In this paper I address anew the problem of determinacy in translation by examining the Western philosophical and translation theoretic traditions of the last century. Translation theory and the philosophy of language have largely gone their separate ways . Yet translation theory and the philosophy of language predominantly share a common assumption that stands in the way of determinate translation. It is that languages, not texts, are the objects of translation and the subjects of semantics. The way to overcome (...) the theoretical problems surrounding the possibility and determinacy of translation is to marry the philosopher of language’s concern for determinacy and semantic accuracy in translation with the notion of a “text-type” from the translation theory literature. The resulting theory capable of explaining determinacy in translation is what I call the text-type conception of semantics . It is a novel alternative to the salient positions of Contextualism and Semantic Minimalism in the contemporary philosophy of language. (shrink)
According to Arne Naess, his environmental philosophy is influenced by the philosophy of language called empirical semantics, which he first developed in the 1930s as a participant in the seminars of the Vienna Circle. While no one denies his claim, most of his commentators defend views about his environmental philosophy that contradict the tenets of his semantics. In particular, they argue that he holds that deep ecology’s supporters share a world view, and that the movement’s platform articulates shared (...) principles. Naess, however, rejects this conception of deep ecology, and, moreover, he is compelled to do so because of his long-standing views on semantics. Naess’s semantics thus poses a particularly difficult problem for the first group of theorists who endorsed Naess. (shrink)
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason contains an original and powerful semantics of singular cognitive reference which has important implications for epistemology and for philosophy of science. Here I argue that Kant’s semantics directly and strongly supports Newton’s Rule 4 of Philosophy in ways which support Newton’s realism about gravitational force. I begin with Newton’s Rule 4 of Philosophy and its role in Newton’s justification of realism about gravitational force (§2). Next I briefly summarize Kant’s semantics of singular (...) cognitive reference (§3), and then show that it is embedded in and strongly supports Newton’s Rule 4, and that it rules out not only Cartesian physics (per Harper) but also Cartesian, infallibilist presumptions about empirical justification generally (§4). This result exposes a key fallacy in Bas van Fraassen’s original argument for his anti-realist Constructive Empiricism (§5). (shrink)
_Insensitive Semantics_ is an overview of and contribution to the debates about how to accommodate context sensitivity within a theory of human communication, investigating the effects of context on communicative interaction and, as a corollary, what a context of utterance is and what it is to be in one. Provides detailed and wide-ranging overviews of the central positions and arguments surrounding contextualism Addresses broad and varied aspects of the distinction between the semantic and non-semantic content of language Defends a distinctive (...) and explanatorily powerful combination of semantic minimalism and speech act pluralism Confronts core problems which not only run to the heart of philosophy of language and linguistics, but which arise in epistemology, metaphysics, and moral philosophy as well. (shrink)
The boundary between semantics and pragmatics has been important since the early twentieth century, but in the last twenty-five years it has become the central issue in the philosophy of language. This anthology collects classic philosophical papers on the topic, along with recent key contributions. It stresses not only the nature of the boundary, but also its importance for philosophy generally.
The Interplay of Logic, Set Theory and Semantics in Quine's Philosophy L. Decock. In philosophy of science Quine's name is linked to the so-called Quine- Duhem thesis. The discussion of this thesis still continues even after several decades.9 ...
In the recent literature of the philosophy of science, much space has been given to the problem of analyzing theories of the deductive and natural sciences in a way which makes explicit some of the syntactic and semantic features which seem to be implicitly present in their structures. This pa- per is concerned with the same problem; however, some other problems of syntax and semantics are touched upon along the way. After some prelim- inaries, a very general method of (...) constructing symbolic languages is intro- duced. The resulting languages are interpreted in either empty or non- empty sets and so in a way which permits them to contain terms which stand for nothing at all and an existence predicate which is not applicable to all terms. Also, certain variable binders are interpreted in a way which leaves open the possibility of interpreting them modally and a semantic operation of degree of truth for arbitrary formulas is introduced. An axiomless logic commensurate with a semantics of this kind and so one which contains a new treatment of definite descriptions is then constructed and shown to be both sound and semantically complete. Finally, theories and various concepts pertaining to theories are defined on the basis of this syntax and semantics. Among the concepts are operations which assign degrees of confirmation, explanatory powers, degrees of deductive simplic- ity, and degrees of adequacy to theories, relations and concreteness and abstractness for expressions, a relation of significance for theories, and operations which assign denotations and meanings to expressions. (shrink)
This paper argues for the philosophical and semantic importance of attitudinal objects, entities such as judgments, claims, beliefs, demands, and desires, as an ontological category distinct from that of events and states and from that of propositions. The paper presents significant revisions and refinements of the notion of an attitudinal object as it was developed in my previous work.
The debate between critics of syntactic and semantic approaches to the formalization of scientific theories has been going on for over 50 years. I structure the debate in light of a recent exchange between Hans Halvorson, Clark Glymour, and Bas van Fraassen and argue that the only remaining disagreement concerns the alleged difference in the dependence of syntactic and semantic approaches on languages of predicate logic. This difference turns out to be illusory.
