Jonardon Ganeri gives an account of language as essentially a means for the reception of knowledge. The semantic power of a word and its ability to stand for a thing derives from the capacity of understanders to acquire knowledge simply by understanding what is said. Ganeri finds this account in the work of certain Indian philosophers of language, and shows how their analysis can inform and be informed by contemporary philosophical theory.
_Insensitive Semantics_ is an overview of and contribution to the debates about how to accommodate context sensitivity within a theory of human communication, investigating the effects of context on communicative interaction and, as a corollary, what a context of utterance is and what it is to be in one. Provides detailed and wide-ranging overviews of the central positions and arguments surrounding contextualism Addresses broad and varied aspects of the distinction between the semantic and non-semantic content of language Defends a distinctive (...) and explanatorily powerful combination of semantic minimalism and speech act pluralism Confronts core problems which not only run to the heart of philosophy of language and linguistics, but which arise in epistemology, metaphysics, and moral philosophy as well. (shrink)
The boundary between semantics and pragmatics has been important since the early twentieth century, but in the last twenty-five years it has become the central issue in the philosophy of language. This anthology collects classic philosophical papers on the topic, along with recent key contributions. It stresses not only the nature of the boundary, but also its importance for philosophy generally.
The debate between critics of syntactic and semantic approaches to the formalization of scientific theories has been going on for over 50 years. I structure the debate in light of a recent exchange between Hans Halvorson, Clark Glymour, and Bas van Fraassen and argue that the only remaining disagreement concerns the alleged difference in the dependence of syntactic and semantic approaches on languages of predicate logic. This difference turns out to be illusory.
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s _Semantic Relationism_ is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new _Blackwell/Brown (...) Lectures in Philosophy_ series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the concept of truth in classical Chinese philosophy, beginning with a critical examination of Chad Hansen’s claim that it has no such concept. By using certain passages that emphasize analogous concepts in the philosophy of language of the Later Mohist Canons, I argue that while there is no word in classical Chinese that functions as truth generally does in Western philosophy for grammatical reasons, the Later Mohists were certainly working with a notion (...) of semantic adequacy in which a language-to-world relationship is made an object of investigation, challenging Hansen’s position that classical Chinese functions within a primarily pragmatic linguistic framework in which a language-to-user relationship determines the meaning of words. (shrink)
In this article I offer a naturalistic defence of semantic externalism. I argue against the following: (1) arguments for externalism rest mainly on conceptual analysis; (2) the community conceptual norms relevant to individuation of propositional attitudes are quasi-analytic; (3) externalism raises serious questions about knowledge of propositional attitudes; and (4) externalism might be OK for “folk psychology” but not for cognitive science. The naturalist alternatives are as follows. (1) Community norms are not anything like a priori; sometimes they are incoherent. (...) (2) Often propositional attitudes lack determinate content: we do not know the content of thoughts or sentences because there is no fully definite content to be known. (3) Often achieving determinate content is a major socially mediated cognitive achievement that depends on just the factors of social and environmental embedding posited as individuative by externalists, so (4) externalism explains how people can, sometimes, come to have, and to know, determinate attitude contents. (5) Reference and content, for both thought and language, are determined by complex and messy dialectical relations involving many such environmental and social factors; consequently, determinate reference, truth-conditions, etc., are somewhat uncommon outcomes. (6) The basic semantic relation is (typically imperfect) socially mediated accommodation between perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, classificatory and inferential dispositions and relevant causal structures in the environment. (7) This accommodation explains how concepts, language, taxonomies, etc., contribute to individuals' rational inductive, explanatory and practical achievements. (8) So externally individuated propositional attitudes are required for cognitive science explanations of individual human rationality and its inductive and explanatory achievements. “Individual rationality ain't (entirely) in the individual head.”. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, contrary to Chad Hansen’s view , that pre-Han 漢 Chinese philosophy has the semantic concept of truth. Hansen argues that, first, pre-Han Chinese thinkers do not have motivations to introduce the concept of truth in their philosophy due to their peculiar theory of language; second, the concept does not fit well with philosophical texts at that time, and in particular, the Mozi 墨子 text about the three standards of doctrine. However, I argue that (...) Chinese thinkers indeed have reasons to introduce the concept of truth. Hansen’s reading of the three standards of doctrine takes the standards as standards of correct word use, thus attributing to the authors of the Mozi an understanding of yan 言 as something without complete propositional content. However, I argue, a reading that sees the three standards as standards for something with complete propositional content explains better the passages in which the authors apply the standards to various issues. Finally I argue that the term ran 然 is sometimes used as a truth predicate in classical Chinese texts, because it has several important features identical to that of the truth predicate “is true” in English. (shrink)
