Meanings don't grow on trees

Journal of Semantics 3 (3):229-247 (1984)
In “Meanings don't grow on Trees” I investigate Lewis's proposal for using syntactical information to distinguish between intensions. Lewis's proposal, if it succeeds, would eliminate certain deficiencies in the predictions made by possible world semantics concerning synonymy. I provide two criteria for judging semantic theories: descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy. I argue that Lewis's proposal concerning synonymy fails on both counts. I then offer a different approach to problems with synonymy. Synonymy judgments involve two different kinds of meaning: truth conditional content, provided by model theoretic semantics, and “information content,” provided by a semantics in terms of conceptual role. In developing the notion of information content, I show how it solves some of the problems Lewis's proposal addresses
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DOI 10.1093/jos/3.3.229
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