I propose a unified solution to two puzzles: Ross's puzzle and free choice permission. I begin with a pair of cases from the decision theory literature illustrating the phenomenon of act dependence, where what an agent ought to do depends on what she does. The notion of permissibility distilled from these cases forms the basis for my analysis of 'may' and 'ought'. This framework is then combined with a generalization of the classical semantics for disjunction — equivalent to (...) class='Hi'>Boolean disjunction on the diagonal, but with a different two-dimensional character — that explains the puzzling facts in terms of semantic consequence. (shrink)
Modifying the descriptive and theoretical generalizations of Relativized Minimality, we argue that a significant subset of weak island violations arise when an extracted phrase should scope over some intervener but is unable to. Harmless interveners seem harmless because they can support an alternative reading. This paper focuses on why certain wh-phrases are poor wide scope takers, and offers an algebraic perspective on scope interaction. Each scopal element SE is associated with certain operations (e.g., not with complements). When a wh-phrase scopes (...) over some SE, the operations associated with that SE are performed in its denotation domain. The requisite operations may or may not be available in a domain, however. We present an empirical analysis of a variety of wh-phrases. It is argued that the wh-phrases that escape all weak islands (i.e., can scope over any intervener) are those that range over individuals, the reason being that all Boolean operations are defined for their domain. Collectives, manners, amounts, numbers, etc. all denote in domains with fewer operations and are thus selectively sensitive to scopal interveners—a “semantic relativized minimality effect”. (shrink)
We attempt here to trace the evolution of Frege’s thought about truth. What most frames the way we approach the problem is a recognition that hardly any of Frege’s most familiar claims about truth appear in his earliest work. We argue that Frege’s mature views about truth emerge from a fundamental re-thinking of the nature of logic instigated, in large part, by a sustained engagement with the work of George Boole and his followers, after the publication of Begriffsschrift and the (...) appearance of critical reviews by members of the Boolean school. (shrink)
This book surveys research in quantification starting with the foundational work in the 1970s. It paints a vivid picture of generalized quantifiers and Booleansemantics. It explains how the discovery of diverse scope behavior in the 1990s transformed the view of quantification, and how the study of the internal composition of quantifiers has become central in recent years. It presents different approaches to the same problems, and links modern logic and formal semantics to advances in generative syntax. (...) A unique feature of the book is that it systematically brings cross-linguistic data to bear on the theoretical issues, discussing French, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Russian, Japanese, Telugu (Dravidian), and Shupamem (Grassfield Bantu), and pointing to formal semantic literature involving quantification in around thirty languages. -- -/- 1. What this book is about and how to use it; 2. Generalized quantifiers and their elements: operators and their scopes; 3. Generalized quantifiers in non-nominal domains; 4. Some empirically significant properties of quantifiers and determiners; 5. Potential challenges for generalized quantifiers; 6. Scope is not uniform and not a primitive; 7. Existential scope versus distributive scope; 8. Distributivity and scope; 9. Bare numeral indefinites; 10. Modified numerals; 11. Clause-internal scopal diversity; 12. Towards a compositional semantics of quantifier words. (shrink)
Formal semantic analyses often take words to be minimal building blocks for the purposes of compositionality. But various recent theories of morphology and syntax have converged on the view that there is no demarcation line corresponding to the word level. The same conclusion has emerged from the compositional semantics of superlatives. In the spirit of extending compositionality below the word level, this paper explores how a small set of particles (Japanese KA and MO, Chinese DOU, and Hungarian VALA/VAGY, MIND, (...) and IS) form quantifier words and serve as connectives, additive and scalar particles, question markers, and existential verbs. The main question is whether the meanings of these particles across the varied environments are highly regular, or they are lexicalized with a variety of different meanings that bear a family resemblance. This paper does not reach definitive conclusions, but it raises analytical possibilities using Booleansemantics and the semantics of alternatives. It also draws attention to systematic similarities and some differences between MO and DOU that have not been studied in the literature. (shrink)
Boolean-valued models of set theory were independently introduced by Scott, Solovay and Vopěnka in 1965, offering a natural and rich alternative for describing forcing. The original method was adapted by Takeuti, Titani, Kozawa and Ozawa to lattice-valued models of set theory. After this, Löwe and Tarafder proposed a class of algebras based on a certain kind of implication which satisfy several axioms of ZF. From this class, they found a specific 3-valued model called PS3 which satisfies all the axioms (...) of ZF, and can be expanded with a paraconsistent negation *, thus obtaining a paraconsistent model of ZF. The logic (PS3 ,*) coincides (up to language) with da Costa and D'Ottaviano logic J3, a 3-valued paraconsistent logic that have been proposed independently in the literature by several authors and with different motivations such as CluNs, LFI1 and MPT. We propose in this paper a family of algebraic models of ZFC based on LPT0, another linguistic variant of J3 introduced by us in 2016. The semantics of LPT0, as well as of its first-order version QLPT0, is given by twist structures defined over Boolean agebras. From this, it is possible to adapt the standard Boolean-valued models of (classical) ZFC to twist-valued models of an expansion of ZFC by adding a paraconsistent negation. We argue that the implication operator of LPT0 is more suitable for a paraconsistent set theory than the implication of PS3, since it allows for genuinely inconsistent sets w such that [(w = w)] = 1/2 . This implication is not a 'reasonable implication' as defined by Löwe and Tarafder. This suggests that 'reasonable implication algebras' are just one way to define a paraconsistent set theory. Our twist-valued models are adapted to provide a class of twist-valued models for (PS3,*), thus generalizing Löwe and Tarafder result. It is shown that they are in fact models of ZFC (not only of ZF). (shrink)
