Philosophers and linguists alike tend to call a semantic theory 'Russellian' just in case it assigns to sentences in which definite descriptions occur the truth-conditions Russell did in 'On Denoting'. This is unfortunate; not all aspects of those particular truth-conditions do explanatory work in Russell's writings. As far as the semantics of descriptions is concerned, the key insights of 'On Denoting' are that definite descriptions are not uniformly referring expressions, and that they are scope-bearing elements. Anyone who accepts these two (...) claims can account for Russell's puzzle cases the way he did. Russell had no substantive argument for the claim that 'The F is G' entails 'There is at most one F'; in fact, he had important misgivings about it. I outline an argument against this claim, and I argue that by holding on to uniqueness contemporary semanticists make a momentous mistake: they keep the illusion alive that there is a way to account for linguistic meaning without addressing what linguistic expressions are for. (shrink)
It is plausible to think that our knowledge of linguistic types can bejustified by what we know about the tokens of these types. But one then hasto explain what it is about the relation a type bears to its tokens that makespossible the move from knowledge of the concrete to knowledge of theabstract. I argue that the standard solution to this difficulty, that the relevant relation is instantiation and that the transition is inductive generalization, is inadequate. I propose an alternative, (...) according to which tokens are representations of the type they belong to. I also defend this view against the charge that it cannot account for the systematic ambiguity of expressions like ‘word’ or ‘sentence’, and the objection that it leads to an implausible form of Platonism. (shrink)
0. Abstract In this paper, I argue that although the behavior of adjectives in context poses a serious challenge to the principle of compositionality of content, in the end such considerations do not defeat the principle. The first two sections are devoted to the precise statement of the challenge; the rest of the paper presents a semantic analysis of a large class of adjectives that provides a satisfactory answer to it. In section 1, I formulate the context thesis, according to (...) which the content of a complex expression depends on the context of its utterance only insofar as the contents of its constituents do. If the context thesis is false, the content of some complex expression is not compositionally determined. In section 2, using an example due to Charles Travis, I construct an objection to the context thesis based on the behavior of the adjective ‘green’. In section 3 and 4, I look at some of the difficulties surrounding the semantics of ‘good’, which provide the motivation for the thesis that most adjectives are contextually incomplete one-place predicates. In section 5, I discuss how ‘green’ and other color adjectives can be treated within such a semantic theory. Since this theory is compatible with the context thesis, the objection against the compositionality of content looses its force. (shrink)
This book is a critical discussion of the principle of compositionality, the thesis that the meaning of a complex expression is fully determined by the meanings of its constituents and its structure. The aim of this book is to clarify what is meant by this principle, to show that its traditional justification is insufficient, and to discuss some of the problems that have to be addressed before a new attempt can be made to justify it.
Leading scholars in the philosophy of language and theoretical linguistics present brand-new papers on a major topic at the intersection of the two fields, the distinction between semantics and pragmatics. Anyone engaged with this issue in either discipline will find much to reward their attention here. Contributors: Kent Bach, Herman Cappelen, Michael Glanzberg, Jeffrey C. King, Ernie Lepore, Stephen Neale, F. Recanati, Nathan Salmon, Mandy Simons, Scott Soames, Robert J. Stainton, Jason Stanley, Zoltan Gendler Szabo.
