How do hearers manage to understand speakers? And how do speakers manage to shape hearers' understanding? Lepore and Stone show that standard views about the workings of semantics and pragmatics are unsatisfactory. They advance an alternative view which better captures what is going on in linguistic communication.
Traditionally, pronouns are treated as ambiguous between bound and demonstrative uses. Bound uses are non-referential and function as bound variables, and demonstrative uses are referential and take as a semantic value their referent, an object picked out jointly by linguistic meaning and a further cue—an accompanying demonstration, an appropriate and adequately transparent speaker’s intention, or both. In this paper, we challenge tradition and argue that both demonstrative and bound pronouns are dependent on, and co-vary with, antecedent expressions. Moreover, the semantic (...) value of a pronoun is never determined, even partly, by extra-linguistic cues; it is fixed, invariably and unambiguously, by features of its context of use governed entirely by linguistic rules. We exploit the mechanisms of Centering and Coherence theories to develop a precise and general meta-semantics for pronouns, according to which the semantic value of a pronoun is determined by what is at the center of attention in a coherent discourse. Since the notions of attention and coherence are, we argue, governed by linguistic rules, we can give a uniform analysis of pronoun resolution that covers bound, demonstrative, and even discourse bound readings. Just as the semantic value of the first-person pronoun ‘I’ is conventionally set by a particular feature of its context of use—namely, the speaker—so too, we will argue, the semantic values of other pronouns, including ‘he’, are conventionally set by particular features of the context of use. (shrink)
The commonplace view about metaphorical interpretation is that it can be characterized in traditional semantic and pragmatic terms, thereby assimilating metaphor to other familiar uses of language. We will reject this view, and propose in its place the view that, though metaphors can issue in distinctive cognitive and discourse effects, they do so without issuing in metaphorical meaning and truth, and so, without metaphorical communication. Our inspiration derives from Donald Davidson’s critical arguments against metaphorical meaning and Richard Rorty’s exploration of (...) the diverse uses of language. But unlike these authors we ground our discussion squarely in distinctions about causal mechanisms in cooperative activity developed by H.P. Grice and others. (shrink)
Of course in every act of this kind, there remains the possibility of putting this act into question – insofar as it refers to more distant, more essential ends.... For example the sentence which I write is the meaning of the letters I trace, but the whole work I wish to produce is the meaning of the sentence. And this work is a possibility in connection with which I can feel anguish; it is truly my possibility...tomorrow in relation to it (...) my freedom can exercise its nihilating power. (shrink)
The gestures that speakers use in tandem with speech include not only conventionalized actions with identifiable meanings (so-called narrow gloss gestures or emblems) but also productive iconic and deictic gestures whose form and meanings seem largely improvised in context. In this paper, we bridge the descriptive tradition with formal models of reference and discourse structure so as to articulate an approach to the interpretation of these productive gestures. Our model captures gestures' partial and incomplete meanings as derived from form and (...) accounts for the more specific interpretations they derive in context. Our work emphasizes the commonality of the pragmatic mechanisms for interpreting both language and gesture, and the place of formal methods in discovering the principles and knowledge that those mechanisms rely on. (shrink)
In modal subordination, a modal sentence is interpreted relative to a hypothetical scenario introduced in an earlier sentence. In this paper, I argue that this phenomenon reﬂects the fact that the interpretation of modals is an ANAPHORIC process. Modal morphemes introduce sets of possible worlds, representing alternative hypothetical scenarios, as entities into the discourse model. Their interpretation depends on evoking sets of worlds recording described and reference scenarios, and relating such sets to one another using familiar notions of restricted, preferential (...) quantiﬁcation. This proposal relies on an extended model of environments in dynamic semantics to keep track of associations between possible worlds and ordinary individuals; it assumes that modal meanings and other lexical meanings encapsulate quantiﬁcation over possible worlds. These two innovations are required in order for modals to refer to sets of possible worlds directly as static objects in place of the inherently dynamic objects—quite different from the referents of pronouns and tenses—used in previous accounts. The simpler proposal that results offers better empirical coverage and suggests a new parallel between modal and temporal interpretation. (shrink)
We present an algorithm for simultaneously constructing both the syntax and semantics of a sentence using a Lexicalized Tree Adjoining Grammar (LTAG). This approach captures naturally and elegantly the interaction between pragmatic and syntactic constraints on descriptions in a sentence, and the inferential interactions between multiple descriptions in a sentence. At the same time, it exploits linguistically motivated, declarative speciﬁcations of the discourse functions of syntactic constructions to make contextually appropriate syntactic choices.
