About this topic
Summary The logical form of a sentence (or class of sentences) is the way the sentence is constructed out of a stock of basic vocabulary items, including a stock of distinguished logical constants (such as the familiar sentential connectives and quantifiers). A sentence's logical form determines its formal inferential relations to other sentences, and it is often thought to be important for accounting for the way the meaning of the sentence is determined by the meanings of its parts. The logical form of a sentence is not always apparent from its surface form, and there is a tradition of thinking of the logical form of a sentence as reflecting the structure of the extra-linguistic fact or state of affairs to which it corresponds. Questions about the "true" or "underlying" logical forms of some relevant class of sentences are often taken to be important for deciding issues in metaphysics and (especially) ontology. The notion of logical form is sometimes applied to propositions or mental state contents, as well as to sentences.
Key works Classic works include Wittgenstein et al 1922Russell 1905, Geach 1962Evans 1976 and May 1985. Cargile 1979 contains an oft-overlooked but very good discussion of some of the philosophical difficulties about logical form. Parsons 1990, building on the proposal in Davidson 1967, has been extremely influential in stimulating recent work on logical form. Preyer & Peter 2002 is a valuable recent collection.
Introductions The introductory logic textbook Barwise & Etchemendy 1999 pays special attention to the relationship between logical form and meaning.
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  1. Quantification, Negation, and Focus: Challenges at the Conceptual-Intentional Semantic Interface.Tista Bagchi - manuscript
    Quantification, Negation, and Focus: Challenges at the Conceptual-Intentional Semantic Interface Tista Bagchi National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development Studies (NISTADS) and the University of Delhi Since the proposal of Logical Form (LF) was put forward by Robert May in his 1977 MIT doctoral dissertation and was subsequently adopted into the overall architecture of language as conceived under Government-Binding Theory (Chomsky 1981), there has been a steady research effort to determine the nature of LF in language in light of structurally (...)
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  2. What Achilles Did and the Tortoise Wouldn't.Catherine Legg - manuscript
    This paper offers an expressivist account of logical form, arguing that in order to fully understand it one must examine what valid arguments make us do (or: what Achilles does and the Tortoise doesn’t, in Carroll’s famed fable). It introduces Charles Peirce’s distinction between symbols, indices and icons as three different kinds of signification whereby the sign picks out its object by learned convention, by unmediated indication, and by resemblance respectively. It is then argued that logical form is represented by (...)
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  3. Non-Declarative Sentences.John-Michael Kuczynski - forthcoming - Principia.
    If S is any well-formed and significant question or command having the form "...the phi...", Russell's Theory of Descriptions entails (i) that S is syntactically ambiguous, and (ii) that there is at least one disambiguation of S that is syntactically ill-formed. Given that each of (i) and (ii) is false, so is the Theory of Descriptions.
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  4. Goodness, Availability, and Argument Structure.Anna-Sara Malmgren - forthcoming - Synthese:1-33.
    According to a widely shared generic conception of inferential justification—‘the standard conception’—an agent is inferentially justified in believing that p only if she has antecedently justified beliefs in all the non-redundant premises of a good argument for p. This conception tends to serve as the starting-point in contemporary debates about the nature and scope of inferential justification: as neutral common ground between various competing, more specific, conceptions. But it’s a deeply problematic starting-point. This paper explores three questions that haven’t been (...)
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  5. The B-Theory in the 20th Century.M. Joshua Mozersky - forthcoming - In Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Time. Wiley-Blackwell.
  6. Dutch Books and Logical Form.Joel Pust - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    Dutch Book Arguments (DBAs) have been invoked to support various requirements of rationality. Some are plausible: probabilism and conditionalization. Others are less so: credal transparency and reflection. Anna Mahtani has argued for a new understanding of DBAs which, she claims, allow us to keep the DBAs for probabilism (and perhaps conditionalization) and reject the DBAs for credal transparency and reflection. I argue that Mahtani’s new account fails as (a) it does not support highly plausible requirements of rational coherence and (b) (...)
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  7. Logical Form and Reflective Equilibrium.Vladimír Svoboda & Jaroslav Peregrin - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Though, at first sight, logical formalization of natural language sentences and arguments might look like an unproblematic enterprise, the criteria of its success are far from clear and, surprisingly, there have only been a few attempts at making them explicit. This paper provides a picture of the enterprise of logical formalization that does not conceive of it as a kind of translation from one language (a natural one) into another language (a logical one), but rather as a construction of a (...)