We design new languages, by and large, in order to bypass complexities and limitations within the languages we already have. But when we are concerned with language itself we should guard against projecting the simple and powerful syntax and semantics we have concocted back into the sentences we encounter. For some of the features of English, French, or Ancient Greek we routinely abstract away from in the process of formalization might be linguistic universals – the very features that set human (...) languages apart from all the other conceivable ones. How similar natural languages really are to formal ones is an empirical question for linguistics. (shrink)
A theory of magnitudes involves criteria for their equivalence, comparison and addition. In this article we examine these aspects from an abstract viewpoint, by focusing on the so-called De Zolt’s postulate in the theory of equivalence of plane polygons (“If a polygon is divided into polygonal parts in any given way, then the union of all but one of these parts is not equivalent to the given polygon”). We formulate an abstract version of this postulate and derive it from some (...) selected principles for magnitudes. We also formulate and derive an abstract version of Euclid’s Common Notion 5 (“The whole is greater than the part”), and analyze its logical relation to the former proposition. These results prove to be relevant for the clarification of some key conceptual aspects of Hilbert’s proof of De Zolt’s postulate, in his classicalFoundations of Geometry(1899). Furthermore, our abstract treatment of this central proposition provides interesting insights for the development of a well-behaved theory ofcompatiblemagnitudes. (shrink)
Although the author's critical view of functionalism has a considerable intuitive pull, his argument based on the color room scenario does not work. Functionalism and other relational views of the mind are capable of providing coherent accounts of conscious experience that meet the challenge set up by the “color room argument.” A simple example of such an account is presented.
This paper analyzes the theory of area developed by Euclid in the Elements and its modern reinterpretation in Hilbert’s influential monograph Foundations of Geometry. Particular attention is bestowed upon the role that two specific principles play in these theories, namely the famous common notion 5 and the geometrical proposition known as De Zolt’s postulate. On the one hand, we argue that an adequate elucidation of how these two principles are conceptually related in the theories of Euclid and Hilbert is highly (...) relevant for a better understanding of the respective geometrical practices. On the other hand, we claim that these conceptual relations unveil interesting issues between the two main contemporary approaches to the study of area of plane rectilinear figures, i.e., the geometrical approach consisting in the geometrical theory of equivalence and the metrical approach based on the notion of measure of area. Finally, in an appendix logical relations among equivalence, comparison and addition of magnitudes are examined schematically in an abstract setting. (shrink)
A theory of magnitudes involves criteria for their comparison, equivalence and addition. We examine these aspects from an abstract viewpoint, stressing independence and definability. These considerations are triggered by the so-called De Zolt’s principle in the theory of equivalence of plane polygons.
Problems of Compositionality is a revised version of Zolt´an Szab´o’s 1995 doctoral dissertation. Of its five chapters, three have appeared (in heavily modified form) in print independently1, so I will concentrate most of my remarks on the second and third chapters, which remain unpublished outside the book. As it happens, I find these two chapters to be the most philosophically rewarding of the book. The principle of compositionality is a general constraint on the shape of a theory of meaning. Szab´o (...) gives the following initial formulation of the principle: The meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituents and by its structure. (3) Recent discussion of compositionality branches in a number of different directions, including (at least) disputes over the precise formulation of the principle, investigations of the mathematical features of various such formulations, exploration of a plethora of apparent counterexamples to the compositionality of natural languages, scholarly work on the history of the principle (especially its role in Frege), and employment of the principle as a tool in other philosophical disputes. Szab´o’s path through this thicket begins, in the first chapter, with a defense of an idiosyncratic version of the compositionality principle against some more traditional alternatives, proceeds in the second and third chapters to the oft-neglected and philosophically crucial task of asking why the principle of compositionality ought to be one we seek to impose, and concludes in the fourth and fifth chapters by considering and rejecting two putative counterexamples (manifesting in the semantics of adjectives and of definite descriptions) to the principle. The principle of compositionality is most commonly given a functional implementation – a language L is compositional iff the meaning of a complex expression α of L is a function of the meanings of the parts of α and the syntactic structure of α. Equivalently, L is compositional iff synonyms can be intersubstituted salva significa- tio in complex expressions of L.2 Szab´o, however, rejects the functional/substitutional.... (shrink)