We relate the theory of presupposition accommodation to a computational framework for reasoning in conversation. We understand presuppositions as private commitments the speaker makes in using an utterance but expects the listener to recognize based on mutual information. On this understanding, the conversation can move forward not just through the positive effects of interlocutors’ utterances but also from the retrospective insight interlocutors gain about one anothers’ mental states from observing what they do. Our title, ENLIGHTENED UPDATE, highlights such cases. Our (...) approach fleshes out two key principles: that interpretation is a form of intention recognition; and that intentions are complex informational structures, which specify commitments to conditions and to outcomes as well as to actions. We present a formalization and implementation of these principles for a simple conversational agent, and draw on this case study to argue that pragmatic reasoning is holistic in character, continuous with common-sense reasoning about collaborative activities, and most effectively characterized by associating specific, reliable interpretive constraints directly with grammatical forms. In showing how to make such claims precise and to develop theories that respect them, we illustrate the general place of computation in the cognitive science of language. (shrink)
This chapter investigates the computational consequences of a broadly Gricean view of language use as intentional activity. In this view, dialogue rests on coordinated reasoning about communicative intentions. The speaker produces each utterance by formulating a suitable communicative intention. The hearer understands it by recognizing the communicative intention behind it. When this coordination is successful, interlocutors succeed in considering the same intentions— that is, the same representations of utterance meaning—as the dialogue proceeds. In this paper, I emphasize that these intentions (...) can be formalized; we can provide abstract but systematic representations that spell out what a speaker is trying to do with an utterance. Such representations describe utterances simultaneously as the product of our knowledge of grammar and as actions chosen for a reason. In particular, they must characterize the speaker’s utterance in grammatical terms, provide the links to the context that the grammar requires, and so arrive at a contribution that the speaker aims to achieve. Because I have implemented this formalism, we can regard it as a possible analysis of conversational processes at the level of computational theory. Nevertheless, this analysis leaves open what the nature of the biological computation involved in inference to intentions is, and what regularities in language use support this computation. (shrink)
Denying the antecedent is an invalid form of reasoning that is typically identified and frowned upon as a formal fallacy. Contrary to arguments that it does not or at least should not occur, denying the antecedent is a legitimate and effective strategy for undermining a position. Since it is not a valid form of argument, it cannot prove that the position is false. But it can provide inductive evidence that this position is probably false. In this role, it is neither (...) defective nor deceptive. Denying the antecedent provides inductive support for rejecting a claim as improbable. (shrink)
This paper develops a general approach to contextual reasoning in natural language processing. Drawing on the view of natural language interpretation as abduction (Hobbs et al., 1993), we propose that interpretation provides an explanation of how an utterance creates a new discourse context in which its interpreted content is both true and promi- nent. Our framework uses dynamic theories of semantics and pragmatics, formal theories of context, and models of attentional state. We describe and illustrate a Prolog implementation.