The word 'and' can be used both intersectively, as in 'John lies and cheats', and collectively, as in 'John and Mary met'. Research has tried to determine which one of these two meanings is basic. Focusing on coordination of nouns ('liar and cheat'), this article argues that the basic meaning of 'and' is intersective. This theory has been successfully applied to coordination of other kinds of constituents (Partee & Rooth 1983; Winter 2001). Certain cases of noun coordination ('men and women') (...) challenge this view, and have therefore been argued to favor the collective theory (Heycock & Zamparelli 2005). The main result of this article is that the intersective theory actually predicts the collective behavior of 'and' in 'men and women'. 'And' leads to collectivity by interacting with silent operators involving set minimization and choice functions, which have been postulated to account for phenomena involving indefinites, collective predicates and coordinations of noun phrases (Winter 2001). This article also shows that the collective theory does not generalize to coordinations of noun phrases in the way it has been previously suggested. (shrink)
Multialgebras have been much studied in mathematics and in computer science. In 2016 Carnielli and Coniglio introduced a class of multialgebras called swap structures, as a semantic framework for dealing with several Logics of Formal Inconsistency that cannot be semantically characterized by a single finite matrix. In particular, these LFIs are not algebraizable by the standard tools of abstract algebraic logic. In this paper, the first steps towards a theory of non-deterministic algebraization of logics by swap structures are given. Specifically, (...) a formal study of swap structures for LFIs is developed, by adapting concepts of universal algebra to multialgebras in a suitable way. A decomposition theorem similar to Birkhoff’s representation theorem is obtained for each class of swap structures. Moreover, when applied to the 3-valued algebraizable logics J3 and Ciore, their classes of algebraic models are retrieved, and the swap structures semantics become twist structures semantics. This fact, together with the existence of a functor from the category of Boolean algebras to the category of swap structures for each LFI, suggests that swap structures can be seen as non-deterministic twist structures. This opens new avenues for dealing with non-algebraizable logics by the more general methodology of multialgebraic semantics. (shrink)
Aristotle’s philosophy is considered with respect to one central concept of his philosophy, viz. opposition. Far from being a mere side-effect of syllogistic, it is argued in the present paper that opposition helps to articulate ontology and logic through an account of what can be or cannot be in a systematic and structural way. The paper is divided into three main parts. In Section I, the notion of Being is scrutinized through Aristotle’s theory of categories. In Section II, the notion (...) of Non-Being is connected to Aristotle’s theory of oppositions. In Section III, the notion of essence is revisited in order to bring about a holist theory of meaning by individuating through opposite properties. In conclusion, the legacy of Aristotle is depicted as balanced between a powerful reflection around Being and a restrictive ontology of substance. (shrink)
One of the most expected properties of a logical system is that it can be algebraizable, in the sense that an algebraic counterpart of the deductive machinery could be found. Since the inception of da Costa's paraconsistent calculi, an algebraic equivalent for such systems have been searched. It is known that these systems are non self-extensional (i.e., they do not satisfy the replacement property). More than this, they are not algebraizable in the sense of Blok-Pigozzi. The same negative results hold (...) for several systems of the hierarchy of paraconsistent logics known as Logics of Formal Inconsistency (LFIs). Because of this, these logics are uniquely characterized by semantics of non-deterministic kind. This paper offers a solution for two open problems in the domain of paraconsistency, in particular connected to algebraization of LFIs, by obtaining several LFIs weaker than C1, each of one is algebraizable in the standard Lindenbaum-Tarski's sense by a suitable variety of Boolean algebras extended with operators. This means that such LFIs satisfy the replacement property. The weakest LFI satisfying replacement presented here is called RmbC, which is obtained from the basic LFI called mbC. Some axiomatic extensions of RmbC are also studied, and in addition a neighborhood semantics is defined for such systems. It is shown that RmbC can be defined within the minimal bimodal non-normal logic E+E defined by the fusion of the non-normal modal logic E with itself. Finally, the framework is extended to first-order languages. RQmbC, the quantified extension of RmbC, is shown to be sound and complete w.r.t. BALFI semantics. (shrink)
Hyperboolean algebras are Boolean algebras with operators, constructed as algebras of complexes (or, power structures) of Boolean algebras. They provide an algebraic semantics for a modal logic (called here a {\em hyperboolean modal logic}) with a Kripke semantics accordingly based on frames in which the worlds are elements of Boolean algebras and the relations correspond to the Boolean operations. We introduce the hyperboolean modal logic, give a complete axiomatization of it, and show that it (...) lacks the finite model property. The method of axiomatization hinges upon the fact that a "difference" operator is definable in hyperboolean algebras, and makes use of additional non-Hilbert-style rules. Finally, we discuss a number of open questions and directions for further research. (shrink)
