How is it that words come to stand for the things they stand for? Is the thing that a word stands for - its reference - fully identified or described by conventions known to the users of the word? Or is there a more roundabout relation between the reference of a word and the conventions that determine or fix it? Do words like 'water', 'three', and 'red' refer to appropriate things, just as the word 'Aristotle' refers to Aristotle? If so, (...) which things are these, and how do they come to be referred to by those words? -/- In Roads to Reference, Mario Gómez-Torrente provides novel answers to these and other questions that have been of traditional interest in the theory of reference. The book introduces a number of cases of apparent indeterminacy of reference for proper names, demonstratives, and natural kind terms, which suggest that reference-fixing conventions for them adopt the form of lists of merely sufficient conditions for reference and reference failure. He then provides arguments for a new anti-descriptivist picture of those kinds of words, according to which the reference-fixing conventions for them do not describe their reference. This book also defends realist and objectivist accounts of the reference of ordinary natural kind nouns, numerals, and adjectives for sensible qualities. According to these accounts these words refer, respectively, to 'ordinary kinds', cardinality properties, and properties of membership in intervals of sensible dimensions, and these things are fixed in subtle ways by associated reference-fixing conventions. (shrink)
There have been several different and even opposed conceptions of the problem of logical constants, i.e. of the requirements that a good theory of logical constants ought to satisfy. This paper is in the first place a survey of these conceptions and a critique of the theories they have given rise to. A second aim of the paper is to sketch some ideas about what a good theory would look like. A third aim is to draw from these ideas and (...) from the preceding survey the conclusion that most conceptions of the problem of logical constants involve requirements of a philosophically demanding nature which are probably not satisfiable by any minimally adequate theory. (shrink)
I offer a new objectivist theory of the contents of color language and color experience, intended especially as an account of what normal intersubjective variation in color perception and classification shows about those contents. First I explain an abstract account of the contents of color and other gradable adjectives; on the account, these contents are certain objective properties constituted in part by contextually intended standards of application, which are in turn values in the dimensions of variation associated with the adjectives. (...) Then I propose an explanation of normal variations in linguistic color classification; these are postulated to be effects of differences in intended standards for the color adjectives appearing in the classifying predicates. Next, I consider a potential objection to this explanation, based on the suggestion that contextual content should be more accessible than the explanation predicts. In reply, I point out that contextual content is occasionally opaque to unsophisticated reflection. Finally, I present a companion account of the contents of color experiences on which these represent an object as lying on certain salient intervals in the chromatic dimensions, and I show how the account accommodates intersubjective variation in color perception. (shrink)
This paper examines from a historical perspective Tarski's 1936 essay, "On the concept of logical consequence." I focus on two main aims. The primary aim is to show how Tarski's definition of logical consequence satisfies two desiderata he himself sets forth for it: (1) it must declare logically correct certain formalizations of the -rule and (2) it must allow for variation of the individual domain in the test for logical consequence. My arguments provide a refutation of some interpreters of Tarski, (...) and notably John Etchemendy, who have claimed that his definition does not satisfy those desiderata. A secondary aim of the paper is to offer some basic elements for an understanding of Tarski's definition in the historical logico-philosophical context in which it was proposed. Such historical understanding provides useful insights on Tarski's informal ideas on logical consequence and their internal cohesion. (shrink)
This paper examines the question of the extensional correctness of Tarskian definitions of logical truth and logical consequence. I identify a few different informal properties which are necessary for a sentence to be an informal logical truth and look at whether they are necessary properties of Tarskian logical truths. I examine arguments by John Etchemendy and Vann McGee to the effect that some of those properties are not necessary properties of some Tarskian logical truths, and find them unconvincing. I stress (...) the point that since the hypothesis that Tarski's definitions are extensionally correct is deeply entrenched, the burden of proof is still on the shoulders of Tarski's critics, who have not lifted the burden. (shrink)
The main aim of this paper is to point out that Davidsonian and Fregean theories of quotation do not accommodate certain facts about disquotation. A second aim is to dispel some errors of interpretation in a common Davidsonian reading of Tarski's claims about quotation. This allows a correct exegesis of Tarski's view, which is then seen not to be affected by the arguments usually adduced against the view wrongly attributed to Tarski. Finally, a Tarskian view is proposed of some problems (...) about quotation not addressed by Tarski. (shrink)
Nat Hansen builds a new argument for subjectivism about the semantics of color language, based on a potential kind of intersubjective disagreements about comparative color statements. In reply, I note that the disagreements of this kind are merely hypothetical, probably few if actual, and not evidently relevant as test cases for a semantic theory. Furthermore, even if they turned out to be actual and semantically relevant, they would be intuitively unusable by the subjectivist.
