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)
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)
Definiteness is commonly seen as the watershed between those noun phrases (NPs) that introduce new referents and those that refer to referents already familiar. Furthermore, for definite NPs, the anaphoric use is taken to be the paradigm case, while other, so-called first-mention uses are regarded as secondary. The aim of the present paper is to challenge this view, and to argue for a more complex picture of the role of definiteness in the processing of NPs. The paper consists (...) of two parts. The first part presents a corpus-based study of the co-referential properties of definite and indefinite NPs in natural, unrestricted texts. The data bring into light several issues with regard to co-referentiality in unrestricted discourse and the possible referential functions of indefinite and definite NPs. Particular attention is drawn to the fact that the most common function of definite NPs is not anaphoric but different types of first-mention uses. This is the point of departure for the second part of the paper, in which three different approaches to first-mention definities are discussed, and some preliminaries to an alternative model of the processing of first-mention definite NPs are presented. (shrink)
This paper explores the link between number marking and(in)definiteness in nominals and their interpretation. Differencesbetween bare singulars and plurals in languages without determinersare explained by treating bare nominals as kind terms. Differencesarise, it is argued, because singular and plural kinds relatedifferently to their instantiations. In languages with determiners,singular kinds typically occur with the definite determiner, butplural/mass kinds can be bare in some languages and definite inothers. An account of singular kinds in terms of taxonomic readingsis proposed, with number marking (...) playing a crucial role inexplaining the obligatory presence of the determiner. The variationbetween languages with respect to plural/mass kinds is explained bypositing a universal scale of definiteness, with individual languageschoosing different cut-off points for lexicalization of the definitedeterminer. The possibility of further cross-linguistic variation isalso considered. (shrink)
In this paper we reconsider the issue of free choice and the role of the wh-morphology employed in it. We show that the property of being an interrogative wh-word alone is not sufficient for free choice, and that semantic and sometimes even morphological definiteness is a pre-requisite for some free choice items (FCIs) in certain languages, e.g. in Greek and Mandarin Chinese. We propose a theory that explains the polarity behaviour of FCIs cross-linguistically, and allows indefinite (Giannakidou 2001) as (...) well as definite-like FCIs. The difference is manifested as a lexical distinction in English between any (indefinite) and wh-ever (definite); in Greek it appears as a choice between a FCI nominal modifier (taking an NP argument), which illustrates the indefinite option, and a FC free relative illustrating the definite one. We provide a compositional analysis of Greek FCIs in both incarnations, and derive in a parallel manner the Chinese FCIs. Here the definite versus indefinite alternation is manifested in the presence or absence of dōu, which we take to express the maximality operator. It is thus shown that what we see in the morphology of FCIs in Greek is reflected in syntax in Chinese. Our analysis has important consequences for the class of so-called wh-indeterminates. In the context of current proposals, free choiceness is taken to come routinely from interrogative semantics, and wh-indeterminates are treated as question words which can freely become FCIs (Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002). Our results from Mandarin and Greek emphasize that wh-indeterminates do not form a uniform class in this respect, and that interrogative semantics alone cannot predict either sensitivity of free choice to definiteness, or the polarity behaviour of FCIs. (shrink)
The papers in this volume are updated versions of talks that were presented at the workshop QP structure, Nominalizations, and the role of DP that we organized at Saarland University, Germany, in December 2005. Although the connection between QP structure and definiteness, on the one hand, and nominalizations and definiteness on the other, were long observed in the literature, there has never been an attempt to bring the three together, and our aim at the workshop was to do (...) exactly this: to address recent developments in the area of quantifier phrase structure, nominalizations, and the linking definite determiner D. We invited discussions among the central approaches in syntax, morphology, semantics, and typology, paving the way towards a more comprehensive understanding of how quantification, definiteness and nominalizations are encoded in the grammar. (shrink)
In this paper, we discuss some rather puzzling facts concerning the semantics of Warlpiri expressions of cardinality, i.e. the Warlpiri counterparts of English expressions like one,two, many, how many. The morphosyntactic evidence, discussed in section 1, suggests that the corresponding expressions in Warlpiri are nominal, just like the Warlpiri counterparts of prototypical nouns, eg. child. We also argue that Warlpiri has no articles or any other items of the syntactic category D(eterminer). In section 2, we describe three types of readings— (...) "definite", "indefinite" and "predicative"—which are generally found with Warlpiri nouns, including those which correspond to English common nouns and cardinality expressions. A partial analysis of these readings is sketched i n section 3. Since Warlpiri has no determiner system, we hypothesize that the source of (in)definiteness in this language is semantic. More specifically, we suggest that Warlpiri nominals are basically interpreted as individual terms or predicates of individuals and that their three readings arise as a consequence of the interaction of their basic meanings, which are specific to Warlpiri, with certain semantic operations, such as type shifting (Rooth and Partee 1982, Partee and Rooth 1983, Partee 1986, 1987), which universally can or must apply in the process of compositional semantic interpretation. (shrink)
Using hitherto unpublished manuscripts from the Zermelo Nachlass, I describe the development of the notion of definiteness and the discussion about it, giving a conclusive picture of Zermelo's thoughts up to the late thirties. As it turns out, Zermelo's considerations about definiteness are intimately related to his concept of a Cantorian universe of categorically definable sets that may be considered an inner model of set theory in an ideationally given universe of classes.