The de Morgan laws characterize how negation, conjunction, and disjunction interact with each other. They are fundamental in any semantics that bases itself on the propositional calculus/Boolean algebra. This paper is primarily concerned with the second law. In English, its validity is easy to demonstrate using linguistic examples. Consider the following: (3) Why is it so cold in here? We didn’t close the door or the window. The second sentence is ambiguous. It may mean that I suppose we (...) did not close the door or did not close the window, but I am not sure which. This `I am not sure which’ reading is irrelevant to us because it has disjunction scoping over negation. But the sentence may equally well mean (and indeed this is the preferred reading) that we didn’t close the door and did not close the window. This `neither’ reading bears out de Morgan law (2). (shrink)
I propose a comprehensive account of negation as a modal operator, vindicating a moderate logical pluralism. Negation is taken as a quantifier on worlds, restricted by an accessibility relation encoding the basic concept of compatibility. This latter captures the core meaning of the operator. While some candidate negations are then ruled out as violating plausible constraints on compatibility, different specifications of the notion of world support different logical conducts for negations. The approach unifies in a philosophically motivated picture the following (...) results: nothing can be called a negation properly if it does not satisfy Contraposition and Double Negation Introduction; the pair consisting of two split or Galois negations encodes a distinction without a difference; some paraconsistent negations also fail to count as real negations, but others may; intuitionistic negation qualifies as real negation, and classical Boolean negation does as well, to the extent that constructivist and paraconsistent doubts on it do not turn on the basic concept of compatibility but rather on the interpretation of worlds. (shrink)
It is one thing for a given proposition to follow or to not follow from a given set of propositions and it is quite another thing for it to be shown either that the given proposition follows or that it does not follow.* Using a formal deduction to show that a conclusion follows and using a countermodel to show that a conclusion does not follow are both traditional practices recognized by Aristotle and used down through the history of logic. These (...) practices presuppose, respectively, a criterion of validity and a criterion of invalidity each of which has been extended and refined by modern logicians: deductions are studied in formal syntax (proof theory) and coun¬termodels are studied in formal semantics (model theory). The purpose of this paper is to compare these two criteria to the corresponding criteria employed in Boole’s first logical work, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847). In particular, this paper presents a detailed study of the relevant metalogical passages and an analysis of Boole’s symbolic derivations. It is well known, of course, that Boole’s logical analysis of compound terms (involving ‘not’, ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘except’, etc.) contributed to the enlargement of the class of propositions and arguments formally treatable in logic. The present study shows, in addition, that Boole made significant contributions to the study of deduc¬tive reasoning. He identified the role of logical axioms (as opposed to inference rules) in formal deductions, he conceived of the idea of an axiomatic deductive sys¬tem (which yields logical truths by itself and which yields consequences when ap¬plied to arbitrary premises). Nevertheless, surprisingly, Boole’s attempt to imple¬ment his idea of an axiomatic deductive system involved striking omissions: Boole does not use his own formal deductions to establish validity. Boole does give symbolic derivations, several of which are vitiated by “Boole’s Solutions Fallacy”: the fallacy of supposing that a solution to an equation is necessarily a logical consequence of the equation. This fallacy seems to have led Boole to confuse equational calculi (i.e., methods for gen-erating solutions) with deduction procedures (i.e., methods for generating consequences). The methodological confusion is closely related to the fact, shown in detail below, that Boole had adopted an unsound criterion of validity. It is also shown that Boole totally ignored the countermodel criterion of invalid¬ity. Careful examination of the text does not reveal with certainty a test for invalidity which was adopted by Boole. However, we have isolated a test that he seems to use in this way and we show that this test is ineffectual in the sense that it does not serve to identify invalid arguments. We go beyond the simple goal stated above. Besides comparing Boole’s earliest criteria of validity and invalidity with those traditionally (and still generally) employed, this paper also investigates the framework and details of THE MATHEMATICAL ANALYSIS OF LOGIC. (shrink)
