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Paul M. Pietroski [45]Paul Pietroski [24]
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Paul Pietroski
Rutgers - New Brunswick
  1.  16
    Conjoining Meanings: Semantics Without Truth Values.Paul M. Pietroski - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
    Paul M. Pietroski presents an ambitious new account of human languages as generative procedures that respect substantive constraints. He argues that meanings are neither concepts nor extensions, and sentences do not have truth conditions; meanings are composable instructions for how to access and assemble concepts of a special sort.
  2. When Other Things Aren’t Equal: Saving Ceteris Paribus Laws from Vacuity.Paul Pietroski & Georges Rey - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (1):81-110.
    A common view is that ceteris paribus clauses render lawlike statements vacuous, unless such clauses can be explicitly reformulated as antecedents of ?real? laws that face no counterinstances. But such reformulations are rare; and they are not, we argue, to be expected in general. So we defend an alternative sufficient condition for the non-vacuity of ceteris paribus laws: roughly, any counterinstance of the law must be independently explicable, in a sense we make explicit. Ceteris paribus laws will carry a plethora (...)
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  3.  71
    Events and semantic architecture.Paul M. Pietroski - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    A study of how syntax relates to meaning by a leader of the new generation of philosopher-linguists.
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  4. Prima facie obligations, ceteris paribus laws in moral theory.Paul M. Pietroski - 1993 - Ethics 103 (3):489-515.
  5. Meaning before truth.Paul M. Pietroski - 2005 - In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford University Press.
     
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  6.  12
    Causing Actions.Paul M. Pietroski - 2000 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
    Paul Pietroski presents an original philosophical theory of actions and their mental causes. We often act for reasons: we deliberate and choose among options, based on our beliefs and desires. However, bodily motions always have biochemical causes, so it can seem that thinking and acting are biochemical processes. Pietroski argues that thoughts and deeds are in fact distinct from, though dependent on, underlying biochemical processes within persons.
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  7. The meaning of 'most': Semantics, numerosity and psychology.Paul Pietroski, Jeffrey Lidz, Tim Hunter & Justin Halberda - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (5):554-585.
    The meaning of 'most' can be described in many ways. We offer a framework for distinguishing semantic descriptions, interpreted as psychological hypotheses that go beyond claims about sentential truth conditions, and an experiment that tells against an attractive idea: 'most' is understood in terms of one-to-one correspondence. Adults evaluated 'Most of the dots are yellow', as true or false, on many trials in which yellow dots and blue dots were displayed for 200 ms. Displays manipulated the ease of using a (...)
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  8. Nature, nurture, and universal grammar.Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski - 2001 - Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (2):139-186.
    In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the cues that are available in the input to children, as well as childrens skills (...)
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  9. Intentionality and teleological error.Paul M. Pietroski - 1992 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):267-82.
    Theories of content purport to explain, among other things, in virtue of what beliefs have the truth conditions they do have. The desire for such a theory has many sources, but prominent among them are two puzzling facts that are notoriously difficult to explain: beliefs can be false, and there are normative constraints on the formation of beliefs.2 If we knew in virtue of what beliefs had truth conditions, we would be better positioned to explain how it is possible for (...)
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  10. Poverty of the Stimulus Revisited.Robert C. Berwick, Paul Pietroski, Beracah Yankama & Noam Chomsky - 2011 - Cognitive Science 35 (7):1207-1242.
    A central goal of modern generative grammar has been to discover invariant properties of human languages that reflect “the innate schematism of mind that is applied to the data of experience” and that “might reasonably be attributed to the organism itself as its contribution to the task of the acquisition of knowledge” (Chomsky, 1971). Candidates for such invariances include the structure dependence of grammatical rules, and in particular, certain constraints on question formation. Various “poverty of stimulus” (POS) arguments suggest that (...)
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  11. The character of natural language semantics.Paul M. Pietroski - 2003 - In Alex Barber (ed.), Epistemology of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 217--256.
    Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland I had heard it said that Chomsky’s conception of language is at odds with the truth-conditional program in semantics. Some of my friends said it so often that the point—or at least a point—finally sunk in.
     
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  12. Concepts, meanings and truth: First nature, second nature and hard work.Paul M. Pietroski - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (3):247-278.
    I argue that linguistic meanings are instructions to build monadic concepts that lie between lexicalizable concepts and truth-evaluable judgments. In acquiring words, humans use concepts of various adicities to introduce concepts that can be fetched and systematically combined via certain conjunctive operations, which require monadic inputs. These concepts do not have Tarskian satisfaction conditions. But they provide bases for refinements and elaborations that can yield truth-evaluable judgments. Constructing mental sentences that are true or false requires cognitive work, not just an (...)
