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)
Minimalism is currently the received deflationary theory of truth. On minimalism, truth is a transparent concept and a deflated property of truth bearers. In this paper, I situate minimalism within current deflationary debate about truth by contrasting it with its main alternative―the redundancy theory of truth (according to which truth is a transparent concept but not a property). I also outline three of the primary challenges facing minimalism, its formulation, explanatory adequacy and stability, and draw some (...) lessons for the soundness of its conception of truth. (shrink)
Creeping minimalism threatens to cloud the distinction between realist and anti-realist metaethical views. When anti-realist views equip themselves with minimalist theories of truth and other semantic notions, they are able to take on more and more of the doctrines of realism (such as the existence of moral truths, facts, and beliefs). But then they start to look suspiciously like realist views. I suggest that creeping minimalism is a problem only if moral realism is understood primarily as a semantic (...) doctrine. I argue that moral realism is better understood instead as a metaphysical doctrine. As a result, we can usefully regiment the metaethical debate into one about moral truthmakers: in virtue of what are moral judgments true? I show how the notion of truthmaking has been simmering just below the surface of the metaethical debate, and how it reveals one metaethical view (quasi-realism) to be a stronger contender than the others. (shrink)
This paper is about Truth Minimalism, Norm Expressivism, and the relation between them. In particular, it is about whether Truth Minimalism can help to solve a problem thought to plague Norm Expressivism. To start with, let me explain what I mean by 'Truth Minimalism' and 'Norm Expressivism.'.
According to semantic minimalism, context-invariant minimal semantic propositions play an essential role in linguistic communication. This claim is key to minimalists’ argument against semantic contextualism: if there were no such minimal semantic propositions, and semantic content varied widely with shifts in context, then it would be “miraculous” if communication were ever to occur. This paper offers a critical examination of the minimalist account of communication, focusing on a series of examples where communication occurs without a minimal semantic proposition shared (...) between speaker and hearer. The only way for minimalists to respond to these examples is by restricting the scope of their account to intra-lingual communication. It can then be shown (1) that the minimalist’s notion of a language shrinks to a point, such that practically no instances of communication will fall under that account, and (2) that the retreat to intra-lingual communication is in any case self-defeating, since the only way for minimalists to account for the individuation of languages is by resort to precisely the kinds of contextual considerations they abjured in the first place. In short, if, as minimalists allege, contextualism founders because it renders communication contingent on speaker and hearer sharing a context, it can now be seen that minimalism faces a parallel problem because it renders communication contingent on speaker and hearer sharing a language. I end by arguing that the possibility of communication cannot, as minimalists assume, be grounded in shared semantic conventions; rather, successful communication must precede the establishment of any particular set of semantic conventions. (shrink)
This book is a collection of key readings on Minimalist Syntax, the most recent, and arguably most important, theoretical development within the Principles and Parameters approach to syntactic theory. Brings together in one volume the key readings on Minimalist Syntax Includes an introduction and overview of the Minimalist Program written by two prominent researchers Excerpts crucial pieces from the beginning of Minimalism to the most recent work and provides invaluable coverage of the most important topics.
