This book introduces the most important problems of reference and considers the solutions that have been proposed to explain them. Reference is at the centre of debate among linguists and philosophers and, as Barbara Abbott shows, this has been the case for centuries. She begins by examining the basic issue of how far reference is a two place (words-world) or a three place (speakers-words-world) relation. She then discusses the main aspects of the field and the issues associated with them, (...) including those concerning proper names; direct reference and individual concepts; the difference between referential and quantificational descriptions; pronouns and indexicality; concepts like definiteness and strength; and noun phrases in discourse. Professor Abbott writes with exceptional verve and wit. She presupposes no technical knowledge or background and presents issues and analyses from first principles, illustrating them at every stage with well-chosen examples. Her book is addressed in the first place to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in linguistics and philosophy of language, but it will also appeal to students and practitioners in computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, and anthropology. All will welcome the clarity this guide brings to a subject that continues to challenge the leading thinkers of the age. (shrink)
Abbott replies to each of Hauser's arguments. Problem solving by chimpanzees and evidence of recursion in the thought of a feral human being suggest that natural language is not necessary for productive thought. Communication would be trivial if the inner language were the outer language, but it is not. The decryption analogy Hauser uses is flawed, and it is not clear which way Occam's razor cuts.
This third edition of the bestselling An Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives confirms the ongoing centrality of feminist perspectives and research to the sociological enterprise and introduces students to the wide range of feminist contributions to key areas of sociological concern. This completely revised edition includes: · new chapters on sexuality and the media · additional material on race and ethnicity, disability and the body · many new international and comparative examples · the influence of theories of globalization and post-colonial (...) studies. The theoretical elements have also been fully rethought in light of recent developments in social theory. Written by three experienced academics, this book gives students of sociology and women's studies an accessible overview of the feminist contribution to all the key areas of sociological concern. (shrink)
This paper presents problems for Stalnaker’s common ground theory of presupposition. Stalnaker (Linguist and Philos 25:701–721, 2002) proposes a 2-stage process of utterance interpretation: presupposed content is added to the common ground prior to acceptance/rejection of the utterance as a whole. But this revision makes presupposition difficult to distinguish from assertion. A more fundamental problem is that the common ground theory rests on a faulty theory of assertion—that the essence of assertion is to present the content of an utterance as (...) new information. Many examples are presented of utterances which are felicitous but not informative in this way. (shrink)
We will look at several theories of indicative conditionals grouped into three categories: those that base its semantics on its logical counterpart (the material conditional); intensional analyses, which bring in alternative possible worlds; and a third subgroup which denies that indicative conditionals express propositions at all. We will also look at some problems for each kind of approach.
In this article I generalize ecological theory by developing the notion of separate but linked ecologies. I characterize an ecology by its set of actors, its set of locations, and the relation it involves between these. I then develop two central concepts for the linkage of ecologies: hinges and avatars. The first are issues or strategies that "work" in both ecologies at once. The second are attempts to institutionalize in one ecology a copy or colony of an actor in another. (...) The article investigates the first of these concepts using two detailed examples of hinge analysis between the professional and political ecologies. Both concern medical licensing, the first in 19th-century New York and the second in 19th-century England. For the avatar concept, the article analyzes four less detailed cases linking the professional and university ecologies: computer science, criminal justice, clinical psychology, and applied economics. (shrink)