In this article, I offer a provisional analysis of the philosophical semantics of "wisdom" in the thought of the New Confucian thinker Tang Junyi. I begin by providing some pointers concerning the concept of wisdom in general and situating the discourse on wisdom in comparative philosophy in the context of the later Foucault's and Pierre Hadot's historical investigations into ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy as a mode of spiritual self-cultivation and self-transformation. In the remainder of the paper, I try (...) to describe and think through what Foucault identifies as a "Cartesian moment," in which self-knowledge becomes the ultimate precondition for the ethico-spiritual project of "caring for the self," in Tang's approach of wisdom. In the course of my argument, I outline the complex relation between his vision of a renewed Confucian mode of religious practice on the one hand and his philosophical presuppositions concerning the transcendental status of subjectivity and the reflexivity of consciousness on the other. (shrink)
Semantic externalism is the view that the meanings of referring terms, and the contents of beliefs that are expressed by those terms, are not fully determined by factors internal to the speaker but are instead bound up with the environment. The debate about semantic externalism is one of the most important but difficult topics in philosophy of mind and language, and has consequences for our understanding of the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting language and (...) the mind. In this long-needed book, Jesper Kallestrup provides an invaluable map of the problem. Beginning with a thorough introduction to the theories of descriptivism and referentialism and the work of Frege and Kripke, Kallestrup moves on to analyse Putnam’s Twin Earth argument, Burge’s arthritis argument and Davidson’s Swampman argument. He also discusses how semantic externalism is at the heart of important topics such as indexical thoughts, epistemological skepticism, self-knowledge, and mental causation. Including chapter summaries, a glossary of terms, and an annotated guide to further reading, _Semantic Externalism_ an ideal guide for students studying philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
The work explains a unifying pluralist account of truth that combines representative truth-concern approaches in Chinese philosophy to posit one foundation of the various movements of thought in Chinese philosophy that pursue “how things are.” Mou contributes a unique, Eastern view to contemporary exploration of the philosophical issue of truth.
Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one’s intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g., Nisbett et al. 2001) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical (...) cases (Weinberg et al. 2001). In light of these findings on cultural differences, two experiments were conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. Both experiments indicate that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference. (shrink)
In this article I give an overview of some recent work in philosophy of science dedicated to analysing the scientific process in terms of (conceptual) mathematical models of theories and the various semantic relations between such models, scientific theories, and aspects of reality. In current philosophy of science, the most interesting questions centre around the ways in which writers distinguish between theories and the mathematical structures that interpret them and in which they are true, i.e. between scientific theories (...) as linguistic systems and their non-linguistic models. In philosophy of science literature there are two main approaches to the structure of scientific theories, the statement or syntactic approach -- advocated by Carnap, Hempel and Nagel -- and the non- statement or semantic approach --advocated, among others, by Suppes, the structuralists, Beth, Van Fraassen, Giere, Wojcicki. In conclusion, I briefly review some of the usual realist inspired questions about the possibility and character of relations between scientific theories and reality as implied by the various approaches I discuss in the course of the article. The models of a scientific theory should indeed be adequate to the phenomena, but if the theory is 'adequate' to (true in) its conceptual (mathematical) models as well, we have a model-theoretic realism that addresses the possible meaning and reference of 'theoretical entities' without relapsing into the metaphysics typical of the usual scientific realist approaches. (shrink)
This paper presents a uniform semantic treatment of nonmonotonic inference operations that allow for inferences from infinite sets of premises. The semantics is formulated in terms of selection functions and is a generalization of the preferential semantics of Shoham (1987), (1988), Kraus, Lehman, and Magidor (1990) and Makinson (1989), (1993). A selection function picks out from a given set of possible states (worlds, situations, models) a subset consisting of those states that are, in some sense, the most preferred (...) ones. A proposition α is a nonmonotonic consequence of a set of propositions Γ iff α holds in all the most preferred Γ-states. In the literature on revealed preference theory, there are a number of well-known theorems concerning the representability of selection functions, satisfying certain properties, in terms of underlying preference relations. Such theorems are utilized here to give corresponding representation theorems for nonmonotonic inference operations. At the end of the paper, the connection between nonmonotonic inference and belief revision, in the sense of Alchourrón, Gärdenfors, and Makinson, is explored. In this connection, infinitary belief revision operations that allow for the revision of a theory with a possibly infinite set of propositions are introduced and characterized axiomatically. (shrink)