This paper pursues two goals. The first is to show that Horwich's anti-primitivist version of minimalism must be rejected because, already for formal reasons, the truth-schema does not achieve a positive explication of any property of propositions. The second goal is to develop a more moderate primitivist version of minimalism according to which the truth-schema is admittedly powerless to underpin truth with something more basic but it still succeeds in giving a complete account of the necessary and sufficient (...) conditions for a proposition to be true. (shrink)
In this paper, we put forward a position we call “situationalism” (or “situated minimalism”), which is a middle-ground view between minimalism and contextualism in recent philosophy of language. We focus on the notion of free enrichment, which first arose within contextualism as underlying the claim that what is said is typically enriched relative to the logical form of the uttered sentence. However, minimalism also acknowledges some process of pragmatic intrusion in its claim that what is thought and (...) communicated is typically enriched relative to what is said. We show that situationalism dispenses with free enrichment both at the level of what is said (proposition expressed) and of what is thought (mental level). According to situationalism, an alleged underdetermined utterance can, pace minimalism, be true in one situation while false in another, and two people using the same alleged underdetermined sentence can be characterized, pace contextualism, as having said the same thing. (shrink)
This article, after briefly discussing Alfred Tarski's influential theory of truth, turns to a more recent theory of truth, a deflationary, or minimalist, theory. One of the chief elements of a deflationary, or minimalist, theory of truth is that it replaces the question of what truth is with the question of what “true” does. After setting out the central features of the minimalist theory of truth, the article explains the motivation for opting for such a position. In addition, it provides (...) some reasons for thinking that such a theory of truth is “minimal” or “deflationary” in the way that contemporary truth theorists have claimed it to be. (shrink)
Understanding Minimalist Syntax introduces the logic of the Minimalist Program by analyzing well-known descriptive generalizations about long-distance dependencies. Proposes a new theory of how long-distance dependencies are formed, with implications for theories of locality, and the Minimalist Program as a whole Rich in empirical coverage, which will be welcomed by experts in the field, yet accessible enough for students looking for an introduction to the Minimalist Program.
Despite the divide between American formalism and theoreticians of minimalism, Barnett Newman’s art received great acclaim from both schools of thought. Attempting to unearth the philosophical preconditions of this strange constellation, this article argues that the closeness between minimalism and formalism is due to their mutual reliance upon phenomenology and ordinary language philosophy. However, their proximity also conveys their distance, since they imply different interpretations and applications of the philosophical schools in question. Such theoretical differences shed light on (...) Newman’s paintings: both minimalism and formalism are right in their accounts – yet not exclusively so. What arguably makes up the distinctive fascination of Newman’s paintings is their incessant oscillation between empty physicality and powerful meaning. (shrink)
Recently, Paul Horwich has developed the minimalist theory of truth, according to which the truth predicate does not express a substantive property, though it may be used as a grammatical expedient. Minimalism shares these claims with Quine’s disquotationalism; it differs from disquotationalism primarily in holding that truth-bearers are propositions, rather than sentences. Despite potential ontological worries, allowing that propositions bear truth gives Horwich a prima facie response to several important objections to disquotationalism. In section I of this paper, disquotationalism (...) is given a careful exegesis, in which seven known objections are traced to the disquotational schema, and two new objections are raised. A version of disquotationalism which avoids two of the seven known objections is recommended. In section II, an examination of minimalism shows that it faces eight of the nine objections facing disquotationalism, plus a new objection. In section III, a finite formulation of minimalism proposed by Ernest Sosa is shown to meet five of the nine objections facing disquotationalism as well as the objection new to minimalism, though it faces another new objection. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the idea of a semantic code in the contemporary debate between contextualism and minimalism. First, I identify historical sources of these positions in Grice’s pragmatics and in Davidson’s theory of meaning in order to sketch the role of a semantic code there. Then I argue that contextualism is committed to the idea of an ad hoc code, while minimalism involves a persistent code. However, the latter approach to a code requires disambiguation which must (...) be carried out in the early stages of speech act processing. I raise a concern that primary pragmatic processes may be active here, especially in the case of disambiguating polysemous expressions, which could be problematic or even devastating for the minimalist program. At the end I evaluate a possible minimalist way out by examining the minimalist account of metaphor, which lies at the root of polysemy. If a code robust enough to deal with polysemy could be created, minimalist conceptions would present a new impetus to understand language as a code. Without such a code, very little would be left of the notion of a persistent code and hence of minimalism itself. (shrink)
