The myth of occurrence-based semantics

Linguistics and Philosophy 44:813-837 (2021)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
The principle of compositionality requires that the meaning of a complex expression remains the same after substitution of synonymous expressions. Alleged counterexamples to compositionality seem to force a theoretical choice: either apparent synonyms are not synonyms or synonyms do not syntactically occur where they appear to occur. Some theorists have instead looked to Frege’s doctrine of “reference shift” according to which the meaning of an expression is sensitive to its linguistic context. This doctrine is alleged to retain the relevant claims about synonymy and substitution while respecting the compositionality principle. Thus, Salmon :415, 2006) and Glanzberg and King :1–29, 2020) offer occurrence-based accounts of variable binding, and Pagin and Westerståhl :381–415, 2010c) argue that an occurrence-based semantics delivers a compositional account of quotation. Our thesis is this: the occurrence-based strategies resolve the apparent failures of substitutivity in the same general way as the standard expression-based semantics do. So it is a myth that a Frege-inspired occurrence-based semantics affords a genuine alternative strategy.
Reprint years
2020, 2021
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
First archival date: 2020-04-16
Latest version: 2 (2020-04-16)
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
529 ( #13,608 of 69,113 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
49 ( #16,588 of 69,113 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.