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.
Jonardon Ganeri gives an account of language as essentially a means for the reception of knowledge. The semantic power of a word and its ability to stand for a thing derives from the capacity of understanders to acquire knowledge simply by understanding what is said. Ganeri finds this account in the work of certain Indian philosophers of language, and shows how their analysis can inform and be informed by contemporary philosophical theory.
The work explains a unifying pluralist account of truth that combines representative truth-concern approaches in Chinese philosophy to posit one foundation of the various movements of thought in Chinese philosophy that pursue “how things are.” Mou contributes a unique, Eastern view to contemporary exploration of the philosophical issue of truth.
This book is about meaning - not the meaning of certain concepts such as the meaning of life or the meaning of freedom but about what it means for linguistic expressions to mean something. It is also a book about meaning for humans. The qualification 'human meaning' is not yet common in linguistics book titles but it is increasingly important to add it. We are already experiencing fundamental differences in how, and what kind of, meaning is approached in computational linguistics (...) and computer science in general on the one hand, and in philosophy of language or sociopragmatics on the other. (shrink)
This paper presents a uniform semantic treatment of nonmonotonic inference operations that allow for inferences from infinite sets of premises. The semantics is formulated in terms of selection functions and is a generalization of the preferential semantics of Shoham (1987), (1988), Kraus, Lehman, and Magidor (1990) and Makinson (1989), (1993). A selection function picks out from a given set of possible states (worlds, situations, models) a subset consisting of those states that are, in some sense, the most preferred (...) ones. A proposition α is a nonmonotonic consequence of a set of propositions Γ iff α holds in all the most preferred Γ-states. In the literature on revealed preference theory, there are a number of well-known theorems concerning the representability of selection functions, satisfying certain properties, in terms of underlying preference relations. Such theorems are utilized here to give corresponding representation theorems for nonmonotonic inference operations. At the end of the paper, the connection between nonmonotonic inference and belief revision, in the sense of Alchourrón, Gärdenfors, and Makinson, is explored. In this connection, infinitary belief revision operations that allow for the revision of a theory with a possibly infinite set of propositions are introduced and characterized axiomatically. (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)
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)
This review considers Semantic Syntax and Slavic Transformational Syntax particularly in the light of their contributions to the theory of grammar. Semantic Syntax is shown to have a polemical bias against the Aspects model and toward generative semantics. Its editor's position in the constellation of semantic logicians is defined; pro-Chomskian objections to the logical-cognitive semantic theory are advanced. Slavic Transformational Syntax is comprised of essays with a wide range of theoretical stances; the insights of the radical case grammar of (...) James Miller are compared with those of Semantic Syntax. Remarks on deixis by Richard Brecht are discussed in relationship to semantic-logic approaches. Certain similarities of Jakobsonian functionalism and generative semantics are discussed. (shrink)
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)
In this paper I argue, contrary to Chad Hansen’s view , that pre-Han 漢 Chinese philosophy has the semantic concept of truth. Hansen argues that, first, pre-Han Chinese thinkers do not have motivations to introduce the concept of truth in their philosophy due to their peculiar theory of language; second, the concept does not fit well with philosophical texts at that time, and in particular, the Mozi 墨子 text about the three standards of doctrine. However, I argue that (...) Chinese thinkers indeed have reasons to introduce the concept of truth. Hansen’s reading of the three standards of doctrine takes the standards as standards of correct word use, thus attributing to the authors of the Mozi an understanding of yan 言 as something without complete propositional content. However, I argue, a reading that sees the three standards as standards for something with complete propositional content explains better the passages in which the authors apply the standards to various issues. Finally I argue that the term ran 然 is sometimes used as a truth predicate in classical Chinese texts, because it has several important features identical to that of the truth predicate “is true” in English. (shrink)
Many philosophers of psychology fail to appreciate the constructivist process of science as well as its pragmatic aspects. A well-developed philosophy of science helps to clear many conceptual confusions. However, ridding ourselves of popular complaints only opens more sophisticated worries regarding how we generalize specific events and how we use those generalizations to build physical systems and abstract models. These questions can still be answered though by realizing that science is largely a social enterprise, and how and what we (...) explain depends a great deal upon who is asking the question of whom and when. (shrink)
In this article I offer a naturalistic defence of semantic externalism. I argue against the following: (1) arguments for externalism rest mainly on conceptual analysis; (2) the community conceptual norms relevant to individuation of propositional attitudes are quasi-analytic; (3) externalism raises serious questions about knowledge of propositional attitudes; and (4) externalism might be OK for “folk psychology” but not for cognitive science. The naturalist alternatives are as follows. (1) Community norms are not anything like a priori; sometimes they are incoherent. (...) (2) Often propositional attitudes lack determinate content: we do not know the content of thoughts or sentences because there is no fully definite content to be known. (3) Often achieving determinate content is a major socially mediated cognitive achievement that depends on just the factors of social and environmental embedding posited as individuative by externalists, so (4) externalism explains how people can, sometimes, come to have, and to know, determinate attitude contents. (5) Reference and content, for both thought and language, are determined by complex and messy dialectical relations involving many such environmental and social factors; consequently, determinate reference, truth-conditions, etc., are somewhat uncommon outcomes. (6) The basic semantic relation is (typically imperfect) socially mediated accommodation between perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, classificatory and inferential dispositions and relevant causal structures in the environment. (7) This accommodation explains how concepts, language, taxonomies, etc., contribute to individuals' rational inductive, explanatory and practical achievements. (8) So externally individuated propositional attitudes are required for cognitive science explanations of individual human rationality and its inductive and explanatory achievements. “Individual rationality ain't (entirely) in the individual head.”. (shrink)
This book discusses fundamental topics on contemporary Ockhamism. The collected essays show how contemporary Ockhamism can impact areas of research such as semantics, metaphysics and also the philosophy of science. In addition, the volume hosts one historian of Medieval philosophy who investigates the way in which William of Ockham “in flesh and bone” construed time and, more generally, future contingency. The essays explore the different meanings of this theory. They cover three main topics, in particular. The first (...) examines the thesis that sentences and propositions about the future have a definite truth value, without any ensuing commitment to determinism or fatalism. The second topic looks at the problem whether the branching-time model needs to countenance a privileged branch (the so-called Thin Red Line). Finally, the third topic considers the idea that there are so-called soft facts. These would be the subject matter of sentences and propositions verbally about the present or the past, but metaphysically about a later time, and which might change in the future. Overall, the book provides an updated and rigorous idea of the debate about Ockhamism. It gives readers a deeper understanding into this philosophical approach influenced by William of Ockham, characterized by the rejection of the Aristotelian idea that, in order to preserve the contingency of the future, future contingents must be deemed neither true nor false. (shrink)
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s _Semantic Relationism_ is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new _Blackwell/Brown (...) Lectures in Philosophy_ series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
The author defends a conception of language as essentially a means for the reception of knowledge through testimony. He finds this account in the work of classical Indian philosophers of language, and presents a detailed analysis of their theories.
