This book introduces the most important problems of reference and considers the solutions that have been proposed to explain them. Reference is at the centre of debate among linguists and philosophers and, as Barbara Abbott shows, this has been the case for centuries. She begins by examining the basic issue of how far reference is a two place (words-world) or a three place (speakers-words-world) relation. She then discusses the main aspects of the field and the issues associated with them, (...) including those concerning proper names; direct reference and individual concepts; the difference between referential and quantificational descriptions; pronouns and indexicality; concepts like definiteness and strength; and noun phrases in discourse. Professor Abbott writes with exceptional verve and wit. She presupposes no technical knowledge or background and presents issues and analyses from first principles, illustrating them at every stage with well-chosen examples. Her book is addressed in the first place to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in linguistics and philosophy of language, but it will also appeal to students and practitioners in computational linguistics, cognitive psychology, and anthropology. All will welcome the clarity this guide brings to a subject that continues to challenge the leading thinkers of the age. (shrink)
Abbott replies to each of Hauser's arguments. Problem solving by chimpanzees and evidence of recursion in the thought of a feral human being suggest that natural language is not necessary for productive thought. Communication would be trivial if the inner language were the outer language, but it is not. The decryption analogy Hauser uses is flawed, and it is not clear which way Occam's razor cuts.
Lyman Abbott was an American liberal theologian and a confidant of Theodore Roosevelt. He was a moderate man who sought to re-establish Christian faith among the American people in a period of change. This book, first published in 1893, argued that spiritual experience is always new and therefore every age requires a new expression for it. A believer in the possibility of harmonious coexistence between the Church and evolutionary theory, Abbott proposed a 'more intelligible and credible' religion that (...) endeavoured to sustain faith by expressing it in contemporary terms. He maintained that science and faith were compatible and that both natural and spiritual elements belonged to a shared kingdom governed by the law of progress. Blending faith in historical Christianity with belief in progress and evolutionary theory, Abbott aimed to provide a bridge between religious life and late nineteenth-century philosophical thought. (shrink)
A defense of the modern family, in historical perspective, this book reconstructs political theory with the family in an important and honorable place. By reviewing critically both traditional and contemporary thought on the most special relationships—as well as current public policy issues relating to them—the author addresses concerns shared by professional and lay constituencies. Noting Tocqueville's observation of the American obsession with reevaluating and remodeling the family, Professor Abbott pleads for a balanced view. The development of liberal ambivalence toward (...) the family, along with radical hostility toward it, is clearly traced. For the most part the family was safely incorporated into political theory from Aristotle to Cicero and onward to Augustine and Aquinas until modern times. Then came the challenges of the rational individualists and the romantic individualists, followed by the attacks of social and psychological radicals. Some traditional criticisms of the family are shown to be soundly based, albeit less devastating than the critics supposed. As expanded in contemporary life, however, the great critics' revisionist models take on a fantastic quality. Here we are introduced to pleas for the "eroticization of children" and for freedom from "tyranny of reproductive biology." Proposals for new bureaucratic support structures appear with great frequency: professional guardians, children's camps, cloning hospitals. And people try to act out the roles prescribed for them by theorists who attempted "to set the solitary in new and different units." Liberals and radicals, the author argues, are infatuated with a "rights model," which "takes as its basis self-sufficient rational human beings"—at the expense of "solidarity among human beings." A tradition exists, Professor Abbott holds, that facilitates reconciliation between the modern family and the political order: pluralism. Pluralism is an attempt to balance individual autonomy and mutuality, decentralization and stratification, reform and tradition, reason and sentiment. Public policy in respect to schools, housing, health care, working conditions, and recreation should be designed to foster a pluralistic family-centered society. In line with this thesis the author offers a fresh perspective on such burning issues as abortion, sexual preference, alternative lifestyles, child abuse, and children's rights. _The Family on Trial _therefore is relevant to the concerns of social and behavioral scientists, the helping professions and the clergy, teachers and parents. (shrink)