Expressivism - the sophisticated contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist research program of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare - is no longer the province of metaethicists alone. Its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought has also recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy - including logic, probability, mental and linguistic content, knowledge, epistemic modals, belief, the a priori, and even quantifiers. Yet the semantic commitments of expressivism are still poorly understood and have not (...) been very far developed. As argued within, expressivists have not yet even managed to solve the "negation problem" - to explain why atomic normative sentences are inconsistent with their negations. As a result, it is far from clear that expressivism even could be true, let alone whether it is. Being For seeks to evaluate the semantic commitments of expressivism, by showing how an expressivist semantics would work, what it can do, and what kind of assumptions would be required, in order for it to do it. Building on a highly general understanding of the basic ideas of expressivism, it argues that expressivists can solve the negation problem - but only in one kind of way. It shows how this insight paves the way for an explanatorily powerful, constructive expressivist semantics, which solves many of what have been taken to be the deepest problems for expressivism. But it also argues that no account with these advantages can be generalized to deal with constructions like tense, modals, or binary quantifiers. Expressivism, the book argues, is coherent and interesting, but false. (shrink)
Husserl's mathematical philosophy of science can be considered an anticipation of the contemporary postpositivistic semantic approach, which regards mathematics and not logic as the appropriate tool for the exact philosophical reconstruction of scientific theories. According to Husserl, an essential part of a theory's reconstruction is the mathematical description of its domain, that is, the world (or the part of the world) the theory intends to talk about. Contrary to the traditional micrological approach favored by the members of the Vienna (...) Circle, Husserl, inspired by modern geometry and set theory, aims at a macrological analysis of scientific theories that takes into account the global structures of theories as structured wholes. This is set in the complementary theories of manifolds and theory forms considered by Husserl himself as the culmination of his formal theory of science. (shrink)
In this paper I address anew the problem of determinacy in translation by examining the Western philosophical and translation theoretic traditions of the last century. Translation theory and the philosophy of language have largely gone their separate ways . Yet translation theory and the philosophy of language predominantly share a common assumption that stands in the way of determinate translation. It is that languages, not texts, are the objects of translation and the subjects of semantics. The way (...) to overcome the theoretical problems surrounding the possibility and determinacy of translation is to marry the philosopher of language’s concern for determinacy and semantic accuracy in translation with the notion of a “text-type” from the translation theory literature. The resulting theory capable of explaining determinacy in translation is what I call the text-type conception of semantics . It is a novel alternative to the salient positions of Contextualism and Semantic Minimalism in the contemporary philosophy of language. (shrink)
This book offers a semantic and metasemantic inquiry into the representation of meaning in linguistic interaction. Kasia Jaszczolt offers a new contextualist take on the semantics/pragmatics boundary, and argues that this is the only promising stance on meaning. This approach allows the selection of the cognitively plausible object of enquiry - namely the intended, primary meaning - and its adoption as a unit of semantic analysis despite the varying provenance of the contributing information. The analysis transcends the said/implicated distinction (...) and heavily relies on the dynamic construction of meaning in discourse, using truth conditions as a tool and at the same time conforming to pragmatic compositionality. Meaning in Linguistic Interaction builds on the author's earlier work on Default Semantics, and adds new arguments in favour of radical contextualism, particularly with regard to the role of salience, the dynamic nature of the unit that forms a basis of the interpretation process, and the flexibility of word meaning. It is illustrated with examples from a variety of languages and offers formal representations of meaning in the metalanguage of Default Semantics. (shrink)
Semantics is a bridge discipline between linguistics and philosophy; but linguistics student are rarely able to reach that bridge, let alone cross it to inspect and assess the activity on the other side. Professor Kempson's textbook seeks particularly to encourage such exchanges. She deals with the standard linguistic topics like componential analysis, semantic universals and the syntax-semantics controversy. But she also provides for students with no training in philosophy or logic an introduction to such central topics (...) in the philosophy of language as logical form, truth, speech acts, analyticity, entailment and presupposition. The exposition throughout is deliberately argumentative rather than descriptive, introducing the student step by step to the major problems in theoretical semantics. Special emphasis is placed on the need to consider individual arguments within the overall perspective of semantics as an integral part of general linguistic theory. Written primarily as a textbook for undergraduates and graduates in linguistics departments, this book will also be useful to undergraduates in philosophy and in psychology where linguistics is a part of their course. (shrink)