We reformulate minimalist grammars as partial functions on term algebras for strings and trees. Using filler/role bindings and tensor product representations, we construct homomorphisms for these data structures into geometric vector spaces. We prove that the structure-building functions as well as simple processors for minimalist languages can be realized by piecewise linear operators in representation space. We also propose harmony, i.e. the distance of an intermediate processing step from the final well-formed state in representation space, as a measure of processing (...) complexity. Finally, we illustrate our findings by means of two particular arithmetic and fractal representations. (shrink)
Minimalist grammars (MGs) and multiple context-free grammars (MCFGs) are weakly equivalent in the sense that they define the same languages, a large mildly context-sensitive class that properly includes context-free languages. But in addition, for each MG, there is an MCFG which is strongly equivalent in the sense that it defines the same language with isomorphic derivations. However, the structure-building rules of MGs but not MCFGs are defined in a way that generalizes across categories. Consequently, MGs can be exponentially more succinct (...) than their MCFG equivalents, and this difference shows in parsing models too. An incremental, top-down beam parser for MGs is defined here, sound and complete for all MGs, and hence also capable of parsing all MCFG languages. But since the parser represents its grammar transparently, the relative succinctness of MGs is again evident. Although the determinants of MG structure are narrowly and discretely defined, probabilistic influences from a much broader domain can influence even the earliest analytic steps, allowing frequency and context effects to come early and from almost anywhere, as expected in incremental models. (shrink)
This essay renews a discussion of how historians do, and should, represent atrocity. It argues that the problems of representing extreme violence remain under-conceptualized; in this context it discusses the strengths and weaknesses of minimalism, a style prevalent both in historiography and in an intellectual culture that values understatement in approaches to violence. The essay traces the general cultural preference for minimalist narratives of suffering, which, it claims, is driven by the widespread conviction that experimental and exuberant narratives convert (...) victims' suffering into kitsch. It then focuses on two works, by Saul Friedlander and by Jan Gross, on the history of Jewish victims during and after the Second World War in order to assess how each uses sophisticated minimalist understatement to represent suffering, but with radically different effects. Finally, it asks historians to reflect upon the representation of extreme events by focusing on narrative style, on questions of ethics, and on the cultural narratives within which their own work on suffering and violence is inevitably embedded-especially given that historians are paying increasing attention to violent events that generate tremendous difficulties in relation to the representation both of victims and perpetrators. (shrink)
Minimalism proposes a semantics that does not account for speakers' intuitions about the truth conditions of a range of sentences or utterances. Thus, a challenge for this view is to offer an explanation of how its assignment of semantic contents to these sentences is grounded in their use. Such an ..
We give arguments explaining why, when adopting a minimalist approach to constructive mathematics as that formalized in our two-level minimalist foundation, the choice for a pointfree approach to topology is not just a matter of convenience or mathematical elegance, but becomes compulsory. The main reason is that in our foundation real numbers, either as Dedekind cuts or as Cauchy sequences, do not form a set.
According to the iterative conception of set, sets can be arranged in a cumulative hierarchy divided into levels. But why should we think this to be the case? The standard answer in the philosophical literature is that sets are somehow constituted by their members. In the first part of the paper, I present a number of problems for this answer, paying special attention to the view that sets are metaphysically dependent upon their members. In the second part of the paper, (...) I outline a different approach, which circumvents these problems by dispensing with the priority or dependence relation altogether. Along the way, I show how this approach enables the mathematical structuralist to defuse an objection recently raised against her view. (shrink)
During the last thirty years, most linguists and philosophers have assumed that meaning can be represented symbolically and that the mental processing of language involves the manipulation of symbols. Scholars have assembled strong evidence that there must be linguistic representations at several abstract levels--phonological, syntactic, and semantic--and that those representations are related by a describable system of rules. Because meaning is so complex, linguists often posit an equally complex relationship between semantic and other levels of grammar. The Semantics of Syntax (...) is an elegant and powerful analysis of the relationship between syntax and semantics. Noting that meaning is underdetermined by form even in simple cases, Denis Bouchard argues that it is impossible to build knowledge of the world into grammar and still have a describable grammar. He thus proposes simple semantic representations and simple rules to relate linguistic levels. Focusing on a class of French verbs, Bouchard shows how multiple senses can be accounted for by the assumption of a single abstract core meaning along with background information about how objects behave in the world. He demonstrates that this move simplifies the syntax at no cost to the descriptive power of the semantics. In two important final chapters, he examines the consequences of his approach for standard syntactic theories. (shrink)
Our paper presents a novel theory of weak crossover effects, based entirely on quantifier scope preferences and their consequences for variable binding. The structural notion of 'crossover' play no role. We develop a theory of scope preferences which ascribes a central role to the AGR-P System.
