The first time I saw 30 Rock, I was struck by how often it fails to be funny. This is not to say that 30 Rock is never funny—sometimes it is very funny indeed. But what stood out most to me was how strikingly not funny it often is. The show is, nevertheless, very entertaining. And it is curious that a sitcom—a show that is ostensibly designed to entertain through the use of humor—could entertain so successfully while being so unsuccessful (...) at making its audience (or at least this member of the audience) laugh. This curiosity is the subject of this paper. My purpose is to offer a theory that explains three features of 30 Rock: first, how it sometimes achieves comedic effect; second, why (what I take to be) its .. (shrink)
This paper addresses two questions: what is the distinction between semantics and pragmatics? And why is this distinction important? These questions are discussed in light of the central explanatory goal of linguistics and in relation to the phenomenon of context sensitivity, as illustrated by relational words with implicit arguments and by so-called quantifier domain restriction. It is concluded that context sensitivity is, in the former case, grammatical or lexical and, in the latter case, neither.
Semantics: A Reader contains a broad selection of classic articles on semantics and the semantics/pragmatics interface. Comprehensive in the variety and breadth of theoretical frameworks and topics that it covers, it includes articles representative of the major theoretical frameworks within semantics, including: discourse representation theory, dynamic predicate logic, truth theoretic semantics, event semantics, situation semantics, and cognitive semantics. All the major topics in semantics are covered, including lexical semantics and the semantics of quantified noun phrases, adverbs, adjectives, performatives, and interrogatives. (...) Included are classic papers in the field of semantics as well as papers written especially for the volume. The volume comes with an extensive introduction designed not only to provide an overview of the field, but also to explain the technical concepts the beginner will need to tackle before the more demanding articles. Semantics will have appeal as a textbook for upper level and graduate courses and as a reference for scholars of semantics who want the classic articles in their field in one convenient place. (shrink)
The problem addressed is that of finding a sound characterization of ambiguity. Two kinds of characterizations are distinguished: tests and definitions. Various definitions of ambiguity are critically examined and contrasted with definitions of generality and indeterminacy, concepts with which ambiguity is sometimes confused. One definition of ambiguity is defended as being more theoretically adequate than others which have been suggested by both philosophers and linguists. It is also shown how this definition of ambiguity obviates a problem thought to be posed (...) by ambiguity for truth theoretical semantics. In addition, the best known test for ambiguity, namely the test by contradiction, is set out, its limitations discussed, and its connection with ambiguity's definition explained. The test is contrasted with a test for vagueness first proposed by Peirce and a test for generality propounded by Margalit. (shrink)
English mass noun phrases & count noun phrases differ only minimally grammatically. The basis for the difference is ascribed to a difference in the features +/-CT. These features serve the morphosyntactic function of determining the available options for the assigment of grammatical number, itself determined by the features +/-PL: +CT places no restriction on the available options, while -CT, in the unmarked case, restricts the available options to -PL. They also serve the semantic function of determining the sort of denotation (...) associated with demonstrative & quantified noun phrases. The feature -CT requires that the associated denotation be the set whose sole member is the greatest aggregate of which the noun phrase or noun is true; the feature +CT requires that the associated denotation be the set whose members are all & only those minimal aggregates of which the noun phrase or noun is true. At the same time, neither mass NPs nor count NPs that are arguments of a predicate have their predicate evaluated with respect to their denotations. Rather, the predicate is evaluated with respect to an aggregation, a set of aggregates constructed from the denotation of the noun phrase that is an argument of the predicate. 3 Tables, 4 Figures, 74 References. AA. (shrink)
In the svārthānumāna chapter of his Pramāṇavārttika, the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti presented a defense of his claim that legitimate inference must rest on a metaphysical basis if it is to be immune from the risks ordinarily involved in inducing general principles from a finite number of observations. Even if one repeatedly observes that x occurs with y and never observes y in the absence of x, there is no guarantee, on the basis of observation alone, that one will never observe (...) y in the absence of x at some point in the future. To provide such a guarantee, claims Dharmakīrti, one must know that there is a causal connection between x and y such that there is no possibility of y occurring in the absence of x. In the course of defending this central claim, Dharmakīrti ponders how one can know that there is a causal relationship of the kind necessary to guarantee a proposition of the form “Every y occurs with an x.” He also dismisses an interpretation of his predecessor Dignāga whereby Dignāga would be claiming non-observation of y in the absence of x is sufficient to warrant to the claim that no y occurs without x. The present article consists of a translation of kārikās 11–38 of Pramānavārttikam, svārthānumānaparicchedaḥ along with Dharmakīrti’s own prose commentary. The translators have also provided an English commentary, which includes a detailed introduction to the central issues in the translated text and their history in the literature before Dharmakīrti. (shrink)
This commentary briefly argues that the four prima facie principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for autonomy and justice enable a clinician (and anybody else) to make ethical sense of the author's proposed reliance on professional guidance and rules, on law, on professional integrity and on best interests, and to subject them all to ethical analysis and criticism based on widely acceptable basic prima facie moral obligations; and also to confront new situations in the light of those acceptable principles.