Semantic externalism is the view that the meanings of referring terms, and the contents of beliefs that are expressed by those terms, are not fully determined by factors internal to the speaker but are instead bound up with the environment. The debate about semantic externalism is one of the most important but difficult topics in philosophy of mind and language, and has consequences for our understanding of the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting language and (...) the mind. In this long-needed book, Jesper Kallestrup provides an invaluable map of the problem. Beginning with a thorough introduction to the theories of descriptivism and referentialism and the work of Frege and Kripke, Kallestrup moves on to analyse Putnam’s Twin Earth argument, Burge’s arthritis argument and Davidson’s Swampman argument. He also discusses how semantic externalism is at the heart of important topics such as indexical thoughts, epistemological skepticism, self-knowledge, and mental causation. Including chapter summaries, a glossary of terms, and an annotated guide to further reading, _Semantic Externalism_ an ideal guide for students studying philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
"The central theme of the De interpretatione is the nature of contradiction between assertions. This is a crucially important theme for dialectic, whose regular tasks include that of establishing the contradictory of a proposed thesis, and that of replying to a dilemmatic question by choosing between the aﬃrmation and the negation of a given thesis.(4) The inquiry into language as such, which occupies the ﬁrst four chapters, is subordinated to this goal. One apparent obstacle to such a view of the (...) treatise is the (highly suspect). (shrink)
Jerrold J. Katz often explained his semantic theory by way of an analogy with physical atomism and an attendant analogy with chemistry. In this chapter, I track the origin and uses of these analogies by Katz, both in explaining and defending his decompositional semantic theory, through the various phases of his work throughout his career.
In this article, I offer a provisional analysis of the philosophical semantics of "wisdom" in the thought of the New Confucian thinker Tang Junyi. I begin by providing some pointers concerning the concept of wisdom in general and situating the discourse on wisdom in comparative philosophy in the context of the later Foucault's and Pierre Hadot's historical investigations into ancient Graeco-Roman philosophy as a mode of spiritual self-cultivation and self-transformation. In the remainder of the paper, I try (...) to describe and think through what Foucault identifies as a "Cartesian moment," in which self-knowledge becomes the ultimate precondition for the ethico-spiritual project of "caring for the self," in Tang's approach of wisdom. In the course of my argument, I outline the complex relation between his vision of a renewed Confucian mode of religious practice on the one hand and his philosophical presuppositions concerning the transcendental status of subjectivity and the reflexivity of consciousness on the other. (shrink)
In this article I give an overview of some recent work in philosophy of science dedicated to analysing the scientific process in terms of (conceptual) mathematical models of theories and the various semantic relations between such models, scientific theories, and aspects of reality. In current philosophy of science, the most interesting questions centre around the ways in which writers distinguish between theories and the mathematical structures that interpret them and in which they are true, i.e. between scientific theories (...) as linguistic systems and their non-linguistic models. In philosophy of science literature there are two main approaches to the structure of scientific theories, the statement or syntactic approach -- advocated by Carnap, Hempel and Nagel -- and the non- statement or semantic approach --advocated, among others, by Suppes, the structuralists, Beth, Van Fraassen, Giere, Wojcicki. In conclusion, I briefly review some of the usual realist inspired questions about the possibility and character of relations between scientific theories and reality as implied by the various approaches I discuss in the course of the article. The models of a scientific theory should indeed be adequate to the phenomena, but if the theory is 'adequate' to (true in) its conceptual (mathematical) models as well, we have a model-theoretic realism that addresses the possible meaning and reference of 'theoretical entities' without relapsing into the metaphysics typical of the usual scientific realist approaches. (shrink)
In _The Philosophy of Logical Atomism_, Russell defends a version of semantic empiricism according to which direct acquaintance with logical atoms is the source of our semantic capacities. Previous commentators have construed Russellian acquaintance in one of two ways: either as an act of _de re_ designation involving neither conceptualization nor propositional content, or as a species of belief _de re_, which does involve conceptualization or classification. I argue that two further, interim possibilities have been overlooked: that direct acquaintance (...) involves purely phenomenal content or that direct acquaintance involves protoconceptual content. I conclude, however, that on none of the four interpretations considered, can direct acquaintance with logical atoms be the source of our semantic capacities. (shrink)