Sense and the computation of reference

Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (4):473 - 504 (2005)
Abstract
The paper shows how ideas that explain the sense of an expression as a method or algorithm for finding its reference, preshadowed in Frege’s dictum that sense is the way in which a referent is given, can be formalized on the basis of the ideas in Thomason (1980). To this end, the function that sends propositions to truth values or sets of possible worlds in Thomason (1980) must be replaced by a relation and the meaning postulates governing the behaviour of this relation must be given in the form of a logic program. The resulting system does not only throw light on the properties of sense and their relation to computation, but also shows circular behaviour if some ingredients of the Liar Paradox are added. The connection is natural, as algorithms can be inherently circular and the Liar is explained as expressing one of those. Many ideas in the present paper are closely related to those in Moschovakis (1994), but receive a considerably lighter formalization.
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