We discuss the challenge to truth-conditional semantics presented by apparent shifts in extension of predicates such as 'red'. We propose an explicit indexical semantics for 'red' and argue that our account is preferable to the alternatives on conceptual and empirical grounds.
After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geach problem. I argue that it is a problem not just for expressivism but for any reasonable account of ascriptions of graded judgements. I suggest that the problem can be resolved by appropriately modelling imprecise credences.
On one familiar and traditional picture, linguistic communication is a matter of the expression and transmission of a proposition across a common ground, with the proposition determined as a function of its semantic value. What general properties of a system of linguistic communication indicate whether or not it can, even in principle, be modeled along these traditional lines? This is a fundamental question in natural language semantics and pragmatics, and one relevant to a full understanding and assessment of non-traditional models (...) of communication—notably, those found in the dynamic semantics tradition. The question is, in part, about what properties make a semantics and prag- matics for a language fragment “robustly dynamic” as opposed to “static”. We formalize one natural version of this question and answer it, in the pro- cess extending earlier results of van Benthem and Veltman. According to our result, the characterizing feature of the traditional picture—of ‘staticness’, on one precisification—is this: the updates to the common ground induced by every sentence of the relevant language fragment exhibit idempotence and commutativity. The result naturally raises the question whether natural languages exhibit failures of idempotence or commutativity. We examine the issue, bringing out some ways in which putative failures of idempotence and commutativity can, and cannot, be explained by appeal to context-sensitivity. (shrink)
Explains how to use a trivalent semantics to explain what is often called Adam’s Thesis, the thesis that the probability of a conditional is the conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent.
There are certain uses of and and or that cannot be explained by their normal meanings as truth-functional connectives, even with sophisticated pragmatic resources. These include examples such as The cops show up, and a fight will break out (‘If the cops show up, a fight will break out’), and I have no friends, or I would throw a party (‘I have no friends. If I did have friends, I would throw a party.’). We argue that these uses are indeed (...) distinct from the more ordinary uses of and and or, but that they are nonetheless related in a principled way. To explain them we give an analysis of what we call the dynamic effects of connectives, which arise in all their uses. The special uses at issue are then argued to be instances where the connectives exhibit their dynamic effects without their truth-conditional meaning. (shrink)
Draft of a paper for the Sinn und Bedeutung 14 conference. Explains how to capture the link between conditionals the probability of indicative conditionals and conditional probability using a classical semantics for conditionals. (Note: some introductory material is shared with a twin paper, "Capturing the Relationship Between Conditionals and Conditional Probability with a Trivalent Semantics".).
This paper discusses the apparent scope ambiguities between definite descriptions and modal operators. I argue that we need the theory of presupposition to explain why these ambiguities are not always present, and that once that theory is in hand, Kripke’s modal argument loses much of its force.
The argument is directed at the view that scientiﬁc knowledge is just knowledge of the structure of the natural world and not knowledge of its intrinsic nature. The origin of the view is the post-Galilean conception of modern science, which views science as yielding a picture of nature stripped of all color, explaining all physical processes purely in terms of space-time, particles, ﬁelds, forces and the like, the intrinsic natures of which are never themselves analyzed. It is safe to say (...) that this conception of the limits of scientiﬁc knowledge, i.e. of its purely mathematical and structural character, is still a dominant one for both philosophers and scientists. (shrink)
A downward-entailing context has the property that the replacement of the predicate in the context by a stronger predicate preserves truth. So, for instance, presuppositions aside, the context after “every” in (1) where the NPI “ever” appears is downward entailing.
The argument here comes from consideration of a certain sort of linguistic expression called negative polarity items (NPIs). These are expressions such as “any,” “at all” and “ever.” NPIs are of particular interest for semantics because they can only be used in contexts with a certain rather abstract semantic feature. However, the precise characterization of the feature is itself a matter of some controversy. For those interested in the semantics of natural language it is worthwhile to ﬁgure out precisely what (...) this feature is. Once we have an account of it, we can use the account to infer facts about the meanings of various expressions that interact with NPIs. (shrink)
Understanding the pattern by which complex sentences inherit the presuppositions of their parts (presupposition projection) has been a major topic in formal pragmatics since the 1970s. Heim’s classic paper “On the Projection Problem for Presuppositions” (1983) proposed a replacement of truth-conditional semantics with a dynamic semantics that treats meanings as instructions to update the common ground. Heim’s system predicts the basic pattern of presupposition projection quite accurately. The classic objection to this program (including other versions of dynamic semantics) is that (...) the treatment of binary connectives is stipulative, and other, equally natural treatments fail to make the right predictions about presupposition projection. I give a variation on Heim’s system that is designed to escape this objection. I show that the most liberal possible version of this variant is equivalent to a strong-Kleene system in terms of its definedness conditions. (shrink)
(1) Every miner went to a meeting. It seems that (1) can mean either that there was one meeting that every miner went to, or that every miner went to at least one meeting with no guarantee that they all went to the same meeting. In the language of ﬁrst-order logic we can represent these two readings as a matter of the universal and existential quantiﬁers having diﬀerent scope with respect to each other.