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  13.  87
    Interface transparency and the psychosemantics of most.Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski, Tim Hunter & Justin Halberda - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (3):227-256.
    This paper proposes an Interface Transparency Thesis concerning how linguistic meanings are related to the cognitive systems that are used to evaluate sentences for truth/falsity: a declarative sentence S is semantically associated with a canonical procedure for determining whether S is true; while this procedure need not be used as a verification strategy, competent speakers are biased towards strategies that directly reflect canonical specifications of truth conditions. Evidence in favor of this hypothesis comes from a psycholinguistic experiment examining adult judgments (...)
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  14.  77
    Believing in language.Susan Dwyer & Paul M. Pietroski - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):338-373.
    We propose that the generalizations of linguistic theory serve to ascribe beliefs to humans. Ordinary speakers would explicitly (and sincerely) deny having these rather esoteric beliefs about language--e.g., the belief that an anaphor must be bound in its governing category. Such ascriptions can also seem problematic in light of certain theoretical considerations having to do with concept possession, revisability, and so on. Nonetheless, we argue that ordinary speakers believe the propositions expressed by certain sentences of linguistic theory, and that linguistics (...)
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  15. Causing Actions.Paul M. Pietroski - 2000 - Philosophy 78 (303):128-132.
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  16. Matters of Mind: Consciousness, Reason, and Nature.Paul M. Pietroski - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):488-491.
  17.  31
    The mental representation of universal quantifiers.Tyler Knowlton, Paul Pietroski, Justin Halberda & Jeffrey Lidz - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (4):911-941.
    A sentence like every circle is blue might be understood in terms of individuals and their properties or in terms of a relation between groups. Relatedly, theorists can specify the contents of universally quantified sentences in first-order or second-order terms. We offer new evidence that this logical first-order vs. second-order distinction corresponds to a psychologically robust individual vs. group distinction that has behavioral repercussions. Participants were shown displays of dots and asked to evaluate sentences with each, every, or all combined (...)
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  18. A Defense of Derangement.Paul M. Pietroski - 1994 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (1):95 - 117.
    In a recent paper, Bar-On and Risjord (henceforth, 'B&R') contend that Davidson provides no 1 good argument for his (in)famous claim that "there is no such thing as a language." And according to B&R, if Davidson had established his "no language" thesis, he would thereby have provided a decisive reason for abandoning the project he has long advocated--viz., that of trying to provide theories of meaning for natural languages by providing recursive theories of truth for such languages. For he would (...)
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  19.  75
    Think of the children.Paul M. Pietroski - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):657 – 669.
    Often, the deepest disagreements are about starting points, and which considerations are relevant.
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  20. Character before content.Paul M. Pietroski - 2006 - In Judith Jarvis Thomson (ed.), Content and Modality: Themes From the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 34--60.
    Speakers can use sentences to make assertions. Theorists who reflect on this truism often say that sentences have linguistic meanings, and that assertions have propositional contents. But how are meanings related to contents? Are meanings less dependent on the environment? Are contents more independent of language? These are large questions, which must be understood partly in terms of the phenomena that lead theorists to use words like ‘meaning’ and ‘content’, sometimes in nonstandard ways. Opportunities for terminological confusion thus abound when (...)
     
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  21.  98
    Actions, adjuncts, and agency.Paul M. Pietroski - 1998 - Mind 107 (425):73-111.
    The event analysis of action sentences seems to be at odds with plausible (Davidsonian) views about how to count actions. If Booth pulled a certain trigger, and thereby shot Lincoln, there is good reason for identifying Booths' action of pulling the trigger with his action of shooting Lincoln; but given truth conditions of certain sentences involving adjuncts, the event analysis requires that the pulling and the shooting be distinct events. So I propose that event sortals like 'shooting' and 'pulling' are (...)
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  22.  50
    A narrow path from meanings to contents.Paul M. Pietroski - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (9):3027-3035.
    In this comment on Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne's illuminating book, Narrow Content, I address some issues related to externalist conceptions of linguistic meaning.
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  23.  68
    Logical form.Paul Pietroski - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  24.  91
    Small verbs, complex events: Analyticity without synonymy.Paul M. Pietroski - 2003 - In Louise M. Antony (ed.), Chomsky and His Critics. Malden Ma: Blackwell. pp. 179--214.
    This chapter contains section titled: Hidden Tautologies Minimal Syntax.
