Mind and Language 37 (3):304-328 (2022)

Daniel W. Harris
Hunter College (CUNY)
I argue that semantics is the study of the proprietary database of a centrally inaccessible and informationally encapsulated input–output system. This system’s role is to encode and decode partial and defeasible evidence of what speakers are saying. Since information about nonlinguistic context is therefore outside the purview of semantic processing, a sentence’s semantic value is not its content but a partial and defeasible constraint on what it can be used to say. I show how to translate this thesis into a detailed compositional-semantic theory based on the influential framework of Heim and Kratzer. This approach situates semantics within an independently motivated account of human cognitive architecture and reveals the semantics–pragmatics interface to be grounded in the underlying interface between modular and central systems.
Keywords semantics  modularity  cognitive architecture  semantics-pragmatics interface
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/mila.12290
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

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.

View all 85 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Metasemantic Quandaries.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - In Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.), Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard. Ann Arbor: Maize Books. pp. 171-202.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Pre-Cognitive Semantic Information.Orlin Vakarelov - 2010 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (1-2):193-226.
Semantics, Pragmatics, and the Role of Semantic Content.Jeffrey C. King & Jason Stanley - 2005 - In Zoltan Gendler Szabo (ed.), Semantics Versus Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. pp. 111--164.
Prepragmatics: Widening the Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary.Isidora Stojanovic - 2013 - In Alexis Burgess & Brett Sherman (eds.), Metasemantics: New Essays on the Foundations of Meaning. Oxford University Press. pp. 311-326.
Dynamic Semantics.Karen S. Lewis - 2017 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
Context and Content: Pragmatics in Two-Dimensional Semantics.Berit Brogaard - 2012 - In Keith Allan & Kasia Jaszczolt (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
351 ( #29,343 of 2,507,714 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
108 ( #6,672 of 2,507,714 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes