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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Sunday, 12 December 2004

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

On Williamson's Arguments that Knowledge is a Mental State

By Adam Leite

Is knowledge a mental state? For philosophers working within the idealistic tradition, the answer is trivial: there is nothing else for knowledge to be. For most others, however, the claim has seemed prima facie implausible. Knowing that p requires or involves the fact that p, or p's truth, and that - with certain specifiable exceptions - is quite independent of my (or anyone's) mind; so while knowledge may require or involve certain mental states, it itself is not a state of mind.
More generally, it is very natural or intuitive to think in the following terms. On the one hand, there is the world apart from my mind. On the other hand, there is my mind. In many cases in which I have knowledge, I have it because of something about how the world is apart from my mind and because of something about me (my mind) which could be as it is even if the world were not that way. For instance, consider thewell-known example of Henry who is driving down the road and observes a barn in a field. In the ordinary case, he thereby comes to know that there is a barn in the field. But he does not come to know this in an unusual case in which, unbeknownst to him, there are barn facades in the vicinity which are not visually discriminable from real barns when viewed from the road.

Read this and other papers by Adam Leite.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 10 December 2004 19:11 GMT
Friday, 10 December 2004


On the Complexity of Propositional Knowledge Base Revision, Updates, and Counterfactuals

By Thomas Eiter and Georg Gottlob

We study the complexity of several recently proposed methods for updating or revising propositional knowledge bases under the principle of minimal change. In particular, we derive complexity results for the following problem: given a knowledge base T, an update p, and a formula q, decide whether q is derivable from Tp, the updated (or revised) knowledge base. Note that this problem includes the evaluation of the counterfactual p > q over T, that is a conditional statement 'if p, then q' where p is known or expected to be false. We consider the general case where T is an arbitrary propositional formula (or theory) as well as restricted versions of this problem, in particular where T is a conjunction of Horn clauses, or where the size of the update p is bounded by a constant.


Related post

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 7 December 2004 23:02 GMT
Monday, 6 December 2004

Deontics between Semantics and Ontology

By Carlos Alarcon Cabrera

The term Deontics, with its current meaning, constitutes a remarkable contribution to the Philosophy of Normative Language by Amedeo G. Conte. Going back to Aristotle, Conte defines Deontics as theory of 'Sollen' qua 'Sollen', as theory of 'ought' qua 'ought'. The same way Metaphysics, as theory of 'Sein' insofar as 'Sein' , studies Sein in its constitutive onticity, Deontics studies Sollen in its constitutive deonticity.
Unlike the term Deontics, the expression Deontic Logic was first used before, with its current meaning, by Georg H. von Wright (1951) when he mentioned the deontic modal concepts (what is obligatory, what is permitted, what is forbidden) together with the alethic modal concepts (necessity, possibility, contingency -- concepts which are studied in modal logic), the existential modal concepts (universality, existentiality, emptiness -- concepts which are studied in the theory of quantifiers) and the epistemic modal concepts (what is verified, what is undecided, what is falsified).
As an adjective, the term Deontic became more common in the philosophical lexicon. As Tecla Mazzarese points out, it was particularly used both in a pragmatic sense and a semantic sense: a) Pragmatically, as a synonym for directive, preceptive, prescriptive, normative, as opposed to descriptive, declarative, assertive; b) Semantically, in the sense of concerning ought, to designate what constitutes the scope of ought or what describes the scope of ought.
As a noun, Deontics concerns the formal systems of deontic calculus from the point of view of their theoretical-philosophical foundations, in virtue of which Deontic Logic analyzes technical problems peculiar to those calculi.
In this paper I will focus on five of Amedeo G. Conte's main contributions to the Philosophy of Normative Language:
In section 2, on the distinction between categorical constitutivity and hypothetical constitutivity.
In section 3, on the typology of the concept of validity.
In section 4, on the notion of pragmatic ambivalence of deontic utterances.
In section 5, on the conception of repeal as an act of rejection.
In section 6, on the reinterpretation of the Is-ought question.