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  25. Fregean Innocence.Paul M. Pietroski - 1996 - Mind and Language 11 (4):338-370.
    Frege's account of opacity is based on two attractive ideas: every meaningful expression has a sense (Sinn) that determines the expression's semantic value (Bedeutung); and the semantic value of a‘that’‐clause is the thought expressed by its embedded sentence. Considerations of compositionality led Frege to a more problematic view: inside ‘that’‐clauses, an expression does not have its customary Bedeutung. But contrary to initial appearances, compositionality does not entail a familiar substitutivity principle. And Fregeans can exploit this point in a way that (...)
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  26.  28
    On Explaining That.Paul M. Pietroski - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):655.
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  27.  26
    Replies to Critics.Paul Pietroski - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3):752-764.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  28. Mental causation for dualists.Paul M. Pietroski - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (3):336-366.
    The philosophical problem of mental causation concerns a clash between commonsense and scientific views about the causation of human behaviour. On the one hand, commonsense suggests that our actions are caused by our mental states—our thoughts, intentions, beliefs and so on. On the other hand, neuroscience assumes that all bodily movements are caused by neurochemical events. It is implausible to suppose that our actions are causally overdetermined in the same way that the ringing of a bell may be overdetermined by (...)
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  29.  68
    Semantic monadicity with conceptual polyadicity.Paul Pietroski - 2012 - In Wolfram Hinzen, Edouard Machery & Markus Werning (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality. Oxford University Press.
    Many concepts, which can be constituents of thoughts, are somehow indicated with words that can be constituents of sentences. But this assumption is compatible with many hypotheses about the concepts lexicalized, linguistic meanings, and the relevant forms of composition. The lexical items simply label the concepts they lexicalize, and that composition of lexical meanings mirrors composition of the labeled concepts, which exhibit diverse adicities. If a phrase must be understood as an instruction to conjoin monadic concepts that correspond to the (...)
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  30. Brass tacks in linguistic theory: Innate grammatical principles.Stephen Grain, Andrea Gualmini & Paul Pietroski - 2005 - In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York. pp. 1--175.
    In the normal course of events, children manifest linguistic competence equivalent to that of adults in just a few years. Children can produce and understand novel sentences, they can judge that certain strings of words are true or false, and so on. Yet experience appears to dramatically underdetermine the com- petence children so rapidly achieve, even given optimistic assumptions about children’s nonlinguistic capacities to extract information and form generalizations on the basis of statistical regularities in the input. These considerations underlie (...)
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  31.  47
    Framing Event Variables.Paul M. Pietroski - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):31-60.
    Davidsonian analyses of action reports like ‘Alvin chased Theodore around a tree’ are often viewed as supporting the hypothesis that sentences of a human language H have truth conditions that can be specified by a Tarski-style theory of truth for H. But in my view, simple cases of adverbial modification add to the reasons for rejecting this hypothesis, even though Davidson rightly diagnosed many implications involving adverbs as cases of conjunct-reduction in the scope of an existential quantifier. I think the (...)
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  32. On explaining that.Paul M. Pietroski - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):655-662.
    How can a speaker can explain that P without explaining the fact that P, or explain the fact that P without explaining that P, even when it is true (and so a fact) that P? Or in formal mode: what is the semantic contribution of 'explain' such that 'She explained that P' can be true, while 'She explained the fact that P' is false (or vice versa), even when 'P' is true? The proposed answer is that 'explained' is a semantically (...)
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  33. Minimal Semantic Instructions.Paul M. Pietroski - 2011 - In Boeckx Cedric (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 472-498.
    Chomsky’s (1995, 2000a) Minimalist Program (MP) invites a perspective on semantics that is distinctive and attractive. In section one, I discuss a general idea that many theorists should find congenial: the spoken or signed languages that human children naturally acquire and use— henceforth, human languages—are biologically implemented procedures that generate expressions, whose meanings are recursively combinable instructions to build concepts that reflect a minimal interface between the Human Faculty of Language (HFL) and other cognitive systems. In sections two and three, (...)
     
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  34. Does every sentence like this exhibit a scope ambiguity.Norbert Hornstein & Paul Pietroski - 2002 - In Wolfram Hinzen & Hans Rott (eds.), Belief and Meaning: Essays at the Interface. Deutsche Bibliothek der Wissenschaften. pp. 43--72.
     
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  35.  78
    Systematicity via Monadicity.Paul M. Pietroski - 2007 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):343-374.
