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Bryan Pickel
University of Glasgow
  1. Against Fregean Quantification.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - forthcoming - Ergo.
    There are two dominant approaches to quantification: the Fregean and the Tarskian. While the Tarskian approach is standard and familiar, deep conceptual objections have been pressed against its employment of variables as genuine syntactic and semantic units. Because they do not explicitly rely on variables, Fregean approaches are held to avoid these worries. The apparent result is that the Fregean can deliver something that the Tarskian is unable to, namely a compositional semantic treatment of quantification centered on truth and reference. (...)
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  2. The Myth of Occurrence-Based Semantics.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44:813-837.
    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 (...)
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  3. Frege and Saving Substitution.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (8):2687-2697.
    Goodman and Lederman (2020) argue that the traditional Fregean strategy for preserving the validity of Leibniz’s Law of substitution fails when confronted with apparent counterexamples involving proper names embedded under propositional attitude verbs. We argue, on the contrary, that the Fregean strategy succeeds and that Goodman and Lederman’s argument misfires.
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  4. The Functional Composition of Sense.Bryan Pickel - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6917-6942.
    A central dispute in understanding Frege’s philosophy concerns how the sense of a complex expression relates to the senses of its component expressions. According to one reading, the sense of a complex expression is a whole built from the senses of the component expressions. On this interpretation, Frege is an early proponent of structured propositions. A rival reading says that senses compose by functional application: the sense of a complex expression is the value of the function denoted by its functional (...)
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  5. The Antinomy of the Variable: A Tarskian Resolution.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (3):137-170.
    Kit Fine has reawakened a puzzle about variables with a long history in analytic philosophy, labeling it “the antinomy of the variable”. Fine suggests that the antinomy demands a reconceptualization of the role of variables in mathematics, natural language semantics, and first-order logic. The difficulty arises because: (i) the variables ‘x’ and ‘y’ cannot be synonymous, since they make different contributions when they jointly occur within a sentence, but (ii) there is a strong temptation to say that distinct variables ‘x’ (...)
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  6. Does Semantic Relationism Solve Frege’s Puzzle?Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2017 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 46 (1):97-118.
    In a series of recent works, Kit Fine, 605–631, 2003, 2007) has sketched a novel solution to Frege’s puzzle. Radically departing from previous solutions, Fine argues that Frege’s puzzle forces us to reject compositionality. In this paper we first provide an explicit formalization of the relational semantics for first-order logic suggested, but only briefly sketched, by Fine. We then show why the relational semantics alone is technically inadequate, forcing Fine to enrich the syntax with a coordination schema. Given this enrichment, (...)
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  7. Reviving the Parameter Revolution in Semantics.Bryan Pickel, Brian Rabern & Josh Dever - 2018 - In Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.), The Science of Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 138-171.
    Montague and Kaplan began a revolution in semantics, which promised to explain how a univocal expression could make distinct truth-conditional contributions in its various occurrences. The idea was to treat context as a parameter at which a sentence is semantically evaluated. But the revolution has stalled. One salient problem comes from recurring demonstratives: "He is tall and he is not tall". For the sentence to be true at a context, each occurrence of the demonstrative must make a different truth-conditional contribution. (...)
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    Susan Stebbing's Intellectualism.Bryan Pickel - forthcoming - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy.
    This paper reconstructs Susan Stebbing’s account of intelligent dealing with a problem and defends this account against charges that it relies on a “censurable kind” of intellectualism. This charge was made in Stebbing’s own time by Laird and Wittgenstein. Michael Kremer has recently made the case that Stebbing is also a proximate target of Gilbert Ryle’s attack on intellectualism. This paper argues that Stebbing should indeed be counted as an intellectualist since she holds that intelligent dealing with a problem requires (...)
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  9. One Dogma of Millianism.Derek Ball & Bryan Pickel - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):70-92.
    Millians about proper names typically claim that it is knowable apriori that Hesperus is Phosphorus. We argue that they should claim instead that it is knowable only aposteriori that Hesperus is Hesperus, since the Kripke-Putnam epistemic arguments against descriptivism are special cases of Quinean arguments that nothing is knowable apriori, and Millians have no resources to resist the more general Quinean arguments.
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  10. Naming, Saying, and Structure.Bryan Pickel - 2017 - Noûs 51 (3):594-616.
    It is commonplace for philosophers to distinguish mere truths from truths that perspicuously represent the world's structure. According to a popular view, the perspicuous truths are supposed to be metaphysically revelatory and to play an important role in the accounts of law-hood, confirmation, and linguistic interpretation. Yet, there is no consensus about how to characterize this distinction. I examine strategies developed by Lewis and by Sider in his Writing the Book of the World which purport to explain this distinction in (...)
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