Essentialism--roughly, the view that natural kinds have discrete essences, generating truths that are necessary but knowable only _a posteriori_--is an increasingly popular view in the metaphysics of science. At the same time, philosophers of language have been subjecting Kripke’s views about the existence and scope of the necessary _a posteriori_ to rigorous analysis and criticism. Essentialists typically appeal to Kripkean semantics to motivate their radical extension of the realm of the necessary _a posteriori_; but they rarely attempt to provide (...) any semantic arguments for this extension, or engage with the critical work being done by philosophers of language. This collection brings authors on both sides together in one volume, thus helping the reader to see the connections between views in philosophy of language on the one hand and the metaphysics of science on the other. The result is a book that will have a significant impact on the debate about essentialism, encouraging essentialists to engage with debates about the semantic presuppositions that underpin their position, and, encouraging philosophers of language to engage with the metaphysical presuppositions enshrined in Kripkean semantics. (shrink)
Every philosophical mode has a unique conceptual system. Qi has consistently been a fundamental part of ancient Chinese philosophy, and its significance is obvious. Guided by the idea of re-evaluating all values, Yan Fu, who was deeply influenced by Western philosophy and logic, used reverse analogical interpretation to present a new explanation of the traditional Chinese concept of qi. Qi thus evolved into basic physical particles. Yan’s philosophical effort has great significance: The logical ambiguity that had haunted qi (...) was overcome. However, qi gradually evolved into a particular existence as it was Westernized. It completely lost its internal flavor as indigenous Chinese philosophy. Its previous philosophical abstraction and universality diminished and at the same time it was not Westernized into the pure concept of Hegel’s philosophy. (shrink)
Many philosophers of psychology fail to appreciate the constructivist process of science as well as its pragmatic aspects. A well-developed philosophy of science helps to clear many conceptual confusions. However, ridding ourselves of popular complaints only opens more sophisticated worries regarding how we generalize specific events and how we use those generalizations to build physical systems and abstract models. These questions can still be answered though by realizing that science is largely a social enterprise, and how and what we (...) explain depends a great deal upon who is asking the question of whom and when. (shrink)
In The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, Russell defends a version of semantic empiricism according to which direct acquaintance with logical atoms is the source of our semantic capacities. Previous commentators have construed Russellian acquaintance in one of two ways: either as an act of de re designation involving neither conceptualization nor propositional content, or as a species of belief de re, which does involve conceptualization or classification. I argue that two further, interim possibilities have been overlooked: that direct acquaintance (...) involves purely phenomenal content or that direct acquaintance involves protoconceptual content. I conclude, however, that on none of the four interpretations considered, can direct acquaintance with logical atoms be the source of our semantic capacities. (shrink)
This review considers Semantic Syntax and Slavic Transformational Syntax particularly in the light of their contributions to the theory of grammar. Semantic Syntax is shown to have a polemical bias against the Aspects model and toward generative semantics. Its editor's position in the constellation of semantic logicians is defined; pro-Chomskian objections to the logical-cognitive semantic theory are advanced. Slavic Transformational Syntax is comprised of essays with a wide range of theoretical stances; the insights of the radical case grammar of (...) James Miller are compared with those of Semantic Syntax. Remarks on deixis by Richard Brecht are discussed in relationship to semantic-logic approaches. Certain similarities of Jakobsonian functionalism and generative semantics are discussed. (shrink)
This major publication is a history of the semantic tradition in philosophy from the early nineteenth century through its incarnation in the work of the Vienna Circle, the group of logical positivists that emerged in the years 1925-1935 in Vienna who were characterised by a strong commitment to empiricism, a high regard for science, and a conviction that modern logic is the primary tool of analytic philosophy. In the first part of the book, Alberto Coffa traces the roots (...) of logical positivism in a semantic tradition that arose in opposition to Kant's theory that a priori knowledge is based on pure intuition and the constitutive powers of the mind. In Part II, Coffa chronicles the development of this tradition by members and associates of the Vienna Circle. Much of Coffa's analysis draws on the unpublished notes and correspondence of many philosophers. The book, however, is not merely a history of the semantic tradition from Kant 'to the Vienna Station'. Coffa also critically reassesses the role of semantic notions in understanding the ground of a priori knowledge and its relation to empirical knowledge and questions the turn the tradition has taken since Vienna. (shrink)