Both proposals acknowledge that definite descriptions differ from indefinites in their implications. (Two parenthetical clarifications: (i) "implication" is to be understood here and below as neutral between semantic and pragmatic conveyance; (ii) "semantic" is to be understood to mean "conventional", that is including, in addition to truth conditional impact, anything else that is linguistically encoded.) One of these implications is what is commonly termed "familiarity" ? an assumption that the denotation of the NP has already been introduced, as such, to (...) the addressee of the utterance. The other is uniqueness, or more properly exhaustive application, within the salient discourse context, of the descriptive content of the NP to the intended denotation. However both analyses attempt to derive one or both of these implications pragmatically. Ludlow & Segal propose that familiarity is a conventional implicature and uniqueness a conversational implicature. Szabó concurs with Ludlow & Segal that familiarity is more essential to definite descriptions, but attempts to derive both implications pragmatically. (shrink)
Noun phrases (NPs) beginning with the or a/an are prototypical definite and indefinite NPs in English. The two main theories about the meaning of definiteness are uniqueness and familiarity. Both properties characterize most occurrences of definite descriptions although there are examples which defy one or the other or both theories. Existential sentences have become criterial for distinguishing indefinites from definites, and have led to broadening of both categories to include a variety of other NP forms. Information status approaches propose a (...) hierarchy of NP types, rather than a simple binary distinction. The expression of definiteness varies from language to language. (shrink)
Ethics position theory (EPT) maintains that individuals’ personal moral philosophies influence their judgments, actions, and emotions in ethically intense situations. The theory, when describing these moral viewpoints, stresses two dimensions: idealism (concern for benign outcomes) and relativism (skepticism with regards to inviolate moral principles). Variations in idealism and relativism across countries were examined via a meta-analysis of studies that assessed these two aspects of moral thought using the ethics position questionnaire (EPQ; Forsyth, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 , (...) 175–184, 1980). This review identified 139 samples drawn from 29 different countries, for a total sample of 30,230 respondents, and concluded that (a) levels of idealism and relativism vary across regions of the world in predictable ways; (b) an exceptionist ethic is more common in Western countries, subjectivism and situationism in Eastern countries, and absolutism and situationism in Middle Eastern countries; and (c) a nation’s ethics position predicted that country’s location on previously documented cultural dimensions, such as individualism and avoidance of uncertainty (Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values , 1980). Limitations in these methods and concerns about the validity of these cross-cultural conclusions are noted, as are suggestions for further research using the EPQ. (shrink)
As is well known, Russell assigned indefinite and definite descriptions the interpretations represented schematically in (1) and (2) respectively, where “CNP” stands for “Common Noun Phrase” in the sense used by Montague (1973) – i.e. as standing for the constituent which a determiner combines with to form a noun phrase (NP). (1) a. …a/an CNP….
Last year (2005) marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Russell’s classic ‘On denoting’. It should not cast any shadow on that great work to note that the problems it provided solutions to are still the subject of controversy. Two of those problems involved noun phrases (NPs) which fail to denote. Russell’s examples (1a) and (1b) (1) a. The king of France is bald. b. The king of France is not bald. are puzzling because they have the form of (...) simple contradictories, and yet we are not inclined to say either one is true. Example (2) (2) Pegasus does not exist. is even more problematic; the lack of denotation for Pegasus, which makes the sentence true, also seems to rob it of a meaningful constituent. Once the king of France is unpacked according to Russell’s analysis, (1b) is revealed to be ambiguous. It’s logical forms are given in (3). (3) a. ∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ ¬Bx] b. ¬∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ Bx] (3a) says that there is a unique (French) king who is not bald (obviously false), but (3b), the logical contradictory of (1a) says that it is not the case that there is a unique king who is bald (which is true). We can apply the analysis to sentence (2) once we recognize Pegasus as a concealed definite description, e.g. the winged horse of Greek mythology. (2) can then be unpacked as (4) (4) ¬∃x[Wx ∧ ∀y[Wy ↔ y=x]] which seems both meaningful and true, as required. Problems solved. Well, not quite. Strawson (1950) challenged the first solution above, arguing that neither (1a) nor (1b) could be used to assert the existence of a king of France. Rather, use of such sentences presupposes the existence of a king of France, and failing that existence, neither of (1a) or (1b) could be used to make either a true or a false statement – in Strawson’s words, “the question of whether it’s true or false simply doesn’t arise” (Strawson 1950, 330).1 In an extended series of essays, and one book, Jay Atlas (1977, 1978, 1979, 1989, 2004) has taken issue with the work of both Russell and Strawson.. (shrink)
