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Volume 10, 1997
Cognitive Semantics I

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Displaying: 1-10 of 17 documents

meaning, truth and the use of language
1. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Herman Cappelen, Ernie Lepore Semantic Theory and Indirect Speech
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Much work in the philosophy of language assumes that a semantic theory T, for a language L should assign p as the semantic content of an utterance u, by A, of a sentence S in L, if and only if “A said that p” is true. This assumption is mistaken. More generally, the aim of semantics cannot be to capture the extension of English expressions such as “meaning” or “what was said”. This provides support for Davidson’s paratactic theory of indirect speech and for the view that a semantic theory should take the form of a truth-theory.
2. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Kirk Ludwig The Truth about Moods
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Assertoric sentences are sentences which admit of truth or falsity. Non-assertoric sentences, imperatives and interrogatives, have long been a source of difficulty for the view that a theory of truth for a natural language can serve as the core of a theory of meaning. The trouble for truth-theoretic semantics posed by non-assertoric sentences is that, prima facie, it does not make sense to say that imperatives, such as ‘Cut your hair’ or interrogatives such as ‘What time is it?’ are true or false. Thus, the vehicle for giving the meaning of a sentence by using an interpretive truth theory, the T-sentence, is apparently unavailable for non-assertoric sentences. This paper shows how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a theory of meaning that gives central place to an interpretive truth theory for the language, without, however, reducing the nonassertorics to assertorics or treating their utterances as semantically equivalent to one or more utterances of assertoric sentences. Four proposals for how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a broadly truth-theoretical semantics are reviewed. The proposals fall into two classes, those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences solely by appeal to truth conditions, and those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences by appeal to compliance conditions, which can be treated as one variety of fulfillment conditions for sentences of which truth conditions are another variety. The paper argues that none of the extant approaches is successful, but develops a version of the generalized fulfillment approach which avoids the difficulties of previous approaches and still exhibits a truth theory as the central component of a compositional meaning theory for all sentences of natural languages.
3. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Louise Röska-Hardy Language Acts and Action
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Speech act theorists agree unanimously that language or speech acts are a species of intentional action. I argue that J.R. Searle’s influential speech act theory actually precludes our explaining sayings truly as doings, i.e. as linguistic actions, because it assimilates speakers’ beliefs, desires and intentions to the linguistic meaning of expression types. An adequate explanation of speech acts as intentional performances must treat the meanings of expression types and speakers’ beliefs, desires and intentions as separate, but co-ordinate factors in the production, understanding and characterization of linguistic acts.
4. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Jeffrey King The Source(s) of Necessity
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Though virtually all philosophers agree that a sentence like ‘Every bachelor is a bachelor’ expresses a logical truth, there is some disagreement as to whether ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’ does. One way of addressing the question as to whether ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’ expresses a logical truth is to ask whether the source of the necessity of ‘Every bachelor is a bachelor’ is the same as the source of the necessity of ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’. Assuming the framework of the theory of structured propositions, the question of whether the propositions expressed by these two sentences have their necessity in the same source is addressed. The view that the source of necessity is the same in the two cases is rejected, and an alternative view is sketched.
5. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Filip Buekens The Genesis of Meaning (a Myth)
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In ‘Meaning Revisited’, a reconsideration of his famous views on meaning, H.P. Grice has put forward the thesis that natural meaning (n-meaning) might be a precursor or predecessor of non-natural meaning. In this paper, I will take up Grice’s challenge and sketch a picture of how natural meaning could give rise to nn-meaning. The relevance of Grice’s challenge is obvious for current attempts at naturalizing nn-meaning: a plausible theory of the genesis of meaning must show why nn-meaning is not an unexplicable cosmic event but a product of various ways creatures more or less like us optimize communicative behaviour and learn to reason about mental states that causally explain that behaviour.
reference, indexicals and speaker meaning
6. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Robert Hanna Extending Direct Reference
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It is an interesting and important linguistic fact that we sometimes use singular terms — proper names or indexicals — to refer to wholly future individuals. Given this fact, and given the further fact that wholly future individuals are contingent and indeterminate, neither the “descriptivist” theory of singular reference, nor the “causal theory,” nor Gareth Evans’s “mixed” theory, nor even the “classical” direct reference theory developed by David Kaplan, can account for future singular reference. Only a semantic strategy drawn from direct reference theory is able to solve the puzzle. But in order to solve it, the very idea of direct reference must be extended by invoking two important supplementary notions: (1) “reference delivery systems,” and (2) “referential handiness or skill.” With the addition of these notions — which are updatings of some ideas sketched by Martin Heidegger in Being and Time — direct reference theory effectively accounts for the possibility of future singular reference. But just insofar as the puzzle is solvable along these lines, it follows that the theory of reference cannot be “naturalized.”
7. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Reinaldo Elugardo Descriptions, Indexicals and Speaker Meaning
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In his paper, “Descriptions, Indexicals, and Belief Reports: Some Dilemmas (But Not the Ones You Expect)” (Mind 104, (1995)), Stephen Schiffer presents a powerful argument against anyone who accepts a Russellian account of definite descriptions (including incomplete descriptions) and who also accepts a direct referential account of indexicals. On the one hand, the most plausible version of the Theory of Descriptions, namely, the Hidden-Indexical Theory of Descriptions, entails that a speaker who uses an incomplete description, “the F”, referentially means some description-theoretic, object-independent proposition by an utterance of a sentence of the form, “The F is G”. On the other hand, since speaker meaning supervenes on one’s psychological states, what holds for referential uses of incomplete descriptions must also hold for referential uses of indexicals and demonstatives. In other words, speakers who produce literal, referential, indexical utterances of the form, “" is G” also mean some description-theoretic proposition by their utterances. Furthermore, the Russellian has no non-arbitrary reason for preferring a direct referential account of indexicals, which he should accept, to a rival, incompatible account which treats indexicals as disguised descriptions. In my paper, I argue that the Russellian does have such a reason: the rival account cannot explain all the relevant speaker meaning facts that the direct reference theory can. I conclude the paper by defending the Russellian view that, in producing a referential utterance of “the F is G”, a speaker can mean a description-theoretic proposition and, in addition, mean an object-dependent proposition involving the speaker’s referent.
8. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Peter Ludlow Semantics, Tense, and Time: a Note on Tenseless Truth-Conditions for Token-Reflexive Tensed Sentences
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According to a number of authors it is possible to give tenseless (B-series) truth conditions for tensed sentences by utilizing token indexicals in something like the following fashion. (1a) An utterance u of 'Past S' is true iff at some time earlier than u, S is true (1b) An utterance u of 'Pres S' is true iff at some time overlapping u, S is true This strategy has been challenged on the grounds that it will break down in cases like (2). (2) There was no spoken language A number of strategies have been attempted to circumvent this difficult, including the introduction of possible utterances, etc. In this paper I argue that such moves are unnecessary — that the problem turns on scope interactions with hidden modals in the theorems of the T-theory.
9. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Gerhard Preyer Verstehen, Referenz, Wahrheit. Über Hilary Putnams Philosophie
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The main theme of Hilary Putnam’s philosophy is the problem of realism. But to discuss his position in the debate on natural kind terms, his criticism of logical empirism and Tarki’s theory of truth, a reconstruction of his „theoretical framework“ (Rahmentheorie) is required. The best characterization of this „theory“ concerns the oppositon: theoretical names (theory of understandig, fixing reference by experts of linguistic division of labour) versus empirical pragmaticism (truth, reference i.e. the successful patterns of linguistic behaviour). In this context we can identify the problems of Putnam’s philosophical orientation: his „main theme“ of revitalizing realism. The following step is to expose in the context of „radical interpretation“ a position, which may be dubbed „radical contextualism“. This may be seen as an alternative position to both realism and anti-realism.
rational dialetheism of antinomies
10. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Mark Sainsbury Can Rational Dialetheism Be Refuted By Considerations about Negation and Denial?
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Rational dialetheism is the view that for some contradictions, it is rational to believe that they are true. The view, associated with the work of among others, Graham Priest, looks as if it must lead to absurd consequences, and the present paper is an unsuccessful attempt to find them. In particular, I suggest that there is no non-question-begging account of acceptance, denial and negation which can be brought to bear against the rational dialetheist. Finally, I consider the prospect of attacking the position without trying to "refute" it, but even these approaches seem unpromising in the present case. If the drift of the paper is correct, the only strategy is to examine the paradoxes one by one, and show in each case that the best account is non-dialetheic.