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Summary A linguistic phenomenon is labeled ‘semantic’ when it is appropriately characterized or explained by reference to the semantic properties of expressions – such as having a particular reference or truth conditions, or expressing a particular concept or proposition – and semantic relations between expressions – such as being co-referential or synonymous. Disputes in philosophy and linguistics frequently arise over whether a given phenomenon is genuinely semantic, or whether it is better explained in, say, syntactic or pragmatic terms. (This is true of many of the phenomena included here as subcategories, such as opacity, metaphor and various sorts of apparent context-dependence.) Such disputes partly reflect disagreements over the best way to explain the phenomenon in question; frequently, they also reflect foundational disagreements about what constitutes the subject matter of semantics.
Introductions The formal semantics textbooks Chierchia & McConnell-Ginet 2000 and Larson & Segal 1995 contain extensive introductory surveys of the phenomena that semantic theory typically aims to characterize or explain.
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  1. Sonia Arribas (2007). Normativity Without Exception: Donald Davidson On Language And Communication. Sorites 18:76-97.
    This paper deals with three texts by Donald Davidson's that discuss the issue of linguistic innovation from different epistemological standpoints. I show that Davidson's theory of metaphor undergoes a crucial transformation: from an early stage in which metaphor is viewed as an unintelligible and exceptional element external to language, to a later stage in which it is conceived as intrinsic to language, and thus as potentially understandable. This tracing of Davidson's development leads me to formulate an understanding of the concepts (...)
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  2. Kent Bach, Introduction.
    Language is used to express thoughts and to represent aspects of the world. What thought a sentence expresses depends on what the sentence means, and how it represents the world also depends on what it means. Moreover, it is ultimately arbitrary, a matter of convention, that the words of a language mean what they do. So it might seem that what they mean is a matter of how they are used. However, they need not be used in accordance with their (...)
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  3. E. Borg (2006). Review: Literal Meaning. [REVIEW] Mind 115 (458):461-465.
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  4. Hugh Bredin (1992). The Literal and the Figurative. Philosophy 67 (259):69 - 80.
    In everyday English usage, the words ‘literal’ and ‘figurative’ are normally taken to be opposite in meaning. It is an opposition with very ancient roots. One of its forbears was the medieval theory of Scriptural hermeneutics, which distinguished among the literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogic senses of Scripture. This itself had an ancestry in pre-Augustinian times: Augustine tells in his Confessions how he learned from Ambrose the trick of interpreting Scripture figuratively, thus eliminating the problems and contradictions created by a (...)
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  5. Manuel Bremer (2012). How Are Semantic Metarepresentations Built and Processed? Kriterion 26 (1):17.
    This paper looks at some aspects of semantic metarepresentation. It is mostly concerned with questions more formal, concerning the representation format in semantic metarepresentations, and the way they are processed. §1 distinguishes between metacognition and metarepresentation in a narrow and broad sense. §2 reminds the reader of some main areas where metarepresentations have to be used. The main part considers the ways that metarepresentations are built and processed. §3 introduces some general ideas how semantic metarepresentations are built and processed. §4 (...)
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  6. Jan M. Broekman (2001). Reiterating the Literal. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 14 (2):121-128.
    Taking the letter of the law literally would equal the death of our hopeand expectation that law and its practices of justice will createimproved social realities. This insight is, however, seldom formulatedin legal discourse. A more profound analysis shows how ``the literal'',taken as a legal expression, covers the management of law's semanticsrather than delivering the precise description of a state of affairs inlaw. This pertains in particular to the ``well informed citizen'' (A.Schutz). Can legal meanings that should enter and perhaps (...)
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  7. Peter Burke (1993). The Rise of Literal-Mindednesse. Common Knowledge 2.
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  8. Arnold Jensen Chien (1987). On Vagueness. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    The vagueness of a vague sentence intuitively consists in there being both a deficiency in its meaning and a multiplicity of things which a speaker might mean by it. One who knows the meaning is attuned both to the deficiency and to constraints on the possible speaker's meanings. I attempt to provide a theory of speaker's meaning and of meaning which does justice to these phenomena. ;I analyze a speaker's meaning as an answer to a "What-do-you-mean "-question, and analyze the (...)
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  9. Patricia Smith Churchland (1974). Logical Form and Ontological Decisions. Journal of Philosophy 71 (17):599-600.
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  10. A. Clark & Ronald Lutz (eds.) (1992). Connectionism in Context. Springer-Verlag.
  11. M. J. Cresswell (1985). Structured Meanings. MIT Press.
    Expressions in a language, whether words, phrases, or sentences, have meanings. So it seems reasonable to suppose that there are meanings that expressions have. Of course, it is fashionable in some philosophical circles to deny this.
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  12. Gustavus Watts Cunningham (1935). Perspective and Context in the Meaning-Situation. University of California Press.
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  13. Alun Davies (2010). Occasional Domains. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):229-240.