This paper develops a theory of propositional identity which distinguishes necessarily equivalent propositions that differ in subject-matter. Rather than forming a Boolean lattice as in extensional and intensional semantic theories, the space of propositions forms a non-interlaced bilattice. After motivating a departure from tradition by way of a number of plausible principles for subject-matter, I will provide a Finean state semantics for a novel theory of propositions, presenting arguments against the convexity and nonvacuity constraints which Fine (2016, 2017a,b) (...) introduces. I will then move to compare the resulting logic of propositional identity (PI) with Correia’s (2016) logic of generalised identity (GI), as well as the first degree fragment of Angell’s (1989) logic of analytic containment (AC). The paper concludes by extending PI to include axioms and rules for a subject-matter operator, providing a much broader theory of subject-matter than the collection of principles with which I will begin. (shrink)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to present a topological method for constructing discretizations (tessellations) of conceptual spaces. The method works for a class of topological spaces that the Russian mathematician Pavel Alexandroff defined more than 80 years ago. Alexandroff spaces, as they are called today, have many interesting properties that distinguish them from other topological spaces. In particular, they exhibit a 1-1 correspondence between their specialization orders and their topological structures. Recently, a special type of Alexandroff spaces was (...) used by Ian Rumfitt to elucidate the logic of vague concepts in a new way. According to his approach, conceptual spaces such as the color spectrum give rise to classical systems of concepts that have the structure of atomic Boolean algebras. More precisely, concepts are represented as regular open regions of an underlying conceptual space endowed with a topological structure. Something is subsumed under a concept iff it is represented by an element of the conceptual space that is maximally close to the prototypical element p that defines that concept. This topological representation of concepts comes along with a representation of the familiar logical connectives of Aristotelian syllogistics in terms of natural settheoretical operations that characterize regular open interpretations of classical Boolean propositional logic. In the last 20 years, conceptual spaces have become a popular tool of dealing with a variety of problems in the fields of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics and philosophy, mainly due to the work of Peter Gärdenfors and his collaborators. By using prototypes and metrics of similarity spaces, one obtains geometrical discretizations of conceptual spaces by so-called Voronoi tessellations. These tessellations are extensionally equivalent to topological tessellations that can be constructed for Alexandroff spaces. Thereby, Rumfitt’s and Gärdenfors’s constructions turn out to be special cases of an approach that works for a more general class of spaces, namely, for weakly scattered Alexandroff spaces. This class of spaces provides a convenient framework for conceptual spaces as used in epistemology and related disciplines in general. Alexandroff spaces are useful for elucidating problems related to the logic of vague concepts, in particular they offer a solution of the Sorites paradox (Rumfitt). Further, they provide a semantics for the logic of clearness (Bobzien) that overcomes certain problems of the concept of higher2 order vagueness. Moreover, these spaces help find a natural place for classical syllogistics in the framework of conceptual spaces. The crucial role of order theory for Alexandroff spaces can be used to refine the all-or-nothing distinction between prototypical and nonprototypical stimuli in favor of a more fine-grained gradual distinction between more-orless prototypical elements of conceptual spaces. The greater conceptual flexibility of the topological approach helps avoid some inherent inadequacies of the geometrical approach, for instance, the so-called “thickness problem” (Douven et al.) and problems of selecting a unique metric for similarity spaces. Finally, it is shown that only the Alexandroff account can deal with an issue that is gaining more and more importance for the theory of conceptual spaces, namely, the role that digital conceptual spaces play in the area of artificial intelligence, computer science and related disciplines. Keywords: Conceptual Spaces, Polar Spaces, Alexandroff Spaces, Prototypes, Topological Tessellations, Voronoi Tessellations, Digital Topology. (shrink)
Deontic logic is devoted to the study of logical properties of normative predicates such as permission, obligation and prohibition. Since it is usual to apply these predicates to actions, many deontic logicians have proposed formalisms where actions and action combinators are present. Some standard action combinators are action conjunction, choice between actions and not doing a given action. These combinators resemble boolean operators, and therefore the theory of boolean algebra offers a well-known athematical framework to study the properties (...) of the classic deontic operators when applied to actions. In his seminal work, Segerberg uses constructions coming from boolean algebras to formalize the usual deontic notions. Segerberg’s work provided the initial step to understand logical properties of deontic operators when they are applied to actions. In the last years, other authors have proposed related logics. In this chapter we introduce Segerberg’s work, study related formalisms and investigate further challenges in this area. (shrink)
I argue that semantics is the study of the proprietary database of a centrally inaccessible and informationally encapsulated input–output system. This system’s role is to encode and decode partial and defeasible evidence of what speakers are saying. Since information about nonlinguistic context is therefore outside the purview of semantic processing, a sentence’s semantic value is not its content but a partial and defeasible constraint on what it can be used to say. I show how to translate this thesis into (...) a detailed compositional-semantic theory based on the influential framework of Heim and Kratzer. This approach situates semantics within an independently motivated account of human cognitive architecture and reveals the semantics–pragmatics interface to be grounded in the underlying interface between modular and central systems. (shrink)
Turner argues that computer programs must have purposes, that implementation is not a kind of semantics, and that computers might need to understand what they do. I respectfully disagree: Computer programs need not have purposes, implementation is a kind of semantic interpretation, and neither human computers nor computing machines need to understand what they do.