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.
In this paper, we present a theory of interaction between definiteness and quantifier structure, where the definite determiner (D) performs the function of contextually restricting the domain of quantificational determiners (Qs). Our motivating data come from Greek and Basque, where D appears to compose with the Q itself. Similar compositions are found in Hungarian and Bulgarian. Following earlier work (Giannakidou 2004, Etxeberria 2005, Etxeberria and Giannakidou 2009) we define a domain restricting function DDR, in which D modifies the Q (...) and supplies the contextual variable C to intersect with Q’s domain. DDR can also modify the NP in which case it works like an intersective modfier— and we suggest that this is the case in St’át’imcets Salish (drawing on data from Matthewson’s work). The result of DDR will be restricting the domain of Q by C, a weakly familiar property (in the sense of Roberts 2003, 2010), i.e. it is entailed in the common ground of the context. As a result of intersecting with this property, the Q that undergoes DDR becomes presuppositional, and we hypothesize that all presuppositional Qs (each-like Qs) have an underlying derivation of the domain restriction via D that we see in Greek and Basque overtly. Our analysis provides support for the program that domain restriction is grammatically represented, but we propose an important refinement: domain restriction can affect the Q itself (in agreement with von Fintel 1998, Martí 2003, Giannakidou 2004; pace Stanley 2002), and in fact quite systematically. We also show that the Q that is affected by DDR is a strong one, and explain the inability of weak Qs to undergo DDR as following from their status as adjectival. (shrink)
Theories of aspectual composition assume that accomplishments arise when a transitive verb has an incremental theme argument which is realized as a quantized NP—foremost, an NP which is not a mass noun or a bare plural—in direct object position. A problem confronting this assumption is the large number of intransitive, unergative verbs in German and English that occur in accomplishment expressions. The paper argues that this problem can be solved within a standard theory of aspectual composition if additional, independently motivated (...) lexical assumptions about argument structure, the representation of implicit arguments and lexical presuppositions are made. It turns out that a distinction between lexically determined definiteness versus non‐definiteness of implicit arguments in particular plays a crucial role, as well as one between implicitly reflexive and non‐reflexive arguments in that implicitly definite and implicitly reflexive arguments allow for accomplishment expressions. This is explained by the semantics of definiteness and reflexivity, respectively. Apart from these verbs, there is another large group of unergatives which show that, in contrast to a common assumption in aspectual composition theory, verbs themselves and not only VPs can be quantized. This leads to a lexical distinction between ‘mass’ and ‘count’ verbs. (shrink)
The paper gives a contrastive analysis of the two semantic categories specificity and definiteness. It argues against the traditional picture that assumes that specific expressions are a subclass of indefinite NPs. The paper rather assumes that the two categories are independent of each other. Definiteness expresses the discourse pragmatic property of familiarity, while specificity mirrors a more finely grained referential structure of the items used in the discourse. A specific NP indicates that it is referentially anchored to another (...) discourse object. This means that the referent of the specific expression is linked by a contextually salient function to the referent of another expression. (shrink)
I begin with an appeal to the GHZ/Mermin state to illustrate the allure of contextualism and value-definiteness. I then point out that standard contextualism, with its special status for non-degenerate operators, faces some embarrassing questions. Further, there is an alternative that apparently does not have the same problems. A modest re-pasting of Hilbert space makes the honors almost even between these two varieties. The paper closes with some reflections on the peculiarities of contextualism.