    Jason Stanley has proposed that we can account for the effects of extralinguistic context on truth-conditional content whilst remaining loyal to a compositional semantics for natural language. This is possible, he argues, because there are covert variables present in the logical forms of certain sentences whose values are fixed relative to contexts, but which do not register in the overt structure of those sentences. In the present article I assess the plausibility of positing such variables in logical form, focusing particularly (...)
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  14. R. Diodato (1991). Between Linguistics and Ontology-Thomist Vocabulary and Resulting Semantic Characteristics. Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica 83 (4):512-524.
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  15. John R. Doidge (1965). Context and Semantic Judgment. In Karl W. Linsenmann (ed.), Proceedings. St. Louis, Lutheran Academy for Scholarship. 42--152.
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  16. Camp Elisabeth (2006). Contextualism, Metaphor, and What is Said. Mind Language 21 (3):280-309.
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  17. Solomon Feferman (1985). Intensionality in Mathematics. Journal of Philosophical Logic 14 (1):41 - 55.
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  18. James H. Fetzer (1992). Connectionism and Cognition: Why Fodor and Pylyshyn Are Wrong. In A. Clark & Ronald Lutz (eds.), Connectionism in Context. Springer-Verlag. 305-319.
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  19. Jerry A. Fodor & Ernest LePore (1996). The Red Herring and the Pet Fish: Why Concepts Still Can't Be Prototypes. Cognition 58 (2):253-70.
    1 There is a Standard Objection to the idea that concepts might be prototypes (or exemplars, or stereotypes): Because they are productive, concepts must be compositional. Prototypes aren't compositional, so concepts can't be prototypes (see, e.g., Margolis, 1994).2 However, two recent papers (Osherson and Smith, 1988; Kamp and Partee, 1995) reconsider this consensus. They suggest that, although the Standard Objection is probably right in the long run, the cases where prototypes fail to exhibit compositionality are relatively exotic and involve phenomena (...)
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  20. R. D. Gunaratne (1980). The Logical Form of Catuṣkoṭi: A New Solution. Philosophy East and West 30 (2):211-239.
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  21. P. M. S. Hacker (1998). Davidson on the Ontology and Logical Form of Belief. Philosophy 73 (1):81-96.
  22. Ian Hacking (1998). On Being More Literal About Construction. In Irving Velody & Robin Williams (eds.), The Politics of Constructionism. Sage Publications. 49--68.
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  23. Alison Hall (2009). Semantic Compositionality and Truth-Conditional Content. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 109 (1pt3):353 - 364.
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  24. Goldwin Smith Hall, Adjectives in Context.
    0. Abstract In this paper, I argue that although the behavior of adjectives in context poses a serious challenge to the principle of compositionality of content, in the end such considerations do not defeat the principle. The first two sections are devoted to the precise statement of the challenge; the rest of the paper presents a semantic analysis of a large class of adjectives that provides a satisfactory answer to it. In section 1, I formulate the context thesis, according to (...)
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  25. Philip P. Hanson (ed.) (1990). Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.
  26. Albert Hofstadter (1938). Logical Form and Epistemic Function. Journal of Philosophy 35 (26):712-717.
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  27. Julie Hunter (2014). Structured Contexts and Anaphoric Dependencies. Philosophical Studies 168 (1):35-58.
    Sensitivity to the extra-linguistic context, as exhibited by indexical and demonstrative expressions, and sensitivity to the linguistic context, as exhibited by, for example, anaphoric uses of third person pronouns, are regularly regarded as different and independent phenomena. The data on indexicals, demonstratives, and third person pronouns, however, call for a more unified notion of context and of context sensitivity. This paper aims to develop such a unified picture by generalizing the notion of anaphora to encompass extra-linguistic context dependency and generalizing (...)
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  28. Daniel D. Hutto (1998). Nonconceptual Content and Objectivity. Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy (6).
    In recent times the question of whether or not there is such a thing as nonconceptual content has been the object of much serious attention. For analytical philosophers, the locus classicus of the view that there is such a phenomena is to be found in Evans remarks about perceptual experience in Varieties of Reference. John McDowell has taken issue with Evans over his claim that "conceptual capacities are first brought into operation only when one makes a judgement of experience, and (...)
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  29. Henry Jackman (1996). Semantic Norms and Temporal Externalism. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    There has frequently been taken to be a tension, if not an incompatibility, between "externalist" theories of content (which allow the make-up of one's physical environment and the linguistic usage of one's community to contribute to the contents of one's thoughts and utterances) and the "methodologically individualist" intuition that whatever contributes to the content of one's thoughts and utterances must ultimately be grounded in facts about one's own attitudes and behavior. In this dissertation I argue that one can underwrite such (...)
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  30. Bernard S. Jackson (2001). Literal Meaning and Rabbinic Hermeneutics: A Response to Claudio Luzzati and Jan Broekman. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 14 (2):129-141.