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  8. An Algebraic Analysis of the Logical Form of Propositions.Daniel Vanderveken & Marek Nowak - forthcoming - Logique Et Analyse.
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  9. Why Should Syntactic Islands Exist?Eran Asoulin - 2020 - Mind and Language.
    Sentences that are ungrammatical and yet intelligible are instances of what I call perfectly thinkable thoughts. I argue that the existence of perfectly thinkable thoughts is revealing in regard to the question of why syntactic islands should exist. If language is an instrument of thought as understood in the biolinguistics tradition, then a uniquely human subset of thoughts is generated in narrow syntax, which suggests that island constraints cannot be rooted in narrow syntax alone and thus must reflect interface conditions (...)
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  10. Replies.Andrea Iacona - 2020 - Disputatio 12 (58):309-329.
    In this paper I provide five separate responses, one for each of the contributed papers, in order to clarify some crucial aspects of the view defended in my book.
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  11. Sobre el Análisis.Axel Barceló - 2019 - Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico: Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas, UNAM.
    Cuando pensamos en el análisis de un concepto, de una teoría o de un argumento, de inmediato nos vienen a la mente metáforas descomposicionales: pensamos en descomponer el concepto en sus condiciones necesarias y suficientes, la teoría en sus teoremas o conceptos y el argumento en sus premisas y conclusiones. Si bien esta metáfora ha sido muy útil a lo largo de la historia de la filosofía occidental, no podemos basar sobre ella una buena metodología filosófica, sino que necesitamos una (...)
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  12. The Logicality of Language: A New Take on Triviality, “Ungrammaticality”, and Logical Form.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):785-818.
    Recent work in formal semantics suggests that the language system includes not only a structure building device, as standardly assumed, but also a natural deductive system which can determine when expressions have trivial truth-conditions (e.g., are logically true/false) and mark them as unacceptable. This hypothesis, called the `logicality of language', accounts for many acceptability patterns, including systematic restrictions on the distribution of quantifiers. To deal with apparent counter-examples consisting of acceptable tautologies and contradictions, the logicality of language is often paired (...)
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  13. The Logicality of Language: A New Take on Triviality, `Ungrammaticality', and Logical Form.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):785-818.
    Recent work in formal semantics suggests that the language system includes not only a structure building device, as standardly assumed, but also a natural deductive system which can determine when expressions have trivial truth‐conditions (e.g., are logically true/false) and mark them as unacceptable. This hypothesis, called the ‘logicality of language’, accounts for many acceptability patterns, including systematic restrictions on the distribution of quantifiers. To deal with apparent counter‐examples consisting of acceptable tautologies and contradictions, the logicality of language is often paired (...)
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  14. Husserl on Meaning, Grammar, and the Structure of Content.Matteo Bianchin - 2018 - Husserl Studies 34 (2):101-121.
    Husserl’s Logical Grammar is intended to explain how complex expressions can be constructed out of simple ones so that their meaning turns out to be determined by the meanings of their constituent parts and the way they are put together. Meanings are thus understood as structured contents and classified into formal categories to the effect that the logical properties of expressions reflect their grammatical properties. As long as linguistic meaning reduces to the intentional content of pre-linguistic representations, however, it is (...)
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  15. Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language.Andrea Iacona - 2018 - Springer Verlag.
    Logical form has always been a prime concern for philosophers belonging to the analytic tradition. For at least one century, the study of logical form has been widely adopted as a method of investigation, relying on its capacity to reveal the structure of thoughts or the constitution of facts. This book focuses on the very idea of logical form, which is directly relevant to any principled reflection on that method. Its central thesis is that there is no such thing as (...)
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  16. Strict and Non-Strict Negative Concord in Hungarian: A Unified Analysis.Anna Szabolcsi - 2018 - In Huba Bartos, Bánréti, M. Den Dikken & Váradi (eds.), Boundaries Crossed. Dordrecht: Springer.
    Surányi (2006) observed that Hungarian has a hybrid (strict + non-strict) negative concord system. This paper proposes a uniform analysis of that system within the general framework of Zeijlstra (2004, 2008) and, especially, Chierchia (2013), with the following new ingredients. Sentential negation NEM is the same full negation in the presence of both strict and non-strict concord items. Preverbal SENKI `n-one’ type negative concord items occupy the specifier position of either NEM `not' or SEM `nor'. The latter, SEM spells out (...)
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  17. Iacona, A., Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language. Springer International, 2018, Pp. Vi + 133. [REVIEW]Alessandro Torza - 2018 - Argumenta (7):197-201.
