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  1. Paul Pietrowski, Semantic Monadicity with Conceptual Polyadicity.
    A variant on the paper above: shorter, a somewhat different at the start, and maybe a little clearer.
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  2. Paul Pietrowski, Character Before Content Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland.
    Speakers can use sentences to make assertions. Theorists who reflect on this truism often say that sentences have linguistic meanings, and that assertions have propositional contents. But how are meanings related to contents? Are meanings less dependent on the environment? Are contents more independent of language? These are large questions, which must be understood partly in terms of the phenomena that lead theorists to use words like ‘meaning’ and ‘content’, sometimes in nonstandard ways. Opportunities for terminological confusion thus abound when (...)
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  3. Paul Pietrowski, Does Every Sentence Like This Exhibit a Scope Ambiguity? Paul Pietroski and Norbert Hornstein, Univ. Of Maryland.
    We think recent work in linguistics tells against the traditional claim that a string of words like (1) Every girl pushed some truck has two readings, indicated by the following formal language sentences (with restricted quantifiers): (1a) [!x:Gx]["y:Ty]Pxy (1b) ["y:Ty][!x:Gx]Pxy. In our view, (1) does not have any b-reading in which ‘some truck’ has widest scope.1 The issue turns on details concerning syntactic transformations and terms like ‘every’. This illustrates an important point for the study of natural language: ambiguity hypotheses (...)
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  4. Paul Pietrowski, 1. Introduction.
    In my view, meanings are instructions to construct monadic concepts that can be conjoined with others, given a few thematic relations and an operation of existential closure. For example, ‘red ball’ is understood as—and has the semantic property of being—an instruction to fetch and conjoin two concepts that are linked, respectively, to ‘red’ and ‘ball’. Other expressions are more complex. But to a first approximation, ‘I stabbed it violently with this’ is an instruction to construct and existentially close a six-conjunct (...)
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  5. Paul Pietrowski, Induction and Comparison.
    Frege proved an important result, concerning the relation of arithmetic to second-order logic, that bears on several issues in linguistics. Frege’s Theorem illustrates the logic of relations like PRECEDES(x, y) and TALLER(x, y), while raising doubts about the idea that we understand sentences like ‘Carl is taller than Al’ in terms of abstracta like heights and numbers. Abstract paraphrase can be useful—as when we say that Carl’s height exceeds Al’s—without reflecting semantic structure. Related points apply to causal relations, and even (...)
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  6. Paul Pietrowski, The Undeflated Domain of Semantics Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland.
    It is, I suppose, a truism that an adequate theory of meaning for a natural language L will associate each sentence of L with its meaning. But the converse does not hold. A theory that associates each sentence with its meaning is not, by virtue of that fact, an adequate theory of meaning. For it is also a truism that a semantic theory should explain the (interesting and explicable) semantic facts. And one cannot decree that the relevant facts are all (...)
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  7. Paul Pietrowski, Why Language Acquisition is a Snap.
    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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  8. Paul Pietrowski, Justin Halberda, Jeff Lidz & and Tim Hunter, Beyond Truth Conditions: An Investigation Into the Semantics of 'Most'.
    Contact Info: Paul Pietroski Department of Linguistics University of Maryland Marie Mount Hall College Park, MD 20742 USA Email: pietro@umd.edu Phone: +1 301-395-1747..
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  9. Paul Pietrowski (2007). Systematicity Via Monadicity. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):343-374.
    Words indicate concepts, which have various adicities. But words do not, in general, inherit the adicities of the indicated concepts. Lots of evidence suggests that when a concept is lexicalized, it is linked to an analytically related monadic concept that can be conjoined with others. For example, the dyadic concept CHASE(_,_) might be linked to CHASE(_), a concept that applies to certain events. Drawing on a wide range of extant work, and familiar facts, I argue that the (open class) lexical (...)
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  10. Paul Pietrowski (2003). The Character of Natural Language Semantics. In Alex Barber (ed.), Epistemology of Language. Oxford University Press. 217--256.
    Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland I had heard it said that Chomsky’s conception of language is at odds with the truth-conditional program in semantics. Some of my friends said it so often that the point—or at least a point—finally sunk in.
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  11. Paul Pietrowski (2002). Function and Concatenation. In Georg Peter & Gerhard Preyer (eds.), Logical Form and Language. Oxford University Press. 91--117.
    Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland For any sentence of a natural language, we can ask the following questions: what is its meaning; what is its syntactic structure; and how is its meaning related to its syntactic structure? Attending to these questions, as they apply to sentences that provide evidence for Davidsonian event analyses, suggests that we reconsider some traditional views about how the syntax of a natural sentence is related to its meaning.
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  12. Paul Pietrowski (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 children's skills (...)
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  13. Paul Pietrowski (1994). A Defense of Derangement. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (1):95 - 117.
    In a recent paper, Bar-On and Risjord (henceforth, 'B&R') contend that Davidson provides no 1 good argument for his (in)famous claim that "there is no such thing as a language." And according to B&R, if Davidson had established his "no language" thesis, he would thereby have provided a decisive reason for abandoning the project he has long advocated--viz., that of trying to provide theories of meaning for natural languages by providing recursive theories of truth for such languages. For he would (...)
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  14. Paul Pietrowski, Experiencing the Facts Critical Notice Of: Mind and World, by John McDowell.