    This response to the articles of Luzzati and Broekman (in this issue)addresses principally the character of early rabbinic legalinterpretation, as viewed by the Rabbis themselves. It considers, withexamples, their concept of ``simple meaning'' (peshat), and itsplace within their overall hermeneutic system and its theologicalpresuppositions. The second section responds more briefly to thetheoretical critiques of Luzzati and Broekman, stressing that (myversion of) semiotics is descriptive rather than normative; resists thereduction of textual meaning to interpretation; and refuses to equatedecision-making with justification. I (...)
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  31. Dale Jacquette (2000). Identity, Intensionality, and Moore's Paradox. Synthese 123 (2):279 - 292.
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  32. Michael Don Jeshion-Nelson (2002). Using Words: Pragmatic Implicatures and Semantic Contents. Dissertation, Princeton University
    Sometimes what a sentence says varies from context to context, in the sense that different utterances of that sentence semantically encode different information. Such sentences are context-sensitive. Sometimes, however, different utterances of the same sentence convey different pieces of information even though both utterances semantically encode the same information. In such cases the speaker means more with her utterance than, or something all together different from, what the sentence she utters says. It is uncontroversial, even if sometimes controverted, that these (...)
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  33. Andrew Kernohan (1987). Teleology and Logical Form. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (1):27-34.
    Recent proposals by Taylor, Bennett, Wright and Cohen to identify teleological systems as systems governed by teleological laws and teleological laws as laws of a certain logical form are discussed. Suggested logical forms are treated with both extensional and simple non-extensional models of nomic necessity and shown to generate problematic entailments not derivable from the causal form alone.
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  34. Deborah Knight (1992). The Anomaly of Literal Meaning in Davidson's Philosophy of Language. Philosophy Today 36 (1):20-38.
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  35. Brian Loar (1972). Sentence Meaning.
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  36. Eduoard Machery & L. Lederer, Simple Heuristics for Concept Combination.
    In M. Werning, W. Hinzen, and E. Machery (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality.
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  37. Louis H. Mackey (1967). On Philosophical Form. Thought 42 (2):238-260.
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  38. Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) (2005). Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 9. Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
  39. G. Mannoury & D. Vuysje (1955). Semantic and Signific Aspects of Modern Theories of Communication. Synthese 9 (1):147 - 156.
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  40. Pavel Materna (2013). Ambiguity of a Natural Language Expression Accompanied by the Context-Independent Meaning of Its Constituents. Organon F 20:99-104.
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  41. Mohan P. Matthen (1989). Intensionality and Perception: A Reply to Rosenberg. Journal of Philosophy 86 (December):727-733.
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  42. Mark McCullagh (2003). Do Inferential Roles Compose? Dialectica 57 (4):431-38.
    Jerry Fodor and Ernie Lepore have argued that inferential roles are not compositional. It is unclear, however, whether the theories at which they aim their objection are obliged to meet the strong compositionality requirement they have in mind. But even if that requirement is accepted, the data they adduce can in fact be derived from an inferential-role theory that meets it. Technically this is trivial, but it raises some interesting objections turning on the issue of the generality of inferential roles. (...)
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  43. Angus Menuge (1995). The Scope of Observation. Philosophical Quarterly 45 (178):60-69.
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  44. Kari Anne Middleton (2004). Conceptions and Consequences of Semantic Underdetermination. Dissertation, Syracuse University
    This dissertation is an examination of the nature and consequences of semantic underdetermination. A sentence type is semantically underdetermined if it is not semantically associated with a truth-evaluable proposition independent of context construed in a broad way, including but not limited to factors such as the beliefs, intentions, and purposes of the conversational participants. Semantic underdetermination is not identical either to ambiguity or to pure indexicality. Controversy about semantic underdetermination has focused on whether tokens of semantically underdetermined sentences typically express (...)
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  45. Friederike Moltmann & Lucia Tovena (eds.) (forthcoming). Mass and Count in Linguistics, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science. John Benjamins.
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  46. Roger Montague (1964). The Literal Meaning of 'Good'. Analysis 24 (4):137 - 144.
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  47. Harold Morick (1971). Intentionality, Intensionality, and the Psychological. Analysis 32 (December):39-44.
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  48. F. Murphy (1997). Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5:144-144.
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  49. Eva Nga Shan Ng (2013). Garment, or Upper-Garment? A Matter of Interpretation? International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 26 (3):597-613.
    In an adversarial common law courtroom, where one party tries to defeat the other by using words as weapons, polysemous words more often than not pose a problem to the court interpreter. Unlike in dyadic communication, where ambiguity can be easily clarified with the speaker by the hearer, court interpreters’ freedom to clarify with speakers is to a large extent restricted by their code of ethics. Interpreters therefore can only rely on the context for disambiguating polysemous words. This study illustrates (...)
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  50. Michael O'Rourke (2003). The Scope Argument. Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):136 - 157.
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