First appeared in:
SORITES, Issue #05. May 1996. Pp. 18-34.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:15 GMT
Sunday, 5 December 2004

Continuation from previous post.
Comments of na excerpt from page 7:

(Huitink, 2004) is the most recent attempt to solve the puzzle of anankastic conditionals. Huitink argues that if there are several non-conflicting goals at stake and several ways to achieve the goal in the antecedent, the anankastic reading cannot obtain. So anankastic sentences are false in such cases. However, they can be predicted true under the analysis in (Fintel and Iatridou, 2004). The scenario that should make the argument clear is the following:
(16) a. To go to Harlem, you can take the A train or the B train.
b. You want to go to Harlem.
c. You want to kiss Ruud van Nistelrooy (Dutch soccer star).
d. Ruud van Nistelrooy is on the A train.

The designated goal analysis would predict that the Harlem sentence is true at least in its ought-version:
(17) If you want to go to Harlem you ought to take the A train.

What we get is that in the best Harlem worlds, i.e. the worlds in which you kiss Ruud, you take the A train. This follows from the facts in the described scenario. So the sentence is true but it shouldn't, because the A train is not the necessary condition for going to Harlem in (16).

Well I have two objections against saying that (17) is not true in the scenario above.
The first objection is that intuitively (17) is true in the scenario described, accordingly to my judgment as speaker of human languages.
The second objection comes from the application of simple Logic. Assume two propositions in the described situation
Proposition 1. x must take train A=O(A)
Proposition 2. x must take train B=O(B)

Now consider that the disjunction containing the two is true:
(DISJ) T(O(A) OR O(B))

For this conjunction to be true, there are three possibilities:
a. T(O(A)), T(O(B));
b. T(O(A)), F(O(B));
c. F(O(A)), T(O(B)).

But, in such case, (17) is true in two of the possibilities. And if the first possibility is the case in the described scenario, then (17) is true.
Thus, if any formal semantic analysis predicts that (17) is true in the described scenario, such analysis is correct.
Now, remember that the Classic Maxim O(P)-->P of earlier deontic logic is not valid. So the impossibility of x to take both trains at the same time does not constitute a real problem. By claiming that O(A) is, true one does not claim that x takes train A, nor O(B) implies that X takes train B.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 04:46 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 5 December 2004 14:21 GMT
Saturday, 4 December 2004




By Arnim von Stechow, Sveta Krasikova & Doris Penka

In von Fintel's blog I have already made two questions about the paper mentioned above. Here I would like to add other three. Let us consider the following excerpt:
The first extensive discussion of the "anankastic conditionals" is due to (S?b?, 1986), who discovered that these conditionals are reluctant to a standard modal treatment. A number of recent papers on this topic refreshed linguistic interest in this phenomenon and motivated further research in the semantics of modality. To illustrate the problem, let us look at the sentences we will focus on:
(1) a. You have to take the A train if you want to go to Harlem.
b. If you don't take the A train you can't go to Harlem.
c. To go to Harlem you have to take the A train.

This paradigm was brought into light by (S?b?, 1986), who followed (Bech, 1955/57) in assuming the equivalence of the conditional in (1a) and the infinitival construction in (1c). The conditionals in this list are called "anankastic", a term due to (Hare, 1971). They have the special property that the truth of the consequent is the only way that guarantees the truth of the antecedent. Or, the consequent is a necessary condition for the truth of the antecedent. While Hare had in mind constructions like (1a), a better construction to make the semantics clear is (1c) with the clause "you to go to Harlem" as antecedent A and the clause "you take the A train" as consequent C. The truth of C is the only way to entail the truth of A.

As I do not see why those claims would be the case, let me present some of my interrogations:

[1]. Firstly, the sentence (1a) is not you go to Harlem, you take train A. The sentence has an if and the verb to want, which make a lot of difference than simply saying you go to Harlem.
This reminds me of the paper by Fodor and Lepore, Why Compositionality Won't Go Away, posted here, containing a reaction to Paul Horwich?s comments. At least some the passages of von Stechow and ali sound like the Horwichian claim:
The if-clause, which contains "want", adds a further condition, which does not have much impact on the truth condition, if it has any impact at all.(..)
Note that this paraphrase ignores the contribution of "want"(...) In his lecture notes, von Stechow (cf. (Stechow, 2004)) proposes that the "want" in the antecedent is empty at the logical form. (...)
Want does not contribute to the meaning of the sentence.