Many characterizations of definiteness in natural language have been given. However a number of them converge on a single idea involving uniqueness of applicability of a property. This paper will attempt to do two things. One is to try to unify some of these current views of definiteness, seeing them as drawing out Gricean conversational implicatures of the uniqueness concept, and the other is to try a more articulated approach to dealing with some recalcitrant counterexamples. I will focus primarily, but (...) not entirely, on definite descriptions in English. (shrink)
As is well known, Frege (1892) argued that the sentential complements of propositional attitude predicates refer to propositions. W.V. Quine, who disdained intensional objects like propositions, briefly suggested instead an analysis of such complements crucially involving quotation (1956), and Donald Davidson took up and elaborated this suggestion in a number of papers (1969, 1975, 1979). The main purpose of this paper is to argue against quotational analyses of propositional attitudes, although I’ll suggest at the end that the result may have (...) consequences for the analysis of quotation itself. In the second section below we will review Quine’s comments and Davidson’s development of them. In §3 we look at considerations involving proper names which seem at first to go in favor of this kind of analysis, but which ultimately probably do not. In §4 we turn to an argument against quotational analyses – the fact that it seems to deny languageless creatures1 propositional attitudes. The final section contains some concluding remarks. (shrink)
Indefinite descriptions have been claimed to show an ambiguity, often labeled a specific/nonspecific ambiguity, when they occur in simple sentences which contain no (other) sentence operators with which to vary their scope. Karttunen (1969), for example, observed that a sentence like (1) could be used to make two different kinds of statements.
One of the widely accepted and quite influential conclusions of modern Anglo-American philosophy is that there is no sharp distinction between analytic truths and statements that are true only [by] virtue of the facts; what had been called analytic truths in earlier work, it is alleged, are simply expressions of deeply held belief. This conclusion seems quite erroneous. There is no fact about the world that I could discover that would convince me that you persuaded John to go to college (...) even though he never intended or decided to go to college; nor is there any fact of experience even relevant to the judgment that you failed to persuade him if he never intended or decided to go to college. The relation between persuade] and intend] or decide] is one of conceptual structure, independent of experience--though experience is necessary to determine which labels a particular language uses for the concepts that enter into such relations. The philosophical debate over these matters has been misleading because it has focused on very simple examples, examples involving words that lack the relational structure of such terms as chase and persuade. Thus there is much debate over whether the statement "cats are animals" is a truth of meaning or of fact (if we discovered that what we call cats are really robots controlled by Martians, would the sentence "Cats are animals" now be considered false, or would we conclude that what we have called cats are not really cats?). In such cases a decision is not easy to reach, but in others it seems quite straightforward. (shrink)
George Lakoff (in his book Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things(1987) and the paper "Cognitive semantics" (1988)) champions some radical foundational views. Strikingly, Lakoff opposes realism as a metaphysical position, favoring instead some supposedly mild form of idealism such as that recently espoused by Hilary Putnam, going under the name "internal realism." For what he takes to be connected reasons, Lakoff also rejects truth conditional model-theoretic semantics for natural language. This paper examines an argument, given by Lakoff, against realism and MTS. (...) We claim that Lakoff's argument has very little, if any, impact for linguistic semantics. (shrink)
