Our everyday activities unfold in situations that offer a multiplicity of possibilities for action. While typing this text, the apple on the right side of my laptop affords eating, my e-mail checking, and the glass of water drinking from it. Every now and then I unreflectively switch from typing to eating or drinking and back to typing again. A relevant possibility for action is embedded in a field of other soliciting possibilities for action (Rietveld, 2008). Michael Wheeler and Hubert Dreyfus (...) have an interesting debate on the important issue of cognition in context. They both take a naturalistic and broadly Heideggerian approach to the problem of adequate sensitivity to context-dependent relevance (the frame-problem). Their debate focuses on such sensitivity in episodes of online intelligence (Wheeler, 2005, p. 252, p. 280), typing for instance. They agree that a central phenomenon to be understood is how one switches from one context to another by being responsive to what is relevant in a given situation. I use this latter agreement as a starting point for a new perspective on online intelligence. (shrink)
In Context and Content Robert Stalnaker develops a philosophical picture of the nature of speech and thought and the relations between them. These collected essays offer philosophers and cognitive scientists a summation of Stalnaker's important and influential work in this area. His new introduction to the volume gives an overview of this work and offers a convenient way in for those who are new to it.
With mention of Ogden and Richards' The Meaning of Meaning, and drawing on Mailinowski, for an opening example, Dewey argues for the importance of the relationship of interpretation and meaning, to context and and situation of usage or utterance. In this article, Dewey expounds, among other themes, on the the prospect of interpretation of a radically alien language and what this prospect tells us about linguistic meaning.
Keith DeRose has argued that context shifting experiments should be designed in a specific way in order to accommodate what he calls a ‘truth/falsity asymmetry’. I explain and critique DeRose's reasons for proposing this modification to contextualist methodology, drawing on recent experimental studies of DeRose's bank cases as well as experimental findings about the verification of affirmative and negative statements. While DeRose's arguments for his particular modification to contextualist methodology fail, the lesson of his proposal is that there is (...) good reason to pay close attention to several subtle aspects of the design of context shifting experiments. (shrink)
Color adjectives have played a central role in work on language typology and variation, but there has been relatively little investigation of their meanings by researchers in formal semantics. This is surprising given the fact that color terms have been at the center of debates in the philosophy of language over foundational questions, in particular whether the idea of a compositional, truth-conditional theory of natural language semantics is even coherent. The challenge presented by color terms is articulated in detail in (...) the work of Charles Travis. Travis argues that structurally isomorphic sentences containing color adjectives can shift truth value from context to context depending on how they are used and in the absence of effects of vagueness or ambiguity/polysemy, and concludes that a deterministic mapping from structures to truth conditions is impossible. The goal of this paper is to provide a linguistic perspective on this issue, which we believe defuses Travis’ challenge. We provide empirical arguments that color adjectives are in fact ambiguous between gradable and nongradable interpretations, and that this simple ambiguity, together with independently motivated options concerning scalar dimension within the gradable reading accounts for the Travis facts in a simpler, more constrained, and thus ultimately more successful fashion than recent contextualist analyses such as those in Szabó (Perspectives on semantics, pragmatics and discourse: A festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer, 2001) or Rothschild and Segal (Mind Lang, 2009). (shrink)
In this paper I expose and criticise the distinction between pure indexicals and demonstratives, held by David Kaplan and John Perry. I oppose the context of material production of the utterance to the “intended context” (the context of interpretation, i.e. the context the speaker indicates as semantically relevant): this opposition introduces an intentional feature into the interpretation of pure indexicals. As far as the indexical I is concerned, I maintain that we must distinguish between the material (...) producer of the utterance containing I and the “intended agent of the context” - i.e. the individual designated by the material producer as the responsible for the utterance. (shrink)
This paper argues for two theses: (a) that degrees of belief are context sensitive; (b) that outright belief is belief to degree 1. The latter thesis is rejected quickly in most discussions of the relationship between credence and belief, but the former thesis undermines the usual reasons for doing so. Furthermore, identifying belief with credence 1 allows nice solutions to a number of problems for the most widely-held view of the relationship between credence and belief, the threshold view. I (...) provide a sketch of a formal framework on which both theses are true. This is a modified Bayesian framework; I argue that despite making credences context-sensitive, the framework lets Bayesians hold on to their signature explanatory successes. The sort of context-sensitivity claimed for credences here mirrors the sort of context-sensitivity I have elsewhere claimed for outright belief: one's credences depend, in part, on the space of alternative possibilities one takes seriously in a context. (shrink)
Based on the premise that what is relevant, consistent, or true may change from context to context, a formal framework of relevance and context is proposed in which • contexts are mathematical entities • each context has its own language with relevant implication • the languages of distinct contexts are connected by embeddings • inter-context deduction is supported by bridge rules • databases are sets of formulae tagged with deductive histories and the contexts they belong (...) to • abduction and revision are supported by a notion of consistency of formulae and sets of formulae which are relative to a context, and which can, in turn, be seen as constituents of agendas. (shrink)
This book departs from the premise that context represents a complex relational configuration which can no longer be conceived as an analytic prime but rather requires a parts-whole perspective to capture its inherent dynamism. The edited volume presents a collection of papers which examine the connectedness between context, contextualization and entextualization. They address the questions how meaning and speech acts are situated in context, how both are influenced by context, how context influences speech acts and (...) meaning, how context is imported into the discourse, and how context is entextualized in discourse. The papers cover institutional and non-institutional contexts, the language of Greek laws, political discourse, confrontational media discourse and task-oriented face-to-face and back-to-back interactions. They reflect current moves in pragmatics and discourse analysis to cross disciplinary and methodological boundaries by integrating relevant premises and insights, in particular cognition, adaptive action, negotiation of meaning, sequentiality, recipient design and genre. (shrink)
Abstract -/- Inclusive nonindexical context-dependence occurs when the preferred interpretation of an utterance implies its lexically-derived meaning. It is argued that the corresponding processes of free or lexically mandated enrichment can be modeled as abductive inference. A form of abduction is implemented in Simple Type Theory on the basis of a notion of plausibility, which is in turn regarded a preference relation over possible worlds. Since a preordering of doxastic alternatives taken for itself only amounts to a relatively vacuous (...) ad hoc model, it needs to be combined with a rational way of learning from new evidence. Lexicographic upgrade is implemented as an example of how an agent might revise his plausibility ordering in light of new evidence. Various examples are given how this apparatus may be used to model the contextual resolution of context-dependent or semantically incomplete utterances. The described form of abduction is limited and merely serves as a proof of concept, but the idea in general has good potential as one among many ways to build a bridge between semantics and pragmatics since inclusive context-dependence is ubiquitous. (shrink)
In this paper we suggest that there is a need to examine what is meant by “context” in Social Psychology and present an example of how to place identity in its social and institutional context. Taking the case of British naturalisation, the process whereby migrants become citizens, we show that the identity of naturalised citizens is defined by common-sense ideas about Britishness and by immigration policies. An analysis of policy documents on “earned citizenship” and interviews with naturalised citizens (...) shows that the distinction between “elite” and “non-elite” migrants is evident in both the “reified” sphere of policy and the “common sense” sphere of everyday identity construction. While social representations embedded in lay experience construct ethno-cultural similarity and difference, immigration policies engage in an institutionalised positioning process by determining migrants' rights of mobility. These spheres of knowledge and practice are not disconnected as these two levels of “managing otherness” overlap—it is the poorer, less skilled migrants, originating outside the West who epitomise difference (within a consensual sphere) and have less freedom of mobility (within a reified sphere). We show that the context of identity should be understood as simultaneously psychological and political. (shrink)
Context figures in the interpretation of utterances in many different ways. In the tradition of possible-worlds semantics, the seminal account of context-sensitive expressions such as indexicals and demonstratives is that of Kaplan's two-dimensional semantics (the content- character distinction), further pursued in various directions by Stalnaker, Chalmers, and others. This chapter introduces and assesses the notion of context-sensitivity presented in this group of approaches, with a special focus on how it relates to the notion of cognitive significance and (...) whether it includes an intuitively plausible range of expressions within its scope. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the prospects of using two-dimensional semantics to account for context-sensitive expressions in dynamic discourse. (shrink)
Does context and context-dependence belong to the research agenda of semantics - and, specifically, of formal semantics? Not so long ago many linguists and philosophers would probably have given a negative answer to the question. However, recent developments in formal semantics have indicated that analyzing natural language semantics without a thorough accommodation of context-dependence is next to impossible. The classification of the ways in which context and context-dependence enter semantic analysis, though, is still a matter (...) of much controversy and some of these disputes are ventilated in the present collection. This book is not only a collection of papers addressing context-dependence and methods for dealing with it: it also records comments to the papers and the authors' replies to the comments. In this way, the contributions themselves are contextually dependent. In view of the fact that the contributors to the volume are such key figures in contemporary formal semantics as Hans Kamp, Barbara Partee, Reinhard Muskens, Nicholas Asher, Manfred Krifka, Jaroslav Peregrin and many others, the book represents a quite unique inquiry into the current activities on the semantics side of the semantics/pragmatics boundary. (shrink)
The papers in this volume represent the views of a range of experts in a variety of language-related disciplines on the role which context plays in language learning and language understanding. The authors provide various theoretical constructs which help impose order on the apparent chaos of contextual factors which may have an influence on the production and comprehension of speech events. They focus on a variety of types of context, including the context established by different speech communities, (...) interpersonal contexts, the classroom context, and the context provided by the linguistic code itself. The papers illustrate how the treatment of context varies across the disciplines of linguistics, historical stylistics, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistics. Each paper is prefaced by an editorial introduction to help the reader trace out common themes and points of conflict. (shrink)
Drawing upon research in philosophical logic, linguistics and cognitive science, this study explores how our ability to use and understand language depends upon our capacity to keep track of complex features of the contexts in which we converse.