This article argues that the mood morphemes found on punctual verbs in Mohawk are to be analyzed semantically as markers of verbal definiteness/specificity. In particular, the so-called future marker is an indefinite morpheme, indicating that the event argument of the verb undergoes Heim's (1982) rule of Quantifier Indexing. In contrast, the seeming past marker is a marker of definiteness/specificity, indicating that the event argument is immune to Quantifier Indexing. This explains many apparent peculiarities of the Mohawk verbal system, (...) including: the use of "future" as a past habitual form, the use of mood prefixes in conditionals, free relatives, and complement clauses, and the incompatibility of "past" with negation. The relationship between indefinite mood and future events, where it exists, is explicated in terms of the branching theory of time proposed by Dowty (1979) and Kamp and Reyle (1993), which is grounded in a fundamental asymmetry in how humans conceive of the future versus the past. (shrink)
This paper argues for the reality of specificity as noteworthiness, a concept built upon Fodor and Sag’s (1982) view of referentiality. Support for this view of specificity comes from the behavior of indefinite this in spoken English, as well as from specificity markers in Samoan, Hebrew, and Sissala. It is shown that the conditions on the use of this-indefinites cannot be accounted for by previous analyses of specificity. The relationship between definiteness and specificity in article systems crosslinguistically is examined, (...) and a distinction between presuppositions and felicity conditions is argued for. Additional evidence for the reality of specificity comes from a study of article choice in the English of adult second language learners (whose L1s, Russian and Korean, lack articles). It is shown that the learners’ errors are tied to specificity: they consist largely of overuse of the in specific indefinite contexts, and overuse of a in non-specific definite contexts. It is concluded that specificity is a universal semantic distinction, which receives morphological expression crosslinguistically and is available to second language learners. (shrink)
Keenan (1987) observed that trivial determiners built from basic existential determiners (e.g.,either zero or else more than zero) are allowed inthere-insertion contexts, and that trivial determiners built from basic non-existential determiners (e.g.,either all or else not all) are not. This result is unexpected under the analyses ofthere-sentences proposed in Barwise and Cooper (1981), Higginbotham (1987), and Keenan (1987). I argue that the class of NPs barred from the postverbal position ofthere-sentences (strong NPs) is correctly characterized in presuppositional terms, as suggested (...) in de Jong and Verkuyl (1985) and Lumsden (1988). According to this characterization, strong NPs share one of the defining components of definiteness proposed in Heim (1982), namely the Descriptive Content Condition (DCC). How to derive the prohibition against strong NPs inthere-insertion contexts (definiteness effect) from the fact that strong NPs meet the DCC is not obvious, however. I argue that accounting for this prohibition involves regarding the XP-coda in [there be NP XP] as providing the contextual domain for the interpretation of the postverbal NP. (shrink)
This paper addresses some data put forward by Geurts (1997) in support of his metalinguistic or quotation theory of proper names, according to which a name N means ‘the individual named N’. The data illustrate ten linguistic behaviours claimed to be shared by proper names and definite descriptions. I argue that in some cases the behaviours have a common explanation which is based on a property independent of Geurts' analysis, and that in the remaining cases the behaviours are not actually (...) shared. Thus these behaviours do not actually support the metalinguistic theory. (shrink)
This paper investigates German conditionals that are reduced in the sense that their consequent clauses lack a verb and possibly more material. Focusing on readings in which conditionals quantify over events, it is shown that there are a number of semantic contrasts between reduced conditionals and their non-reduced versions. These contrasts are derived in a unified way from a hypothesis as to how the truth conditions of a reduced conditional relate to those of its non-reduced version. This hypothesis is in (...) turn derived from assumptions as to how the Logical Form of a reduced conditional relates to the one of its non-reduced version. It is suggested that reduced and non-reduced consequent clauses can be seen to differ in a way analogous to the way definite and indefinite noun phrases differ. (shrink)
One of the most interesting programs in the foundations of quantum mechanics is the realist quantum logic approach associated with Putnam, Bub, Demopoulos and Friedman (and which is the focus of my own research.) I believe that realist quantum logic is our best hope for making sense of quantum mechanics, but I have come to suspect that the usual version may not be the correct one. In this paper, I would like to say why and to propose an alternative.