This paper gives an outline of truthmaker semantics for natural language against the background of standard possible-worlds semantics. It develops a truthmaker semantics for attitude reports and deontic modals based on an ontology of attitudinal and modal objects and on a semantic function of clauses as predicates of such objects. It also présents new motivations for 'object-based truthmaker semantics' from intensional transitive verbs such as ‘need’, ‘look for’, ‘own’, and ‘buy’ and gives an outline of their (...)semantics. This paper is a commissioned 'target' article, with commentaries by W. Davis, B. Arsenijevic, K. Moulton, K. Liefke, M. Kaufmann, R. Matthews, P. Portner and A. Rubinstein, P. Elliott, G. Ramchand and my reply. (shrink)
I develop and defend a truthmaker semantics for the relevant logic R. The approach begins with a simple philosophical idea and develops it in various directions, so as to build a technically adequate relevant semantics. The central philosophical idea is that truths are true in virtue of specific states. Developing the idea formally results in a semantics on which truthmakers are relevant to what they make true. A very natural notion of conditionality is added, giving us relevant (...) implication. I then investigate ways to add conjunction, disjunction, and negation; and I discuss how to justify contraposition and excluded middle within a truthmaker semantics. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to reinterpret success semantics, a theory of mental content, according to which the content of a belief is fixed by the success conditions of some actions based on this belief. After arguing that in its present form, success semantics is vulnerable to decisive objections, I examine the possibilities of salvaging the core of this proposal. More specifically, I propose that the content of some very simple, but very important, mental states, the immediate (...) mental antecedents of action, can be explained in this manner. (shrink)
The notion of existence is a very puzzling one philosophically. Often philosophers have appealed to linguistic properties of sentences stating existence. However, the appeal to linguistic intuitions has generally not been systematic and without serious regard of relevant issues in linguistic semantics. This paper has two aims. On the one hand, it will look at statements of existence from a systematic linguistic point of view, in order to try to clarify what the actual semantics of such statements in (...) fact is. On the other hand, it will explore what sort of ontology such statements reflect. The first aim is one of linguistic semantics; the second aim is one of descriptive metaphysics. Philosophically, existence statements appear to reflect the distinction between endurance and perdurance as well as particular notions of abstract states and of kinds. Linguistically, statements of existence involve a particular way of drawing the distinction between eventive and stative verbs and between individual-level and stage-level predicates as well as a particular approach to the semantics of bare plurals and mass nouns. (shrink)
One aim of this essay is to contribute to understanding aesthetic communication—the process by which agents aim to convey thoughts and transmit knowledge about aesthetic matters to others. Our focus will be on the use of aesthetic adjectives in aesthetic communication. Although theorists working on the semantics of adjectives have developed sophisticated theories about gradable adjectives, they have tended to avoid studying aesthetic adjectives—the class of adjectives that play a central role in expressing aesthetic evaluations. And despite the wealth (...) of attention paid to aesthetic adjectives by philosophical aestheticians, they have paid little attention to contemporary linguistic theories of adjectives. We take our work to be a first step in remedying these lacunae. In this paper, we present four experiments that examine one aspect of how aesthetic adjectives ordinarily function: the context-sensitivity of their application standards. Our results present a prima facie empirical challenge to a common distinction between relative and absolute gradable adjectives because aesthetic adjectives are found to behave differently from both. Our results thus also constitute a prima facie vindication of some philosophical aestheticians’ contention that aesthetic adjectives constitute a particularly interesting segment of natural language, even if the boundaries of this segment might turn out to be different from what they had in mind. (shrink)
Philosophers have spilled a lot of ink over the past few years exploring the nature and significance of grounding. Kit Fine has made several seminal contributions to this discussion, including an exact treatment of the formal features of grounding [Fine, 2012a]. He has specified a language in which grounding claims may be expressed, proposed a system of axioms which capture the relevant formal features, and offered a semantics which interprets the language. Unfortunately, the semantics Fine offers faces a (...) number of problems. In this paper, I review the problems and offer an alternative that avoids them. I offer a semantics for the pure logic of ground that is motivated by ideas already present in the grounding literature, and for which a natural axiomatization capturing central formal features of grounding is sound and complete. I also show how the semantics I offer avoids the problems faced by Fine’s semantics. (shrink)