Although we are sympathetic to his central thesis about the illusion of will, having previously advanced a similar proposal, Wegner's account of hypnosis is flawed. Hypnotic behavior derives from specific suggestions that are given, rather than from the induction, of trance, and it can be observed in 90% of the population. Thus, it is very pertinent to the illusion of will. However, Wegner exaggerates the loss of subjective will in hypnosis.
The death by assisted suicide in Switzerland of Australian Dr. John Elliott, in early 2007 has highlighted the inadequacy of the law pertaining to medical decisions at end-of-life, both from a legal as well as ethical perspective. Despite being illegal in most jurisdictions around the world, physician-assisted death is a reality, in part because of the flexibility, inconsistent application and, at times, invisibility, of laws surrounding it. The appropriate response to this should be greater transparency by a reform of the (...) law. (shrink)
This study used a laboratory experiment with monetary incentives to test the impact of three personal factors (moral reasoning, value orientation and risk preference), and three situational factors (the presence/absence of audits, tax inequity, and peer reporting behavior), while controlling for the impact of other demographic characteristics, on tax compliance. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) reveals that all the main effects analyzed are statistically significant and robustly influence tax compliance behavior. These results highlight the importance of obtaining a proper understanding of (...) these factors for developing effective policies for increasing the level of compliance, and indicate that standard enforcement polices based on punishment alone should be supplemented by an information system that would acquaint tax payers with the compliance level of other tax payers; reinforce the concept of fairness of the tax system among tax payers; and develop programs that enhance and appeal to a taxpayer''s moral conscience and reinforce social cohesion. (shrink)
In the traditional fix-it model of medical decision making, the identified problem is typically characterized by a diagnosis that indicates a deviation from normalcy. When a medical problem is multifaceted and the available interventions are only partially effective, a broader vision of the health care endeavor is needed. What matters to the patient, and what should matter to the practitioner, is the patient's future possibilities. More specifically, what is important is the character of the alternative futures that the patient could (...) have and choosing among them so as to achieve the best future possible, with the ranking of outcomes determined by the patient's preferences. This paper describes the fix-it model, presents and defends the outcomes-based model, and demonstrates that the latter is useful in developing normative conceptions of informed consent and decision making and in establishing a basis for societal involvement in the decision making process. Finally, several shortcomings of the model will be acknowledged. (shrink)
“Be Articulate: A Pragmatic Theory of Presupposition Projection” is a remarkable paper in at least two respects: First, it is the only broadly Gricean treatment of presuppositions that generates precise and accurate predictions about the pattern of presupposition projection. Schlenker proposes that presuppositions arise as a result of a pragmatic prohibition against using one short construction to express two independent meanings. This basic idea is quite an old one.1 But no one has ever elaborated this pragmatic story in a way (...) that yields a systematic theory of presupposition projection. Indeed, for many, the fact that pragmatic approaches to presupposition did not easily account for a wide range of projection behavior (most previous accounts contented themselves by treating projection out of negation) was a reason to be skeptical of such pragmatic approaches. Schlenker’s work puts this worry about Gricean accounts to rest. (shrink)
Geography is experiencing a 'moral turn' in its research interests and practices. There is also a flourishing interest in animal geographies that intersects this turn, and is concurrent with wider scholarly efforts to reincorporate animals and nature” into our ethical and social theories. This article intervenes in a dispute between Michael Dear and Richard Symanski. The dispute is over the culling of wild horses in Australia, and I intervene to explore how geography deepens our moral understanding of the animallhuman dialectic. (...) I begin by situating the inquiry into ethics and animals in geography. Next, I provide a synopsis of Dear and Symanski's comments on 'animal rights', followed in 'turn by discussions of moral value and value paradigms. I then introduce a value paradigm termed geocentrism as a geographical account of our moral relations to animals. Finally, I discuss the wider significance of this debate for geographical ethics, moral philosophy and social theory. (shrink)
The article explores early criticisms of Adam Smith, with particular reference to long-distance commerce, the Portuguese empire, and the writings of William Julius Mickle. The changing relationship between merchants and sovereigns, and between economic and political power, was of central importance, the article suggests, to disputes over Smith's ideas of self-interest.
We will look at recent work on some topics at the intersection of semantics and pragmatics. First, we’ll begin surveying some foundational work in semantics and pragmatics. After this we’ll spend a few weeks each on: presupposition, scalar implicature, and unarticulated constituents. Two additional possible topics (if time permits) are: wide-scope indefinites and donkey anaphora. Anyone with particular interests in related areas are welcome to suggest topics or readings which can be substituted for existing topics.
This paper is about pragmatic explanations of certain linguistic phenomenon based on Grice’s theory of conversational implicature. According to Grice’s theory, audiences draw inferences about what the speaker is trying to convey based on the idea that the speaker is following certain maxims governing conversation. Such explanations of the inferences audiences make about the speaker play a central role in many parts of philosophy of language and linguistics.
