The Architecture of Meaning: Wittgenstein's Tractatus and formal semantics
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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With a few notable exceptions formal semantics, as it originated from the seminal work of Richard Montague, Donald Davidson, Max Cresswell, David Lewis and others, in the late sixties and early seventies of the previous century, does not consider Wittgenstein as one of its ancestors. That honour is bestowed on Frege, Tarski, Carnap. And so it has been in later developments. Most introductions to the subject will refer to Frege and Tarski (Carnap less frequently) —in addition to the pioneers just mentioned, of course— , and discuss the main elements of their work that helped shape formal semantics in some detail. But Wittgenstein is conspicuously absent whenever the history of the subject is mentioned (usually brieﬂy, if at all). Of course, if one thinks of Wittgenstein’s later work, this is obvious: nothing, it seems, could be more antithetic to what formal semantics aims for and to how it pursues those aims than the views on meaning and language that Wittgenstein expounds in, e.g., Philosophical Investigations, with its insistence on particularity and diversity, and its rejection of explanation and formal modelling. But what about his earlier work, the Tractatus (henceforth )? At ﬁrst sight, that seems much more congenial, as it develops a conception of language and meaning that is both general and uniform, explanatory..
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