Most cognitive psychology experiments evaluate models of human cognition using a relatively small, well-controlled set of stimuli. This approach stands in contrast to current work in neuroscience, perception, and computer vision, which have begun to focus on using large databases of natural images. We argue that natural images provide a powerful tool for characterizing the statistical environment in which people operate, for better evaluating psychological theories, and for bringing the insights of cognitive science closer to real applications. We discuss how (...) some of the challenges of using natural images as stimuli in experiments can be addressed through increased sample sizes, using representations from computer vision, and developing new experimental methods. Finally, we illustrate these points by summarizing recent work using large image databases to explore questions about human cognition in four different domains: modeling subjective randomness, defining a quantitative measure of representativeness, identifying prior knowledge used in word learning, and determining the structure of natural categories. (shrink)
This paper argues that the dominance of linear models has led many sociologists to construe the social world in terms of a "general linear reality." This reality assumes (1) that the social world consists of fixed entities with variable attributes, (2) that cause cannot flow from "small" to "large" attributes/events, (3) that causal attributes have only one causal pattern at once, (4) that the sequence of events does not influence their outcome, (5) that the "careers" of entities are largely independent, (...) and (6) that causal attributes are generally independent of each other. The paper discusses examples of these assumptions in empirical work, consider standard and new methods addressing them, and briefly explores alternative models for reality that employ demographic, sequential, and network perspectives. (shrink)
In this article I develop Heidegger's phenomenology of poetry, showing that it may provide grounds for rejecting claims that he lapses into linguistic idealism. Proceeding via an analysis of the three concepts of language operative in the philosopher's work, I demonstrate how poetic language challenges language's designative and world-disclosive functions. The experience with poetic language, which disrupts Dasein's absorption by emerging out of equipmentality in the mode of the broken tool, brings Dasein to wonder at the world's existence in such (...) a way that doubt about its reality cannot enter the picture. (shrink)
In this article I generalize ecological theory by developing the notion of separate but linked ecologies. I characterize an ecology by its set of actors, its set of locations, and the relation it involves between these. I then develop two central concepts for the linkage of ecologies: hinges and avatars. The first are issues or strategies that "work" in both ecologies at once. The second are attempts to institutionalize in one ecology a copy or colony of an actor in another. (...) The article investigates the first of these concepts using two detailed examples of hinge analysis between the professional and political ecologies. Both concern medical licensing, the first in 19th-century New York and the second in 19th-century England. For the avatar concept, the article analyzes four less detailed cases linking the professional and university ecologies: computer science, criminal justice, clinical psychology, and applied economics. (shrink)
This paper presents problems for Stalnaker’s common ground theory of presupposition. Stalnaker (Linguist and Philos 25:701–721, 2002) proposes a 2-stage process of utterance interpretation: presupposed content is added to the common ground prior to acceptance/rejection of the utterance as a whole. But this revision makes presupposition difficult to distinguish from assertion. A more fundamental problem is that the common ground theory rests on a faulty theory of assertion—that the essence of assertion is to present the content of an utterance as (...) new information. Many examples are presented of utterances which are felicitous but not informative in this way. (shrink)
Partee (1973) discussed quotation from the perspective of the then relatively new theory of transformational grammar.2 As she pointed out, the phenomenon presents many curious puzzles. In some ways quotes seem quite separate from their surrounding text; they may be in a different dialect, as in her example in (1), (1) ‘I talk better English than the both of youse!’ shouted Charles, thereby convincing me that he didn’t. [Partee (1973):ex. 20] or even in a different language, as in (2): (2) (...) Louise said ‘Je voudrais un auto-da-f´e’, but I didn’t know what she meant. (shrink)
The prototypes of definiteness and indefiniteness in English are the definite article the and the indefinite article a/an, and singular noun phrases (NPs)1 determined by them. That being the case it is not to be predicted that the concepts, whatever their content, will extend satisfactorily to other determiners or NP types. However it has become standard to extend these notions. Of the two categories definites have received rather more attention, and more than one researcher has characterized the category of definite (...) NPs by enumerating NP types. Westerståhl (1985), who is concerned only with determiners in the paper cited, gives a very short list: demonstrative NPs, possessive NPs, and definite descriptions. Prince (1992) lists proper names and personal pronouns, as well as NPs with the, a demonstrative, or a possessive NP as determiner. She notes, in addition, that “certain quantifiers (e.g. all, every) have been argued to be definite” (Prince 1992: 299). This list, with the quantifiers added, agrees with that given by Birner & Ward (1998, 114). Ariel (1988, 1990) adds null anaphoric NPs. (shrink)
We will look at several theories of indicative conditionals grouped into three categories: those that base its semantics on its logical counterpart (the material conditional); intensional analyses, which bring in alternative possible worlds; and a third subgroup which denies that indicative conditionals express propositions at all. We will also look at some problems for each kind of approach.
