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.
In this article I develop Heidegger's phenomenology of poetry, showing that it may provide grounds for rejecting claims that he lapses into linguistic idealism. Proceeding via an analysis of the three concepts of language operative in the philosopher's work, I demonstrate how poetic language challenges language's designative and world-disclosive functions. The experience with poetic language, which disrupts Dasein's absorption by emerging out of equipmentality in the mode of the broken tool, brings Dasein to wonder at the world's existence in such (...) a way that doubt about its reality cannot enter the picture. (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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..
Like Spanish moss on a live oak tree, the scientific study of meaning in language has expanded in the last 100 years, and continues to expand steadily. In this essay I want to chart some central themes in that expansion, including their histories and their important figures. Our attention will be directed toward what is called 'formal semantics', which is the adaptation to natural language of analytical techniques from logic. The first, background, section of the paper will survey the changing (...) attitudes of linguists toward semantics into the last third of the century. The second and third sections will examine current formal approaches to meaning. In the final section I will summarize some of the common assumptions of the approaches examined in the middle sections of the paper, sketch a few alternatives, and make some daring predictions. (shrink)
In this article I develop a theory of political ontology, working to differentiate it from traditional political philosophy and Schmittian political theology. As with political theology, political ontology has its primary grounding not in disinterested contemplation from the standpoint of pure reason, but rather in a confrontation with an existential problem. Yet while for Schmitt this is the problem of how to live and think in obedience to God, the problem for political ontology is the question of being. Thus the (...) political ontologist agrees with the political theologian that the political cannot be thought without an awareness of an irreducible exigency – the fact that one thinks as situated in response to a certain moral or ethical demand – but it takes this demand to consist not in divine revelation, but rather in the fact that the human being is a being for which being is at issue. With this definition in mind I go on to read Giorgio Agamben in resolutely ontological terms, arguing that his concepts of bare life and the exception are largely unintelligible if understood ontically. Instead, these concepts are part of a critique that has as its primary target not the ontic political systems and material institutions of modern states but rather the (negative) metaphysical ground of those systems. Political ontology insists on the intertwining of ontology and politics, claiming that theirs is a relation of mutual determination. (shrink)
Grice introduced generalized conversational implicatures with the following example: "Anyone who uses a sentence of the formX is meeting tz woman this evening would normally implicate that the person to be met was someone other than X’s wife, mother, sister, or perhaps even close platonic friend" (1975 : 37). Concerning this example, he suggested the following account: When someone, by using the form of expression an JQ implicates that the X does not belong to or is not otherwise closely connected (...) with some identifiable person, the implicature is present because the speaker has failed to be specific in a way in which he might have been expected to be specific. (Grice 1975: 38.) Grice went on to sketch an explanation as to why such an implicature should arise, involving the different ways in which we behave towards things that are closely related to.. (shrink)
This paper aims to provide support for the view that individual concepts are basic to natural language semantics. First, the use of constant individual concepts allows us to maintain Kripke’s view of proper names as nondescriptional rigid designators in the face of problems created by so-called “empty names.” And second, the distinction between constant and variable individual concepts can function in an analysis of the specific-nonspecific distinction in indefinite..
The prototypes of definiteness and indefiniteness in English are the definite article the and the indefinite article a/an, and singular noun phrases (NPs)1 determined by them. That being the case it is not to be predicted that the concepts, whatever their content, will extend satisfactorily to other determiners or NP types. However it has become standard to extend these notions. Of the two categories definites have received rather more attention, and more than one researcher has characterized the category of definite (...) NPs by enumerating NP types. Westerståhl (1985), who is concerned only with determiners in the paper cited, gives a very short list: demonstrative NPs, possessive NPs, and definite descriptions. Prince (1992) lists proper names and personal pronouns, as well as NPs with the, a demonstrative, or a possessive NP as determiner. She notes, in addition, that “certain quantifiers (e.g. all, every) have been argued to be definite” (Prince 1992: 299). This list, with the quantifiers added, agrees with that given by Birner & Ward (1998, 114). Ariel (1988, 1990) adds null anaphoric NPs. (shrink)
The importance of applying game theory to the evolution of information in the presence of noise has recently become widely recognized. This Special Issue addresses the theme of spontaneously emergent order in both classical and quantum systems subject to external noise, and includes papers directly related to game theory or the development of supporting techniques. In the following editorial overview we examine the broader context of the subject, including the tension between the destructive and creative aspects of noise, and foreshadow (...) the signiﬁcance of some of the subsequent papers in the volume. (shrink)
expression that indicates hearer-familiarity conversationally implicates that the referent is in fact nonfamiliar to the hearer” (KW 177, emphasis in original, footnote added). The purpose of this note is two-fold: first, to look more closely at the proposed implicature; and second, to clarify its relation to a different implicature – a scalar implicature of nonuniqueness resulting from use of the indefinite rather than the definite article, which was proposed by Hawkins (1991). In the first section below we distinguish explicit from (...) implicit indications of familiarity. In §2 we look specifically at definite NPs from this perspective. In §3 we consider KW’s evidence for the familiarity implicature, and in §4 we argue that the existence of such an implicature does not cast doubt on the existence of Hawkins’ nonuniqueness implicature. The final section contains some concluding remarks. We should make clear that we may ultimately have little or no disagreement with KW on the issues here. (We have had some indication from one of the authors that that is the case.) Rather, our main purpose is clarificatory. Most importantly, we fear that a reader of KW may come away with the conclusion that their nonfamiliarity implicature in some way supplants or supersedes the Hawkins implicature, and we would like to ward off any such conclusion. (shrink)
This paper is about the difficulties involved in establishing criteria for definiteness. A number of possibilities are considered – traditional ones such as strength, uniqueness, and familiarity, as well as several which have been suggested in the wake of Montague’s analysis of NPs as generalized quantifiers. My tentative conclusion is that Russell’s uniqueness characteristic (suitably modified) holds up well against the others.
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) opens with a series of long takes of a car winding steadily down a road in the Iranian countryside. In other words, it opens with a sequence which, to anybody who knows Kiarostami's work, will be immediately recognizable as typical of it: Life and Nothing More (1992) returns repeatedly to such sequences, and ends with one; such sequences turn up in Through the Olive Trees (1994) and Taste of Cherry (1997); the protagonist of Where (...) is the Friend's Home? (1987) is too young to drive, but we see him from a distance meandering in a similar pattern on more than one occasion (and sequences of the same type return in Certified Copy (2010)). As with the other sequences, the opening of The .. (shrink)