How important are truth-conditions for truth-conditional semantics?

Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (6):541-575 (2019)
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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that while truth-conditional semantics in generative linguistics provides lots of good semantic explanations, truth-conditions do not play an important role in these explanations. That is, the fact that expressions have the particular truthconditional contents they have does not even partly explain facts about semantic phenomena. Rather, explanations of semantic phenomena appeal to extra-truth-conditional properties attributed to expressions via their lexical entries. Focusing on recent truth-conditional work on gradable adjectives and degree modifiers by Kennedy and McNally, I show that the best explanations of semantic anomaly and entailment for these expressions are non-truth-conditional—they do not depend on the fact that these expressions have the truth-conditional contents they have. I then provide reasons for thinking that the point generalizes beyond gradable adjectives and degree modifiers to other expressions, and beyond anomaly and entailment to other semantic phenomena. Truth-conditional content, generally, is extrasemantic.

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Toby Napoletano
University of California, Merced

References found in this work

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Semantics in generative grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Malden, MA: Blackwell. Edited by Angelika Kratzer.
New horizons in the study of language and mind.Noam Chomsky - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
What is Meaning?Scott Soames - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
Languages and language.David K. Lewis - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing about language. New York: Routledge. pp. 3-35.

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