Springer International Publishing (2019)

Fabrizio Calzavarini
University of Turin (PhD)
This monograph offers a novel, neurocognitive theory concerning words and language. It explores the distinction between inferential and referential semantic competence. The former accounts for the relationship of words among themselves, the latter for the relationship of words to the world. The author discusses this distinction at the level of the human brain on both theoretical and neuroscientific grounds. In addition, this investigation considers the relation between the inf/ref neurocognitive theory and other accounts of semantic cognition proposed in the field of neurosemantics, as well as some potential implications of the theory for clinical neuroscience and the philosophy of semantics. Overall, the book offers an important contribution to the debate about lexical semantic competence. It combines a strong philosophical and linguistic background with a comprehensive and critical analysis of neurosemantic literature. Topics discussed lie at the intersection of philosophical semantics, linguistics, neurolinguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical psychology. Due to its interdisciplinary orientation, coverage is rich in introductory remarks and not overly technical, therefore it is accessible to non-experts as well.
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Reprint years 2020
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ISBN(s) 978-3-030-27588-4   978-3-030-27587-7   3030275876   3030275906   3030275892   9783030275884   3030275884
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Chapters BETA

This conclusive chapter summarizes the main outcomes of the book.

The Role of the Referential Cortex for Inferential Competence

In the previous chapters, I have analysed some empirical evidence in favour of the proposed distinction between inferential and referential competence and I have outlined a neurocognitive model supporting this distinction at the level of the human brain. In this conclusive chapter, I shall discuss a... see more

The Inferential and the Referential Neural Systems

In this chapter, based on the previously discussed experimental data, and on a wider review of the relevant neurosemantic literature, I provide a more detailed discussion of the specific neural regions which underpin, respectively, inferential competence and referential competence.

Anatomical Dissociation

To vindicate empirically the distinction between inferential competence and referential competence we must show it to be consistent with anatomical data on brain structure in both normal and pathological populations. In this chapter, I shall do this by discussing some direct electrocorticography sti... see more

Functional Dissociation

In the present chapter, I shall argue that neuropsychological data provide some evidence that inferential and referential competences are functionally isolable, i.e., that they can operate independently of one another. In extreme cases, one competence can be completely damaged without this resulting... see more

Inferential and Referential Lexical Competence

So far, I have been concerned with the distinction between inferential and referential competence understood as a conceptual distinction, but this distinction can naturally suggest an intriguing empirical hypothesis: inferential and referential semantic abilities are actually underpinned by distinct... see more

Truth-Conditional Cognitivism and Referential Grounding

In this chapter, I shall argue that meaning postulates cannot account for a significant aspect of human lexical competence, namely the ability to apply words to objects and circumstances in the world . I shall also argue that the desired account cannot be provided within the theoretical framework of... see more

Truth-Conditional Cognitivism and Inferential Competence

When dealing with ʻmeaningʼ and related notions, one cannot ignore what for a long time was the dominant paradigm in semantics, namely what I shall refer to as truth-conditional cognitivism. According to this paradigm, truth-conditional formal semantics for natural language, in Montagovian or Davids... see more


This introductory chapter presents the central concepts and the structure of the book.

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Citations of this work BETA

Word Meaning.Luca Gasparri & Diego Marconi - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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