Compositionality Solves Carnap’s Problem

Erkenntnis 81 (4):721-739 (2016)
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Abstract

The standard relation of logical consequence allows for non-standard interpretations of logical constants, as was shown early on by Carnap. But then how can we learn the interpretations of logical constants, if not from the rules which govern their use? Answers in the literature have mostly consisted in devising clever rule formats going beyond the familiar what follows from what. A more conservative answer is possible. We may be able to learn the correct interpretations from the standard rules, because the space of possible interpretations is a priori restricted by universal semantic principles. We show that this is indeed the case. The principles are familiar from modern formal semantics: compositionality, supplemented, for quantifiers, with topic-neutrality.

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Author Profiles

Denis Bonnay
Université Paris Nanterre
Dag Westerståhl
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

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Categorical Quantification.Constantin C. Brîncuș - forthcoming - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic:1-27.

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Formalization of logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1943 - Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard university press.

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