I argue that recent defenses of the view that in 1936 Tarski required all interpretations of a language to share one same domain of quantification are based on misinterpretations of Tarski’s texts. In particular, I rebut some criticisms of my earlier attack on the fixed-domain exegesis and I offer a more detailed report of the textual evidence on the issue than in my earlier work. I also offer new considerations on subsisting issues of interpretation concerning Tarski’s views on the logical (...) correctness of certain omega-arguments, on the Tarskian proof that Etchemendy took to be modal and fallacious, and on Tarski’s appeals to the “common concept of consequence”. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson’s potentially most important contribution to epistemicism about vagueness lies in his arguments for the basic epistemicist claim that the alleged cut-off points of vague predicates are not knowable. His arguments for this are based on so-called ‘margin for error principles’. This paper argues that these principles fail to provide a good argument for the basic claim. Williamson has offered at least two kinds of margin for error principles applicable to vague predicates. A certain fallacy of equivocation seems to (...) underlie his justification for both kinds of principles. Besides, the margin for error principles of the first kind can be used in the derivation of unacceptable consequences, while the margin for error principles of the second kind can be shown to be compatible with the falsity of epistemicism, under a number of assumptions acceptable to the epistemicist. (shrink)
This paper presents some difficulties for Timothy Williamson's epistemicist view of vagueness and for an argument he gives in its defense. First, I claim that the argument, which uses the notion of an "omniscient speaker", is question-begging. Next, I argue that some presumably true scientific hypotheses, which postulate certain relations between everyday vague predicates and scientific predicates, make the central theses of epistemicism highly implausible. Finally, I show that the "margin for error principles" used by Williamson to explain away the (...) kind of ignorance conjectured by epistemicism lead to new sorites-like arguments with unacceptable conclusions. (shrink)
Logic is formal in the sense that all arguments of the same form as logically valid arguments are also logically valid and hence truth-preserving. However, it is not known whether all arguments that are valid in the usual model-theoretic sense are truthpreserving. Tarski claimed that it could be proved that all arguments that are valid (in the sense of validity he contemplated in his 1936 paper on logical consequence) are truthpreserving. But he did not offer the proof. The question arises (...) whether the usual modeltheoretic sense of validity and Tarski's 1936 sense are the same. I argue in this paper that they probably are not, and that the proof Tarski had in mind, although unusable to prove that model-theoretically valid arguments are truth-preserving, can be used to prove that arguments valid in Tarski's 1936 sense are truth-preserving. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine some passages of Tarski?s paper ?On the concept of logical consequence? and to show that some recent readings of those passages are wrong. John Etchemendy has claimed that in those passages Tarski gave an argument purporting to show that the notion of logical consequence defined by him (as opposed to some pretheoretic notion of logical consequence) possesses certain modal properties. Etchemendy further claims that the argument he attributes to Tarski is fallacious. Some (...) of Etchemendy?s critics have granted him that Tarski did give an argument purporting to show that the defined notion possesses certain modal properties ; but they have claimed that Tarski?s argument was not a fallacious one. I will show that both Etchemendy and his critics are wrong; in the relevant passages, Tarski did not offer (nor did he intend to offer) an argument that the defined notion of logical consequence possesses any modal properties. (shrink)