Some presuppositions seem to be weaker than others in the sense that they can be more easily neutralized in some contexts. For example some factive verbs, most notably epistemic factives like know, be aware, and discover, are known to shed their factivity fairly easily in contexts such as are found in (1). (1) a. …if anyone discovers that the method is also wombat-proof, I’d really like to know! b. Mrs. London is not aware that there have ever been signs erected (...) to stop use of the route… c. Perhaps God knows that we will never reach the stars…. (The examples in (1) are all naturally occurring ones, discovered by David Beaver with the aid of Google; cf. Beaver 2002, exx. 32, 43, and 51, respectively.) On the other hand some other factives, e.g. regret, matter, and be surprised, do not exhibit the same type of behavior: (2) a. If any of the students regrets behaving badly, they’ll let us know. b. It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzees escaped. c. Was Bill surprised that spinach was included? Unlike the examples in (1), those in (2) could not be used appropriately in contexts where the speaker was not assuming that the complement clause was true. Our main concern will be trying to find the cause of this difference. However, before we get to that, we will look more closely at the concept “presupposition” itself, as well as its close neighbor in the linguistic literature, “conventional implicature” (section 2), and also at various ways of getting rid of presuppositions (section 3). In section 4 we will investigate two possible explanations for differences in presupposition triggering – the “lexical alternative” approach of Abusch (2002, 2005), and a suggestion of Ladusaw’s involving detachability of presuppositions. The final section contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
Kitcher and Aspray distinguish a mainstream tradition in the philosophy of mathematics concerned with foundationalist epistemology, and a ‘maverick’ or naturalistic tradition, originating with Lakatos. My claim is that if the consequences of Lakatos's contribution are fully worked out, no less than a radical reconceptualization of the philosophy of mathematics is necessitated, including history, methodology and a fallibilist epistemology as central to the field. In the paper an interpretation of Lakatos's philosophy of mathematics is offered, followed by some critical discussion, (...) and an extension to a social constructivist position (which might well have been unacceptable to Lakatos). (shrink)
In the 1960’s, both Montague (e.g. 1970, 222) and Grice (1975, 24) famously declared that natural languages were not so different from the formal languages of logic as people had thought. Montague sought to comprehend the grammars of both within a single theory, and Grice sought to explain away apparent divergences as due to the fact that the former, but not the latter, were used for conversation. But, if we confine our concept of logic to first order predicate logic (or (...) FOPL) with identity (that is, omitting everything which is not required for the pursuit of mathematical truth), then there are of course many other aspects, in addition to its use in conversation, which distinguish natural language from logic. Conventional implicature, information structure (including presupposition), tense and time reference, and the expression of causation and inference are several of these, which combine as well with syntactic complexities which are unnecessary in first order predicate logic. In this paper I will argue that such distinguishing aspects should be more fully exploited to explain the differences between the material conditional of logic and the indicative conditional of one natural language (English). (shrink)
Mathematicians and physical scientists depend heavily on the formal symbolism of mathematics in order to express and develop their theories. For this and other reasons the last hundred years has seen a growing interest in the nature of formal language and the way it expresses meaning; particularly the objective, shared aspect of meaning as opposed to subjective, personal aspects. This dichotomy suggests the question: do the objective philosophical theories of meaning offer concepts which can be applied in psychological theories of (...) meaning? In recent years cognitive scientists such as Chomsky , Fodor  and MacNamara  have used philosophical approaches to the meaning of formal language expressions as the basis for their psychological theories. Following this lead it seems appropriate to review some of the main treatments of meaning with a view to their transferability. (shrink)
Partee (1973) discussed quotation from the perspective of the then relatively new theory of transformational grammar.2 As she pointed out, the phenomenon presents many curious puzzles. In some ways quotes seem quite separate from their surrounding text; they may be in a different dialect, as in her example in (1), (1) ‘I talk better English than the both of youse!’ shouted Charles, thereby convincing me that he didn’t. [Partee (1973):ex. 20] or even in a different language, as in (2): (2) (...) Louise said ‘Je voudrais un auto-da-f´e’, but I didn’t know what she meant. (shrink)
