The Epistemic Inadequacy of Ersatzer Possible World Semantics

Logique Et Analyse 53:61-76 (2010)
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Abstract

In this paper it is argued that the conjunction of linguistic ersatzism, the ontologically deflationary view that possible worlds are maximal and consistent sets of sentences, and possible world semantics, the view that the meaning of a sentence is the set of possible worlds at which it is true, implies that no actual speaker can effectively use virtually any language to successfully communicate information. This result is based on complexity issues that relate to our finite computational ability to deal with large bodies of information and a strong, but well motivated, assumption about the cognitive accessibility of meanings of sentences ersatzers seem to be implicitly committed to. It follows that linguistic ersatzism, possible world semantics, or both must be rejected.

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Michael Shaffer
Gustavus Adolphus College

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