In this paper, I examine the concept of truth in classical Chinese philosophy, beginning with a critical examination of Chad Hansen’s claim that it has no such concept. By using certain passages that emphasize analogous concepts in the philosophy of language of the Later Mohist Canons, I argue that while there is no word in classical Chinese that functions as truth generally does in Western philosophy for grammatical reasons, the Later Mohists were certainly working with a notion of semantic adequacy (...) in which a language-to-world relationship is made an object of investigation, challenging Hansen’s position that classical Chinese functions within a primarily pragmatic linguistic framework in which a language-to-user relationship determines the meaning of words. (shrink)
This volume brings together new work on the logic and ontology of plurality and a range of recent articles exploring novel applications to natural language semantics. The contributions in this volume in particular investigate and extend new perspectives presented by plural logic and non-standard mereology and explore their applications to a range of natural language phenomena. Contributions by P. Aquaviva, A. Arapinis, M. Carrara, P. McKay, F. Moltmann, O. Linnebo, A. Oliver and T. Smiley, T. Scaltsas, P. Simons, and (...) B.-Y. Yi . (shrink)
The paper presents a formal explication of the early Wittgenstein's views on ontology, the syntax and semantics of an ideal logical language, and the propositional attitudes. It will be shown that Wittgenstein gave a language of thought analysis of propositional attitude ascriptions, and that his ontological views imply that such ascriptions are truth-functions of (and supervenient upon) elementary sentences. Finally, an axiomatization of a quantified doxastic modal logic corresponding to Tractarian semantics will be given.
`Realism', `conceptualism' and `nominalism' are terms that one is most likely to come across in history of philosophy textbooks, presented as ones labeling three major ontological alternatives provided by mediaeval philosophy. The general inadequacy of these labels is perhaps best shown by the desperate efforts to provide further, modified labels , the well-known `moderate' and `extreme' or `exaggerated' versions of the above, in hopes of implying at least a lesser amount of falsehood in hanging..
The paper presents a formal explication of the early Wittgenstein's views on ontology, the syntax and semantics of an ideal logical language, and the propositional attitudes. It will be shown that Wittgenstein gave a "language of thought" analysis of propositional attitude ascriptions, and that his ontological views imply that such ascriptions are truth-functions of (and supervenient upon) elementary sentences. Finally, an axiomatization of a quantified doxastic modal logic corresponding to Tractarian semantics will be given.
This collection, with an agreeable proportion of new material and a sensible selection of old, is worth the money and ought to be on the shelf of anyone interested in recent work on language by philosophers, psychologists, and linguists. The section by linguists proper is the longer and more up to date but this seems quite in order: today neither work in philosophy nor psychology can provide a plausible center-of-attention that will take in the other and linguistics as flanking material. (...) For better and worse linguistics is the centerpiece: and the debate between "interpretive" and "generative" semanticists, here respectively represented by Chomsky and George Lakoff, is the center, most likely, of the centerpiece. The generative semanticists suggest that the base and semantic components ultimately come to the same: the distinction between syntactic rules and semantic rules is presumed as in the Chomskian position but it is thought that the algorithm of wellformedness will turn out to provide all the rules needed for semantic interpretation. The interpretive semantic alternative, here argued by Chomsky in a paper otherwise difficult to obtain except in mimeo, distinguishes semantic from base component by insisting, particularly in matters respecting reference and quantification, that transformations are not meaning-invariant, and that, hence, the semantic component is fed by both the base and surface structures independently. To put the interpretive view in terms of Tarski-cum-Davidsonian biconditionals, we would no longer have on the left side of the biconditional one ’structural-descriptive’ string but rather two separate strings, one surface and the other deep, that would jointly and independently determine meaning. The generative semanticists, following James McCawley, stress that their argument against autonomous deep syntax follows in form Morris Halle’s well-known argument against a phonemic level of description supposed intermediate between superficial surface syntax and systematic phonetics. The basic question one raises against this argument is whether logico-semantic form constitutes itself for linguistic science as one level of description and as an essentially linguistic level of description. One can see an obvious place for philosophers in these arguments, though one finds in this volume very little suggestion of philosophical-semantic work, in the Frege-Carnap tradition, that Donald Davidson, Richard Montague, John Wallace, etc., have been carrying on lately. There is a previously unpublished paper by David Wiggins in this vein, but though Wiggins is his usual brilliant and playfully convoluted self, this is too idiosyncratic and occasional a piece to represent what is by way of a movement. Indeed, aside from the Wiggins-Alston material, the philosopher’s section is solid but familiar material: H. P. Grice’s famous paper on meaning and Paul Ziff’s criticism of Grice’s theory; Gilbert Harman’s "Three Levels of Meaning"; late-1960s papers by Donnellan, Linsky, Quine, Strawson, Vendler, and Searle on reference. But this aside this volume vividly makes the point that philosophy and linguistics have never been more entangled with each other in a genuine working relationship. Chomsky’s arguments come in part from recent philosopher’s work. There is evident concern by linguists with presuppositions and performatives. "Fact," an important and not easily available paper by Paul and Carol Kilparski, sparks the philosophic imagination—as do new pieces on lexical entries, semantic features, and categories by Charles Fillmore, Manfried Bierwisch, and others. Almost enough to justify J. L. Austin’s hopes for a joint endeavor of linguists, philosophers, and psychologists: one sees in the footnotes and bibliographies, in the issue and vocabulary, that disciplines are joining and reflecting upon each other in day-to-day work. The psychology section also contains one large new piece: a splendidly energetic defense of linguistic behaviorism by Charles Osgood. One finds balance for this in Jerry Fodor’s "Could meaning be an rm?" And some good, current, and often not easily available material by George Miller, Eric Lennberg, and others. The "overviews" for the various sections are quite distinguished themselves: but this is only in keeping with general character of this reader.—J. L. (shrink)