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Profile: Paul Pietroski (University of Maryland, College Park)
  1. Paul M. Pietroski (forthcoming). Framing Event Variables. Erkenntnis:1-30.
    Davidsonian analyses of action reports like ‘Alvin chased Theodore around a tree’ are often viewed as supporting the hypothesis that sentences of a human language H have truth conditions that can be specified by a Tarski-style theory of truth for H. But in my view, simple cases of adverbial modification add to the reasons for rejecting this hypothesis, even though Davidson rightly diagnosed many implications involving adverbs as cases of conjunct-reduction in the scope of an existential quantifier. I think the (...)
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  2. Paul M. Pietroski (2010). Concepts, Meanings and Truth: First Nature, Second Nature and Hard Work. Mind and Language 25 (3):247-278.
    I argue that linguistic meanings are instructions to build monadic concepts that lie between lexicalizable concepts and truth-evaluable judgments. In acquiring words, humans use concepts of various adicities to introduce concepts that can be fetched and systematically combined via certain conjunctive operations, which require monadic inputs. These concepts do not have Tarskian satisfaction conditions. But they provide bases for refinements and elaborations that can yield truth-evaluable judgments. Constructing mental sentences that are true or false requires cognitive work, not just an (...)
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  3. Paul M. Pietroski (2008). Think of the Children. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):657 – 669.
    Often, the deepest disagreements are about starting points, and which considerations are relevant.
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  4. Paul M. Pietroski (2006). Character Before Content. In Judith Jarvis Thomson (ed.), Content and Modality: Themes From the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 34--60.
  5. Paul M. Pietroski (2006). Interpreting Concatenation and Concatenates. Philosophical Issues 16 (1):221–245.
    This paper presents a slightly modified version of the compositional semantics proposed in Events and Semantic Architecture (OUP 2005). Some readers may find this shorter version, which ignores issues about vagueness and causal constructions, easier to digest. The emphasis is on the treatments of plurality and quantification, and I assume at least some familiarity with more standard approaches.
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  6. Stephen Crain, Andrea Gualmini & Paul M. Pietroski (2005). Brass Tacks in Linguistic Theory: Innate Grammatical Principles. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York. 1--175.
    In the normal course of events, children manifest linguistic competence equivalent to that of adults in just a few years. Children can produce and understand novel sentences, they can judge that certain strings of words are true or false, and so on. Yet experience appears to dramatically underdetermine the com- petence children so rapidly achieve, even given optimistic assumptions about children’s nonlinguistic capacities to extract information and form generalizations on the basis of statistical regularities in the input. These considerations underlie (...)
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  7. Paul M. Pietroski (2005). Events and Semantic Architecture. Oxford University Press.
    A study of how syntax relates to meaning by a leader of the new generation of philosopher-linguists.
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  8. Paul M. Pietroski (2005). Meaning Before Truth. In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford University Press.
     
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  9. Paul M. Pietroski & Stephen Crain (2005). Innate Ideas. In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge. 164--181.
    Here's one way this chapter could go. After defining the terms 'innate' and 'idea', we say whether Chomsky thinks any ideas are innate -- and if so, which ones. Unfortunately, we don't have any theoretically interesting definitions to offer; and, so far as we know, Chomsky has never said that any ideas are innate. Since saying that would make for a very short chapter, we propose to do something else. Our aim is to locate Chomsky, as he locates himself, in (...)
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  10. Paul M. Pietroski (2003). Quantification and Second Order Monadicity. Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):259–298.
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  11. Paul M. Pietroski (2003). Small Verbs, Complex Events: Analyticity Without Synonymy. In Louise M. Antony (ed.), Chomsky and His Critics. Malden Ma: Blackwell Publishing. 179--214.
  12. Paul M. Pietroski & Peter Menzies (2003). Causing Actions. Mind and Language 18 (4):440-446.
    Paul Pietroski presents an original philosophical theory of actions and their mental causes. We often act for reasons, deliberating and choosing among options, based on our beliefs and desires. But because bodily motions always have biochemical causes, it can seem that thinking and acting are biochemical processes. Pietroski argues that thoughts and deeds are in fact distinct from, though dependent on, underlying biochemical processes within persons.
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  13. Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski (2002). Why Language Acquisition is a Snap. Linguistic Review.
    Nativists inspired by Chomsky are apt to provide arguments with the following general form: languages exhibit interesting generalizations that are not suggested by casual (or even intensive) examination of what people actually say; correspondingly, adults (i.e., just about anyone above the age of four) know much more about language than they could plausibly have learned on the basis of their experience; so absent an alternative account of the relevant generalizations and speakers' (tacit) knowledge of them, one should conclude that there (...)
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  14. Paul M. Pietroski (2002). Review: Matters of Mind: Consciousness, Reason, and Nature. [REVIEW] Mind 111 (442):488-491.
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  15. Stephen Crain & Paul M. Pietroski (2001). Nature, Nurture, and Universal Grammar. Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (2):139-186.
    In just a few years, children achieve a stable state of linguistic competence, making them effectively adults with respect to: understanding novel sentences, discerning relations of paraphrase and entailment, acceptability judgments, etc. One familiar account of the language acquisition process treats it as an induction problem of the sort that arises in any domain where the knowledge achieved is logically underdetermined by experience. This view highlights the cues that are available in the input to children, as well as childrens skills (...)
