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Ryan M. Nefdt [20]Ryan Mark Nefdt [6]Ryan Nefdt [3]
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Ryan Mark Nefdt
University of Cape Town
  1. Conceptual Engineering: A Road Map to Practice.Manuel Gustavo Isaac, Steffen Koch & Ryan Nefdt - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (10):1-15.
    This paper discusses the logical space of alternative conceptual engineering projects, with a specific focus on (1) the processes, (2) the targets and goals, and (3) the methods of such projects. We present an overview of how these three aspects interact in the contemporary literature and discuss those alternative projects that have yet to be explored based on our suggested typology. We show how choices about each element in a conceptual engineering project constrain the possibilities for the others, thereby giving (...)
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  2. The ontology of words: a structural approach.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (8):877-911.
    Words form a fundamental basis for our understanding of linguistic practice. However, the precise ontology of words has eluded many philosophers and linguists. A persistent difficulty for most accounts of words is the type-token distinction [Bromberger, S. 1989. “Types and Tokens in Linguistics.” In Reflections on Chomsky, edited by A. George, 58–90. Basil Blackwell; Kaplan, D. 1990. “Words.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume LXIV: 93–119]. In this paper, I present a novel account of words which differs from the atomistic and platonistic (...)
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  3. Infinity and the foundations of linguistics.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Synthese 196 (5):1671-1711.
    The concept of linguistic infinity has had a central role to play in foundational debates within theoretical linguistics since its more formal inception in the mid-twentieth century. The conceptualist tradition, marshalled in by Chomsky and others, holds that infinity is a core explanandum and a link to the formal sciences. Realism/Platonism takes this further to argue that linguistics is in fact a formal science with an abstract ontology. In this paper, I argue that a central misconstrual of formal apparatus of (...)
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  4. A Puzzle concerning Compositionality in Machines.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2020 - Minds and Machines 30 (1):47-75.
    This paper attempts to describe and address a specific puzzle related to compositionality in artificial networks such as Deep Neural Networks and machine learning in general. The puzzle identified here touches on a larger debate in Artificial Intelligence related to epistemic opacity but specifically focuses on computational applications of human level linguistic abilities or properties and a special difficulty with relation to these. Thus, the resulting issue is both general and unique. A partial solution is suggested.
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  5.  48
    Are machines radically contextualist?Ryan M. Nefdt - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (3):750-771.
    In this article, I describe a novel position on the semantics of artificial intelligence. I present a problem for the current artificial neural networks used in machine learning, specifically with relation to natural language tasks. I then propose that from a metasemantic level, meaning in machines can best be interpreted as radically contextualist. Finally, I consider what this might mean for human‐level semantic competence from a comparative perspective.
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  6. Languages and Other Abstract Structures.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2018 - In Martin Neef & Christina Behme (eds.), Essays on Linguistic Realism. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 139-184.
    My aim in this chapter is to extend the Realist account of the foundations of linguistics offered by Postal, Katz and others. I first argue against the idea that naive Platonism can capture the necessary requirements on what I call a ‘mixed realist’ view of linguistics, which takes aspects of Platonism, Nominalism and Mentalism into consideration. I then advocate three desiderata for an appropriate ‘mixed realist’ account of linguistic ontology and foundations, namely (1) linguistic creativity and infinity, (2) linguistics as (...)
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  7.  71
    Scientific modelling in generative grammar and the dynamic turn in syntax.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (5):357-394.
    In this paper, I address the issue of scientific modelling in contemporary linguistics, focusing on the generative tradition. In so doing, I identify two common varieties of linguistic idealisation, which I call determination and isolation respectively. I argue that these distinct types of idealisation can both be described within the remit of Weisberg’s :639–659, 2007) minimalist idealisation strategy in the sciences. Following a line set by Blutner :27–35, 2011), I propose this minimalist idealisation analysis for a broad construal of the (...)
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  8.  96
    Formal Semantics and Applied Mathematics: An Inferential Account.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2020 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 29 (2):221-253.
    In this paper, I utilise the growing literature on scientific modelling to investigate the nature of formal semantics from the perspective of the philosophy of science. Specifically, I incorporate the inferential framework proposed by Bueno and Colyvan : 345–374, 2011) in the philosophy of applied mathematics to offer an account of how formal semantics explains and models its data. This view produces a picture of formal semantic models as involving an embedded process of inference and representation applying indirectly to linguistic (...)
