It's Not What it Seems. A Semantic Account of ‘Seems’ and Seemings

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (2-3):210-239 (2013)
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I start out by reviewing the semantics of ‘seem’. As ‘seem’ is a subject-raising verb, ‘it seems’ can be treated as a sentential operator. I look at the semantic and logical properties of ‘it seems’. I argue that ‘it seems’ is a hyperintensional and contextually flexible operator. The operator distributes over conjunction but not over disjunction, conditionals or semantic entailments. I further argue that ‘it seems’ does not commute with negation and does not agglomerate with conjunction. I then show that the mental states expressed by perceptual uses of ‘seem’ have non-conceptual, yet perspectival contents. In the final part of the paper I argue that while the content of the mental states expressed by perceptual uses of ‘seem’ are non-conceptual, having a mental state of this type requires possessing conceptual abilities corresponding to what the mental state represents.

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Berit Brogaard
University of Miami


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