Both formal semantics and cognitive semantics are the source of important insights about language. By developing precise statements of the rules of meaning in fragmentary, abstract languages, formalists have been able to offer perspicuous accounts of how we might come to know such rules and use them to communicate with others. Conversely, by charting the overall landscape of interpretations, cognitivists have documented how closely interpretations draw on the commonsense knowledge that lets us make our way in the world. There is (...) no opposition between these insights. Sooner or later we will have a semantics that responds to both. However, developing such a semantics is profoundly difficult, because there are certain tensions to be overcome in reconciling the two perspectives. For one thing, the overall landscape of meaning does seem to be characterized by a much richer ontology and more dynamic categories than are exhibited by the fragments typically studied in the formal tradition. One sign of strain is the recent tendency to talk of “procedural”, “non-compositional”, or “computational” semantics, as in Hamm, Kamp and van Lambalgen 2006, hereafter HK&vL. We think such locutions can serve as useful reminders to keep semantics fixed on the central question of how language allows us to share information that some have and others need to get. However, there is some danger that formalists will merely by put off by an idea that, taken literally, may not be such a good one. In this short article, we want to explore and defend the traditional realist view attributed by HK&vL to Lewis among others. In fact, this view offers a well-developed, extremely straightforward and robust account of the relation between semantics and cognition. Moreover, while the realist view has ways of accommodating the representationalist insights of DRT (Lewis 1979; Thomason 1990; Stalnaker 1998), it remains unclear how “computational” semantics can account for the key data for the realist view: cases where we judge interlocutors to be ignorant about aspects of meaning in their native language (Kripke 1972; Putnam 1975; Stalnaker 1979; Williamson 1994).. (shrink)
The meanings of donkey sentences cannot be captured using a procedure which, like Montague’s, uses the existential quantiﬁers of classical logic to translate indeﬁnites and the variables to translate pronouns. The treatment of these examples requires meanings which depend on the context in which sentences appear, and thus necessitates a logic which models this context to some extent. If context is represented as the information conveyed in discourse, and the meanings of pronouns are enriched to depend on this information, the (...) result is the E-Type approach (ETA) adapted by Heim (1990) from proposals in Evans (1980) and Cooper (1979). If the context is represented as a list of potential referents, and the meanings of indeﬁnites are enriched to introduce new referents into this list, the result is a compositional formulation like Groenendijk and Stokhof’s (1990) of the discourse representation theory (DRT) of Kamp (1981) and Heim (1982). Either tack sufﬁces to capture the way in which the referents of he and it systematically correspond to the alternative possibilities described by the antecedent. Disjunction offers a parallel way of introducing alternatives in the antecedent of a conditional, as shown in (2). (shrink)
In demonstration, speakers use real-world activity both for its practical effects and to help make their points. The demonstrations of origami mathematics, for example, reconfigure pieces of paper by folding, while simultaneously allowing their author to signal geometric inferences. Demonstration challenges us to explain how practical actions can get such precise significance and how this meaning compares with that of other representations. In this paper, we propose an explanation inspired by David Lewis’s characterizations of coordination and scorekeeping in conversation. In (...) particular, we argue that words, gestures, diagrams and demonstrations can function together as integrated ensembles that contribute to conversation, because interlocutors use them in parallel ways to coordinate updates to the conversational record. (shrink)
We use the interpretation of vague scalar predicates like small as an illustration of how systematic semantic models of dialogue context enable the derivation of useful, ﬁne-grained utterance interpretations from radically underspeci- ﬁed semantic forms. Because dialogue context sufﬁces to determine salient alternative scales and relevant distinctions along these scales, we can infer implicit standards of comparison for vague scalar predicates through completely general pragmatics, yet closely constrain the intended meaning to within a natural range.