Machine generated contents note: 1. Astrobiology in societal context Constance Bertka; Part I. Origin of Life: 2. Emergence and the experimental pursuit of the origin of life Robert Hazen; 3. From Aristotle to Darwin, to Freeman Dyson: changing definitions of life viewed in historical context James Strick; 4. Philosophical aspects of the origin-of-life problem: the emergence of life and the nature of science Iris Fry; 5. The origin of terrestrial life: a Christian perspective Ernan McMullin; 6. The alpha and the (...) omega: reflections on the origin and future of life from the perspective of Christian theology and ethics Celia Deane-Drummond; Part II. Extent of Life: 7. A biologist's guide to the Solar System LynnRothschild; 8. The quest for habitable worlds and life beyond the Solar System Carl Pilcher; 9. A historical perspective on the extent and search for life Steven J. Dick; 10. The search for extraterrestrial life: epistemology, ethics, and worldviews Mark Lupisella; 11. The implications of discovering extraterrestrial life: different searches, different issues Margaret S. Race; 12. God, evolution, and astrobiology Cynthia S. W. Crysdale; Part III. Future of Life: 13. Planetary ecosynthesis on Mars: restoration ecology and environmental ethics Christopher P. McKay; 14. The trouble with intrinsic value: an ethical primer for astrobiology Kelly C. Smith; 15. God's preferential option for life: a Christian perspective on astrobiology Richard O. Randolph; 16. Comparing stories about the origin, extent, and future of life: an Asian religious perspective Francisca Cho; Index. (shrink)
In this article I bring together Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray's engagements with Sigmund Freud's vexed attempt to step beyond the pleasure principle. Derrida's speculations on the name, the house and the practice of Freud find him inadvertently rewriting the conditions of the autobiographical as that which erases as much as inscribes, while Irigaray requires a sexually different modelling of what we call language if the experience of the girl is to be addressed. Yet Irigaray uncannily repeats the teleological gesture (...) of laying claim to a legacy, diagnosed in Freud by Derrida, even as this legacy is newly imagined as that of the feminine to which Freud remained blind. I then interweave these revised stakes of the fort-da game as they are expressed in two experimental films; Lynn Hershman Leeson's feature Conceiving Ada (USA, 1997) and Hussein Chalayan's short Absent Presence (UK/Turkey, 2005). One self-consciously concerns the recovery of ‘lost’ women from history (da!), the other investigates the treatment of the foreigner staged with an all-female cast (in which the instability of foreign objects can secure no fortification for the scientific subject). The films differently engage fantasies concerning genetics, and differently engage the projection of a legacy as teleological ambition. Privileging Derrida's transformation of the pleasure into the postal principle as that which invokes ‘Tele–without telos’, I ask after the transmissibility of this ambition. (shrink)
The fields of environmental ethics and of religion and ecology have been shaped by Lynn White Jr.'s thesis that the roots of ecological crisis lie in religious cosmology. Independent critical movements in both fields, however, now question this methodological legacy and argue for alternative ways of inquiry. For religious ethics, the twin controversies cast doubt on prevailing ways of connecting environmental problems to religious deliberations because the criticisms raise questions about what counts as an environmental problem, how religious traditions (...) change, and whether ethicists should approach problems and traditions with reformist commitments. This article examines the critiques of White's legacy and presents a pluralist alternative that focuses religious ethics on the contextual strategies produced by moral communities as they confront environmental problems. (shrink)
Controversy about Lynn White’s thesis that medieval Christianity is to blame for our current environmental crisis has done little to challenge the basic structure of White’s argument and has taken little account of recent work done by medieval scholars. White’s ecotheological critics, in particular, have often failed to come to grips with White’s position. In this paper, I question White’s reading of history on both interpretative and factual grounds and argue that religious values cannot be treated independently of the (...) political, economic, and social conditions that sustain them. I conclude that medieval religious values were more complex than White suggests: rather than causing technological innovation, they more likely provided a justification for other activity taking place for other reasons. (shrink)
Blair's assertion that fluid intelligence (gF) is distinct from general intelligence (g) is contradictory to cumulative evidence from intelligence research, including extant and novel evidence about generational IQ gains (Lynn–Flynn effect). Because of the near unity of gF and g, his hypothetical concept of gF' (gF “purged” of g variance) may well be a phlogiston theory. (Published Online April 5 2006).
This book deals with the experience of externality, i.e. an experience, common in schizophrenia, present both in verbal hallucination and in thought insertion. The view defended is that thought insertion is a case of failed agency, experienced by the agent at the personal level as an intelligible thought with which she cannot identify. Such a case in which sense of agency and sense of subjectivity come apart reveals the existence of two dimensions in self-consciousness. Several difficulties of the solution offered (...) are discussed, in connection with the causal-explanatory role of the phenomenological features of the experience and with the view that thinking is a variety of acting. (shrink)