Yang (2004) observes that in Mandarin, an initial possessor phrase (PossessorP) may be followed by a bare noun as in (1), or by a possessee phrase that can be headed by a numeral and classifier, [Numeral + CL + N], as in (2) or by a demonstrative, [Dem + (Numeral) + CL + N] as in (3). (In all the examples in this section, we begin with Yang’s own initial glosses and translations3. The interpretation of the examples will be probed (...) after they have been presented.). (shrink)
Bell's Theorem is proved for locality and conservation formulated in terms of subjunctive conditionals with chance consequents, rather than the usual conditional probability formulation. This brings into sharp focus the minimal counterfactual assumptions needed for Bell's theorem.
In this paper I propose and defend a semantically based account of the distribution of DPs in existential there-sentences in English in opposition to the pragmatic account proposed in Zucchi (1995). The two analyses share many features, making it possible to study variation along the semantics/pragmatics dimension while holding the rest constant.
This paper investigates relative constructions as in The gifted mathematician that you claim to be should be able to solve this equation, in which the head noun (gifted mathematician) is semantically dependent on an intensional operator in the relative clause (claim), even though it is not c-commanded by it. This is the kind of situation that has led, within models of linguistic description that assume a syntactic level of Logical Form, to analyses in which the head noun is interpreted within (...) the CP-internal gap by reconstruction or interpretation of a lower element of a chain. We offer a solution that views surface representation as the input to semantics. The apparent inverted scope effects are traced back to the interpretation of the head nominal gifted mathematician as applying to individual concepts, and of the relative clause that you claim to be as including an equational statement. According to this view, the complex DP in question refers to the individual concept that exists just in the worlds that are compatible with what is generally supposed to be the case, is a gifted mathematician in those worlds, and is identical to you in those worlds. Our solution is related to the nonreconstructionist analysis of binding of pronouns that do not stand in a c-command relationship to their binder, as in The woman that every man hugged was his mother in Jacobson (in: Harvey, Santelmann (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory IV:161–178, 1994) and Sharvit (in: Galloway, Spence (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI:227–244, 1996), and allows us to capture both similarities with and differences from the latter type of construction. We point out and offer explanations for a number of properties of such relative clauses—in particular their need for an internal intensional operator, their incompatibility with any determiner other than the definite article, and the fact that some of their properties are shared by demonstrably distinct kinds of relative clauses. (shrink)
The neo-Fregean program in the philosophy of mathematics seeks a foundation for a substantial part of mathematics in abstraction principles—for example, Hume’s Principle: The number of Fs D the number of Gs iff the Fs and Gs correspond one-one—which can be regarded as implicitly definitional of fundamental mathematical concepts—for example, cardinal number. This paper considers what kind of abstraction principle might serve as the basis for a neo- Fregean set theory. Following a brief review of the main difficulties confronting the (...) most widely discussed proposal to date—replacing Frege’s inconsistent Basic Law V by Boolos’s New V which restricts concepts whose extensions obey the principle of extensionality to those which are small in the sense of being smaller than the universe—the paper canvasses an alternative way of implementing the limitation of size idea and explores the kind of restrictions which would be required for it to avoid collapse. (shrink)
The paper provides some introductory comments and a preliminary translation of Avicenna’s Burhān, IV, 2. I shall first set the stage by outlining the structure of the book (sec. 1). I will then briefly introduce (sec. 2) a number of notions that are dealt with in the first treatise of the Burhān (e.g. definition, description). Burhān, IV, 2 is split into two parts: the first focuses mainly on Aristotle’s An. Post., B, 4, whereas the second covers some of the topics (...) of B, 5 and B, 6. Accordingly, sec. 3 will be devoted to a cursory presentation of Aristotle’s arguments in An. Post., B, 4 along with a more detailed discussion of its Avicennan counterpart, focusing on the indemonstrability of definition; sec. 4, finally, will be a presentation of the second part of the chapter, concerning the relationship between definition and division. An English translation of the entire chapter is appended to the paper and is accompanied by some notes. (shrink)