This is an introduction to the structure of sentences in human languages. It assumes no prior knowledge of linguistic theory and little of elementary grammar. It will suit students coming to syntactic theory for the first time either as graduates or undergraduates. It will also be useful for those in fields such as computational science, artificial intelligence, or cognitive psychology who need a sound knowledge of current syntactic theory.
I develop a view of the common factor between subjectively indistinguishable perceptions and hallucinations that avoids analyzing experiences as involving awareness relations to abstract entities, sense-data, or any other peculiar entities. The main thesis is that hallucinating subjects employ concepts (or analogous nonconceptual structures), namely the very same concepts that in a subjectively indistinguishable perception are employed as a consequence of being related to external, mind-independent objects or property-instances. These concepts and nonconceptual structures are identified with modes of presentation types. (...) Since a hallucinating subject is not related to any such objects or property-instances, the concepts she employs remain empty. I argue that the phenomenology of hallucinations and perceptions can be identified with employing concepts and analogous nonconceptual structures. By doing so, I defend an ontologically minimalist view of the phenomenology of experience that (1) vindicates Aristotelianism about types and (2) amounts to a naturalized view of the phenomenology of experience. (shrink)
Insensitive Semantics is mainly a protracted assault on semantic Contextualism, both moderate and radical. Cappelen and Lepore argue that Moderate Contextualism leads inevitably, like marijuana to heroin or masturbation to blindness, to Radical Contextualism and in turn that Radical Contextualism is misguided. Assuming that the only alternative to Contextualism is their Semantic Minimalism, they think they’ve given an indirect argument for it. But they overlook a third view, one that splits the difference between the other two. Like Contextualism it (...) rejects Propositionalism, the conservative dogma that every indexicalfree declarative sentence expresses a proposition. Unlike Contextualism, it does not invoke context to fill semantic gaps and, indeed, denies that filling those gaps is a semantic matter. In rejecting Propositionalism, it is more radical, indeed, more minimalist than Cappelen and Lepore’s brand of Semantic Minimalism. It does not imagine that sentences that intuitively seem not to express propositions at least express “minimal propositions.” Radical Semantic Minimalism, or simply Radicalism, says that the sentences in question are semantically incomplete – their semantic contents are not propositions but merely “propositional radicals.”. (shrink)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is first to defend the intuition that truth is grounded in how things are and, second, to argue that this fact is consistent with Minimalism. After having cashed out that intuition in terms of explanatory claims of the form ‘if it is true that p, it is true that p because p’, I set out an argument against Minimalism which is based on the same intuition, and I argue that a strategy the (...) minimalist could adopt to resist the argument, i.e. to deny the correctness of the intuition, is flawed. Then I explain why the intuition is correct and I make some claims concerning the kind of explanations which are involved in it. Now the stage is set up to present the right way for the minimalist to resist the argument. I finally answer some objections. (shrink)
In Insensitive Semantics (2004), we argue for two theses – Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism. In this paper, we outline our defense against two objections often raised against Semantic Minimalism. To get to that defense, we first need some stage setting. To that end, we begin with five stage setting sections. These lead to the first objection, viz., that it might follow from our view that comparative adjectives are context insensitive. We defend our view against that objection (...) (not, as you might expect, by denying that implication, but by endorsing it). Having done so, we address a second objection, viz., that Semantic Minimalism makes it difficult to see what role semantic content plays in communicative exchanges. We respond and end with a reversal, i.e., we argue that even though the second objection fails against us, it works against those who raise the objection. In particular, we show that Recanati ends up with a notion of communicated content that fails various tests for psychological reality. (shrink)