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  16. Paul M. Pietroski (2000). Euthyphro and the Semantic. Mind and Language 15 (2-3):341-349.
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  17. Paul M. Pietroski (2000). On Explaining That. Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):655-662.
    How can a speaker can explain that P without explaining the fact that P, or explain the fact that P without explaining that P, even when it is true (and so a fact) that P? Or in formal mode: what is the semantic contribution of 'explain' such that 'She explained that P' can be true, while 'She explained the fact that P' is false (or vice versa), even when 'P' is true? The proposed answer is that 'explained' is a semantically (...)
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  18. Paul M. Pietroski (2000). The Undeflated Domain of Semantics. SATS: Northern European Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):161.
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  19. Paul M. Pietroski & Susan J. Dwyer (1999). Knowledge by Ignoring. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):781-781.
    Some cases of implicit knowledge involve representations of (implicitly) known propositions, but this is not the only important type of implicit knowledge. Chomskian linguistics suggests another model of how humans can know more than is accessible to consciousness. Innate capacities to focus on a small range of possibilities, thereby ignoring many others, need not be grounded by inner representations of any possibilities ignored. This model may apply to many domains where human cognition “fills a gap” between stimuli and judgment.
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  20. Paul M. Pietroski (1998). Actions, Adjuncts, and Agency. Mind 107 (425):73-111.
    The event analysis of action sentences seems to be at odds with plausible (Davidsonian) views about how to count actions. If Booth pulled a certain trigger, and thereby shot Lincoln, there is good reason for identifying Booths' action of pulling the trigger with his action of shooting Lincoln; but given truth conditions of certain sentences involving adjuncts, the event analysis requires that the pulling and the shooting be distinct events. So I propose that event sortals like 'shooting' and 'pulling' are (...)
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  21. Paul M. Pietroski (1997). Specifying Senses Innocently1. In Dunja Jutronic (ed.), The Maribor Papers in Naturalized Semantics. Maribor. 318.
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  22. Susan Dwyer & Paul M. Pietroski (1996). Believing in Language. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):338-373.
    We propose that the generalizations of linguistic theory serve to ascribe beliefs to humans. Ordinary speakers would explicitly (and sincerely) deny having these rather esoteric beliefs about language--e.g., the belief that an anaphor must be bound in its governing category. Such ascriptions can also seem problematic in light of certain theoretical considerations having to do with concept possession, revisability, and so on. Nonetheless, we argue that ordinary speakers believe the propositions expressed by certain sentences of linguistic theory, and that linguistics (...)
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  23. Paul M. Pietroski (1996). Fregean Innocence. Mind and Language 11 (4):338-370.
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  24. Paul M. Pietroski (1996). Critical Notice. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):613-636.
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  25. Paul M. Pietroski (1996). Experiencing the Facts (Critical Notice of McDowell). Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26:613-36.
    The general topic of "Mind and World", the written version of John McDowell's 1991 John Locke Lectures, is how `concepts mediate the relation between minds and the world'. And one of the main aims is `to suggest that Kant should still have a central place in our discussion of the way thought bears on reality' (1).1 In particular, McDowell urges us to adopt a thesis that he finds in Kant, or perhaps in Strawson's Kant: the content of experience is conceptualized; (...)
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  26. Paul M. Pietroski (1996). Mind and World. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):613-636.
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  27. Paul M. Pietroski & Georges Rey (1995). When Other Things Aren't Equal: Saving Ceteris Paribus Laws From Vacuity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (1):81-110.
    A common view is that ceteris paribus clauses render lawlike statements vacuous, unless such clauses can be explicitly reformulated as antecedents of ?real? laws that face no counterinstances. But such reformulations are rare; and they are not, we argue, to be expected in general. So we defend an alternative sufficient condition for the non-vacuity of ceteris paribus laws: roughly, any counterinstance of the law must be independently explicable, in a sense we make explicit. Ceteris paribus laws will carry a plethora (...)
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  28. Paul M. Pietroski (1994). A “Should” Too Many. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (1):26.
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  29. Paul M. Pietroski (1994). Executing the Second Best Option. Analysis 54 (4):201-207.
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  30. Paul M. Pietroski (1994). Mental Causation for Dualists. Mind and Language 9 (3):336-66.
    The philosophical problem of mental causation concerns a clash between commonsense and scientific views about the causation of human behaviour. On the one hand, commonsense suggests that our actions are caused by our mental states---our thoughts, intentions, beliefs and so on. On the other hand, neuroscience assumes that all bodily movements are caused by neurochemical events. It is implausible to suppose that our actions are causally overdetermined in the same way that the ringing of a bell may be overdetermined by (...)
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  31. Paul M. Pietroski (1993). First-Person Authority and Beliefs as Representations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):67.
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  32. Paul M. Pietroski (1993). Prima Facie Obligations, Ceteris Paribus Laws in Moral Theory. Ethics 103 (3):489-515.
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  33. Paul M. Pietroski (1993). Possible Worlds, Syntax, and Opacity. Analysis 53 (4):270 - 280.
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