Authors
Chris Fox
University of Essex
Abstract
Intensional logic (IL) and its application to natural language, which the present monograph addresses, was first developed by Richard Montague in the late 1960s (e.g., Montague 1970a, 1970b). Through the efforts of (especially) Barbara Partee (e.g., Partee 1975, 1976), and Richmond Thomason, who edited the posthumous collection of Montague’s works (Thomason 1974), this became the main framework for those who aspired to a formal semantic theory for natural language, and these included computational linguists as early as Jerry Hobbs in the late 1970s (e.g., Hobbs and Rosenschein 1977). In fact, until the advent of the current interest in statistical linguistics with its own conception of what semantics is, IL, or some variant of it, was perhaps the main theory of semantics within computational linguistics generally. And within current computational semantics it still is. But over the years, philosophers, linguists, and computational linguists have noted a variety of shortcomings in Montague’s version of IL. Montague defined intensions as functions from possible worlds to extensions in that world. But this had the effect of making logically equivalent expressions have the same intension, thus leading to the problem of “logical omniscience” (believing/knowing all the logical consequences of what is believed/known). Montague had based his IL on Church’s simple theory of types (Church 1940), supplemented with intensions of each type. But this implies that each natural language item accepts only arguments of some one fixed type. However, this is not true for natural language, where conjunctions, verbs, and pretty much any functional term that accepts arguments at all can accept arguments of different types. (For example, and can accept arguments that are of the sentence type, of the verb phrase type, of the adjective type, etc.; and indeed, it can accept arguments of differing types in its different argument..
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