I defend a semantic theory of quotation marks, according to which these are ambiguous, as they have several different acceptations involving corresponding different conventional indications. In particular, in allusion (“mixed”) uses, the corresponding conventional indication is one with an adverbial or prepositional content, roughly equivalent to “using the quoted expression or an appropriate version of it”. And in “scare” uses, the corresponding conventional indication is that the enclosed expression should be used not plainly but in some broadly speaking distanced way, (...) or that it is being so used by the utterer. I also defend this view against some alternative views on which allusion and distance indications are to be seen as pragmatically conveyed. In particular, I consider several views that attempt to explain especially allusion and distance indications as pragmatic suggestions generated from a meager conventional basis, and I argue that they cannot accommodate a number of linguistic phenomena and reflectively supported theses about the use of quotation marks. I lay special emphasis on the fact that the main pragmatic theories fail to pass an extremely plausible test for challenges to polysemic accounts of an expression. (shrink)
Taking as premises some reasonable principles about the essences of natural numbers, pluralities and sets, the paper offers two types of argument for the conclusions that the natural numbers could not be the Zermelo numbers, the von Neumann numbers, the “Kripke numbers”, or the positions in the ω-structure, among other things. These conclusions are thus Benacerrafian in form, but it is emphasized that the two kinds of argument offered in the paper are anti-Benacerrafian in substance, as they are perfectly compatible (...) and in fact congenial with some views on which the numbers could be things of certain other kinds. (shrink)
Contrary to what often seems to be the implicit belief, Tarski's 1933 version of the theorem on the indefinability of truth did not mention semantic notions, either defined or intuitive. I state this version in a somewhat modernized form and explain briefly the self-imposed mathematico-philosophical constraints that led Tarski to formulate it as he did. I also point out that close attention to its content suggests a refined view of the exact contrast between Tarski's achievement and Gödel's achievement in his (...) earlier discovery of another version of the result. (shrink)
Quotation marks are ambiguous, although the conventional rules that govern their different uses are similar in that they contain quantifications over quotable expressions. Pure uses are governed by a simple rule: by enclosing any expression within quotation marks one gets a singular term, the quotation, that stands for the enclosed expression. Impure uses are far less simple. In a series of uses the quotation marks conventionally indicate that (part of) the enclosed expression is a contextually appropriate version of expressions uttered (...) by some relevant agent. When the quotation marks have this meaning, it is tempting to think of them as contributing that indication to the truth-conditional content of the utterance. I adopt a cautious attitude towards this hypothesis, for the evidence in its favor is inconclusive. In other uses the quotation marks conventionally indicate that the enclosed expression should be used not “plainly” but in some broadly speaking “distanced” way, or that it is being so used by the utterer, and typically context makes clear the exact nature of the “distance” at stake. In these cases the quotation marks do not even appear to contribute that indication to the truth-conditional content of the utterance. (shrink)
The pretheoretical notions of logical consequence and of a logical expression are linked in vague and complex ways to modal and pragmatic intuitions. I offer an introduction to the difficulties that these intuitions create when one attempts to give precise characterizations of those notions. Special attention is given to Tarski’s theories of logical consequence and logical constancy. I note that the Tarskian theory of logical consequence has fared better in the face of the difficulties than the Tarskian theory of logical (...) constancy. Other theories of these notions are explained and criticized. (shrink)
I postulate that the extension of a degree adjective is fixed by implicitly accepted non-analytic reference-fixing principles (“preconceptions”) that combine appeals to paradigmatic cases with generic principles designed to expand the extension of the adjective beyond the paradigmatic range. In regular occasions of use, the paradigm and generic preconceptions are jointly satisfied and determine the existence of an extension/anti-extension pair dividing the adjective’s comparison class into two mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive subclasses. Sorites paradoxical occasions of use are irregular occasions (...) of use in which the paradigm and generic preconceptions are not jointly satisfied. In them, the relevant degree adjective lacks an extension, and utterances of sentences containing it appearing in sorites arguments do not have truth conditions. I also postulate a probable psychology of paradigm intuitions, used in a psychological explanation of the preference for solutions of the sorites paradox on which paradigm preconceptions retain their intuitive truth-values. (shrink)
Tarski implicitly postulated that a certain pre-theoretical concept of logical consequence and his technical concept of logical consequence are co-extensional. This chapter makes explicit a few theses about logical consequence or logical truth that sound Tarskian somehow, including one that most deserves the name ‘Tarski's Thesis’. Some of these theses are probably true or close to true but weaker than Tarski's. Some are false but stronger than Tarski's. Tarski's Thesis plausibly postulated that a sentence of a classical language possibly extended (...) with non-traditional extensional logical constants is logically true, if it is true in all classical interpretations of all its non-logical constants. But it is noted that this thesis turns out to be false on most conceptions of logical truth, for some sentences of a classical language extended with extensional logical constants are true in all classical interpretations of all its non-logical constants, but are not necessary. (shrink)
An exposition of Kripke's unpublished critique of dispositionalism about color, followed by a review of some recent defenses of dispositionalism and a sketch of some objections that could be made to these defenses from a broadly Kripkean perspective.
Referential uses of quantified determiner phrases other than descriptions have not been extensively considered. In this paper they are considered in some detail, and related to referential uses of descriptions. The first aim is to develop the observation that, contrary to the currently received view that it is only for descriptions that referential uses are frequent and standard, arising in run-of-the-mill contextual scenarios, this is in fact the case for all usual kinds of quantifier phrases. A second aim is to (...) offer a preliminary discussion of how these data about quantifier phrases other than descriptions constrain the feasible extensions of theories of descriptions to cover the referential uses of quantifier phrases in general. I argue that the data don’t support a semantic explanation of referential uses of descriptions, and in fact suggest problems for several semantic theories of referential uses of quantifier phrases in general. I also argue that pragmatic theories of referential uses of quantifier phrases in general might plausibly explain standard referential uses as involving a genus of particularized conversational implicatures in which no conversational maxims are “flouted” or even violated, rather than generalized implicatures or particularized implicatures of Grice’s “exploitative” type. I nevertheless emphasize that I don’t take the dispute between semantic and pragmatic theories of referential use to have been satisfactorily resolved. (shrink)
The article proposes a theory on which quotations are unstructured, context-insensitive devices that get their referents fixed by a conventional wholesale reference-fixing rule. First, it criticizes recent theories for postulating eccentric or anomalous facts concerning the contribution of noun phrases to truth conditions, the semantics of demonstratives or general syntax. Second, it notes that the proposed theory is not subject to some familiar objections to classical theories, nor to eccentricity or anomalousness complaints. Third, it shows that recent arguments that quotations (...) must be structured or equivalent with demonstrative phrases, or that they cannot get semantic referents via linguistic conventions, are mistaken. It is noted that semantic unstructuredness, non-demonstrativeness, and conventional wholesale reference-fixing exploiting pre-referential term-referent relations are combined in some naturally occurring classes of terms. (shrink)
Roy Sorensen has argued that a certain technical use of quotation marks to name the empty string supports a revised version of Davidson’s theory of quotation. I point out that Sorensen’s considerations provide no support for Davidson’s original theory, and I show that at best they support the revised Davidsonian theory only to the same extent that they support a simpler revised version of a Tarskian theory.