Some presuppositions seem to be weaker than others in the sense that they can be more easily neutralized in some contexts. For example some factive verbs, most notably epistemic factives like know, be aware, and discover, are known to shed their factivity fairly easily in contexts such as are found in (1). (1) a. …if anyone discovers that the method is also wombat-proof, I’d really like to know! b. Mrs. London is not aware that there have ever been signs erected (...) to stop use of the route… c. Perhaps God knows that we will never reach the stars…. (The examples in (1) are all naturally occurring ones, discovered by David Beaver with the aid of Google; cf. Beaver 2002, exx. 32, 43, and 51, respectively.) On the other hand some other factives, e.g. regret, matter, and be surprised, do not exhibit the same type of behavior: (2) a. If any of the students regrets behaving badly, they’ll let us know. b. It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzees escaped. c. Was Bill surprised that spinach was included? Unlike the examples in (1), those in (2) could not be used appropriately in contexts where the speaker was not assuming that the complement clause was true. Our main concern will be trying to find the cause of this difference. However, before we get to that, we will look more closely at the concept “presupposition” itself, as well as its close neighbor in the linguistic literature, “conventional implicature” (section 2), and also at various ways of getting rid of presuppositions (section 3). In section 4 we will investigate two possible explanations for differences in presupposition triggering – the “lexical alternative” approach of Abusch (2002, 2005), and a suggestion of Ladusaw’s involving detachability of presuppositions. The final section contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
Grice introduced generalized conversational implicatures with the following example: "Anyone who uses a sentence of the formX is meeting tz woman this evening would normally implicate that the person to be met was someone other than X’s wife, mother, sister, or perhaps even close platonic friend" (1975 : 37). Concerning this example, he suggested the following account: When someone, by using the form of expression an JQ implicates that the X does not belong to or is not otherwise closely connected (...) with some identifiable person, the implicature is present because the speaker has failed to be specific in a way in which he might have been expected to be specific. (Grice 1975: 38.) Grice went on to sketch an explanation as to why such an implicature should arise, involving the different ways in which we behave towards things that are closely related to.. (shrink)
(2013). Not Your Typical Frequent Flyer: Overcoming Mythology in Caring for Sickle Cell Disease Patients. The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 18-20. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2013.767963.