In "Demonstratives" Kaplan claims that the occurrence of a demonstrative must be supplemented by an act of demonstration, like a pointing (a feature of the objective context). Conversely in "After-thoughts" Kaplan argues that the occurrence of a demonstrative must be supplemented by a directing intention (a feature of the intentional con-text). I present the two theories in competition and try to identify the constraints an intention must satisfy in order to have semantic rele-vance. My claim is that the analysis (...) of demonstrative reference pro-vides a reliable test for our intuitions on the relation between objective and intentional context. I argue that the speaker's intentions can play a semantic role only if they satisfy an Availability Constraint: an inten-tion must be made available or communicated to the addressee, and for that purpose the speaker can exploit any feature of the objective con-text. This thesis implies the reconciliation between "Demonstratives" and "Afterthoughts". (shrink)
This essay aims at neutralizing the contextualist challenge against traditional semantics. According to contextualism, utterances of non-elliptical, non-ambiguous, and non-indexical sentences may be associated with contrasting truth-conditions. In this essay, I grant the contextualist analysis of the sentences in question, and the contextualist assessment of the truth-conditions for the corresponding utterances. I then argue that the resulting situation is by no means incompatible with the traditional approach to semantics, and that the evidence put forth by the contextualists may easily be (...) taken into account by the customary treatment of natural languages. (shrink)
Egalitarianism, the view that equality matters, attracts a great deal of attention amongst contemporary political theorists. And yet it has turned out to be surprisingly difficult to provide a fully satisfactory egalitarian theory. The cutting-edge articles in Egalitarianism move the debate forward. They are written by some of the leading political philosophers in the field.
Contextual vocabulary acquisition (CVA) is the deliberate acquisition of a meaning for a word in a text by reasoning from context, where “context” includes: (1) the reader’s “internalization” of the surrounding text, i.e., the reader’s “mental model” of the word’s “textual context” (hereafter, “co-text” ) integrated with (2) the reader’s prior knowledge (PK), but it excludes (3) external sources such as dictionaries or people. CVA is what you do when you come across an unfamiliar word in your (...) reading, realize that you don’t know what it means, decide that you need to know what it means in order to understand the passage, but there is no one around to ask, and it is not in the dictionary (or you are too lazy to look it up). In such a case, you can try to ﬁgure out its meaning “from context”, i.e., from clues in the co-text together with your prior knowledge. Our computational theory of CVA—implemented in a the SNePS knowledge representation and reasoning system —begins with a stored knowledge base containing SNePS representations of relevant PK, inputs SNePS representations of a passage containing an unfamiliar word, and draws inferences from these two (integrated) information sources. When asked to deﬁne the word, deﬁnition algorithms deductively search the resulting network for information of the sort that might be found in a dictionary deﬁnition, outputting a deﬁnition frame whose slots are the kinds of features that a deﬁnition might contain (e.g., class membership, properties, actions, spatio-temporal information, etc.) and whose slot-ﬁllers contain information gleaned from the network [6–8,20,23,24]. We are investigating ways to make our system more robust, to embed it in a naturallanguage-processing system, and to incorporate morphological information. Our research group, including reading educators, is also applying our methods to the develop-. (shrink)
This thesis deals with the phenomenon of attitude reporting. More specifically, it provides a unified semantics of de re and de se belief reports. After arguing that de se belief is best thought of as a special case of de re belief, I examine whether we can extend this unification to the realm of belief reports. I show how, despite very promising first steps, previous attempts in this direction ultimately fail with respect to some relatively recent linguistic data involving quantified (...) and infinitival reports, logophoric constructions, and monstrously shifted indexicals. Formalizing my idea of a contextual resolution of acquaintance relations in a dynamic framework, I arrive at an alternative analysis that handles all these data. (shrink)
John Searle claims that social-scientific laws are impossible because social phenomena are physically open-ended. William Butchard and Robert D’Amico have recently argued that, by Searle’s own lights, money is a social phenomena that is physically closed. However, Butchard and D’Amico rely on a limited set of data in order to draw this conclusion, and fail to appreciate the implications of Searle’s theory of social ontology with regard to the physical open-endedness of money. Money is not physically open-ended in the strong (...) sense that Butchard and D’Amico require, and their argument for the possibility of social-scientific laws fails as a result. (shrink)
There are important structural similarities in the way that animals and humans engage in unreflective activities, including unreflective social interactions in the case of higher animals. Firstly, it is a form of unreflective embodied intelligence that is ‘motivated’ by the situation. Secondly, both humans and non-human animals are responsive to ‘affordances’ (Gibson 1979); to possibilities for action offered by an environment. Thirdly, both humans and animals are selectively responsive to one affordance rather than another. Social affordances are a subcategory of (...) affordances, namely possibilities for social interaction offered by an environment: a friend’s sad face invites comforting behavior, a person waiting for a coffee machine can afford a conversation, and an extended hand affords a handshake. I will review recent insights in the nature of the bodily intentionality characteristic of unreflective action. Such ‘motor intentionality’ can be characterized as “our direct bodily inclination to act in a situated, environmental context” (Kelly 2005, p. 106). Standard interpretations of bodily intentionality see grasping an object as the paradigmatic example of motor intentionality. I will discuss the implications of another, novel perspective that emphasizes the importance of unreflective switches from one activity to another (Rietveld 2004) and understands bodily intentionality in terms of adequate responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances. In the final section I will discuss some implications for cognitive neuroscientists who use empirical findings related to the ‘mirror neuron system’ as a starting point for a theory of motor intentionality and social cognition. (shrink)
The main point of the paper is the claim that a strong notion of cognitive context can answer the needs of a representation of dialogue context, with a higher generality than the "normative" notion suggested by Gauker. I will discuss some well known claims in the literature about communication and context, and I will suggest giving a central role to the notion of contract or semantic bargaining and to the normative constraints of indexicals and anaphora.
