Synthese 198 (3):1-18 (2019)

Authors
Sarah A Fisher
University of Vienna
Abstract
The debate between Semantic Minimalism and Radical Contextualism is standardly characterized as concerning truth-evaluability—specifically, whether or not sentences require rich contextualization in order to express complete, truth-evaluable contents. In this paper, I examine the notion of truth-evaluability, considering which kinds of mappings it might require from worldly states of affairs to truth-values. At one end of the spectrum, an exhaustive notion would require truth-evaluable contents to map all possible states of affairs to truth-values. At the other end, a liberal notion would require only that truth-evaluable contents map at least one possible state of affairs to at least one truth-value. I show that both Minimalists and Radical Contextualists rely on some intermediate, moderately strict notion of truth-evaluability, falling between these two poles. I consider four ways in which such a notion could be defined. However, I argue that each of these is ultimately implausible, giving us no reason to favour a moderately strict notion of truth-evaluability over the liberal alternative. This suggests that the debate must shift to more moderate ground; rather than concerning the in principle possibility of truth-evaluable contents, it fundamentally hinges on their explanatory value. More generally, paying close attention to the notion of truth-evaluability allows us to tease apart distinct strands in the Minimalism-Contextualism debate, and gain a better appreciation of what is at stake.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02245-2
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References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Minimal Semantics.Emma Borg - 2004 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Framing Effects and Context in Language Comprehension.Sarah Fisher - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Reading

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