A Preference Semantics for Imperatives


Authors
William B. Starr
Cornell University
Abstract
Imperative sentences like Dance! do not seem to represent the world. Recent modal analyses challenge this idea, but its intuitive and historical appeal remain strong. This paper presents three new challenges for a non-representational analysis, showing that the obstacles facing it are even steeper than previously appreciated. I will argue that the only way for the non-representationalist to meet these three challenges is to adopt a dynamic semantics. Such a dynamic semantics is proposed here: imperatives introduce preferences between alternatives. This characterization of meaning focuses on what function a sentence serves in discourse, rather than what that sentence refers to (e.g. a state of the world). By representing the meaning of imperatives, connectives and declaratives in a common dynamic format, the challenges posed for non-representationalism are met.
Keywords Imperatives  Dynamic Semantics  Meaning  Decision Theory  Modality  Expressivism
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

The Problem with the Frege–Geach Problem.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):635-665.
Logic and Semantics for Imperatives.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4):617-664.
Decision Theory: Yes! Truth Conditions: No!Nate Charlow - 2016 - In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
Dynamic Expressivism About Deontic Modality.William B. Starr - 2016 - In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 355-394.
The Meaning of Imperatives.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):540-555.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

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