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  18. The Importance of Being Ernesto: Reference, Truth and Logical Form.A. Bianchi, V. Morato & G. Spolaore (eds.) - 2016 - Padova: Padova University Press.
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  19. Content and Composition. An Essay on Tense, Content and Semantic Value.Sara Packalén - 2016 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    A remarkable thing about natural language is that we can use it to share our beliefs and thoughts about the world with other speakers of our language. In cases of successful communication, beliefs seem to be transferred from speakers to hearers by means of the hearer recovering the contents of the speaker’s utterances. This is so natural to us that we take it for granted in our everyday life, and rarely stop to think about how it's is possible. Nevertheless, it's (...)
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  20. Quantification and Logical Form.Andrea Iacona - 2015 - In Alessandro Torza (ed.), Quantifiers, Quantifiers, and Quantifiers. Springer. pp. 125-140.
    This paper deals with the logical form of quantified sentences. Its purpose is to elucidate one plausible sense in which quantified sentences can adequately be represented in the language of first-order logic. Section 1 introduces some basic notions drawn from general quantification theory. Section 2 outlines a crucial assumption, namely, that logical form is a matter of truth-conditions. Section 3 shows how the truth-conditions of quantified sentences can be represented in the language of first-order logic consistently with some established undefinability (...)
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  21. Restall and Beall on Logical Pluralism: A Critique.Manuel Bremer - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S2):293-299.
    With their book Logical Pluralism, Jc Beall and Greg Restall have elaborated on their previous statements on logical pluralism. Their view of logical pluralism is centred on ways of understanding logical consequence. The essay tries to come to grips with their doctrine of logical pluralism by highlighting some points that might be made clearer, and questioning the force of some of Beall’s and Restall’s central arguments. In that connection seven problems for their approach are put forth: (1) The Informal Common (...)
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  22. Categorial Indeterminacy, Generality and Logical Form in Wittgenstein's Tractatus.Christopher Campbell - 2014 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):138-158.
    Many commentators have attempted to say, more clearly than Wittgenstein did in his Tractatus logico-philosophicus, what sort of things the ‘simple objects’ spoken of in that book are. A minority approach, but in my view the correct one, is to reject all such attempts as misplaced. The Tractarian notion of an object is categorially indeterminate: in contrast with both Frege's and Russell's practice, it is not the logician's task to give a specific categorial account of the internal structure of elementary (...)
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  23. Russell and Wittgenstein on Logical Form and Judgement: What Did Wittgenstein Try That Wouldn't Work?James Connelly - 2014 - Theoria 80 (3):232-254.
    In this article, I pay special expository attention to two pieces of philosophically relevant Wittgenstein–Russell correspondence from the period leading up to the ultimate demise of Russell's Theory of Knowledge manuscript (in June 1913). This is done in the hopes of shedding light on Wittgenstein's notoriously obscure criticisms of Russell's multiple relation theory of judgement. I argue that these two pieces of correspondence (the first, a letter from Wittgenstein to Russell dated January 1913, and the second, a letter from Russell (...)
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  24. Early Russell on Types and Plurals.Kevin Klement - 2014 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 2 (6):1-21.
    In 1903, in The Principles of Mathematics (PoM), Russell endorsed an account of classes whereupon a class fundamentally is to be considered many things, and not one, and used this thesis to explicate his first version of a theory of types, adding that it formed the logical justification for the grammatical distinction between singular and plural. The view, however, was short-lived; rejected before PoM even appeared in print. However, aside from mentions of a few misgivings, there is little evidence about (...)
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  25. Analysis, Independence, Simplicity, and the General Sentence-Form.Thomas Ricketts - 2014 - Philosophical Topics 42 (2):263-288.
    The first section of the paper argues that, in the context of Wittgenstein’s intentional understanding of the truth-functional construction of sentences, the independence of elementary sentences is required for every application of a truth-operation to have the same significance. The second section of the paper presents a ‘top-down’ interpretation of Tractarian analysis. There is no characterization of the bottom level of analysis apart from the general sentence-form; the only constraint on analysis is that apparently manifest logical relationships among colloquial sentences (...)
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  26. The Contrast‐Insensitivity of Knowledge Ascriptions.Samuel C. Rickless - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (3):533-555.
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  27. Kant, Bolzano, and the Formality of Logic.Nicholas Stang - 2014 - In Sandra Lapointe & Clinton Tolley (eds.), The New Anti-Kant. pp. 193–234.