This paper considers a now familiar argument that the ubiquity of context -dependence threatens the project of natural language semantics, at least as that project has usually been conceived: as concerning itself with `what is said' by an utterance of a given sentence. I argue in response that the `anti-semantic' argument equivocates at a crucial point and, therefore, that we need not choose between semantic minimalism, truth-conditional pragmatism, and the like. Rather, we must abandon the idea, familiar from Kaplan (...) and others, that utterances express propositions `relative to contexts' and replace it with the Strawonian idea that speakers express propositions by making utterances in contexts. The argument for this claim consists in a detailed investigation of the particular case of demonstratives, which I argue demand such a Strawsonian treatment. I then respond to several objections, the most important of which allege that the Strawsonian account somehow undermines the project of natural language semantics, or threatens the semantics -pragmatics distinction. Please note that the paper posted here is an extended version of what was published. (shrink)
This essay considers what it means to understand natural language and whether a computer running an artificial-intelligence program designed to understand natural language does in fact do so. It is argued that a certain kind of semantics is needed to understand natural language, that this kind of semantics is mere symbol manipulation (i.e., syntax), and that, hence, it is available to AI systems. Recent arguments by Searle and Dretske to the effect that computers cannot understand natural language are (...) discussed, and a prototype natural-language-understanding system is presented as an illustration. (shrink)
This article focuses on foundational issues in dynamic and static semantics, specifically on what is conceptually at stake between the dynamic framework and the truth-conditional framework, and consequently what kinds of evidence support each framework. The article examines two questions. First, it explores the consequences of taking the proposition as central semantic notion as characteristic of static semantics, and argues that this is not as limiting in accounting for discourse dynamics as many think. Specifically, it explores what it (...) means for a static semantics to incorporate the notion of context change potential in a dynamic pragmatics and denies that this conception of static semantics requires that all updates to the context be eliminative and distributive. Second, it argues that the central difference between the two frameworks is whether semantics or pragmatics accounts for dynamics, and explores what this means for the oft-heard claim that dynamic semantics blurs the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
Along with many other languages, English has a relatively straightforward grammatical distinction between mass-occurrences of nouns and their countoccurrences. As the mass-count distinction, in my view, is best drawn between occurrences of expressions, rather than expressions themselves, it becomes important that there be some rule-governed way of classifying a given noun-occurrence into mass or count. The project of classifying noun-occurrences is the topic of Section II of this paper. Section III, the remainder of the paper, concerns the semantic differences between (...) nouns in their mass-occurrences and those in their count-occurrences. As both the name view and the mixed view are, in my opinion, subject to serious difficulties discussed in Section III.1,I defend a version of the predicate view. Traditionally, nouns in their singular count-occurrences are also analyzed as playing the semantic role of a predicate. How, then, does the predicate view preserve the intuitive difference between nouns in their mass- and those in their count-occurrences? I suggest, in Section III.2, that there are different kinds of predicates: mass-predicates, e.g. ‘is hair’, singular count-predicates, e.g. ‘is a hair’, and plural count-predicates, e.g. ‘are hairs’. Mass-predicates and count-predicates, in my view, are not reducible to each other. The remainder of Section III takes a closer look at the differences and interrelations between these different kinds of predicates. Mass-predicates and count-predicates differ from each other truth-conditionally, and these truth-conditional differences turn out to have interesting implications, in particular concerning the part-whole relation and our practices of counting. But mass- and count-predicates are also related to each other through systematic entailment relations; these entailment relations are examined in Section III.4. (shrink)
This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an ontological picture is very different from that generally taken for granted by philosophers and semanticists alike. Reference to abstract objects such as properties, numbers, propositions, and (...) degrees is considerably more marginal than generally held. (shrink)
In this paper, we present a new semantic framework designed to capture a distinctly cognitive or epistemic notion of meaning akin to Fregean senses. Traditional Carnapian intensions are too coarse-grained for this purpose: they fail to draw semantic distinctions between sentences that, from a Fregean perspective, differ in meaning. This has led some philosophers to introduce more fine-grained hyperintensions that allow us to draw semantic distinctions among co-intensional sentences. But the hyperintensional strategy has a flip-side: it risks drawing semantic distinctions (...) between sentences that, from a Fregean perspective, do not differ in meaning. This is what we call the ‘new problem’ of hyperintensionality to distinguish it from the ‘old problem’ that faced the intensional theory. We show that our semantic framework offers a joint solution to both these problems by virtue of satisfying a version of Frege’s so-called ‘equipollence principle’ for sense individuation. Frege’s principle, we argue, not only captures the semantic intuitions that give rise to the old and the new problem of hyperintensionality, but also points the way to an independently motivated solution to both problems. (shrink)