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  9.  7
    Linguistic modelling and the scientific enterprise.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2016 - Language Sciences 54:43-57.
    In this paper, I critique a recent claim made by Stokhof and van Lambalgen (2011) (hereafter S&vL) that linguistics and science are at odds as to the models and constructions they employ. I argue that their distinction between abstractions and idealisations, the former belonging to the methodology of science and the latter to linguistics, is not a real one. I show that the majority of their arguments are flawed and evidence they cite misleading. Contrary to this distinction, I argue that (...)
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  10.  47
    Structural realism and generative linguistics.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):3711-3737.
    Linguistics as a science has rapidly changed during the course of a relatively short period. The mathematical foundations of the science, however, present a different story below the surface. In this paper, I argue that due to the former, the seismic shifts in theory over the past 80 years opens linguistics up to the problem of pessimistic meta-induction or radical theory change. I further argue that, due to the latter, one current solution to this problem in the philosophy of science, (...)
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  11.  17
    The Human Mind through the Lens of Language.Ryan M. Nefdt - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
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  12. On the plurality of times: disunified time and the A-series.Ryan Nefdt - 2013 - South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):249-260.
    In this paper, I investigate the nature of the metaphysical possibility of disunified time. A possibility that I argue presents unique problems for those who adhere to a strict A-theory of time, particularly those A-theorists who propose a presentist view. The first part of the paper discusses various arguments against the coherence of the concept of disunified time. I attempt to discount each of these objections and show that disunified time is indeed a possible and consistent topology of time. Then, (...)
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  13. The philosophy of linguistics: Scientific underpinnings and methodological disputes.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (12):e12636.
    This article surveys the philosophical literature on theoretical linguistics. The focus of the paper is centred around the major debates in the philosophy of linguistics, past and present, with specific relation to how they connect to the philosophy of science. Specific issues such as scientific realism in linguistics, the scientific status of grammars, the methodological underpinnings of formal semantics, and the integration of linguistics into the larger cognitive sciences form the crux of the discussion.
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  14.  44
    Motivating a Scientific Modelling Continuum: The case of natural models in the Covid-19 pandemic.Ryan M. Nefdt - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-22.
    The Covid-19 global pandemic had a profound effect on scientific practice. During this time, officials crucially relied on the work done by modellers. This raises novel questions for the philosophy of science. Here, I investigate the possibility of ‘natural models’ in predicting the virus’ trajectory for epidemiological purposes. I argue that to the extent that these can be consideredscientific models, they support the possibility of a continuum from scientific models to natural models differing in artifactual commitment. In making my case, (...)
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  15.  71
    Inferentialism and Structuralism: A Tale of Two Theories.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2018 - Logique Et Analyse 61 (244):489-512.
    This paper aims to unite two seemingly disparate themes in the philosophy of mathematics and language respectively, namely ante rem structuralism and inferentialism. My analysis begins with describing both frameworks in accordance with their genesis in the work of Hilbert. I then draw comparisons between these philosophical views in terms of their similar motivations and similar objections to the referential orthodoxy. I specifically home in on two points of comparison, namely the role of norms and the relation of ontological dependence (...)
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  16.  28
    Notational Variants and Cognition: The Case of Dependency Grammar.Ryan M. Nefdt & Giosué Baggio - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-31.
    In recent years, dependency grammars have established themselves as valuable tools in theoretical and computational linguistics. To many linguists, dependency grammars and the more standard constituency-based formalisms are notational variants. We argue that, beyond considerations of formal equivalence, cognition may also serve as a background for a genuine comparison between these different views of syntax. In this paper, we review and evaluate some of the most common arguments and evidence employed to advocate for the cognitive or neural reality of dependency (...)
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  17.  19
    Biolinguistics and biological systems: a complex systems analysis of language.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (2):1-42.
    In their recent book, Ladyman and Wiesner (What is a complex system?, Yale University Press, 2020) delineate the bounds of the exciting interdisciplinary field of complexity science. In this work, they provide examples of generally accepted complex systems and common features which these possess to varying degrees. In this paper, I plan to extend their list to include the formal study of natural language, i.e. linguistics. In fact, I will argue that language exhibits many of the hallmarks of a complex (...)
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  18. Why Philosophers should do Semantics : a Reply to Cappelen.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (1):243-256.