I offer a brief formal exploration of a certain natural extension of the notion of rigidity to predicates, the notion of an essentialist predicate. I show that, under reasonable assumptions, true "identification sentences" involving essentialist predicates are necessary, and hence that the notion of essentiality is formally analogous in this respect to the notion of singular term rigidity. /// El artículo hace una breve exploración formal de una extensión natural de la noción de rigidez a los predicados, la noción de (...) predicado esencialista. Muestro que, dados supuestos razonables, las "oraciones de identificación" verdaderas que contienen predicados esencialistas son necesarias, y por tanto que la noción de esencialidad es formalmente análoga en este sentido a la noción de rigidez para los términos singulares. (shrink)
I reply to comments and criticism of my book Roads to Reference by Scott Soames (on the referents of ordinary substance terms and the conventions governing reference fixing for demonstratives, proper names, and color adjectives), Panu Raatikainen (on the exact scope of my critique of descriptivism and on the relation between referential indeterminacy and ‘‘partial reference’’), and Michael Devitt (on the role of referential intentions and anti-descriptivism in the metasemantics of demonstratives).
I offer new criticisms of invariantist views of logicality, objecting especially to Gila Sher’s arguments for invariantism’s ability to explain the formality, necessity, apriority and normative force of logic. I argue that the semantic conception of logic can do perfectly well without a model-theoretic notion of logicality, and that the descriptive and explanatory theoretical roles sometimes ascribed to invariantism can be played by a non-model-theoretic account of logicality, specifically by one in which some pragmatic properties of expressions play an important (...) role. I also develop the pragmatic account beyond the mere hints offered in its defense in my earlier work. (shrink)
This is a summary of the contents of my book Roads to Reference, with emphasis on its proposal that the conventions governing reference fixing for demonstratives, proper names, and ordinary natural kind terms adopt the form of lists of roughly sufficient conditions for reference or reference failure; and its defense of anti-eliminativist views of the referents of ordinary natural kind terms, numerals, and terms for sensible qualities traditionally considered as “seconday”.
In the first part of this paper, I express doubts that Tarski and Carnap were guilty of some confusions about the relations between truth and meaning, attributed to them by Soames. In the second part, I consider Quine's Carrollian argument against conventionalism about logical truth, discussed only briefly and approvingly by Soames, and I explore the question whether some not obviously incorrect forms of conventionalism about logical truth, such as what I call "finitary conventionalism", are immune to Quine's argument.
When quotations are used with a purely referential purpose, they are mostly used with the purpose of referring to expressions, in the sense of rather abstract expression types. However, in many cases purely referential quotations are used with the purpose of referring to things other than very abstract expression types, such as boldface types, sounds, particular tokens, etc. The paper deals with the question of what mechanism underlies the possibility of successfully referring to different things and kinds of things with (...) one and the same quotation. I defend the view that a quotation has as its semantic reference a certain very abstract expression type, and that the possibility of referring to other things by means of it is to be explained as a pragmatic phenomenon of felicitously conveyed speaker reference. (shrink)
I offer some brief remarks in reply to comments and criticisms of my earlier work on logical consequence and logical constants. I concentrate on criticisms, especially García-Carpintero’s charge that myviews make no room for modal intuitions about logical consequence, and Sher’s attempted rebuttal of my critique of her theory of logical constants. I show that García-Carpintero’s charge is based on misunderstandings, and that Sher’s attempted rebuttal actually reveals new problems for her theory.
Melisa Vivanco objects to my theory of the Arabic numerals in Roads to Reference that the reference fixing procedure that I postulate doesn’t exploit the morphological structure of the Arabic numerals, but it should. Against Vivanco, I argue that the procedure in question does exploit the morphological structure of the numerals in an essential way.
Axel Barceló has extended the objectivist apparatus for handling color terms that I develop in my book Roads to Reference, so that the extension covers also some aesthetic predicates. In this note I argue that Barceló’s extension probably attempts to go too far.