Fictional names pose a difficult puzzle for semantics. We can truthfully maintain that Frodo is a hobbit, while at the same time admitting that Frodo does not exist. To reconcile this paradox I propose a way to formalize the interpretation of fiction as ‘prescriptions to imagine’ (Walton 1990) within an asymmetric semantic framework in the style of Kamp (1990). In my proposal, fictional statements are analyzed as dynamic updates on an imagination component of the interpreter’s mental state, while plain (...) assertions are updates on a belief component. Proper names – regular, empty, or fictional – are uniformly analyzed as presupposition triggers. The possibility of different attitude components referentially depending on each other is what ultimately allows us to account for the central paradox mentioned above. (shrink)
In this paper, we outline an approach to giving extensional truth-theoretic semantics for what have traditionally been seen as opaque sentential contexts. We outline an approach to providing a compositional truth-theoretic semantics for opaque contexts which does not require quantifying over intensional entities of any kind, and meets standard objections to such accounts. The account we present aims to meet the following desiderata on a semantic theory T for opaque contexts: (D1) T can be formulated in a first-order (...) extensional language; (D2) T does not require quantification over intensional entitiesi.e., meanings, propositions, properties, relations, or the likein its treatment of opaque contexts; (D3) T captures the entailment relations that hold in virtue of form between sentences in the language for which it is a theory; (D4) T has a finite number of axioms. If the approach outlined here is correct, it resolves a longstanding complex of problems in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
There is a prevalent notion among cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind that computers are merely formal symbol manipulators, performing the actions they do solely on the basis of the syntactic properties of the symbols they manipulate. This view of computers has allowed some philosophers to divorce semantics from computational explanations. Semantic content, then, becomes something one adds to computational explanations to get psychological explanations. Other philosophers, such as Stephen Stich, have taken a stronger view, advocating doing away with (...)semantics entirely. This paper argues that a correct account of computation requires us to attribute content to computational processes in order to explain which functions are being computed. This entails that computational psychology must countenance mental representations. Since anti-semantic positions are incompatible with computational psychology thus construed, they ought to be rejected. Lastly, I argue that in an important sense, computers are not formal symbol manipulators. (shrink)
Complex demonstratives, expressions of the form 'That F', 'These Fs', etc., have traditionally been taken to be referring terms. Yet they exhibit many of the features of quantified noun phrases. This has led some philosophers to suggest that demonstrative determiners are a special kind of quantifier, which can be paraphrased using a context sensitive definite description. Both these views contain elements of the truth, though each is mistaken. We advance a novel account of the semantic form of complex demonstratives that (...) shows how to reconcile the view that they function like quantified noun phrases with the view that simple demonstratives function as context sensitive referring terms wherever they occur. If we are right, previous accounts of complex demonstratives have misconceived their semantic role; and philosophers relying on the majority view in employing complex demonstratives in analysis have proceeded on a false assumption. (shrink)
This article begins by distinguishing force and mood. Then it lays out desiderata on a successful account. It sketches as background the program of truth-theoretic semantics. Next, it surveys assimilation approaches and argues that they are inadequate. Then it shows how the fulfillment-conditional approach can be applied to imperatives, interrogatives, molecular sentences containing them, and quantification into mood markers. Next, it considers briefly the recent set of propositions approach to the semantics of interrogatives and exclamatives. Finally, it shows (...) how to integrate exclamatives and optatives into a framework similar to the fulfillment approach. (shrink)
This paper puts forward an argument for a systematic, technical approach to formulation in verbal interaction. I see this as a kind of expansion of Sacks’ membership categorization analysis, and as something that is not offered (at least not in a fully developed form) by sequential analysis, the currently dominant form of conversation analysis. In particular, I suggest a technique for the study of “occasioned semantics,” that is, the study of structures of meaningful expressions in actual occasions of conversation. (...) I propose that meaning and rhetoric be approached through consideration of various dimensions or operations or properties, including, but not limited to, contrast and co-categorization, generalization and specification, scaling, and marking. As illustration, I consider a variety of cases, focused on generalization and specification. The paper can be seen as a return to some classical concerns with meaning, as illuminated by more recent insights into indexicality, social action, and interaction in recorded talk. (shrink)
I suspect the answer to the question in the title of this paper is no. But the scope of my paper will be considerably more limited: I will be concerned with whether certain types of considerations that are commonly cited in favor of dynamic semantics do in fact push us towards a dynamic semantics. Ultimately, I will argue that the evidence points to a dynamics of discourse that is best treated pragmatically, rather than as part of the (...) class='Hi'>semantics. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This paper argues for contrastivism about the deontic modals, 'ought', 'must', and 'may'. A simple contrastivist semantics that predicts the desired entailment relations among these modals is offered.