Consider the following facts about the average, philosophically untrained moral relativist: (1.1) The average moral relativist denies the existence of “absolute moral truths.” (1.2) The average moral relativist often expresses her commitment to moral relativism with slogans like ‘What’s true (or right) for you may not be what’s true (or right) for me’ or ‘What’s true (or right) for your culture may not be what’s true (or right) for my culture.’ (1.3) The average moral relativist endorses relativistic views of morality (...) without endorsing relativistic views about science or mathematics. (1.4) The average moral relativist takes moral relativism to be non-relatively true and does not think there is anything contradictory about doing so. (1.5) The average moral relativist adopts an egalitarian attitude toward a wide range of moral values, practices and beliefs, claiming they are all equally legitimate or correct. (1.6) The average moral relativist often admonishes others to be more tolerant of those who engage in alternative ethical practices and to refrain from making negative moral judgments about them. (1.7) The average moral relativist sometimes makes negative moral judgments about the behavior of others—e.g., by harshly judging moral absolutists to be intolerant—but is less inclined to do so when the relativist’s metaethical views are salient in a context of judgment. (1.8) The average moral relativist takes anthropological evidence concerning the worldwide diversity of ethical views and practices to support moral relativism. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend the thesis that alleffects of extra-linguistic context on thetruth-conditions of an assertion are traceable toelements in the actual syntactic structure of thesentence uttered. In the first section, I develop thethesis in detail, and discuss its implications for therelation between semantics and pragmatics. The nexttwo sections are devoted to apparent counterexamples.In the second section, I argue that there are noconvincing examples of true non-sentential assertions.In the third section, I argue that there are noconvincing examples of (...) what John Perry has called`unarticulated constituents''. I conclude by drawingsome consequences of my arguments for appeals tocontext-dependence in the resolution of problems inepistemology and philosophical logic. (shrink)
This paper argues that truth values of sentences containing predicates of “personal taste” such as fun or tasty must be relativized to individuals. This relativization is of truth value only, and does not involve a relativization of semantic content: If you say roller coasters are fun, and I say they are not, I am negating the same content which you assert, and directly contradicting you. Nonetheless, both our utterances can be true (relative to their separate contexts). A formal semantic theory (...) is presented which gives this result by introducing an individual index, analogous to the world and time indices commonly used, and by treating the pragmatic context as supplying a particular value for this index. The context supplies this value in the derivation of truth values from content, not in the derivation of content from character. Predicates of personal taste therefore display a kind of contextual variation in interpretation which is unlike the familiar variation exhibited by pronouns and other indexicals. (shrink)
After providing an overview of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) research in different contexts, and noting the varied methodologies adopted, two robust CSR conceptualizations – one by Carroll (1979, ‘A Three-Dimensional Conceptual Model of Corporate Performance’, The Academy of Management Review 4(4), 497–505) and the other by Wood (1991, ‘Corporate Social Performance Revisited’, The Academy of Management Review 16(4), 691–717) – have been adopted for this research and their integration explored. Using this newly synthesized framework, the research critically examines the CSR (...) approach and philosophy of eight companies that are considered active in CSR in the Lebanese context. The findings suggest the lack of a systematic, focused, and institutionalized approach to CSR and that the understanding and practice of CSR in Lebanon are still grounded in the context of philanthropic action. The findings are qualified within the framework of existing contextual realities and relevant implications drawn accordingly. (shrink)
I discuss an argument given by Dorothy Edgington for the conclusion that indicative conditionals cannot express propositions. The argument is not effective against Robert Stalnaker's context-dependent propositional theory. I isolate and defend the feature of Stalnaker's theory that allows it to evade the argument.
We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating OCD patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect affordance-responsiveness, including responsiveness to social affordances.
In his seminal paper 'Assertion', Robert Stalnaker distinguishes between the semantic content of a sentence on an occasion of use and the content asserted by an utterance of that sentence on that occasion. While in general the assertoric content of an utterance is simply its semantic content, the mechanisms of conversation sometimes force the two apart. Of special interest in this connection is one of the principles governing assertoric content in the framework, one according to which the asserted content ought (...) to be identical at each world in the context set (the Uniformity principle). In this paper, we present a problem for Stalnaker's meta-semantic framework, by challenging the plausibility of the Uniformity principle. We argue that the interaction of the framework with facts about epistemic accessibility--in particular, failures of epistemic transparency--cause problems for the Uniformity principle and thus for Stalnaker's framework more generally. (shrink)
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...) we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals. (shrink)
We can be willing in one context to attribute a bit of knowledge that we wouldn’t attribute and might even deny in another, especially a context in which we’re stumped by a skeptical argument. Apparently, our standards for knowledge sometimes go up, sometimes way up. How can this be? By claiming that the very contents of knowledge ascribing sentences vary with contexts of use, epistemic contextualism offers one explanation. I will offer another. According to contextualism, variation in standards (...) is built into this claimed variation in contents. According to me, the contents of knowledge attributions are invariant. The variation is in what knowledge attributions we’re willing to make or accept. Sometimes our standards are too strong, sometimes they’re too weak, and sometimes they’re just right. (shrink)
(1) I’m Spartacus! [Said by Spartacus] (2) I’m Spartacus! [Said by Antoninus] What Spartacus said was true, and what Antoninus said was not. Yet the two slaves uttered the exact same sentence, so how can this be? Admittedly, the puzzle is not very hard, and its solution is uncontroversial. The first person pronoun “I” is – to use a technical term – context sensitive. When Spartacus uses it, it refers to Spartacus; when Antoninus uses it, it refers to Antoninus. (...) So when Spartacus says “I’m Spartacus”, he expresses the true proposition that he, Spartacus, is Spartacus. And when Antoninus says it, he expresses the false proposition that he, Antoninus, is Spartacus. The sentence “I’m Spartacus” expresses different propositions when used by different people. Another example will help. Contrast these two utterances, made by subjects in a study carried out by experimental epistemologists: (3) This is a zebra. [Said by someone while pointing at a zebra] (4) This is a zebra. [Said by someone while pointing at a cleverly decorated mule]. (shrink)
This study investigated what information about brain death was available from Google searches for five major religions. A substantial body of supporting research examining online behaviors shows that information seekers use Google as their preferred search engine and usually limit their search to entries on the first page. For each of the five religions in this study, Google listings reveal ethical controversy about organ donation in the context of brain death. These results suggest that family members who go online (...) to find information about organ donation in the context of brain death would find information about ethical controversy in the first page of Google listings. Organ procurement agencies claim that all major world religions approve of organ donation and do not address the ethical controversy about organ donation in the context of brain death that is readily available online. (shrink)
I consider Kant's criticism of rational psychology in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason in light of his German predecessors. I first present Wolff's foundational account of metaphysical psychology with the result that Wolff's rational psychology is not comfortably characterized as a naïvely rationalist psychology. I then turn to the reception of Wolff's account among later German metaphysicians, and show that the same claim of a dependence of rational upon empirical psychology is found in the publications and lectures of Kant's pre-Critical (...) period. Considering the Paralogisms in this context reveals Kant's conception of rational psychology to be distinctly novel and has important consequences in shifting the argumentative focus of the chapter. (shrink)
How far, if at all, do our intrapersonal and our interpersonal epistemic obligations run in parallel? This paper treats the question as addressing the stability of doxastic commitment in the two dimensions. In the background lies an analogy between doxastic and practical commitment. We’ll pursue the question of doxastic stability by coining a doxastic analogue of Gregory Kavka’s much-discussed toxin case. In this new case, you foresee that you will rationally abandon a doxastic commitment by undergoing a shift in the (...)context in which you doxastically deliberate. The case reveals an important stability condition on doxastic commitment that plays no role in cases modeled on Ulysses and the Sirens, the scenario that has shaped previous attempts to draw an analogy between doxastic and practical commitment. The stability condition thereby revealed is not diachronic -- it does not involve a shift in belief -- but we can construct specifically diachronic cases that reveal an important intrapersonal epistemic obligation. This obligation arises when you expect the shift in belief by ‘projecting’ yourself into a future doxastic context -- thus vindicating a restricted, but only this restricted, application of Bas van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle. Despite some important differences, we can use these diachronic cases as a model for interpersonal cases that reveal an important role for doxastic context in the epistemology of disagreement. But the roles played by projection and context in disagreement ensure that there is no general obligation to be responsive to the opinion of an epistemic peer who disagrees with you. (shrink)
Standard rigid designator accounts of a name’s meaning have trouble accommodating what I will call a descriptive name’s “shifty” character -- its tendency to shift its referent over time in response to a discovery that the conventional referent of that name does not satisfy the description with which that name was introduced. I offer a variant of Kripke’s historical semantic theory of how names function, a variant that can accommodate the character of descriptive names while maintaining rigidity for proper names. (...) A descriptive name’s shiftiness calls for a semantic account of names that makes their semantic values bipartite, containing both traditional semantic contents and what I call "modes of introduction." Both parts of a name's semantic value are derived from the way a name gets introduced into discourse -- from what I refer to as its "context of introduction." Making a name's semantic value bipartite in this way allows for a definite description to be a part of proper name's meaning without thereby sacrificing that name’s status as a rigid designator. On my view, a definite description is part of descriptive name’s mode of introduction. That is, it is part of what determines the content assigned to that name. As it turns out, making a definite description part of a descriptive name’s mode of introduction allows for that definite description to play the role of a mere reference-fixer regarding that name’s content, as Kripke would have it. However, my account allows a definite description to fix a descriptive name’s content actively over time, thereby explaining its inherent shiftiness. (shrink)