This collection, with an agreeable proportion of new material and a sensible selection of old, is worth the money and ought to be on the shelf of anyone interested in recent work on language by philosophers, psychologists, and linguists. The section by linguists proper is the longer and more up to date but this seems quite in order: today neither work in philosophy nor psychology can provide a plausible center-of-attention that will take in the other and linguistics as flanking (...) material. For better and worse linguistics is the centerpiece: and the debate between "interpretive" and "generative" semanticists, here respectively represented by Chomsky and George Lakoff, is the center, most likely, of the centerpiece. The generative semanticists suggest that the base and semantic components ultimately come to the same: the distinction between syntactic rules and semantic rules is presumed as in the Chomskian position but it is thought that the algorithm of wellformedness will turn out to provide all the rules needed for semantic interpretation. The interpretive semantic alternative, here argued by Chomsky in a paper otherwise difficult to obtain except in mimeo, distinguishes semantic from base component by insisting, particularly in matters respecting reference and quantification, that transformations are not meaning-invariant, and that, hence, the semantic component is fed by both the base and surface structures independently. To put the interpretive view in terms of Tarski-cum-Davidsonian biconditionals, we would no longer have on the left side of the biconditional one ’structural-descriptive’ string but rather two separate strings, one surface and the other deep, that would jointly and independently determine meaning. The generative semanticists, following James McCawley, stress that their argument against autonomous deep syntax follows in form Morris Halle’s well-known argument against a phonemic level of description supposed intermediate between superficial surface syntax and systematic phonetics. The basic question one raises against this argument is whether logico-semantic form constitutes itself for linguistic science as one level of description and as an essentially linguistic level of description. One can see an obvious place for philosophers in these arguments, though one finds in this volume very little suggestion of philosophical-semantic work, in the Frege-Carnap tradition, that Donald Davidson, Richard Montague, John Wallace, etc., have been carrying on lately. There is a previously unpublished paper by David Wiggins in this vein, but though Wiggins is his usual brilliant and playfully convoluted self, this is too idiosyncratic and occasional a piece to represent what is by way of a movement. Indeed, aside from the Wiggins-Alston material, the philosopher’s section is solid but familiar material: H. P. Grice’s famous paper on meaning and Paul Ziff’s criticism of Grice’s theory; Gilbert Harman’s "Three Levels of Meaning"; late-1960s papers by Donnellan, Linsky, Quine, Strawson, Vendler, and Searle on reference. But this aside this volume vividly makes the point that philosophy and linguistics have never been more entangled with each other in a genuine working relationship. Chomsky’s arguments come in part from recent philosopher’s work. There is evident concern by linguists with presuppositions and performatives. "Fact," an important and not easily available paper by Paul and Carol Kilparski, sparks the philosophic imagination—as do new pieces on lexical entries, semantic features, and categories by Charles Fillmore, Manfried Bierwisch, and others. Almost enough to justify J. L. Austin’s hopes for a joint endeavor of linguists, philosophers, and psychologists: one sees in the footnotes and bibliographies, in the issue and vocabulary, that disciplines are joining and reflecting upon each other in day-to-day work. The psychology section also contains one large new piece: a splendidly energetic defense of linguistic behaviorism by Charles Osgood. One finds balance for this in Jerry Fodor’s "Could meaning be an rm?" And some good, current, and often not easily available material by George Miller, Eric Lennberg, and others. The "overviews" for the various sections are quite distinguished themselves: but this is only in keeping with general character of this reader.—J. L. (shrink)
ABSTRACTLloyd encourages us to look anew at philosophy and science by using a comparative methodology, comparing the familiar Western form of philosophy, for example, with the forms found in ancient China. Taking lessons from comparative biology, this paper attempts to show that such comparison can only take place when we understand what we are looking at in the familiar case. The question of the centrality of the drive for certainty is addressed. Why has certainty been so attractive and (...) what does it mean if philosophers and scientists cannot achieve certainty? (shrink)
In this fascinating work, Scott Soames offers a new conception of the relationship between linguistic meaning and assertions made by utterances. He gives meanings of proper names and natural kind predicates and explains their use in attitude ascriptions. He also demonstrates the irrelevance of rigid designation in understanding why theoretical identities containing such predicates are necessary, if true.
The paper presents a formal explication of the early Wittgenstein's views on ontology, the syntax and semantics of an ideal logical language, and the propositional attitudes. It will be shown that Wittgenstein gave a language of thought analysis of propositional attitude ascriptions, and that his ontological views imply that such ascriptions are truth-functions of (and supervenient upon) elementary sentences. Finally, an axiomatization of a quantified doxastic modal logic corresponding to Tractarian semantics will be given.