    In §12 of his 1837 magnum opus, the Wissenschaftslehre, Bolzano remarks that “In the new logic textbooks one reads almost constantly that ‘in logic one must consider not the material of thought but the mere form of thought, for which reason logic deserves the title of a purely formal science’” (WL §12, 46).1 The sentence Bolzano quotes is his own summary of others’ philosophical views; he goes on to cite Jakob, Hoffbauer, Metz, and Krug as examples of thinkers who held (...)
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  28. Iacona. Andrea - 2013 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 28 (3):439-457.
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  29. Acción y construcción lógica.Tomás Barrero - 2013 - Critica 45 (133):3-26.
    By considering Davidson’s analysis of prepositions as defining individual events predicates, I argue against his semantics for action sentences and stress some logico-linguistic puzzles concerning both the interpretive pretension and the referential indifference of this proposal. Inspired by Evans as well as by Grice, I advance another interpretive semantics for those cases which does not take as assumption the individual character of events and argue for a constructivist approach to events in action discourse.
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  30. Structured Variables.B. Halimi - 2013 - Philosophia Mathematica 21 (2):220-246.
    Drawing on Russell's substitutional theory, this paper examines the notion of ‘structured variable’, in order to compare Russell's and Tarski's conceptions of variables. The framework of syntactic fibrations, coming from categorical logic, is used as a common setting. The main objective of this paper is to make sense of the notion of structured variable beyond the context of Russell's theory, to question the Tarskian way of understanding what it is to be a possible value for a variable, and to bring (...)
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  31. Logical Form.Miguel Hoeltje - 2013 - In Ernest Lepore & Kirk Ludwig (eds.), A Companion to Donald Davidson (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy). Blackwell.
    Donald Davidson contributed to the discussion of logical form in two ways. On the one hand, he made several influential suggestions on how to give the logical forms of certain constructions of natural language. His account of adverbial modification and so called action-sentences is nowadays, in some form or other, widely employed in linguistics (Harman (forthcoming) calls it "the standard view"). Davidson's approaches to indirect discourse and quotation, while not as influential, also still attract attention today. On the other hand, (...)
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  32. Logical Form and Truth-Conditions.Andrea Iacona - 2013 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 28 (3):439-457.
    This paper outlines a truth-conditional view of logical form, that is, a view according to which logical form is essentially a matter of truth-conditions. The main motivation for the view is a fact that seems crucial to logic. As _§_1 suggests, fundamental logical relations such as entailment or contradiction can formally be explained only if truth-conditions are formally represented.§2 spells out the view. _§_3 dwells on its anity with a conception of logical form that has been defended in the past. (...)
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  33. Criteria for Logical Formalization.Jaroslav Peregrin & Vladimír Svoboda - 2013 - Synthese 190 (14):2897-2924.
    The article addresses two closely related questions: What are the criteria of adequacy of logical formalization of natural language arguments, and what gives logic the authority to decide which arguments are good and which are bad? Our point of departure is the criticism of the conception of logical formalization put forth, in a recent paper, by M. Baumgartner and T. Lampert. We argue that their account of formalization as a kind of semantic analysis brings about more problems than it solves. (...)
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  34. Context and Logical Form.Jason Stanley - 2013 - In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. pp. 316.
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  35. Quantifier Particles and Compositionality.Anna Szabolcsi - 2013 - Proceedings of the 19th Amsterdam Colloquium.
    In many languages, the same particles build quantifier words and serve as connectives, additive and scalar particles, question markers, existential verbs, and so on. Do the roles of each particle form a natural class with a stable semantics? Are the particles aided by additional elements, overt or covert, in fulfilling their varied roles? I propose a unified analysis, according to which the particles impose partial ordering requirements (glb and lub) on the interpretations of their hosts and the immediate larger contexts, (...)
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  36. Adequate Formalization and de Morgan’s Argument.Georg Brun - 2012 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 85 (1):325-335.
    Lampert and Baumgartner (2010) critically discuss accounts of adequate formalization focusing on my analysis in (Brun 2004). There, I investigated three types of criteria of adequacy (matching truth conditions or inferential role, corresponding syntactical surface and systematicity) and argued that they ultimately call for a procedure of formalization. Although Lampert and Baumgartner have a point about matching truth conditions, their arguments target a truncated version of my account. They ignore all aspects of systematicity which make their counter-example unconvincing.
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  37. Wahrheit, Bedeutung und Form — Eine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Davidson’schen Programm.Miguel Hoeltje - 2012 - mentis.
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  38. Logical Form.Kirk Ludwig - 2012 - In Gillian Russell & Delia Graff (eds.), Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language. Routledge. pp. 29-41.