Within the relevant semantics and pragmatics literature the terms “presupposition” and “conventional implicature” are used in a variety of different, but frequently overlapping, ways. The overlaps are perhaps not surprising, given that the two categories of conveyed meaning share the property of remaining constant in the scope of other operators—the property usefully characterize as projectivity. One of my purposes in this paper will be to try to clarify these different usages. In addition to that we will explore two additional properties (...) which are shared by some of these projective contents—strong contextual felicity , and neutralizability . The idea is to try to explain all three properties by taking into account information packaging. (shrink)
New brain-computer interface and neuroimaging techniques are making differentiation less ambiguous and more accurate between unresponsive wakefulness syndrome patients and patients with higher cognitive function and awareness. As research into these areas continues to progress, new ethical issues will face physicians of patients suffering from total locked-in syndrome, characterized by complete loss of voluntary muscle control, with retention of cognitive function and awareness detectable only with neuroimaging and brain-computer interfaces. Physicians, researchers, ethicists and hospital ethics committees should be aware of (...) and prepared to handle ethical issues unique to these totally locked-in patients. Several thought experiments are discussed, to highlight potential ethical dilemmas surrounding surrogate decision-making, autonomy, end-of-life care, and pediatric care, which will be unique to total LIS patients. These, along with other ethical problems especially relevant to total LIS patients, merit further discussion among physicians, researchers, ethicists and hospital ethics committees, to facilitate consensus regarding these issues, and improve patient care. (shrink)
Like Spanish moss on a live oak tree, the scientific study of meaning in language has expanded in the last 100 years, and continues to expand steadily. In this essay I want to chart some central themes in that expansion, including their histories and their important figures. Our attention will be directed toward what is called 'formal semantics', which is the adaptation to natural language of analytical techniques from logic. The first, background, section of the paper will survey the changing (...) attitudes of linguists toward semantics into the last third of the century. The second and third sections will examine current formal approaches to meaning. In the final section I will summarize some of the common assumptions of the approaches examined in the middle sections of the paper, sketch a few alternatives, and make some daring predictions. (shrink)
In this article I develop a theory of political ontology, working to differentiate it from traditional political philosophy and Schmittian political theology. As with political theology, political ontology has its primary grounding not in disinterested contemplation from the standpoint of pure reason, but rather in a confrontation with an existential problem. Yet while for Schmitt this is the problem of how to live and think in obedience to God, the problem for political ontology is the question of being. Thus the (...) political ontologist agrees with the political theologian that the political cannot be thought without an awareness of an irreducible exigency – the fact that one thinks as situated in response to a certain moral or ethical demand – but it takes this demand to consist not in divine revelation, but rather in the fact that the human being is a being for which being is at issue. With this definition in mind I go on to read Giorgio Agamben in resolutely ontological terms, arguing that his concepts of bare life and the exception are largely unintelligible if understood ontically. Instead, these concepts are part of a critique that has as its primary target not the ontic political systems and material institutions of modern states but rather the (negative) metaphysical ground of those systems. Political ontology insists on the intertwining of ontology and politics, claiming that theirs is a relation of mutual determination. (shrink)
Last year (2005) marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Russell’s classic ‘On denoting’. It should not cast any shadow on that great work to note that the problems it provided solutions to are still the subject of controversy. Two of those problems involved noun phrases (NPs) which fail to denote. Russell’s examples (1a) and (1b) (1) a. The king of France is bald. b. The king of France is not bald. are puzzling because they have the form of (...) simple contradictories, and yet we are not inclined to say either one is true. Example (2) (2) Pegasus does not exist. is even more problematic; the lack of denotation for Pegasus, which makes the sentence true, also seems to rob it of a meaningful constituent. Once the king of France is unpacked according to Russell’s analysis, (1b) is revealed to be ambiguous. It’s logical forms are given in (3). (3) a. ∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ ¬Bx] b. ¬∃x[Kx ∧ ∀y[Ky ↔ y=x] ∧ Bx] (3a) says that there is a unique (French) king who is not bald (obviously false), but (3b), the logical contradictory of (1a) says that it is not the case that there is a unique king who is bald (which is true). We can apply the analysis to sentence (2) once we recognize Pegasus as a concealed definite description, e.g. the winged horse of Greek mythology. (2) can then be unpacked as (4) (4) ¬∃x[Wx ∧ ∀y[Wy ↔ y=x]] which seems both meaningful and true, as required. Problems solved. Well, not quite. Strawson (1950) challenged the first solution above, arguing that neither (1a) nor (1b) could be used to assert the existence of a king of France. Rather, use of such sentences presupposes the existence of a king of France, and failing that existence, neither of (1a) or (1b) could be used to make either a true or a false statement – in Strawson’s words, “the question of whether it’s true or false simply doesn’t arise” (Strawson 1950, 330).1 In an extended series of essays, and one book, Jay Atlas (1977, 1978, 1979, 1989, 2004) has taken issue with the work of both Russell and Strawson.. (shrink)