At the last meeting, Tim Crane gave a talk in which he made play with a distinction between ‘believing in’ and ‘believing that’. And he claimed that this distinction could be put to serious philosophical work of interest to serious metaphysicians. My hunch at the time was that this distinction in fact can’t bear any real weight. But I can’t now reconstruct Tim’s own arguments sufficiently to give a fair evaluation of them. However, Tim did say that the distinction he (...) wanted to draw, and at least some of the work to which he wanted to put the distinction, was grounded in a paper on ‘Believing in Things’ by Zolt´ an Szab´ o. So in this talk, I’ll see what we can get out of that paper. And, as far as I can recall Tim’s paper, I think it is fair to say the following. If Szab´. (shrink)
Clarifying the mission of the American high school / Ernest L. Boyer--Educational goals and curricular decisions in the new Carnegie Report / John Martin Rich--Essential schools : a first look / Theodore R. Sizer--Teaching and learning : the dilemma of the American high school / Chester E. Finn, Jr.--The paideia proposal : rediscovering the essence of education / Mortimer Adler--The paideia proposal : noble amibitions, false leads, and symbolic politics / Willis D. Hawley--Cultural literacy : let's get specific / E.D. (...) Hirsch, Jr.--Cultural literacy : what every educator needs to know / Thomas H. Estes, Carol J. Gutman, and Elise K. Harrison--A blueprint for public education / John E. Chubb--Should market forces control educational decision making / Jack Tweedie--Teachers as transformative intellectuals / Henry A. Giroux--Dilemma language / Colin Lacey--Rich schools, poor schools : the persistence of unequal education / Arthur E. Wise and Tamar Gendler--Partial privatization of publice school finance / Thomas G. Fox and John Riew--Quality and equality in American education : public and Catholic schools / James S. Coleman--Oranges plus apples, Dr. Coleman, give you oranges plus apples / James Rogers--Synthesis of research on school-based management / Jane L. David--Unfulfilled promises / Betty Malen, Rodney T. Ogawa, and Jennifer Kranz--Effective high schools--What are the common characteristics? / Joseph Murphy and Philip Hallinger--Effective schools : a friendly but cautionary note / Larry Cuban--In education, magnets attract controversy / Mary Haywood Metz--Schools of choice : a path to educational quality or 'Tiers of inequity'? / Kathleen Sylvester--Interesting times / Alan H. Jones--Making a difference in educational quality through teacher education / Carolyn M. Evertson, Willis D. Hawley, and Marilyn Zlotnik--Developing a career ladder : getting down to the basics / Thomas Deering--The career ladder and lattice : a new look at the teaching career / Timothy J.L. Chandler, Stacey L. Lane, Janice M. Bibik, and Bernard Oliver--Equity, quality, and effectiveness in bilingual education / George M. Blanco--Bilingual--No! / Muriel Paskin Carrison--Multiethnic education and the quest for equality / James A. Banks--The limits of pluralism / M. Donald Thomas--The case for keeping mentally retarded children in your regular classrooms / Martin Tonn--Mainstreaming : a formative consideration / Harry N. Chandler--Reflections on three decades of eduction of the gifted / A. Harry Passow--Equity vs. excellence : an eductional drama / James J. Gallagher. (shrink)
On one standard reading, Plato's works contain at least two distinct views about the structure of the human soul. According to the first, there is a crucial unity to human psychology: there is a dominant faculty that is capable of controlling attention and behaviour in a way that not only produces right action, but also ‘silences’ inclinations to the contrary—at least in idealized circumstances. According to the second, the human soul contains multiple autonomous parts, and although one of them, reason, (...) normatively dominates the others, it may fail to do so descriptively: even in the face of full, explicit, well‐reasoned, conscious awareness of the truth of a claim, a person may continue to feel residual inclinations towards disavowed, inappropriate and misguided experiences and courses of action. In this paper, I will argue that even the second of these views does not fully capture the ways in which reflective commitment fails to guide human action. Whereas the traditional multi‐part soul view is well suited to explaining phenomena that involve a cognitive conflict between our reflective attitudes and our non‐reflective endorsements, it falls short when we turn to the full array of human patterns of response, because it neglects a further source of challenge to reason's rule, namely, the mediation of associative and heuristic processes. These processes introduce complications for which the simple faculty psychology view cannot adequately account. Because they produce challenges to reason's rule that are phenomenologically invisible, traditional strategies for self‐regulation cannot be straightforwardly applied to their management. (shrink)