Sometimes mereologists have problems with counting. We often don't want to count the parts of maximally connected objects as full-fledged objects themselves, and we don't want to count discontinuous objects as parts of further, full-fledged objects. But whatever one takes "full-fledged object" to mean, the axioms and theorems of classical, extensional mereology commit us to the existence both of parts and of wholes – all on a par, included in the domain of quantification – and this makes mereology look counterintuitive (...) to various philosophers. In recent years, a proposal has been advanced to solve the tension between mereology and familiar ways of counting objects, under the label of Minimalist View . The Minimalist View may be summarized in the slogan: "Count x as an object iff it does not overlap with any y you have already counted as an object". The motto seems prima facie very promising but, we shall argue, when one looks at it more closely, it is not. On the contrary, the Minimalist View involves an ambiguity that can be solved in quite different directions. We argue that one resolution of the ambiguity makes it incompatible with mereology. This way, the Minimalist View can lend no support to mereology at all. We suggest that the Minimalist View can become compatible with mereology once its ambiguity is solved by interpreting it in what we call an epistemic or conceptual fashion: whereas mereology has full metaphysical import, the Minimalist View may account for our ways of selecting "conceptually salient" entities. But even once it is so disambiguated, it is doubtful that the Minimalist View can help to make mereology more palatable, for it cannot make it any more compatible with commonsensical ways of counting objects. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to clarify and defend a certain ‘minimalist’ thesis about truth: roughly, that the meaning of the truth predicate is fixed by the schema, ’The proposition that p is true if and only if p’.1 The several criticisms of this idea to which I wish to respond are to be found in the recent work of Davidson, Field, Gupta, Richard, and Soames, and in a classic paper of Dummett’s.
In my commentary on Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore’s aptly titled book, Insensitive Semantics, I stake out a middle ground between their version of Semantic Minimalism and Contextualism. My kind of Semantic Minimalism does without the “minimal propositions” posited by C&L. It allows that some sentences do not express propositions, even relative to contexts. Instead, they are semantically incomplete. It is not a form of contextualism, since being semantically incomplete is not a way of being context-sensitive. In their (...) reply to my commentary, C&L seem to miss this point. Exaggerating the force of their slippery slope argument, they continue to suppose that contextualism is the only alternative to their version of minimalism. They contend that I haven’t replied to their central criticism, but in fact they haven’t replied to mine. (shrink)
Expressivism's problem in solving the Frege/Geach problem concerning unasserted contexts is evaluated in the light of Blackburn's own methodological commitment to assessing philosophical theories in terms of costs and benefits, notably quasi-realism's aim of minimising the ontological commitments of a broadly naturalistic worldview. The problem emerges when a competitor theory can explain the same phenomena at lower cost: the minimalist about truth has no problem with unasserted contexts whereas the quasi-realist/expressivist package does. However, this form of projectivism is supposed to (...) be a local and contrastive thesis or the central metaphor of projection makes no sense. So in competition with minimalism, projectivism must - at least for non-contested areas of thought and language - presuppose non-minimal truth. This casts new light on Blackburn's proposal globally to revise the relations between logic and truth so as to model ethical discourse as tracking a notion of commitment to contents that can be either attitudinal or truh evaluable. Why globally revise logic, in order solely to explain the problem of unasserted contexts, when a rival view can do so much better according to the standards set by the quasi-realist? Why do so when a notion of non-minimal truth and a classical explanation of logic are already available to you, given the local and contrastive claims of quasi-realism? (shrink)
I aim to show that a semantic minimalist need not also be a semantic internalist. §I introduces minimalism and internalism and argues that there is a prima facie case for a minimalist being an internalist. §II sketches some positive arguments for internalism which, if successful, show that a minimalist must be an internalist. §III goes on to reject these arguments and contends that the prima facie case for uniting minimalism and internalism is also not compelling. §IV returns to (...) an objection from §I and argues for a way to meet it which does not depend on giving up semantic externalism. (shrink)