The frame problem is the difficulty of explaining how non-magical systems think and act in ways that are adaptively sensitive to context-dependent relevance. Influenced centrally by Heideggerian phenomenology, Hubert Dreyfus has argued that the frame problem is, in part, a consequence of the assumption (made by mainstream cognitive science and artificial intelligence) that intelligent behaviour is representation-guided behaviour. Dreyfus' Heideggerian analysis suggests that the frame problem dissolves if we reject representationalism about intelligence and recognize that human agents realize the (...) property of thrownness (the property of being always already embedded in a context). I argue that this positive proposal is incomplete until we understand exactly how the properties in question may be instantiated in machines like us. So, working within a broadly Heideggerian conceptual framework, I pursue the character of a representation-shunning thrown machine. As part of this analysis, I suggest that the frame problem is, in truth, a two-headed beast. The intra-context frame problem challenges us to say how a purely mechanistic system may achieve appropriate, flexible and fluid action within a context. The inter-context frame problem challenges us to say how a purely mechanistic system may achieve appropriate, flexible and fluid action in worlds in which adaptation to new contexts is open-ended and in which the number of potential contexts is indeterminate. Drawing on the field of situated robotics, I suggest that the intra-context frame problem may be neutralized by systems of special-purpose adaptive couplings, while the inter-context frame problem may be neutralized by systems that exhibit the phenomenon of continuous reciprocal causation. I also defend the view that while continuous reciprocal causation is in conflict with representational explanation, special-purpose adaptive coupling, as well as its associated agential phenomenology, may feature representations. My proposal has been criticized recently by Dreyfus, who accuses me of propagating a cognitivist misreading of Heidegger, one that, because it maintains a role for representation, leads me seriously astray in my handling of the frame problem. I close by responding to Dreyfus' concerns. (shrink)
All sorts of things are context-dependent in one way or another. What it is appropriate to wear, to give, or to reveal depends on the context. Whether or not it is all right to lie, harm, or even kill depends on the context. If you google the phrase ‘depends on the context’, you’ll get several hundred million results. This chapter aims to narrow that down. In this context the topic is context dependence in language (...) and its use. It is commonly observed that the same sentence can be used to convey different things in different contexts. That is why people complain when something they say is ‘taken out of context’ and insist that it be ‘put into context’, because ‘context makes it clear’ what they meant. Indeed, it is practically a platitude that what a speaker means in uttering a certain sentence, as well as how her audience understands her, ‘depends on the context’. But just what does that amount to, and to what extent is it true? (shrink)
For many purposes in pragmatics one needs to appeal to a context of utterance conceived as a set of sentences or propositions. The context of utterance in this sense is often defined as the set of assumptions that the speaker supposes he or she shares with the hearer. I argue by stages that this is a mistake. First, if contexts must be defined in terms of shared assumptions, then it would be preferable to define the context as (...) the set of assumptionsthat the interlocutors really do share. Second, not all shared assumptions belong to the context, because not all are relevant. Third, hearers need not accept every member of the context, because some presuppositions are informative. Finally, presupposition coordination problems show that contexts may have contents that even the speaker does not accept. Contexts, we may conclude, are mind-transcendent. In one sense of the term a "presupposition" is an interlocutor's take on this mind-transcendent context. (shrink)
This book provides a concise overview, with excellent historical and systematic coverage, of the problems of the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition. Howard Callaway explains and explores the relation of language to the philosophy of mind and culture, to the theory of knowledge, and to ontology. He places the question of linguistic meaning at the center of his investigations. The teachings of authors who have become classics in the field, including Frege, Russell, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, and Putnam are (...) critically analyzed. I share completely his conviction that contemporary Anglo-American philosophy follows the spirit of the enlightenment in insisting on intellectual sincerity, clarity, and the willingness to meet scientific doubts or objections openly. --Professor Henri Lauener, Editor of Dialectica. (shrink)
Impairments in cognitive coordination in schizophrenia are supported by phenomenological data that suggest deficits in the processing of visual context. Although the target article is sympathetic to such a phenomenological perspective, we argue that the relevance of phenomenological data for a wider understanding of consciousness in schizophrenia is not sufficiently addressed by the authors.
It is widely though not universally accepted what speakers refer to in using demonstratives or “discretionary” (as opposed to “automatic”) indexicals depends on their intentions. Even so, people tend not to appreciate the consequences of this claim for the view that demonstratives and most indexicals refer as a function of context: these expressions suffer from a “character deficiency.” No wonder I am asked from time to time why I resist the temptation to include speaker intentions as a parameter of (...)context. So I thought it would be a good idea to compile some of the scattered statements of my main reasons for this evidently radical view. (shrink)
Stewart Shapiro’s book develops a contextualist approach to vagueness. It’s chock-full of ideas and arguments, laid out in wonderfully limpid prose. Anyone working on vagueness (or the other topics it touches on—see below) will want to read it. According to Shapiro, vague terms have borderline cases: there are objects to which the term neither determinately applies nor determinately does not apply. A term determinately applies in a context iff the term’s meaning and the non-linguistic facts determine that they do. (...) The non-linguistic facts include the “external” context: “comparison class, paradigm cases, contrasting cases, etc.” (33) But external-contextsensitivity is not what’s central to Shapiro’s contextualism. Even fixing external context, vague terms’ (anti-)extensions exhibit sensitivity to internal context: the decisions of competent speakers. According to Shapiro’s open texture thesis, for each borderline case, there is some circumstance in which a speaker, consistently with the term’s meaning and the non-linguistic facts, can judge it to fall into the term’s extension and some circumstance in which the speaker can judge it to fall into the term’s anti-extension: she can “go either way.” Moreover, borderline sentences are Euthyphronically judgment- dependent: a competent speaker’s judging a borderline to fall into a term’s (anti- )extension makes it so. For Shapiro, then, a sentence can be true but indeterminate: a case left unsettled by meaning and the non-linguistic facts (and thus indeterminate, or borderline) may be made true by a competent speaker’s judgment. Importantly, among the non-linguistic facts that constrain speakers’ judgments (at least in the cases Shapiro cares about) is a principle of tolerance: for all x and y, if x and y differ marginally in the relevant respect (henceforth, Mxy), then if one competently judges Bx, one cannot competently judge y in any other manner in the same (total) context.1 This does not require that one judge By: one might not consider the matter at all.. (shrink)
According to Semantic Minimalism, every use of "Chiara is tall" (fixing the girl and the time) semantically expresses the same proposition, the proposition that Chiara is (just plain) tall. Given standard assumptions, this proposition ought to have an intension (a function from possible worlds to truth values). However, speakers tend to reject questions that presuppose that it does. I suggest that semantic minimalists might address this problem by adopting a form of "nonindexical contextualism," according to which the proposition invariantly expressed (...) by "Chiara is tall" does not have a context-invariant intension. Nonindexical contextualism provides an elegant explanation of what is wrong with "context-shifting arguments" and can be seen as a synthesis of the (partial) insights of semantic minimalists and radical contextualists. (shrink)
Contextualism about vagueness (hereafter ‘Contextualism’) is the view that vagueness consists in a particular species of context-sensitivity and that properly accommodating this fact into our semantic theory will yield a plausible solution to the sorites paradox., But Contextualism, as many commentators have noted, faces the following immediate objection: if we hold the context fixed, vagueness still remains, therefore vagueness is not a species of context-sensitivity. Call this ‘the simple objection’. Absent a convincing reply to the simple objection, (...) Contextualism is in very bad shape. Oddly enough, defenders of Contextualism have said very little in reply. Proponents of the objection have tended to assume that this is because no reply is in the offing—the simple objection is taken to be unassailable. In this short paper, we sketch two replies to the simple objection which result in two very different kinds of Contextualism: Epistemicist Contextualism and Radical Contextualism. With these two theories in hand, the simple objection loses its force. (shrink)
This paper revisits some foundational questions concerning the abstract representation of a discourse context. The context of a conversation is represented by a body of information that is presumed to be shared by the participants in the conversation – the information that the speaker presupposes a point at which a speech act is interpreted. This notion is designed to represent both the information on which context-dependent speech acts depend, and the situation that speech acts are designed to (...) affect, and so to be a representation of context that is appropriate for explaining the interaction of context and the contents expressed in them. After reviewing the motivating ideas and the outlines of the apparatus, the paper responds to a criticism of the framework, and considers the way it can help to clarify some phenomena concerning pronouns with indefinite antecedents. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that standards, which are typically social in nature, play a role in determining whether a subject has knowledge. While the argument focuses on standards that pertain to reasoning, I also consider whether there are similar standards for memory and perception.Ultimately, I argue that the standards are context sensitive and, as such, we must view attributions of knowledge as indexical. I exploit similarities between this view and a version of the relevant alternatives reply to skepticism (...) in order to defend this reply against the objection that it is ad hoc. (shrink)
The contextual contributions to meaning are at the core of the debate about the semantics/pragmatics distinction, one of the liveliest topics in current philosophy of language and linguistics. The controversy between semantic minimalists and contextualists regarding context and semantic content is a conspicuous example of the debate's relevance. This collection of essays, written by leading philosophers as well as talented young researchers, offers new approaches to the ongoing discussion about the status of lexical meaning and the role of (...) class='Hi'>context dependence in linguistic theorizing. It covers a broad range of issues in semantics and pragmatics such as presuppositions, reference, lexical meaning, discourse relations and information structure, negation, and metaphors. The book is an essential reading for philosophers, linguists, and graduate students of philosophy of language and linguistics. (shrink)
Tenses as operators on content: ‘PAST’ and ‘FUT’ are circumstance shifters, similar What I hope to do in this talk: to ‘ ’ and ‘◊’, except that they shift the time of the circumstance, as opposed to the My intention is not to prove Kaplan wrong. Even if Kaplan’s remarks about context shifting operators in English turn out to be strictly correct, there is clearly a lot of world of the circumstance.
