Fine-grained semantics for attitude reports

Semantics and Pragmatics 14 (1) (2021)
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I observe that the “concept-generator” theory of Percus and Sauerland (2003), Anand (2006), and Charlow and Sharvit (2014) does not predict an intuitive true interpretation of the sentence “Plato did not believe that Hesperus was Phosphorus”. In response, I present a simple theory of attitude reports which employs a fine-grained semantics for names, according to which names which intuitively name the same thing may have distinct compositional semantic values. This simple theory solves the problem with the concept-generator theory, but, as I go on to show, it has problems of its own. I present three examples which the concept-generator theory can accommodate, but the simple fine-grained theory cannot. These examples motivate the full theory of the paper, which combines the basic ideas behind the concept-generator theory with a fine-grained semantics for names. The examples themselves are of interest independently of my theory: two of them constrain the original concept-generator theory more tightly than previously discussed examples had.

Author's Profile

Harvey Lederman
University of Texas at Austin


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