In this paper, we introduce a system, Sentence Planning Using Description, which generates collocations within the paradigm of sentence planning. SPUD simultaneously constructs the semantics and syntax of a sentence using a Lexicalized Tree Adjoining Grammar (LTAG). This approach captures naturally and elegantly the interaction between pragmatic and syntactic constraints on descriptions in a sentence, and the inferential and lexical interactions between multiple descriptions in a sentence. At the same time, it exploits linguistically motivated, declarative speci- ﬁcations of the discourse (...) functions of syntactic constructions to make contextually appropriate syntactic choices. (shrink)
This collection of essays takes as its starting point Arthur Ripstein's Force and Freedom: Kant's Legal and Political Philosophy, a seminal work on Kant's thinking about law, which also treats many of the contemporary issues of legal and political philosophy. The essays offer readings and elucidations of Ripstein's thought, dispute some of his claims and extend some of his themes within broader philosophical contexts, thus developing the significance of Ripstein's ideas for contemporary legal and political philosophy. -/- All of the (...) essays are contributions to normative philosophy in a broadly Kantian spirit. Prominent themes include rights in the body, the relation between morality and law, the nature of coercion and its role in legal obligation, the role of indeterminacy in law, the nature and justification of political society and the theory of the state. This volume will be of interest to a wide audience, including legal scholars, Kant scholars, and philosophers with an interest in Kant or in legal and political philosophy. (shrink)
The core of this special issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education emerged from the Broken Narratives and the Lived Body conference held in 2016. The ‘Broken Narrative’ essays included in this issue open up a critical space for understanding and theorising illness narratives that defy a conventional cognitive ordering of the self as a bounded spatial and temporal entity. Here, we discuss how narratives might be ‘broken’ by discourse, trauma, ‘ill’ lived bodies and experiences that exceed linguistic representation. (...) We trouble distinctions between coherent and incoherent narratives, attending to what gaps, silences and ‘nonsenses’ can convey about embodied illness experiences. Ultimately, we suggest that ‘breaks’ are in fact a continuation of embodied narration. This is shown in the ‘Art and Trauma’ forum of essays, which reveal how narrative silences can ‘infect’ other embodied subjects and be transformed, achieving musical or visual representation that allow us to apprehend the ‘constitutive outside’ of narratives of illness or trauma. (shrink)
We present a formal analysis of iconic coverbal gesture. Our model describes the incomplete meaning of gesture that’s derivable from its form, and the pragmatic reasoning that yields a more specific interpretation. Our formalism builds reported.
In face-to-face interaction, speakers make multimodal contributions that exploit both the linguistic resources of spoken language and the visual and spatial affordances of gesture. In this paper, we argue that, in formulating and understanding such multimodal contributions, interlocutors apply the same principles of coherence that characterize the interpretation of natural language discourse. In particular, we use a close analysis of a series of naturally-occurring embodied discourses to argue for two key generalizations. First, communicators and their audiences draw on coherence relations (...) to establish interpretive connections between successive gestures and between gestures and speech. Second, coherence relations facilitate meaning-making by resolving the underspecified meaning of each communicative act through constrained inference over entities, propositions, and spatial frames made salient in the prior discourse. Our approach to gesture interpretation improves on previous work in better accounting for its flexibility, in capturing its constraints, and in laying the groundwork for formal and computational models. At the same time, it shows that gesture provides an important source of evidence to sharpen the theory of coherence relations and contextual resolution. (shrink)
In our 2015 book Imagination and Convention, we explore the scope and limits of linguistic knowledge in semantics and pragmatics for natural language. We draw heavily on the notion of coordination from David Lewis' book on conventions. To the extent that the account we develop is right, general principles like Grice's cooperative principle and the maxims of conversation have little to say about about interpretation. Three commentators—Anne Bezuidenhout, Laurence Horn, and Zoltan Gendler Szabo—discuss and evaluate our program in three essays (...) in this issue. What follows is our response to their challenges. (shrink)
Here we present the personal perspectives of two authors on the important and unfortunately frequent scenario of ambulance clinicians facing a deceased individual and family members who do not wish them to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We examine the professional guidance and the protection provided to clinicians, which is not matched by guidance to protect family members. We look at the legal framework in which these scenarios are taking place, and the ethical issues which are presented. We consider the interaction between (...) ethics, clinical practice and the law, and offer suggested changes to policy and guidance which we believe will protect ambulance clinicians, relatives and the patient. (shrink)
In this paper I attempt to tie together a longstanding dispute between Henry Kyburg and Isaac Levi concerning statistical inferences. The debate, which centers around the example of Petersen the Swede, concerns Kyburg's and Levi's accounts of randomness and choosing reference classes. I argue that both Kyburg and Levi have missed the real significance of their dispute, that Levi's claim that Kyburg violates Confirmational Conditionalization is insufficient, and that Kyburg has failed to show that Levi's criteria for choosing reference class (...) are problematic. Rather, the significance of the Petersen case is to show that other aspects of their respective systems are defective: for Levi his account of credal judgments other than direct inference, and for Kyburg his explanation of how indexes are associated with a body of knowledge. (shrink)
This paper pursues a formal analogy between natural language dialogue and collaborative real-world action in general. The analogy depends on an analysis of two aspects of collaboration that ﬁgure crucially in language use. First, agents must be able to coordinate abstractly about future decisions which cannot be made on present information. Second, when agents ﬁnally take such decisions, they must again coordinate in order to interpret one anothers’ actions as collaborative. The contribution of this paper is a general representation of (...) collaborative plans and intentions, inspired by representations of deductions in logics of knowledge, action and time, which supports these two kinds of coordination. Such representations.. (shrink)
An essential ingredient of language use is our ability to reason about utterances as intentional actions. Linguistic representations are the natural substrate for such reasoning, and models from computational semantics can often be seen as providing an infrastructure to carry out such inferences from rich and accurate grammatical descriptions. Exploring such inferences offers a productive pragmatic perspective on problems of interpretation, and promises to leverage semantic representations in more flexible and more general tools that compute with meaning.