In this article I contrast in two ways those conceptions of semantic theory deriving from Richard Montague's Intensional Logic (IL) and later developments with conceptions that stick pretty closely to a far weaker semantic apparatus for human first languages. IL is a higher-order language incorporating the simple theory of types. As such, it endows predicates with a reference. Its intensional features yield a conception of propositional identity (namely necessary equivalence) that has seemed to many to be too coarse to be (...) acceptable. In the most usual expositions, it takes the object of linguistic explication to be the sentence in a context, as in Kaplan, 1977. This last has led to recent speculations about 'shifted' contexts. IL may be contrasted with a more linguistically (representationally) bound conception of propositions and interpretation of their predicational and functional parts, and with the explication, not of sentences in contexts, but of potential utterances, relative to the antecedent referential intentions of their speakers. We may then advance, as an empirical hypothesis about all human languages, that contexts never shift, and propose that apparent counterexamples stem from the misconstrual of linguistically coded anaphoric relations, relations that are wanted independently anyway. Donald Davidson's posthumous volume Truth and Predication mounts a sustained criticism of the notion of predicate reference. This criticism is not decisive. However, it may put the ball in the other court, insofar as it asks for a justification of what IL takes as given. Elaborations of IL using structured propositions, recently defended in King, 2007, recognize the problem of predicate reference, and the correlative issue of the 'unity of the proposition'; but I do not see that they can do better than bite the bullet already bitten in IL. I agree with Frege's insight that full justification of predicate reference pushes the boundaries of natural language, and to that extent may not be found within the semantic (as opposed to general scientific) enterprise. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a critique of the recent popular strategy of giving a contextualist account of vagueness. Such accounts maintain that truth-values of vague sentences can change with changes of context induced by confronting different entities (e.g. different pairs through a sorites series). I claim that appealing to context does not help in solving the sorites paradox, nor does it give us new insights into vagueness per se. Furthermore, the contextual variation to which the contextualist is (...) committed is problematic in various ways. For example, it yields the consequence that much of our everyday (non-soritical) reasoning is fallacious, and it renders us ignorant of what we and others have said. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Contextualist theories of semantics are not undermined by their purported failure to explain the practice of indirect reporting. I adopt Cappelen & Lepore’s test for context sensitivity to show that the scope of context sensitivity is much broader than Semantic Minimalists are willing to accept. The failure of their arguments turns on their insistence that the content of indirect reports is semantically minimal.
The aim of this paper is to put into context the historical, foundational and philosophical significance of category theory. We use our historical investigation to inform the various category-theoretic foundational debates and to point to some common elements found among those who advocate adopting a foundational stance. We then use these elements to argue for the philosophical position that category theory provides a framework for an algebraic in re interpretation of mathematical structuralism. In each context, what we aim (...) to show is that, whatever the significance of category theory, it need not rely upon any set-theoretic underpinning. (shrink)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) represents adaptation to defective neurotransmission – an adaptation seldom with benefit. The resulting behavioural style not only increases vulnerability to adverse experiences, but also creates a context in which encountering adversity is more likely. Furthermore, the fact that ADHD is a highly heritable condition increases the probability of a child with a compromised neurobiological disposition being raised by caregivers with suboptimal resources.
The central issue of this essay is whether contextualism in epistemology is genuinely in conflict with recent claims that ‘know’ is not in fact a contextsensitive word. To address this question, I will first rehearse three key aims of contextualists and the broad strategy they adopt for achieving them. I then introduce two linguistic arguments to the effect that the lexical item ‘know’ is not context sensitive, one from Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore, one from Jason Stanley. I find (...) these and related arguments quite compelling. In particular, I think Cappelen and Lepore (2003, 2005a) show pretty definitively that ‘know’ is not like ‘I’/‘here’/‘now’, and Stanley (2004) shows that ‘know’ is not like ‘tall’/‘rich’.1 One could try to find another model for ‘know’. Instead, I consider whether one can rescue ‘‘the spirit of contextualism in epistemology’’—that is, achieve its aims by deploying a strategy of appealing to speaker context—even while granting that ‘know’ isn’t a context-sensitive word at all. My conclusion, in a nutshell, is this: If there are pragmatic determinants of what is asserted/stated, and contextualism can overcome independent problems not having to do specifically with the context-sensitivity of the word ‘know’, then the spirit of contextualism can be salvaged. Even though, for reasons sketched by the aforementioned authors, ‘know’ doesn’t actually belong in the class of context-sensitive words. (shrink)
According to what I will call a contextualist solution to the sorites paradox, vague terms are context-sensitive, and one can give a convincing dissolution of the sorites paradox in terms of this context-dependency. The reason, according to the contextualist, that precise boundaries for expressions like “heap” or “tall for a basketball player” are so difficult to detect is that when two entities are sufficiently similar (or saliently similar), we tend to shift the interpretation of the vague expression so (...) that if one counts as falling in the extension of the property expressed by that expression, so does the other. As a consequence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a vague expression in its penumbra, our very looking has the effect of changing the interpretation of the vague expression so that the boundary is not where we are looking. This accounts for the persuasive force of sorites arguments. (shrink)
This article presents an overview of significant issues facing contemporary information professionals. As the world of information continues to grow at unprecedented speed and in unprecedented volume, questions must be faced by information professionals. Will we participate in the worldwide mythology of equal access for all, or will we truly work towards this debatable goal? Will we accept the narrowing of choice for our corresponding increasing diverse clientele? Such questions must be considered in a holistic context and an understanding (...) of the many levels of information inequities is requisite.Beginning with an historical perspective, Buchanan presents Mustapha Masmoudi''s seminal review of forms of information inequities. She then describes qualitative forms of inequities, such as information imperialism and cultural bias embedded in such practices as cataloging and classification. Following, a review of quantitative inequities is presented. Such issues as the growing commoditization of information and information services demand attention from the ethical perspective. And, finally, the Internet and implications surrounding the world-wide dissemination of information is discussed. (shrink)
Frege proposed that his Context Principle—which says that a word has meaning only in the context of a proposition—can be used to explain reference, both in general and to mathematical objects in particular. I develop a version of this proposal and outline answers to some important challenges that the resulting account of reference faces. Then I show how this account can be applied to arithmetic to yield an explanation of our reference to the natural numbers and of their (...) metaphysical status. (shrink)
I develop a seeming antinomy in relation to the question, Do natural kind properties, strictly speaking, characterize the phenomenology of experience? Or, in Peacockean terms, Are natural kind concepts observational? On the one hand, naïve descriptions of experience are rich descriptions, often characterizing our experience in terms of the presence of natural kinds. Thus, negative answers to such questions falsify how our experience seems to us. On the other hand, attributing rich contents to experience forces us to treat certain matching (...) experiences as illusions or, in Peacockean terms, purely perceptual errors. In both cases this is an implausible application of these notions, for, in such cases, all the properties seemingly being picked up on by the visual system are instantiated. The intractability of this apparent antinomy motivates a contextualist resolution: How rich a description it is appropriate to give of a stretch of someone’s experiential life depends on the context we are in. (shrink)
The claim that a functional kind is multiply realized is typically motivated by appeal to intuitive examples. We are seldom told explicitly what the relevant structures are, and people have often preferred to rely on general intuitions in these cases. This article deals with the problem by explaining how to understand the proper relation between structural kinds and the functions they realize. I will suggest that the structural kinds that realize a function can be properly identified by attending to the (...)context of functional explanation. *Received June 2006; revised June 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
There is considerable likelihood that Gottlob Frege began writing his Foundations of Arithmetic with the expectation that he could introduce his numbers, not with sets, but through some algebraic techniques borrowed from earlier writers of the Gottingen school. These rewriting techniques, had they worked, would have required strong philosophical justification provided by Frege's celebrated "context principle," which otherwise serves little evident purpose in the published Foundations.