English common nouns, like nouns in many other languages, can be distinguished into count nouns and mass nouns. This article sets out the basic morpho-syntactic and semantic facts pertaining to these two classes of English nouns. In addition, it summarizes and critically discusses the various theories of the semantics of such nouns.
It is hypothesised and argued that “the four principles of medical ethics” can explain and justify, alone or in combination, all the substantive and universalisable claims of medical ethics and probably of ethics more generally. A request is renewed for falsification of this hypothesis showing reason to reject any one of the principles or to require any additional principle(s) that can’t be explained by one or some combination of the four principles. This approach is argued to be compatible with a (...) wide variety of moral theories that are often themselves mutually incompatible. It affords a way forward in the context of intercultural ethics, that treads the delicate path between moral relativism and moral imperialism. Reasons are given for regarding the principle of respect for autonomy as “first among equals”, not least because it is a necessary component of aspects of the other three. A plea is made for bioethicists to celebrate the approach as a basis for global moral ecumenism rather than mistakenly perceiving and denigrating it as an attempt at global moral imperialism. (shrink)
Medical Ethics has many unsung heros and heroines. Here we celebrate one of these and on telling part of her story hope to place modern medical ethics and bioethics in the UK more centrally within its historical and human contex.
I show that words with indefinite implicit complements occasion a dilemma for their model theory. There has been only two previous attempts to address this problem, one by Fodor and Fodor (1980) and one by Dowty (1981). Each requires that any word tolerating an implicit complement be treated as ambiguous between two different lexical entries and that a meaning postulate or lexical rule be given to constrain suitably the meanings of the various entries for the word. I show that the (...) positing of such an ambiguity runs counter to the facts and propose an alternative solution which does not appeal to ambiguity, meaning postulates or lexical rules. Indeed, I show that the dilemma posed by indefinite implicit complements is posed by all implicit complements and that a general solution to the problem of implicit complements follows from an independently motivated, single treatment of five other problems, that of subcategorization, that of phrasal projections of words, that of defining a model theoretic structure for phrase structure grammars, that of complement polyvalence and that of complement polyadicity. (shrink)
This paper describes the medical ethics scene in Britain. After giving a brief account of the structure of British medical ethics and of the roles of the different groups involved it mentions some of the important medico-moral events and issues of the fairly recent past, and describes in greater detail four important examples of professional, legal, governmental and media concerns with medical ethics, themselves illustrating the wide variety of interests wishing to influence the British medical profession's ethics. The examples offered (...) are the development of research ethics committees, the Sidaway case concerning informed consent, the Warnock Committee's Report on in vitro fertilisation and associated issues, and the 1980 Reith Lectures on Unmasking Medicine. In the final section a fairly new methodological development in British medical ethics is described in which the medical profession is increasingly recognising the need to add to traditional medical ethics education, with its longstanding history of the inculation and enforcement of ethical norms, an element of philosophical or critical medical ethics, at the heart of which is justification of substantive medico-moral claims in the light of counterarguments. (shrink)