Kant claims that the nominal definition of truth is: “Truth is the agreement of cognition with its object”. In this paper, I analyse the relevant features of Kant's theory of definition in order to explain the meaning of that claim and its consequences for the vexed question of whether Kant endorses or rejects a correspondence theory of truth. I conclude that Kant's claim implies neither that he holds, nor that he rejects, a correspondence theory of truth. Kant's claim is not (...) a generic way of setting aside a correspondence definition of truth, or of considering it uninformative. Being the nominal definition of truth, the formula “truth is the agreement of cognition with its object” illustrates the meaning of the predicate “is true” and people's ordinary conception of truth. True judgements correspond to the objects they are about. However, there could be more to the property of truth than correspondence. (shrink)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become indispensable in modern business discourse; yet identifying and defining what CSR means is open to contest. Although such contestation is not uncommon with concepts found in the social sciences, for CSR it presents some difficulty for theoretical and empirical analysis, especially with regards to verifying that diverse application of the concept is consistent or concomitant. On the other hand, it seems unfeasible that the diversity of issues addressed under the CSR umbrella would yield to (...) a singular universal definition. Gallie, an eminent philosophical scholar, proposed the essentially contested concepts (ECC) theory in 1956 to address concepts that by their very nature engender perpetual disputes. He pointed out that there are certain concepts which by their very nature are inevitably contested and prescribed seven criteria for evaluating such concepts. This article examines these criteria to discover if CSR is an essentially contested concept and in that case, to construe if such a change in perception will resolve the definitional crisis. The analysis suggests that CSR is an ECC and this explains the potential for several conceptions of CSR, however, it does not totally obviate the need for a definition of its core or common reference point, if only to ensure that the contestants are dealing with an identical subject matter. (shrink)
In Boghossian's 1997 paper, 'Analyticity' he presented an account of a prioriknowledge of basic logical principles as available by inference from knowledge of their role in determining the meaning of the logical constants by implicit definitiontogether with knowledge of the meanings so-determined that we possess through ourprivileged access to meaning. Some commentators (e.g. BonJour (1998), Glüer (2003),Jenkins (2008)) have objected that if the thesis of implicit definition on which he relieswere true, knowledge of the meaning of the constants would presuppose (...) knowledge of the very logical principles knowledge of which the account purports to explain. Aconsequence would seem to be that implicit definition is incompatible with privilegedaccess. I argue that whilst it is possible for Boghossian to defend against theseobjections the form of argument he proposes does exhibit a subtle form of questionbegging such that it exhibits a transmission of warrant-failure. (shrink)
Socrates' greatest philosophical contribution was to have initiated the search for definitions. In Definition in Greek Philosophy his views on definition are examined, together with those of his successors, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Galen, the Sceptics and Plotinus. Although definition was a major pre-occupation for many Greek philosophers, it has rarely been treated as a separate topic in its own right in recent years. This volume, which contains fourteen new essays by leading scholars, aims to reawaken interest in a (...) number of central and relatively unexplored issues concerning definition. These issues are briefly set out in the Introduction, which also seeks to point out scholarly and philosophical questions which merit further study. (shrink)
Spinoza scholars have claimed that we are faced with a dilemma: either Spinoza's definitions in his Ethics are real, in spite of indications to the contrary, or the definitions are nominal and the propositions derived from them are false. I argue that Spinoza did not recognize the distinction between real and nominal definitions. Rather, Spinoza classified definitions according to whether they require a priori or a posteriori justification, which is a classification distinct from either the real/nominal or the intensional/extensional classification. (...) I argue that Spinoza uses both a priori and a posteriori definitions in the Ethics and that recognizing both types of definitions allows us to understand Spinoza's geometric method in a new way. We can now understand the geometric method as two methods, one resulting in propositions that Spinoza considers to be absolutely certain and another resulting in propositions that Spinoza does not consider certain. The latter method makes use of a posteriori definitions and postulates, whereas the former method uses only a priori definitions and axioms. (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)