In this article, we present an analysis of defeasible generalizations – generalizations which are essentially exception-laden, yet genuinely explanatory – in terms of various notions of privileged conditions. We argue that any plausible epistemology must make essential use of defeasible generalizations so understood. We also consider the epistemic significance of the sort of understanding of context that is required for understanding of explanatory defeasible generalizations on any topic.
In the recent debate on the semantic/pragmatic divide, Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (2005) on the one hand, and Fran¸ cois Recanati (2004) on the other, occupy almost diametrically opposed positions as regards the role of semantics for communication, while largely agreeing on important features of pragmatics. According to Cappelen and Lepore (CL), semantic context sensitivity of natural language sentences is restricted to what is determined by a particular minimal set of canonically context sensitive expressions. If you try (...) to go beyond that set, as has often been done in recent semantic theories, to reach a position of moderate contextualism, your reasons will force you to the much more extreme position of radical contextualism. That is CL’s instability thesis. They argue for it by means of a number of examples intended to illustrate how you are off on a slippery slope if you admit any context sensitivity beyond the basic one. If radical contextualism is true, systematic semantics is not possible, since, according to CL, there cannot be any systematic theory of speech act content. The one exception is that whatever is said by the utterance of a sentence, its minimally context dependent content is part of it. (shrink)
The apparently disjointed structure of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations has often been taken as a license for interpreting passages out of context. As a result, numerous articles and books have appeared which pay little attention to the actual text. Robert Arrington and Hans-Johann Glock show how important it is to consider the arguments which specify or authorize particular readings of certain passages. The essays in this volume approach the Investigations with the conviction that prior to pronouncements of the relevance or (...) tenability of certain remarks, one must carefully consider Wittgenstein's text itself and locate the puzzling passages in their contexts in order to understand and appreciate them. A lively debate emerges as authors differ in their assessments of the philosophical value of their material; some try to show that careful interpretations reveal valuable insights into prima facie untenable passages, while others conclude that certain remarks fail to resolve the issues they address. Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is a major contribution to the study of this work as well as the whole of Wittgenstein's thought. It will be essential and fascinating reading for those who study this great thinker. (shrink)
Hans Reichenbach introduced two seemingly separate sets of distinctions in his epistemology at different times. One is between the axioms of coordination and the axioms of connections . The other distinction is between the context of discovery and the context of justification . The status and nature of each of these distinctions have been subject-matter of an ongoing debate among philosophers of science. Thus, there is a significant amount of works considering both distinctions separately. However, the relevance of (...) Reichenbach’s two distinctions to each other does not seem to have enjoyed the same amount of interest so far. This is what I would like to consider in this paper. In other words, I am concerned with the question: what kind of relationship is there between his two distinctions, if there is any? (shrink)
Interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has proliferated in academic and business circles alike. In the context of CSR, the spotlight has traditionally focused on the role of the private sector particularly in view of its wealth and global reach. Other actors have recently begun to assume more visible roles in the context of CSR, including Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which have acquired increasing prominence on the socio-economic landscape. This article examines five partnerships between businesses and NGOs in a (...) developing country context that fall in the realm of CSR. The article starts with a literature review, delineating foundational underpinnings that have to be carefully designed and crafted to promote the success of collaborative ventures. An empirical study of five selected partnerships between businesses and NGOs in Lebanon is then presented, allowing to derive interesting insights into types of existing alliances, their relational characteristics as well as salient factors considered most determinant of success or failure in this regard. (shrink)
The paper is concerned with the semantics of knowledge attributions(K-claims, for short) and proposes a position holding that K-claims are contextsensitive that differs from extant views on the market. First I lay down the data a semantic theory for K-claims needs to explain. Next I present and assess three views purporting to give the semantics for K-claims: contextualism, subject-sensitive invariantism and relativism. All three views are found wanting with respect to their accounting for the data. I then propose a hybrid (...) view according to which the relevant epistemic standards for evaluating K-claims are neither those at the context of the subject (subject-sensitive invariantism), nor those at the context of the assessor (relativism), but it is itself an open matter. However, given that we need a principled way of deciding which epistemic standards are the relevant ones, I provide a principle according to which the relevant standards are those that are the highest between those at the context of the subject and those at the context of the assessor/attributor. In the end I consider some objections to the view and offer some answers. (shrink)
There is abundant evidence of contextual variation in the use of “S knows p.” Contextualist theories explain this variation in terms of semantic hypotheses that refer to standards of justification determined by “practical” features of either the subject’s context (Hawthorne & Stanley) or the ascriber’s context (Lewis, Cohen, & DeRose). There is extensive linguistic counterevidence to both forms. I maintain that the contextual variation of knowledge claims is better explained by common pragmatic factors. I show here that one (...) is variable strictness. “S knows p” is commonly used loosely to implicate “S is close enough to knowing p for contextually indicated purposes.” A pragmatic account may use a range of semantics, even contextualist. I use an invariant semantics on which knowledge requires complete justification. This combination meets the Moorean constraint as well as any linguistic theory should, and meets the intuition constraint much better than contextualism. There is no need for ad hoc error theories. The variation in conditions of assertability and practical rationality is better explained by variably strict constraints. It will follow that “S knows p” is used loosely to implicate that the condition for asserting “p” and using it in practical reasoning are satisfied. (shrink)
This essay attempts to give substance to the claim that the liar''sparadox shows the truth predicate to be context sensitive. The aim ismodest: to provide an account of the truth predicate''s contextsensitivity (1) that derives from a more general understanding ofcontext sensitivity, (2) that does not depend upon a hierarchy ofpredicates and (3) that is able to address the liar''s paradox. Theconsequences of achieving this goal are not modest, though. Perhapssurprisingly, for reasons that will be discussed in the last (...) section ofthis essay, a natural account of the truth predicate''s contextsensitivity appears to lead naturally to a version of the correspondencetheory of truth according to which the truth predicate can be understoodas a relation holding between a sentence and a salient set of contexts.The plan of this essay is as follows. Section 1 contains a generalaccount of context sensitivity. The purpose of this section is toisolate certain features of context sensitivity and formal methods oftreating them, which we will then apply to the truth predicate. Section 2then outlines two minimal conditions to be satisfied by a truthpredicate. In Section 3, I present a version of the liar paradoxthat results from these conditions and the assumption that the truthpredicate is not context sensitive in the sense described in sectionone. Finally, in section four, I provide what appear to be naturalconsequences of a truth predicate''s context sensitivity. Section 4 isadmittedly speculative and points in the direction for future research. (shrink)
In the recent debate on the semantic/pragmatic divide, Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (2005) on the one hand, and Fran¸cois Recanati (2004) on the other, occupy almost diametrically opposed positions as regards the role of semantics for communication, while largely agreeing on important features of pragmatics. According to Cappelen and Lepore (CL), semantic context sensitivity of natural language sentences is restricted to what is determined by a particular minimal set of canonically context sensitive expressions. If you try to (...) go beyond that set, as has often been done in recent semantic theories, to reach a position of moderate contextualism, your reasons will force you to the much more extreme position of radical contextualism. That is CL’s instability thesis. They argue for it by means of a number of examples intended to illustrate how you are off on a slippery slope if you admit any context sensitivity beyond the basic one. If radical contextualism is true, systematic semantics is not possible, since, according to CL, there cannot be any systematic theory of speech act content. The one exception is that whatever is said by the utterance of a sentence, its minimally context dependent content is part of it. Precisely this is denied by Recanati. Not only is this “minimal proposition” not part of speech act content. The minimal proposition plays no.. (shrink)
Context Shifting Arguments (CSA) ask us to consider two utterances of an unambiguous, non-vague, non-elliptic sentence S. If the consensus intuition is that what’s said, or expressed or the truth-conditions, and so possibly the truthvalues, of these utterances differ, then CSA concludes S is context sensitive. Consider, for example, simultaneous utterances of ‘I am wearing a hat’, one by Stephen, one by Jason. Intuitively, these utterances can vary in truth-value contingent upon who is speaking the sentence, while holding (...) hat-wearing constant, and so they express distinct propositions and differ in their truth conditions. Since these differences are not the result of ambiguity (lexical or structural), vagueness, conversational implicature, or syntactic ellipsis, we have pretty strong evidence that ‘I am wearing a hat’ is context sensitive. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to uncover the role played by Wittgenstein's context principle in his criticism of Russell's theory of types. There is evidence in Wittgenstein's writings that a syntactical version of the context principle in connection with the theory of symbolism functions as a good reason for his dispensing with the theory of types.