Possible worlds semantics faces a range of difficulties for at least certain types of modals, especially deontic modals with their distinction between heavy and light permissions and obligations. This paper outlines a new semantics of modals that aims to overcome some of those difficulties. The semantics is based on an a novel ontology of modal objects, entities like obligations, permissions, needs, as well as epistemic states, abilities, and essences. Moreover, it is based on truthmaking, in the sense (...) of Fine’s recent truthmaker semantics. (shrink)
I motivate and characterize an intensional semantics for ‘ought’ on which it does not behave as a universal quantifier over possibilities. My motivational argument centers on taking at face value some standard challenges to the quantificational semantics, especially to the idea that ‘ought’-sentences satisfy the principle of Inheritance. I argue that standard pragmatic approaches to these puzzles are either not sufficiently detailed or unconvincing.
In several recent contributions to the growing literature on slurs, Hedger draws upon Kaplan’s distinction between descriptive and expressive content to argue that slurs are expressions with purely expressive content. The distinction between descriptive and expressive content and the view that slurs are expressions with purely expressive content has been widely acknowledged in prior work, and Hedger aims to contribute to this tradition of scholarship by offering novel arguments in support of his ‘‘pure expressivist’’ account of slurs. But the account (...) that PE offers is explanatorily inadequate, resting on suspect a priori intuitions which also commit one to denying many basic facts about slurs, such as that slurs largely display systematic differential application and that slurs can be used non-offensively between in-group speakers. In this article I provide clear reasons for rejecting PE, arguing particularly against Hedger as one of PE’s most explicit and recent proponents. In showing that PE is inadequate in at least 11 ways, I argue in favor of a mixed or hybrid approach. (shrink)
This paper discusses proof-theoretic semantics, the project of specifying the meanings of the logical constants in terms of rules of inference governing them. I concentrate on Michael Dummett’s and Dag Prawitz’ philosophical motivations and give precise characterisations of the crucial notions of harmony and stability, placed in the context of proving normalisation results in systems of natural deduction. I point out a problem for defining the meaning of negation in this framework and prospects for an account of the meanings (...) of modal operators in terms of rules of inference. (shrink)
In this paper I will develop a view about the semantics of imperatives, which I term Modal Noncognitivism, on which imperatives might be said to have truth conditions (dispositionally, anyway), but on which it does not make sense to see them as expressing propositions (hence does not make sense to ascribe to them truth or falsity). This view stands against “Cognitivist” accounts of the semantics of imperatives, on which imperatives are claimed to express propositions, which are then enlisted (...) in explanations of the relevant logico-semantic phenomena. It also stands against the major competitors to Cognitivist accounts—all of which are non-truth-conditional and, as a result, fail to provide satisfying explanations of the fundamental semantic characteristics of imperatives (or so I argue). The view of imperatives I defend here improves on various treatments of imperatives on the market in giving an empirically and theoretically adequate account of their semantics and logic. It yields explanations of a wide range of semantic and logical phenomena about imperatives—explanations that are, I argue, at least as satisfying as the sorts of explanations of semantic and logical phenomena familiar from truth-conditional semantics. But it accomplishes this while defending the notion—which is, I argue, substantially correct—that imperatives could not have propositions, or truth conditions, as their meanings. (shrink)
At the heart of semantics in the 20th century is Frege’s distinction between sense and force. This is the idea that the content of a self-standing utterance of a sentence S can be divided into two components. One part, the sense, is the proposition that S’s linguistic meaning and context associates with it as its semantic interpretation. The second component is S’s illocutionary force. Illocutionary forces correspond to the three basic kinds of sentential speech acts: assertions, orders, and questions. (...) Forces are then kinds of acts in which propositions are deployed with certain purposes. I sketch a speech-act theoretic semantics in which that distinction does not hold. Instead of propositions and forces, the theory proposes proto-illocutionary acts and illocutionary acts. The orthodox notion of a proposition plays no role in the framework, which is a good thing, since that notion is deeply problematic. The framework also shows how expressionists, who embrace a sophisticated speech-act framework, face no Frege-Geach embedding problem, since the latter assumes the Sense/Force distinction. (shrink)
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