At a time of unprecedented migration and social displacement, following a century ravaged by war and hegemonic shift, the question of hospitality presents itself with unparalleled urgency. Taking his cue from Immanuel Kant’s cosmopolitics, Jacques Derrida addressed this question by deliberating on the nature of the political obligation to the other person. Invoking the work of Emmanuel Levinas, this demand is first of all ethical, and unconditional. But Derrida was also acutely aware of the residual violence of the hospitable gesture, (...) which always takes place in a scene of power. The resultant aporias at the heart of hospitality provoked debate between the two authors at the 2007 Critical Legal Conference, and this paper seeks to elucidate and elaborate on this encounter. At stake are the matters of the potential political forms of hospitality, whether it should always been striven for and, ultimately, how one can conceptually reconcile its ethics with its violence. (shrink)
This paper surveys rich and important phenomena in language use that theorists study from a wide range of perspectives. And according to us, there is no unique and general mechanism behind our practices of metaphor and irony. Metaphor works in a particular way, by prompting the specific kind of analogical thinking And, irony works in its own particular way, by prompting new appreciation of the apparent contribution, speaker or perspective of an utterance exhibited for effect. Or so we will argue.
In abductive planning, plans are constructed as reasons for an agent to act: plans are demonstrations in logical theory of action that a goal will result assuming that given actions occur successfully. This paper shows how to construct plans abductively for an agent that can sense the world to augment its partial information. We use a formalism that explicitly refers not only to time but also to the information on which the agent deliberates. Goals are reformulated to represent the successive (...) stages of deliberation and action the agent follows in carrying out a course of action, while constraints on assumed actions ensure that an agent at each step performs a specific action selected for its known effects. The result is a simple formalism that can directly inform extensions to implemented planners. (shrink)
Three experiments examined contributions of study phase awareness of word identity to subsequent word-identification priming by manipulating visual attention to words at study. In Experiment 1, word-identification priming was reduced for ignored relative to attended words, even though ignored words were identified sufficiently to produce negative priming in the study phase. Word-identification priming was also reduced after color naming relative to emotional valence rating (Experiment 2) or word reading (Experiment 3), even though an effect of emotional valence upon color naming (...) (Experiment 2) indicated that words were identified at study. Thus, word-identification priming was reduced even when word identification occurred at study. Word-identification priming may depend on awareness of word identity at the time of study. (shrink)
This paper presents a simple and versatile tree-rewriting lexicalized grammar formalism, TAGLET, that provides an effective scaffold for introducing advanced topics in a survey course on natural language processing (NLP). Students who implement a strong competence TAGLET parser and generator simultaneously get experience with central computer science ideas and develop an effective starting point for their own subsequent projects in data-intensive and interactive NLP.
What is the will? And what is its relation to human action? Throughout history, philosophers have been fascinated by the idea of "the will": the source of the drive that motivates human beings to act. However, there has never been a clear consensus as to what the will is and how it relates to human action. Some philosophers have taken the will to be based firmly in reason and rational choice, and some have seen it as purely self-determined. Others have (...) replaced the idea of the human will with a more general drive uniting humans and the rest of nature, living and non-living. This collection of nine specially commissioned papers traces the formulation and treatment of the problem of the will from ancient philosophy through the scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages, to modern philosophy and right up to contemporary theories. Philosophers discussed include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. (shrink)