Kratzer 1998 proposes that certain indefinite determiners (at least in some of their uses) might be variables for (Skolemized) choice functions that receive a value from the utterance context. What does it mean for a choice function variable to receive a value from the context of utterance? How can a context provide such a function? To sharpen intuitions, here is an example describing a custom from my home town Mindelheim. After every funeral, all the mourners gathered around (...) the still open grave say a prayer that starts with the words: “And now let us pray for the person among us who will die next.” Suppose an anthropologist attended one or more funerals in Mindelheim, and reports on what she found out in a lecture using (1), or the more general (2). (shrink)
Strawson proposed in the early seventies an attractive threefold distinction regarding how context bears on the meaning of `what is said' when a sentence is uttered. The proposed scheme is somewhat crude and, being aware of this aspect, Strawson himself raised various points to make it more adequate. In this paper, we review the scheme of Strawson, note his concerns, and add some of our own. However, our main point is to defend the essence of Strawson's approach and to (...) recommend it as a starting point for research into intended meaning and context. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that although ‘Superman is Clark Kent and some people who believe that Superman flies do not believe that Clark Kent flies’ is a logically inconsistent sentence, we can still utter this sentence, while speaking literally, without asserting anything false. The key idea is that the context-sensitivity of attitude reports can be, and often is, resolved in different ways within a single sentence.
This paper contains a discussion of how the concept of compositionality is to be extended from context invariant to context dependent meaning, and of how the compositionality of natural language might conflict with context dependence. Several new distinctions are needed, including a distinction between a weaker (e-) and a stronger (ec-) concept of compositionality for context dependent meaning. The relations between the various notions are investigated. A claim by Jerry Fodor that there is a general conflict (...) between context dependence and compositionality is considered. There is in fact a possible conflict betwee ec-compositionality and context dependence, but not of the kind Fodor suggests. It turns on the presence of so-called unarticulated constituents, in John Perry’s sense. Because of this phenomenon, on some semantic accounts there might be a variation in the meaning of a complex expression between contexts without any corresponding variation in any of the syntactic parts of that complex. The conflict can be resolved in several ways. One way is to make the unarticulated context dependence explicit only in the meta-language, which makes it into an unarticulated constituent account. A recent argument by Jason Stanley against such accounts is discussed. According to Stanley, certain readings of English sentences involving binding of contextual variables, are unavailable in these theories. After considering a reply to Stanley by François Recanati, I present an outline of a fully compositional theory, of the unarticulated constituent variety, which does deliver these readings. Concluding remarks on, inter alia, the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
Metaphor is a crucially context-dependent linguistic phenomenon. This fact was not clearly recognized until some time in the 1970’s. Until then, most theorists assumed that a sentence must have a fixed set of metaphorical meanings, if it had any at all. Often, they also assumed that metaphoricity was the product of grammatical deviance, in the form of a category mistake. To compensate for this deviance, they thought, at least one of the sentence’s constituent terms underwent a meaning-changing ‘metaphorical twist’, (...) which deleted the objectionable selection restriction or semantic marker (e.g., Levin 1977) or turned one of the term’s fixed set of connotations into its denotation (e.g., Beardsley 1962). This situation changed as theorists began to pay more serious attention to how metaphors actually function. First, it was pointed out that not all sentences used metaphorically are logically or even pragmatically absurd (Cohen 1975). Second, it became increasingly obvious that in the context of different sentences, and in the context of the same sentence as uttered by different speakers on different occasions, the same word could be used metaphorically to express many, very different meanings. Semantic theories became increasingly bloated as theorists attempted to encompass all this variety within the lexicon. Eventually, semantic theories of metaphor were largely abandoned. Instead, theorists generally maintained either that metaphors are a type of speaker meaning, on which a speaker says one thing in order to mean something else (e.g., Grice 1975, Searle 1979), or else that metaphors don’t have any distinctive ‘meaning’ at all, but simply cause certain distinctive effects in their hearers (e.g., Davidson 1984, Rorty 1987). Philosophers of language have devoted much energy in the last 30 years to investigating the various ways in which context can affect communicated.. (shrink)
The hunt for a biologically respectable definition for the folk concept of innateness is still on. I defend Ariew’s Canalization account of innateness against the criticisms of Griffiths and Machery, but highlight the remaining flaws in this proposal. I develop a new analysis based on the notion of environmental induction. A trait is innate, I argue, iff it is not environmentally induced. I augment this definition with a novel analysis of environmental induction that draws on the contrastive nature of causal (...) explanation. Whether a trait is environmentally induced, I argue, depends on a context sensitive contrast class. I argue that a “Noninduction” analysis of innateness allows the concept an explanatory role in biology. I show how my proposal co-opts the successes of the Canalization account whilst avoiding its pitfalls, and I account for why biologists associate a range of disparate properties with innateness. (shrink)
According to contextualist accounts, the truth value of a given knowledge ascription may vary with features of the ascriber's context. As a result, the following may be true: "X doesn't know that P but Y says something true in asserting 'X knows that P'". The contextualist must defend his theory in the light of this unpleasant but inevitable consequence. The best way of doing this is to construe the context sensitivity of knowledge ascriptions not as deriving from an (...) alleged indexicality of the word "know" nor from its vagueness or ambiguity, but rather from a distinct semantic feature of the word "know", namely its unspecificity. (shrink)
In the tradition of Stalnaker (1978,2002, context can be regarded as a set of assumptions that are mutually shared by a group of epistemic agents.An obvious generalization of this view is to explicitly represent each agent’s assumptions in a given situation and update them accordingly when new information is accepted. I lay out a number of philosophical and linguistic requirements for using such a model in order to describe communication of ideally-rational agents. In particular,the following questions are addressed: -/- (...) 1. What is the logical status of assumptions as opposed to rational belief, how are these assumptions generated from an underlying belief base in a given interpretation situation,and how are assumptions revised/contracted? -/- 2.What kind of ideal reasoning processes underly the interpretation of ‘incomplete’ content that may for example be obtained by an agent from an utterance by deriving some literal meaning from the lexicon and a grammar? -/- Regarding the first set of questions, my proposal is to consider assumptions akin to rational belief, but not stronger than modal logic KD, since positive and negative introspection do not seem to hold for them.Given that, an obvious question is what the relation between beliefs and assumptions is. One possible answer is to generate an agent’s assumptions from an agent’s beliefs in a given interpretation situation by revising his beliefs with his beliefs about what the message sender believes in that situation. If such an account is based on AGM belief revision/contraction(Alchourrón 1985, Gärdenfors 1989)there is a number of well-known problems that need to be addressed, because revision of iterated belief modalities is required in this case. These problems have already been investigated in detail in recent works on DDL Leitgeb/Segerberg 2007)and DEL see e.g. Ditmarsch et. (2008) Another strategy would be to maintain and revise assumptions independently of the beliefs of an agent.I will briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of these views. In both views, assumptions constitute the subjective context in which an agent interprets an utterance and encounters the world. The result of an interpretation is in turn checked against the agent’s original beliefs, and if the checking operation succeeds the agent revises his beliefs by the result in the normal way described by the AGM paradigm. -/- The second of the above questions needs to be addressed on the basis of concrete examples. Considering utterance like David is ready’ or ‘John is tall’that from a contextualist viewpoint express semantically incomplete content in the sense of Bach(2005, 2007, how may an agent arrive at interpretations of these utterances that are more complete? A first step is to presume that missing semantic ingredients are represented by missing argument places, which is a problematic assumption as it introduces a dependence on the semantic representation language. Given that, a default interpretation can be obtained by existentially quantifying over the missing argument and interpretation can then be regarded as an inference process. In case of the two examples mentioned,the assumptions of the agent allow him to obtain more specific readings by instantiating a value for the existentially bound variable.<span class='Hi'></span> As I will show,<span class='Hi'></span> this inference can be relatively straightforward in some cases like <span class='Hi'></span>‘John is tall’<span class='Hi'></span>, whereas it requires complicated encyclopedic background knowledge and a number of default reasoning steps in other cases.