James Dreier (Philos Perspect 18: 23-44, 2004) states what he calls the "Problem of Creeping Minimalism": that metaethical Expressivists can accept a series of claims about meaning, under which all of the sentences that Realists can accept are consistent with Expressivism. This would allow Expressivists to accept all of the Realist's sentences, and as Dreier points out, make it difficult to say what the difference between the two views is. That Expressivists can accept these claims about meaning has been (...) suggested by Simon Blackburn on behalf of his "quasirealist". I argue against the assumption that there is a way to interpret the Realist's sentences in a way that renders them consistent with Expressivism. (shrink)
A minimalist or “pleonastic” ontology is supposed to provide a “cheap ontology” of languagecreated entities to serve as relatively innocuous referents for singular terms for such entities as properties, propositions, events, meanings, and fictional characters. This paper investigates the very idea of ontological minimalism, its source, and its potential applications. Certain puzzles and paradoxes arise in the idea of ontological minimalism; the article argues that these result from the fact that minimal entities divide into three different cases with (...) importantly different ontological and epistemological implications. These different analyses show that general claims of minimalism provide no guarantee that the relevant entities are merely linguistic creations that can be accepted without ontological qualms. Nonetheless, minimalism has some important applications, e.g. relative minimalism can aid in determining the relative parsimony of different theories and thereby help demonstrate why certain forms of eliminativism regarding “ordinary objects”, fictional characters, etc. are misguided. (shrink)
The general tendency or attitude that Dreier 2004 calls creeping minimalism is ramping up in contemporary analytic philosophy. Those who entertain this attitude will take for granted a framework of deflationary or minimal notions – principally semantical1 and ontological – by means of which to analyse problems in different philosophical fields – e.g. theory of truth, metaethics, philosophy of language, the debate on realism and antirealism, etc. Let us call sweeping minimalist the philosopher affected by creeping minimalism. The (...) framework of minimal notions that the sweeping minimalist takes for granted encompasses, for instance, the concept of truth, reference, proposition, fact, individual, and property. Minimal notions are characterized in terms of general platitudinous principles expressed by schemata like the following (cf.: 26): ‘S’ is true if and only if S; ‘S’ is true if and only if ‘S’ corresponds to the facts; a has the property of being P if and only if a is P. Where ‘S’ and ‘a is P’ stand for sentences satisfying superficial constraints of truth-aptitude (i.e. sentences in declarative form subject to communally acknowledged standards of proper use), and.. (shrink)
In defense of the minimalist conception of truth, Paul Horwich(2001) has recently argued that our acceptance of the instances of the schema,`the proposition that p is true if and only if p', suffices to explain our acceptanceof truth generalizations, that is, of general claims formulated using the truth predicate.In this paper, I consider the strategy Horwich develops for explaining our acceptance of truth generalizations. As I show, while perhaps workable on its own, the strategy is in conflictwith his response to (...) the liar paradox. Something must give. I consider and reject variousalternatives and emendations to the strategy. In order to resolve the conflict,I propose an alternative approach to the liar, one that supports Horwich's strategywhile leaving minimalism maximally uncompromised. (shrink)
Research on quotation has mostly focussed in the past years on mixed or open quotation. In a recent book-length discussion of the topic, Cappelen and Lepore have abandon their previous Davidsonian allegiances, proposing a new view that they describe as minimalist, to a good extend on the basis of facts concerning mixed quotation. In this paper I critically review Cappelen and Lepore’s new minimalist proposals, briefly outlining my preferred Davidsonian view as a useful foil. I explore first their allegedly non-Davidsonian, (...) anti-contextualist views about pure quotation, and then their new views on mixed quotation. I have complained in the first place that their proposals are not presented as perspicuously as they should be; and in the second place that, when we have a clearer picture of what appears to be the favoured account, the differences with their previous proposals and others already in the literature are not as great as they claim. (shrink)