As is well known, Russell assigned indefinite and definite descriptions the interpretations represented schematically in (1) and (2) respectively, where “CNP” stands for “Common Noun Phrase” in the sense used by Montague (1973) – i.e. as standing for the constituent which a determiner combines with to form a noun phrase (NP). (1) a. …a/an CNP… b. ∃x[CNP(x) & …x…] (2) a. …the CNP… b. ∃x[CNP(x) & ∀y[CNP(y) → y=x] & …x…] Examples (3) and (4) are illustrations. (3) a. Mary bought (...) a car that she liked. b. ∃x[Car(x) & Liked(m, x) & Bought(m, x)] (4) a. Mary bought the car that she liked. b. ∃x[Car(x) & Liked(m, x) & ∀y[[Car(y) & Liked(m, y)] → y=x] & Bought(m, x)] The difference, as is obvious, is the underlined clause expressing uniqueness – exhaustive possession by the entity in question of the property expressed by the CNP. Szabó (2000) and Ludlow & Segal (2002) (following Kempson (1975), Breheny (1997), and others) defend analyses on which definite descriptions are assigned the same quantificational interpretation as Russell assigned to indefinite descriptions. Thus on both accounts (3a) as well as (4a) would be given the quantificational analysis in (3b). Both proposals acknowledge that definite descriptions differ from indefinites in their implications – where “implication” is to be understood as neutral between semantic and pragmatic conveyance. One of these implications is what is commonly termed “familiarity” – an assumption that the denotation of the NP2 has already been introduced. (shrink)
Risk management of nanotechnology is challenged by the enormous uncertainties about the risks, benefits, properties, and future direction of nanotechnology applications. Because of these uncertainties, traditional risk management principles such as acceptable risk, cost–benefit analysis, and feasibility are unworkable, as is the newest risk management principle, the precautionary principle. Yet, simply waiting for these uncertainties to be resolved before undertaking risk management efforts would not be prudent, in part because of the growing public concerns about nanotechnology driven by risk perception (...) heuristics such as affect and availability. A more reflexive, incremental, and cooperative risk management approach is required, which not only will help manage emerging risks from nanotechnology applications, but will also create a new risk management model for managing future emerging technologies. (shrink)
This chapter reviews issues surrounding theories of reference. The simplest theory is the Fido-Fido theory – that reference is all that an NP has to contribute to the meaning of phrases and sentences in which it occurs. Two big problems for this theory are coreferential NPs that do not behave as though they were semantically equivalent and meaningful NPs without a referent. These problems are especially acute in sentences..
Szabó (2000) follows Heim (1982,1983) in viewing familiarity, rather thanuniqueness, as the essence of the definitearticle, but attempts to derive bothfamiliarity and uniqueness implicationspragmatically, assigning a single semanticinterpretation to both the definite andindefinite articles. I argue that if there isno semantic (conventional) distinction betweenthe articles, then there is no way to derivethese differences between them pragmatically.
Orthologic is defined by weakening the axioms and rules of inference of the classical propositional calculus. The resulting Lindenbaum-Tarski quotient algebra is an orthoimplication algebra which generalizes the author's implication algebra. The associated order structure is a semi-orthomodular lattice. The theory of orthomodular lattices is obtained by adjoining a falsity symbol to the underlying orthologic or a least element to the orthoimplication algebra.
Leading Harvard philosophy professor William Ernest Hocking (1873-1966), author of 17 books and in his day second only to John Dewey in the breadth of his thinking, is now largely forgotten, and his once-influential writings are out of print. This volume, which combines a rich selection of Hocking’s work with incisive essays by distinguished scholars, seeks to recover Hocking’s valuable contributions to philosophical thought.
A review of Ernest Sosa’s book Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge. While I think Sosa is quite right that knowledge lies on a spectrum, and that its higher but not its lower reaches require of knowers, when challenged, a strong degree of explanatory coherence (ability to understand and discursively defend the basis of their beliefs), I also point out problems with certain aspects of his account.