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Based on more examples of this kind,<span class='Hi'></span> I argue that first,<span class='Hi'></span> belief revision with iterated modalities in a multi-agent setting is needed to generate an agent’s assumptions as laid out above.<span class='Hi'></span> Second,<span class='Hi'></span> default reasoning is needed.<span class='Hi'></span> Third,<span class='Hi'></span> a qualitative or quantitative representation of uncertainty <span class='Hi'></span>(‘degrees of belief’<span class='Hi'></span>) is needed in order to obtain a useful model of the checking step,<span class='Hi'></span> since fortunately not everybody believes everything that other people say.<span class='Hi'></span> These requirements put the theory of interpretation based on assumptions in the frontline of ongoing research on the implementation of belief revision and update in dynamic logics.<span class='Hi'></span> Such a theory might also be useful for contextualist accounts of strong knowledge,<span class='Hi'></span> as it can be argued convincingly that when a knowledge ascription appears to be context-sensitive,<span class='Hi'></span> this is so because the embedded proposition is context-sensitive and not because knowledge itself is context-sensitive.<span class='Hi'></span> Hence,the context-sensitivity of embedded propositions in knowledge claims and how different agents in the same situation arrive at different assessments about them may be explained by an inferential theory of interpretation similar to the one outlined here but with another underlying concept of assumptions.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Literature <span class='Hi'></span> Alchourrón,<span class='Hi'></span> C.<span class='Hi'></span> E.<span class='Hi'></span>; Gärdenfors,<span class='Hi'></span> P.<span class='Hi'></span> &<span class='Hi'></span> Makinson,<span class='Hi'></span> D.<span class='Hi'></span> (1985)<span class='Hi'></span>, <span class='Hi'></span>'On the logic of theory change:<span class='Hi'></span> partial meet contraction and revision functions'<span class='Hi'></span>, Journal of Symbolic Logic(50)<span class='Hi'></span>, 510-530.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Bach,<span class='Hi'></span> K.<span class='Hi'></span> (2007)<span class='Hi'></span>, <span class='Hi'></span>'Minimalism for Dummies:<span class='Hi'></span> Reply to Cappelen and Lepore'<span class='Hi'></span>, Technical report,<span class='Hi'></span> University of San Fransisco,<span class='Hi'></span> Department of Philosophy.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Bach,<span class='Hi'></span> K.<span class='Hi'></span> (2005)<span class='Hi'></span>, Context ex Machina,<span class='Hi'></span> in án Gendler Szabó,<span class='Hi'></span> ed.<span class='Hi'></span>,'Semantics versus Pragmatics'<span class='Hi'></span>, Oxford UP,<span class='Hi'></span> Oxford,<span class='Hi'></span> pp.<span class='Hi'></span> 16-44.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Ditmarsch,<span class='Hi'></span> H.<span class='Hi'></span> v.<span class='Hi'></span>; Hoek,<span class='Hi'></span> W.<span class='Hi'></span> v.<span class='Hi'></span> d.<span class='Hi'></span> &<span class='Hi'></span> Kooi,<span class='Hi'></span> B.<span class='Hi'></span> (2008)<span class='Hi'></span>, Dynamic Epistemic Logic,<span class='Hi'></span> Kluwer.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Gärdenfors,<span class='Hi'></span> P.<span class='Hi'></span> (1988)<span class='Hi'></span>, Knowledge in Flux,<span class='Hi'></span> MIT Press.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Leitgeb,<span class='Hi'></span> H.<span class='Hi'></span> &<span class='Hi'></span> Segerberg,<span class='Hi'></span> K.<span class='Hi'></span> (2007)<span class='Hi'></span>, <span class='Hi'></span>'Dynamic doxastic logic:<span class='Hi'></span> why,<span class='Hi'></span> how,<span class='Hi'></span> and where to?<span class='Hi'></span>',<span class='Hi'></span> Synthese155(2)<span class='Hi'></span>, 167-190.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Stalnaker,<span class='Hi'></span> R.<span class='Hi'></span> (1978)<span class='Hi'></span>, Assertion,<span class='Hi'></span> in <span class='Hi'></span>. Cole,<span class='Hi'></span> ed.<span class='Hi'></span>,'Pragmatics'<span class='Hi'></span>, Academic Press,<span class='Hi'></span> New York,<span class='Hi'></span> pp.<span class='Hi'></span> 315-332.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- Stalnaker,<span class='Hi'></span> R.<span class='Hi'></span> (2002)<span class='Hi'></span>, <span class='Hi'></span>'Common Ground'<span class='Hi'></span>, Linguistics and Philosophy25(5-6)<span class='Hi'></span>, 701-<span class='Hi'></span>-721.<span class='Hi'></span> -/- . (shrink)
This paper explores the limitations of current empirical approaches to the philosophy of language in light of a recent criticism of Frege's context principle. According to this criticism, the context principle is in conflict with certain features of natural language use and this is held to undermine its application in Foundations of Arithmetic. I argue that this view is mistaken because the features with which the context principle is alleged to be in conflict are irrelevant to the (...) principle's methodological significance for our understanding of the role of analysis in analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Logical AI develops computer programs that represent what they know about the world primarily by logical formulas and decide what to do primarily by logical reasoning--including nonmonotonic logical reasoning. It is convenient to use logical sentences and terms whose meaning depends on context. The reasons for this are similar to what causes human language to use context dependent meanings. This note gives elements of some of the formalisms to which we have been led. Fuller treatments are in [McC93], (...) [Guh91] and [MB94] and the references cited in the Web page [Buv95]. The first main idea is to make contexts first class objects in the logic and use the formula ist(c,p) to assert that the proposition p is true in the context c. A second idea is to formalize how propositions true in one context transform when they are moved to different but related contexts. An ability to transcend the outermost context is needed to give computer programs the ability to reason about the totality of all they have thought about so far [McC96]. (shrink)
This paper proposes a formalization of ability that is motivated in part by linguistic considerations and by the philosophical literature in action theory and the logic of ability, but that is also meant to match well with planning formalisms, and so to provide an account of the role of ability in practical reasoning. Some of the philosophical literature concerning ability, and in particular [Austin, 1956], suggests that some ways of talking about ability are context-dependent. I propose a way of (...) formalizing this dependency. (shrink)
Formal pragmatics plays an important, though secondary, role in modern analytical philosophy of language: its aim is to explain how context can affect the meaning of certain special kinds of utterances. During recent years, the adequacy of formal tools has come under attack, often leading to one or another form of relativism or antirealism.1 Our aim will be to extend the critique to formal pragmatics while showing that sceptical conclusions can be avoided by developing a different approach to the (...) issues. In particular, we will show that formal pragmatics cannot provide a complete account of how context affects the meaning of utterances, both on its own terms and when faced with evidence of important aspects of natural languages. The focal issue is the relevant kind of context in which pragmatics should examine utterances. Our contention will be that the relevant context of an utterance is determined by the function of that utterance, this function being dependent upon the primary function of language – to convey information. We will argue that the functions of utterances and of language are too broad to be caught by the tools of formal pragmatics of the sort advocated by Montague (1968, 1974), which are an extension the methods of traditional model-theoretic semantics.2 The particular formal approach we will use as the main example is David Kaplan’s position (1979, 1989),3 an extension of Montague’s program. (shrink)
This paper argues that truth is by nature context-dependent – that no truth can be applied regardless of context. I call this “strong contextualism”. Some objections to this are considered and rejected, principally: that there are universal truths given to us by physics, logic and mathematics; and that claiming “no truths are universal” is self-defeating. Two “models” of truth are suggested to indicate that strong contextualism is coherent. It is suggested that some of the utility of the “universal (...) framework” can be recovered via a more limited “third person viewpoint”. Keywords: philosophy, universality, context, truth, knowledge. (shrink)
According to cognitivist truth-theoretic accounts of semantic competence, aspects of our linguistic behavior can be explained by ascribing to speakers cognition of truth theories. It's generally assumed on this approach that, however much context sensitivity speakers' languages contain, the cognized truththeories themselves can be adequately characterized context insensitively—that is, without using in the metalanguage expressions whose semantic value can vary across occasions of utterance. In this paper, I explore some of the motivations for and problems and consequences of (...) dropping this assumption. (shrink)
Several philosophers offer explanations of linguistic vagueness by appealing to the referential context-dependence of vague terms. Timothy Williamson argues pre-emptively that any such approach must fail, on the grounds that context-dependence is neither necessary nor sufficient for vagueness. He supports this claim, in turn, by example. This paper argues that his examples fail to show that context-dependence is either unnecessary or insufficient for vagueness, and hence that he has failed by his own lights to show that it (...) cannot explain vagueness. (shrink)