    This chapter reviews some of the history of discussions of logical form and offers a truth-theoretic account that traces back to Donald Davidson.
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  39. Logical Grammar.Glyn Morrill - 2012 - In Ruth Kempson, Tim Fernando & Nicholas Asher (eds.), Philosophy of Linguistics. North Holland. pp. 63.
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  40. The Paradox of the Prisoner in Logical Form.A. N. Prior - 2012 - Synthese 188 (3):411-416.
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  41. Recurrence.Nathan Salmon - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):407-441.
    Standard compositionality is the doctrine that the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of the semantic contents of the contentful component expressions. In 1954 Hilary Putnam proposed that standard compositionality be replaced by a stricter version according to which even sentences that are synonymously isomorphic (in the sense of Alonzo Church) are not strictly synonymous unless they have the same logical form. On Putnam’s proposal, the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of: (i) the (...)
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  42. Against Logical Form.Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2012 - In Gerhard Preyer (ed.), Donald Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the Mental. Oxford University Press.
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  43. Reasoning Dynamically About What One Says.Nicholas Asher & Alex Lascarides - 2011 - Synthese 183 (S1):5-31.
    ’s glue logic for computing logical form dynamic. This allows us to model a dialogue agent’s understanding of what the update of the semantic representation of the dialogue would be after his next contribution, including the effects of the rhetorical moves that he is contemplating performing next. This is a pre-requisite for developing a model of how agents reason about what to say next. We make the glue logic dynamic by using a dynamic public announcement logic ( pal ). We (...)
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  44. Sub-sentential logical form. On Robert J. Stainton's "words and thoughts".Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia - 2011 - Critica 43 (129):53-63.
    Stainton argues that since sub-sentential speech acts lack the proper syntactic structure to have logical form, it is not from them that subsententially propositions conveyed derive their logical form, in this brief comment, I develop an argument for the claim that sub-sentential speech acts not only do have the proper syntactic structure, but that according to Stainton's own general pragmatic account of sub-sentential speech, they also satisfy all the criteria put forward by him to be the primary bearers of logical (...)
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  45. Interface Transparency and the Psychosemantics of Most.Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski, Tim Hunter & Justin Halberda - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (3):227-256.
    This paper proposes an Interface Transparency Thesis concerning how linguistic meanings are related to the cognitive systems that are used to evaluate sentences for truth/falsity: a declarative sentence S is semantically associated with a canonical procedure for determining whether S is true; while this procedure need not be used as a verification strategy, competent speakers are biased towards strategies that directly reflect canonical specifications of truth conditions. Evidence in favor of this hypothesis comes from a psycholinguistic experiment examining adult judgments (...)
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  46. Type-Logical Semantics.Reinhard Muskens - 2011 - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online.
    Type-logical semantics studies linguistic meaning with the help of the theory of types. The latter originated with Russell as an answer to the paradoxes, but has the additional virtue that it is very close to ordinary language. In fact, type theory is so much more similar to language than predicate logic is, that adopting it as a vehicle of representation can overcome the mismatches between grammatical form and predicate logical form that were observed by Frege and Russell. The grammatical forms (...)
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  47. Kant and Bolzano on Logical Form.Paul Rusnock - 2011 - Kant-Studien 102 (4):477-491.
    In the works of Kant and his followers, the notion of form plays an important role in explaining the apriority, necessity and certainty of logic. Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848), an important early critic of Kant, found the Kantians' definitions of form imprecise and their explanations of the special status of logic deeply unsatisfying. Proposing his own conception of form, Bolzano developed radically different views on logic, truth in virtue of form, and other matters. This essay presents Bolzano's views in the light (...)
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  48. Is Logic in the Mind or in the World?Gila Sher - 2011 - Synthese 181 (2):353 - 365.
    The paper presents an outline of a unified answer to five questions concerning logic: (1) Is logic in the mind or in the world? (2) Does logic need a foundation? What is the main obstacle to a foundation for logic? Can it be overcome? (3) How does logic work? What does logical form represent? Are logical constants referential? (4) Is there a criterion of logicality? (5) What is the relation between logic and mathematics?
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  49. Philosophy, Linguistics and Semantic Interpretation.Christian Bassac - 2010 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Objects of Inquiry in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics. Ontos Verlag. pp. 17.
  50. Logical Form.James Cargile - 2010 - In T. J. Smiley, Jonathan Lear & Alex Oliver (eds.), The Force of Argument: Essays in Honor of Timothy Smiley. Routledge.
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