    Words indicate concepts, which have various adicities. But words do not, in general, inherit the adicities of the indicated concepts. Lots of evidence suggests that when a concept is lexicalized, it is linked to an analytically related monadic concept that can be conjoined with others. For example, the dyadic concept CHASE(_,_) might be linked to CHASE(_), a concept that applies to certain events. Drawing on a wide range of extant work, and familiar facts, I argue that the (open class) lexical (...)
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  36.  57
    Function and concatenation.Paul M. Pietroski - 2002 - In Georg Peter & Gerhard Preyer (eds.), Logical Form and Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 91--117.
    Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland For any sentence of a natural language, we can ask the following questions: what is its meaning; what is its syntactic structure; and how is its meaning related to its syntactic structure? Attending to these questions, as they apply to sentences that provide evidence for Davidsonian event analyses, suggests that we reconsider some traditional views about how the syntax of a natural sentence is related to its meaning.
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  37.  36
    The Undeflated Domain of Semantics.Paul M. Pietroski - 2000 - SATS 1 (2):161.
  38.  43
    Interpreting concatenation and concatenates.Paul M. Pietroski - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):221–245.
    This paper presents a slightly modified version of the compositional semantics proposed in Events and Semantic Architecture (OUP 2005). Some readers may find this shorter version, which ignores issues about vagueness and causal constructions, easier to digest. The emphasis is on the treatments of plurality and quantification, and I assume at least some familiarity with more standard approaches.
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  39. Why language acquisition is a snap.Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski - 2002 - Linguistic Review.
    Nativists inspired by Chomsky are apt to provide arguments with the following general form: languages exhibit interesting generalizations that are not suggested by casual (or even intensive) examination of what people actually say; correspondingly, adults (i.e., just about anyone above the age of four) know much more about language than they could plausibly have learned on the basis of their experience; so absent an alternative account of the relevant generalizations and speakers' (tacit) knowledge of them, one should conclude that there (...)
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  40.  38
    First-person authority and beliefs as representations.Paul M. Pietroski - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):67-69.
  41.  18
    Logical Form and LF.Paul Pietroski - 2006 - In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 822--841.
    We can use sentences to present arguments, some of which are valid. This suggests that premises and conclusions, like sentences, have structure. This in turn raises questions about how logical structure is related to grammar, and how grammatical structure is related to thought and truth.
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  42.  51
    Euthyphro and the semantic.Paul Pietroski - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):341-349.
  43.  58
    The Language faculty.Paul Pietroski & Stephen Crain - unknown
  44.  73
    Possible Worlds, Syntax, and Opacity.Paul M. Pietroski - 1993 - Analysis 53 (4):270 - 280.
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  45.  18
    Psycholinguistic evidence for restricted quantification.Tyler Knowlton, Paul Pietroski, Alexander Williams, Justin Halberda & Jeffrey Lidz - 2023 - Natural Language Semantics 31 (2):219-251.
    Quantificational determiners are often said to be devices for expressing relations. For example, the meaning of _every_ is standardly described as the inclusion relation, with a sentence like _every frog is green_ meaning roughly that the green things include the frogs. Here, we consider an older, non-relational alternative: determiners are tools for creating restricted quantifiers. On this view, determiners specify how many elements of a restricted domain (e.g., the frogs) satisfy a given condition (e.g., being green). One important difference concerns (...)
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  46.  50
    Quantification and second order monadicity.Paul M. Pietroski - 2003 - Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):259–298.
  47.  21
    Precis of Conjoining Meanings.Paul Pietroski - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3):730-734.
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  48. 32.1 patterns of reason and traditional grammar.Paul Pietroski - 2006 - In Barry C. Smith (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 822.
     
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  49. Innate ideas.Paul M. Pietroski & Stephen Crain - 2005 - In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 164--181.
    Here's one way this chapter could go. After defining the terms 'innate' and 'idea', we say whether Chomsky thinks any ideas are innate -- and if so, which ones. Unfortunately, we don't have any theoretically interesting definitions to offer; and, so far as we know, Chomsky has never said that any ideas are innate. Since saying that would make for a very short chapter, we propose to do something else. Our aim is to locate Chomsky, as he locates himself, in (...)
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  50.  16
    Describing I-junction.Paul M. Pietroski - 2014 - ProtoSociology 31:121-137.
    The meaning of a noun phrase like ‘brown cow’, or ‘cow that ate grass’, is somehow conjunctive. But conjunctive in what sense? Are the meanings of other phrases—e.g, ‘ate quickly’, ‘ate grass’, and ‘at noon’—similarly conjunctive? I suggest a possible answer, in the context of a broader conception of natural language semantics. But my main aim is to highlight some underdiscussed questions and some implications of our ignorance.
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