This paper offers and analysis of Ernest Sosa's Virtue Perspectivism. Although Sosa has been credited with fathering the influential contemporary movement known as Virtue Epistemology, I argue that Sosa imprudently abandons the reliabilist-based insights of Virtue Epistemology in favor of a reflection-based, "perspectival"' view. Sosa's mixed allegiance to reliabilist-based and reflection-based views of knowledge, in fact, leads to an unwelcome tension in his thought which can be relieved by recognizing that his reflection-based view is in fact an account of (...) the cognitive state of understanding, rather than an account of knowledge. Sosa makes matters difficult for himself because he expects too much, as it were, from the concept of knowledge, and in the process burdens his view with elements of reflection it does not require. To solve the problem, I suggest that Sosa needs to develop a two-tiered epistemology which recognizes that knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other, both have necessary and sufficient conditions unique to themselves. (shrink)
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the social sciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, orre-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the social sciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of Gellner’s translations crossed the line (...) between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
Ernest Gellner was a unique scholar whose work covered areas as diverse as social anthropology, analytical philosophy, the sociology of the Islamic world, nationalism, psychoanalysis, East European transformations and kinship structures. Despite this diversity, there is an exceptional degree of unity and coherence in Gellner's work with his distinctly modernist, rationalist and liberal world-view evident in everything he wrote. His central problematic remains constant: understanding how the modern world came into being and to what extent it is unique relative (...) to all other social forms. Ten years after his death, this book brings together leading social theorists to evaluate the significance of Gellner's legacy and to re-examine his central concerns. It corrects many misunderstandings and critically engages with Gellner's legacy to provide a cutting edge contribution to understanding our contemporary post-9/11, global, late modern, social condition. (shrink)
In this paper, I analyze the significance of Ernest Nagel's introduction of the notion of model in his reconstruction of scientific theories. Nagel's account is generally considered as a version of the "received view" of theories, whose main advocate is Carnap. However, I will show that Nagel's considerations on models imply a renunciation to the logical empiricists' project of the formalization of scientific theories. I will argue that Nagel implicitly acknowledges that, in order to study the content of theories, (...) one cannot abstract away from the agents' understanding of theories, and from the reasoning processes they perform when using them. (shrink)
The definition of 'Englishness' has become the subject of considerable debate, and in this important contribution tto Ideas in Context Julia Stapleton looks at the work of one of the most wide-ranging and influential theorists of the English nation, Ernest Barker. The first holder of the Chair of Political Science at Cambridge, Barker wrote prolifically on the history of political thought and contemporary political theory, and his writings are notable for fusing three of the dominant strands of late-nineteenth and (...) early-twentieth century political thought, Whiggism, Idealism and Pluralism. Infused with a strong cultural sense of nationhood, Barker's writings influenced a broad non-academic audience, and their subsequent neglect graphically demonstrates the fate of a certain vision of Liberal England in the generation after World War One. With, however, the erosion of a particular sense of Englishness, Barker's ideas have begun to assume renewed resonance. (shrink)
Abstract I agree with Sosa that intuitions are best thought of as attractions to believe a certain proposition merely on the basis of understanding it. However, I don’t think it is constitutive of them that they supply strictly foundational justification for the propositions they justify, though I do believe that it is important that the intuition of a suitable subject be thought of as a prima facie justification for his intuitive judgment, independently of the reliability of his underlying capacities. I (...) also think that we need to be able to explain how mere understanding of a proposition can confer upon us an ability to have reliable intuitions, that we cannot simply take that idea for granted. And that when try to explain that, our best avenue for doing so is to take the intuitions as constituting the understanding of which they are said to be a manifestation. (shrink)
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regress problem, and they cannot exist withoutother (justified) beliefs. Or so some people say. In this essay, we assess some arguments based on such claims, arguments suggested in recent work by Peter Klein and Ernest Sosa.
Concentrating on the music, politics, and philosophy of Richard Wagner, Lydia Goehr addresses some fundamental questions of German Romanticism: Is all music musical? Is music made less musical by the presence of words? What is musical autonomy? How do composers avoid censorship? How are composers affected by exile? Can music articulate a 'politics for the future'? What is the relation between music and philosophy?