The arguments of Fodor, Garret, Walker and Parkes [(1980) Against definitions, Cognition, 8, 263-367] are the source of widespread skepticism in cognitive science about lexical semantic structure. Whereas the thesis that lexical items, and the concepts they express, have decompositional structure (i.e. have significant constituents) was at one time "one of those ideas that hardly anybody [in the cognitive sciences] ever considers giving up" (p. 264), most researchers now believe that "[a]ll the evidence suggests that the classical [(decompositional)] view is (...) wrong as a general theory of concepts" [Smith, Medin & Rips (1984) A psychological approach to concepts: comments on Rey, Cognition, 17, 272], and cite Fodor et al. (1980) as "sounding the death knell for decompositional theories" [MacNamara & Miller (1989) Attributes of theories of meaning, Psychological Bulletin, 106, 360]. I argue that the prevailing skepticism is unmotivated by the arguments in Fodor et al. Fodor et al. misrepresent the form, function and scope of the decompositional hypothesis, and the procedures they employ to test for the psychological reality of definitions are flawed. I argue, further, that decompositional explanations of the phenomena they consider are preferable to their primitivist alternatives, and, hence, that there is prima facie reason to accept them as evidence for the existence of decompositional structure. Cognitive scientists would, therefore, do well to revert to their former commitment to the decompositional hypothesis. (shrink)
Several scholars have argued that Wittgenstein held the view that the notion of number is presupposed by the notion of one-one correlation, and that therefore Hume's principle is not a sound basis for a definition of number. I offer a new interpretation of the relevant fragments on philosophy of mathematics from Wittgenstein's Nachlass, showing that if different uses of ‘presupposition’ are understood in terms of de re and de dicto knowledge, Wittgenstein's argument against the Frege-Russell definition of number turns out (...) to be valid on its own terms, even though it depends on two epistemological principles logicist philosophers of mathematics may find too ‘constructivist’. (shrink)
In a definition (∀ x )(( x є r )↔D[ x ]) of the set r, the definiens D[ x ] must not depend on the definiendum r . This implies that all quantifiers in D[ x ] are independent of r and of (∀ x ). This cannot be implemented in the traditional first-order logic, but can be expressed in IF logic. Violations of such independence requirements are what created the typical paradoxes of set theory. Poincaré’s Vicious Circle Principle (...) was intended to bar such violations. Russell nevertheless misunderstood the principle; for him a set a can depend on another set b only if ( b є a ) or ( b ⊆ a ). Likewise, the truth of an ordinary first-order sentence with the Gödel number of r is undefinable in Tarki’s sense because the quantifiers of the definiens depend unavoidably on r. (shrink)
According to the standard view of definition, all defined terms are mere stipulations, based on a small set of primitive terms. After a brief review of the Hilbert-Frege debate, this paper goes on to challenge the standard view in a number of ways. Examples from graph theory, for example, suggest that some key definitions stem from the way graphs are presented diagramatically and do not fit the standard view. Lakatos's account is also discussed, since he provides further examples that suggest (...) many definitions are much more than mere convenient abbreviations. (shrink)
On the whole, neither those who hold that pornography can never be art nor their opponents specify what they actually mean by ‘art’, even though it seems natural that their conclusions should vary depending on how the concept is understood. This paper offers a ‘definitional crossword’ and confronts some definitions of pornography with the currently most well-established definitions of art. My discussion shows that following any of the modern definitions entails that at least some pornography not only can be, but (...) actually is, art. (shrink)
Contrary to a claim made by Kaplan (Mind 114:933–1003, 2005) and Neale (Mind 114:809–871, 2005), the readings available to sentences containing definite descriptions embedded under propositional attitude verbs and conditionals do pose a significant problem for the Russellian theory of definite descriptions. The Fregean theory of descriptions, on the other hand, deals easily with the relevant data.
