exceeds their behavior as rigid designators in counterfactual reasoning, or reasoning about alternative possibilities. Furthermore, the results in this paper help address one common objection to the view that logical truth and consequence obtain only relative to contexts. According to this objection, the view entails that logical consequence is not formal. (shrink)
Building on recent work by Delia Graff Fara and Ora Matushansky on appellative constructions like ‘Mirka called Roger handsome’, I argue that if Millianism about proper names is true, then the quantifier ‘something’ in ‘Mirka called Roger something’ is best understood as a kind of substitutional quantifier. Any adequate semantics for such quantifiers must explain both the logical behavior of ‘Mirka called Roger something’ and the acceptability of ‘so’-anaphora in ‘Mirka called Roger something, and everyone so called is handsome’. Millianism (...) about proper names is inconsistent with such quantifiers being standard non-substitutional second-order quantifiers. But this is not the only option for Millianism: I provide two different propositional semantics for substitutional quantification, each of which is adequate in the sense above, given Millianism. One of these is based on Tobias Rosefeldt’s work on non-nominal quantification, and I identify in what way Rosefeldt’s semantics is substitutional. (shrink)
Demonstratives and Indexicals In the philosophy of language, an indexical is any expression whose content varies from one context of use to another. The standard list of indexicals includes pronouns such as “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “this”, “that”, plus adverbs such as “now”, “then”, “today”, “yesterday”, “here”, and “actually”. Other candidates include the tenses … Continue reading Demonstratives and Indexicals →.
The standard truth-conditional semantics for substitutional quantification, due to Saul Kripke, does not specify what proposition is expressed by sentences containing the particular substitutional quantifier. In this paper, I propose an alternative semantics for substitutional quantification that does. The key to this semantics is identifying an appropriate propositional function to serve as the content of a bound occurrence of a formula containing a free substitutional variable. I apply this semantics to traditional philosophical reasons for interest in substitutional quantification, namely, theories (...) of truth and ontological commitment. (shrink)
Theories of propositions as sets of truth-supporting circumstances are committed to the thesis that sentences or other representations true in all and only the same circumstances express the same proposition. Theories of propositions as complex, structured entities are not committed to this thesis. As a result, structured propositions can play a role in our theories of language and thought that sets of truth-supporting circumstances cannot play. To illustrate this difference, I sketch a theory of transparent, non-deflationary truth consistent with some (...) theories of structured propositions, but inconsistent with any theory of propositions as sets of truth-supporting circumstances. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Pickel and Rabern argue that a dynamic Tarskian semantics resolves Fine’s antinomy of the variable without the radical consequences for semantics proposed by Fine. While Pickel and Rabern’s basic insight—a parameter of discourse context that tracks occurrences of variable-binding expressions—is important, I will argue that their own Tarskian theory faces a destructive dilemma: either their theory does not resolve Fine’s antinomy as they propose, or their theory does not reflect the intuitive motivation for what they call (...) structured meanings. I suggest that in response to this dilemma we should reject one of the principles that generates Pickel and Rabern’s version of the antinomy. Here Pickel and Rabern’s insight has surprising, but salutary, foundational consequences for semantics. (shrink)
Token-reflexive theories of indexicals – words like ‘I,’ ‘here,’ and ‘today’ – are widely thought to face a problem in account for intuitively valid arguments involving indexicals. Yet all discussions of the problem with which I am familiar focus on particular examples or on particular rules of inference. In this paper, I first state the problem in its full generality, and then argue that two recent attempts to reject the problem fail. Finally, I consider the proposal by García-Carpintero that demonstratives (...) – ‘this’ and ‘that’ – raise the same problem. I argue that while there are important similarities between the logic problem for token-reflexives and the role of demonstratives in logic, recent work on the logic of demonstratives can offer insights into logic that token-reflexive theories cannot. (shrink)