    In this paper, I address a series of arguments recently put forward by Cappelen Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8: 743–762 to the effect that philosophers should not do formal semantics or be concerned with the “minutiae of natural language semantics”. He offers two paths for accessing his ideas. I argue that his arguments fail in favour of the first and cast some doubt on the second in so doing. I then proffer an alternative conception of why exactly philosophers should (...)
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  19.  31
    Scientific Models and Political Theory: The Ideal Theory Debate Revisited.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2021 - Theoria 87 (6):1585-1608.
    Political philosophy has traditionally been defined as a normative discipline with a distinctively ideal component, largely informed by moral philosophy. In this paper, I investigate a prominent critique of ideal theory specifically with the goal of resituating the debate within a larger framework in the philosophy of science. I then mount a novel case for how ideal theory should be viewed in terms of scientific modelling. I close with a discussion of how this view can dissolve apparent paradoxes and provide (...)
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  20.  55
    Teaching and Learning Guide for: The Philosophy of Linguistics: Scientific Underpinnings and Methodological Disputes.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (1):e12647.
    This is a teaching guide companion to the main article published in Philosophy Compass. It offers insights into how one might go about designing a course in the philosophy of linguistics at advanced undergrad/graduate level. Readings and possible core questions are included.
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  21.  42
    Language, Science, and Structure: a journey into the philosophy of linguistics.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2023 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    What is a language? What do scientific grammars tell us about the structure of individual languages and human language in general? What kind of science is linguistics? These and other questions are the subject of Ryan M. Nefdt's Language, Science, and Structure. -/- Linguistics presents a unique and challenging subject matter for the philosophy of science. As a special science, its formalisation and naturalisation inspired what many consider to be a scientific revolution in the study of mind and language. Yet (...)
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  22.  17
    Structural Realism and Generative Grammar.Ryan M. Nefdt - unknown
    Linguistics as a science has rapidly changed during the course of a relatively short period. The mathematical foundations of the science, however, present a different story below the surface. In this paper, I argue that due to the former, the seismic shifts in theory over the past 80 years opens linguistics up to the problem of pessimistic meta-induction or radical theory change. I further argue that, due to the latter, one current solution to this problem in the philosophy of science, (...)
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  23.  75
    The foundations of linguistics : mathematics, models, and structures.Ryan Mark Nefdt - 2016 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    The philosophy of linguistics is a rich philosophical domain which encompasses various disciplines. One of the aims of this thesis is to unite theoretical linguistics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science and the ontology of language. Each part of the research presented here targets separate but related goals with the unified aim of bringing greater clarity to the foundations of linguistics from a philosophical perspective. Part I is devoted to the methodology of linguistics in terms of scientific modelling. (...)
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  24. The metaphysics of time investigations in tense-logic and a B-series semantics.Ryan Nefdt - unknown
    Includes bibliographical references (leaves 81-83).
     
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  25.  36
    The Philosophy and Science of Language.Ryan Mark Nefdt, Carita Klippi & Bart Karstens (eds.) - 2020 - Palgrave Mcmillan.
    This volume brings together a diverse range of scholars to address important philosophical and interdisciplinary questions in the study of language. Linguistics throughout history has been a conduit to the study of the mind, brain, societal structure, literature and history itself. The epistemic and methodological transfer between the sciences and humanities in regards to linguistics has often been documented, but the underlying philosophical issues have not always been adequately addressed. -/- With 15 original and interdisciplinary chapters, this volume therefore tackles (...)
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  26.  2
    The philosophy of theoretical linguistics: a contemporary outlook.Ryan M. Nefdt - 2024 - Cambridge ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
    Drawing on perspectives ranging from generative syntax, optimality theory, computational linguistics, sign language phonology, and language evolution studies, this book explores the current philosophical issues in theoretical linguistics. It is an essential read for linguists, cognitive scientists and philosophers working in language studies.
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  27.  60
    Recursion: A Computational Investigation into the Representation and Processing of Language. [REVIEW]Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (274):206-209.
  28.  41
    Semantics, Metasemantics, Aboutness. [REVIEW]Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):871-874.
    Semantics, Metasemantics, Aboutness. By Simchen Ori.
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  29.  35
    The Social Evolution of Human Nature: From Biology to Language. [REVIEW]Ryan M. Nefdt - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):874-877.
    The Social Evolution of Human Nature: From Biology to Language. By Smit Harry.
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