After discussing some difficulties that contextualism and minimalism face, this paper presents a new account of the linguistic exploitation of context, situationalism. Unlike the former accounts, situationalism captures the idea that the main intuitions underlying the debate concern not the identity of propositions expressed but rather how truth-values are situation-dependent. The truth-value of an utterance depends on the situation in which the proposition expressed is evaluated. Hence, like in minimalism, the proposition expressed can be truthevaluable without being enriched (...) or expanded. Along with contextualism, it is argued that an utterance’s truth-value is context dependent. But, unlike contextualism and minimalism, situationalism embraces a form of relativism in so far as it maintains that semantic content must be evaluated vis-à-vis a given situation and, therefore, that a proposition cannot be said to be true/false eternally. (shrink)
"Semantic Minimalists" holds that there are virtually no semantically context sensitive expressions in English. In particular, they claim that the semantics for terms like "red", "tall", "ready", "every", or "know" are not (contrary to many popular semantic theories) context sensitive. While minimalism strikes many as obviously false, it will be argued here that the view is more plausible than commonly assumed if one accepts the 'normative' conception of the relation between meaning and use characteristic of the literature on semantic (...) externalism. (shrink)
The question is asked whether one can consistently both be a minimalist about truth, and hold that some meaningful assertoric sentences fail to be either true or false. It is shown that one can, but the issues are delicate, and the price is high: one must either refrain from saying that the sentences lack truth values, or else one must invoke a novel non-contraposing three-valued conditional. Finally it is shown that this does not help in reconciling minimalism with emotivism, (...) where this latter is understood as involving the view that ethical sentences are neither true nor false. (shrink)
Consider truth predicates. Minimalist analyses of truth predicates may involve commitment to some of the following claims: (i) truth “predicates” are not genuine predicates -- either because the truth “predicate” disappears under paraphrase or translation into deep structure, or because the truth “predicate” is shown to have a non-predicative function by performative or expressivist analysis, or because truth “predicates” must be traded in for predicates of the form “true-in-L”; (ii) truth predicates express ineligible, non-natural, gerrymandered properties; (iii) truth predicates express (...) metaphysically lightweight properties; (iv) truth predicates have thin conceptual roles; (v) truth predicates express properties with no hidden essence; (vi) truth predicates express properties which have no causal or explanatory role in canonical formulations of fundamental theories. (shrink)
This paper argues first that, contrary to what one would expect, metaphorical interpretations of utterances pass two of Cappelan and Lepore's Minimalist tests for semantic context-sensitivity. I then propose how, in light of that result, one might analyze metaphors on the model of indexicals and demonstratives, expressions that (even) Minimalists agree are semantically context-dependent. This analysis builds on David Kaplan's semantics for demonstratives and refines an earlier proposal in (Stern, Metaphor in context, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2000). In the course of (...) this argument, I also discuss some new examples of linguistic phenomena that motivate a semantic structure underlying metaphorical interpretation, phenomena I argue that neither Minimalists nor Contextualists can explain. (shrink)
Minimalist and quasi-realist approaches to problematic discourses such as the causal, moral and modal are compared and contrasted. The problem of unasserted contexts demonstrates that while quasi-realism can meet the challenge of reconstructing a logic of "commitment" to cover both "projected" and "detected" discourses, it can only do so at an unacceptable cost. The theory must globally revise logic, in spite of its implicit commitment to a substantial notion of truth for "detected" discourses. Thus, quasi-realism fails to meet its own (...) standards for theory acceptance. By contrast, minimalism does not face the problem of unasserted contexts, can give a global account of the truth predicate and can explain the univocality of the logical connectives. This demonstrates the dialectical superiority of the minimalist's approach. (shrink)