I identify one neglected source of support for a Kripkean reading of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations: the analogy between rules and epistemic grounds and the existence of a Kripkean anti-privacy argument about epistemic grounds in On Certainty. This latter argument supports Kripke’s claims that the basic anti-privacy argument in the Investigations (a) poses a question about the distinguishability of certain first-person attributions with identical assertability conditions, (b) concludes that distinguishability is provided by third-person evaluability, and (c) is a general argument, not (...) one about a specific kind of alleged rules. (shrink)
Luis Fernández Moreno has given a number of arguments that descriptive knowledge or stipulations have a greater role in the fixing of the reference of natural kind terms than I allow in my book Roads to Reference. In this note I criticize Fernández Moreno’s arguments.
Filipe Martone argues that reference-fixing intentions where the intended object is represented by means of a description can never fix the reference of a demonstrative, and that a speaker, as a matter of empirical fact, never has simultaneous perceptual and non-perceptual reference-fixing intentions that she can intend as fixing the reference of a demonstrative. In this note I reject Martone’s arguments for these claims.
Eleonora Orlando argues that one must understand some descriptivist theories of names that I criticize in my book Roads to Reference as ceteris paribus generalizations, and that on this understanding they survive my criticisms; she also introduces some doubts about my views on the knowledge speakers have of the reference-fixing conventions I postulate for proper names. In this note I argue against Orlando’s suggestion about ceteris paribus provisos and explain my view of the epistemology of reference-fixing conventions.
In earlier work I claimed that when Tarski wrote his seminal 1936 paper on logical consequence, he had in mind a now nonstandard convention, that he also used in his 1937 logic manual, requiring the domain of quantification of the different interpretations of a first-order mathematical language to covary with changes in the interpretation of a non-logical “domain predicate”. Recently Paolo Mancosu has rejected this claim, holding that it can be established on the basis of a passage from Tarski’s manual (...) that he did not employ that convention. I show that Mancosu misinterprets the passage in question and that detailed examination of the surrounding text actually confirms my earlier claim. (shrink)
Matheus Valente presents a number of examples designed to show that my theory of reference fixing for demonstratives violates the desideratum that demonstrative thoughts should be transparent to speakers. In this note I argue that the alleged desideratum is not really such and defend my theory against other criticisms made by Valente.
According to Ricardo Mena, a demonstrative refers to all the objects that the utterer has an intention for it to refer to, which may be more than one in cases where her referential intentions conflict. In this note I argue that Mena’s proposal has several serious problems.
Thainá Demartini has criticized my view that ordinary natural kind terms refer to vague non-scientific kinds and defended the more traditional view that they refer to precise kinds discovered by science. In this note I reject Demartini’s worries as based on inadequate ontological scruples.
I discuss Andrea Iacona’s idea that logical form mirrors truth conditions, and that logical form, and thus truth conditions, are in turn represented by means of adequate formalization. I criticize this idea, noting that the notion of adequate formalization is highly indefinite, while the pre-theoretic idea of logical form is often much more definite. I also criticize Iacona’s claim that certain distinct sentences, with the same truth conditions and differing only by co-referential names, must be formalized by the same formula. (...) I criticize this claim, noting that it imposes implausible demands on adequate formalization. Finally, I offer some brief remarks on the connection between Iacona’s ideas and the distinction between logical and non-logical constants. (shrink)
In his “What Might Nonconceptual Content Be?”, Robert Stalnaker finds no good argument for the claim that certain intuitive differences between perception and belief must be explained by a distinction between the kinds of content of perception states (which would have nonconceptual content) and belief states (which would have conceptual content). I object to Stalnaker that he does not examine arguments for this claim actually produced by its defenders. But I reach a conclusion of the same kind as Stalnaker’s after (...) examining arguments for the claim found in the work of Tim Crane and Christopher Peacocke. (shrink)
My proposed mechanism of reference fixing for ordinary natural kind terms in the book Roads to Reference appeals to the ordinary notion of substance. In this note I reply to an objection by Martín Abreu Zavaleta that that notion is too vague to allow for a sufficiently constrained property to become the referent of a given ordinary substance term. I argue that the notion of substance is far less vague than Abreu Zavaleta claims.