A fundamental problem in artificial intelligence is that nobody really knows what intelligence is. The problem is especially acute when we need to consider artificial systems which are significantly different to humans. In this paper we approach this problem in the following way: we take a number of well known informal definitions of human intelligence that have been given by experts, and extract their essential features. These are then mathematically formalised to produce a general measure of intelligence for arbitrary machines. (...) We believe that this equation formally captures the concept of machine intelligence in the broadest reasonable sense. We then show how this formal definition is related to the theory of universal optimal learning agents. Finally, we survey the many other tests and definitions of intelligence that have been proposed for machines. (shrink)
Decades of empirical and theoretical research has produced an extensive literature on the ethical judgments construct. Given its importance to understanding people’s ethical choices, future research should explore the psychological processes that produce ethical judgments. In this paper, the authors discuss two steps needed to advance this effort. First, they note that the business ethics literature lacks a single, generally accepted definition of ethical judgments. After reviewing several extant definitions, the authors offer a definition of the construct and discuss its (...) advantages. Second, future ethical judgment research would benefit from greater integration between theories of ethical decision making and theories of social cognition. Drawing upon the Hunt–Vitell ( Journal of Macromarketing 6 (Spring), 5–15, 1986 ; In: N. C. Smith and J. A. Quelch (eds.), Ethics in Marketing . Irwin, Homewood, IL, pp. 775–784, 1992 ) model and the heuristic-systematic model (Chaiken, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39 (November), 752–766, 1980 ), the authors present a brief research agenda intended to stimulate research on the psychological processes behind ethical judgments. (shrink)
For the sake of developing and evaluating public policy decisions aimed at combating terrorism, we need a precise public definition of terrorism that distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence. Ordinary usage does not provide a basis for such a definition, and so it must be stipulative. I propose essentially pragmatic criteria for developing such a stipulative public definition. After noting that definitions previously proposed in the philosophical literature are inadequate based on these criteria, I propose an alternative, which I (...) call the 'group-target' definition and which distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence by the distinctive principle of discrimination used by terrorists to identify legitimate targets. I argue that this definition meets the criteria for a satisfactory public definition, and suggest that based on it there is good reason to suspect the adequacy of anti-terrorism policies that rely predominantly on forceful interdiction of terrorists. (shrink)
This paper offers a semantically-based solution to the problem of predicting whether a verb will display the subjective conjugation or the objective conjugation in Hungarian. This alternation correlates with the definiteness of the object, but definiteness is not a completely reliable indicator of the subjective/objective alternation, nor is specificity. A prominent view is that the subjective/objective alternation is conditioned by the syntactic category of the object, but this view has also been shown to be untenable. This paper offers (...) a semantic solution: If the referential argument of a phrase is lexically specified as familiar/new, then the phrase bears the feature [+DEF]/[−DEF], and this feature governs the conjugations. The notions of novelty and familiarity are made precise using a compositional version of DRT in the context of a suitably large fragment of Hungarian, including local and non-local personal pronouns, demonstratives, definite and indefinite articles, quantifiers, wh-words, numerals, and possessives. (shrink)
Gilmore proposes a new definition of ‘dead’ in response to Fred Feldman’s earlier definition in terms of ‘lives’ and ‘dies.’ In this paper, I critically examine Gilmore’s new definition. First, I explain what his definition is and how it is an improvement upon Feldman’s definition. Second, I raise an objection to it by noting that it fails to rule out the possibility of a thing that dies without becoming dead.
The question ‘what is life?’ has long been a source of philosophical debate and in recent years has taken on increasing scientific importance. The most popular approach among both philosophers and scientists for answering this question is to provide a “definition” of life. In this article I explore a variety of different definitional approaches, both traditional and non-traditional, that have been used to “define” life. I argue that all of them are deeply flawed. It is my contention that a scientifically (...) compelling understanding of the nature of life presupposes an empirically adequate scientific theory (vs. definition) of life; as I argue, scientific theories are not the sort of thing that can be encapsulated in definitions. Unfortunately, as I also discuss, scientists are currently in no position to formulate even a tentative version of such a theory. Recent discoveries in biology and biochemistry have revealed that familiar Earth life represents a single example that may not be representative of life. If this is the case, life on Earth today provides an empirically inadequate foundation for theorizing about life considered generally. I sketch a strategy for procuring the needed additional examples of life without the guidance of a definition or theory of life, and close with an application to NASA’s fledgling search for extraterrestrial life. (shrink)