The following passage from the same article sounds like a contradiction to the claims above:
The presence of want/be to in the antecedent is obligatory, but as S?b? (2001) accurately observes, the subject of want must corefer with the subject of the matrix clause for the anankastic reading to obtain (...). This requirement on coreference/disjoint reference suggests that want/be to, whatever their semantic contribution is, see to it that the necessary referential relations are established. So the presence of these modals is essential for the [anankastic] reading to be available.

What their exact position is? Do they claim that a verb like to want is empty in such constuctions or that its presence is obligatory?
Anyway, in order to ignore the contribution of a verb like to want in the if-clause it is necessary to abolish compositionality and the difference between extensional and intensional contexts. But was the abolition of such notions among the goals of the authors when they wrote the paper?
Now, if one takes the example (5a), it is visible the contrast between adding and not adding the verb to want to the if-clause:
(5a') i. If you want to have sugar in your soup, you should call the waiter.
ii. If you have sugar in your soup, you should call the waiter.

I do not want to be meanie, but perhaps these points should be made clearer in their paper.

[2]. Secondly, why the propostion you have to take the A train would have to be true to make you want to go to Harlem true also? Suppose that you have to take the A train is false. Then it does not mean that you do not want to go to Harlem.

The same applies to other passage (page 3):
Conditionals of the form (1a) are called anankastic conditionals. This is a sort of conditionals with the consequent expressing necessary condition for achieving the goal or wish contained in the antecedent. Thus, the if-clause always has a bouletic/teleological modal expression and the matrix clause an explicit necessity operator. Here is an example from (Bech, 1955/57):
(4) Wenn M?ller mit Schmidt verhandeln will/soll muss er nach Hamburg fahren.
`If M?ller wants/is to negotiate with Schmidt he must go to Hamburg'

Sentence (4) means that the only way for M?ller to negotiate with Schmidt is to meet him in Hamburg. Note that this paraphrase ignores the contribution of "want" to which we will return below.

This is not true either. Even if M?ller does not want to negotiate with Schmidt, still (C1) may be the case:

(C1) The only way for M?ller to negotiate with Schmidt is to meet him in Hamburg (Germany).

But assume that (C1) is not true. Assume that rather (C2) is the case:
(C2) The only way for M?ller to negotiate with Schmidt is to meet him in New Hamburg (Brazil).

Now (C2) does not cancel the truth of the clause M?ller wants/is to negotiate with Schmidt.

We could even imagine a third alternative. Assume that Schmidt never talks about work when he is Hamburg. In such case, the sentence (4') below is not awckward at all:
(4)If M?ller does not want to negotiate with Schmidt, he must go to Hamburg.

[3]. Finally, does the classic maxim of deontic logic (CM) guide their assumptions? I get the impression that it does:

(CM) O(A)-->A
If A is obligatory then A is the case

(CM) is indeed what underlies the reasoning below:

(R) (You must take the A train to go Harlem) --> (You take the A train to go to Harlem)

But (CM) is not accepted in deontic logic anymore. And (CM) is not only false in Logic. It is clear to me that (CM) does not apply to human languages either.

To be continued (...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 5 December 2004 04:52 GMT
Wednesday, 1 December 2004


Indexicality and context-shift

By Fran?ois Recanati

So far I have distinguished between four types of cases. For `intentional' indexicals we can shift the context at will. What can be shifted in this way includes -- inter alia -- the addressee feature of the context, the language feature of the context (including the standards of precision), or the reference of demonstratives. For other indexicals we can shift the context through pretense. Following a number of authors, I have distinguished two types of contextshifting pretense. The first type of context-shifting pretense is illustrated by direct speech reports, recorded utterances (on one analysis), the historical present (again, on one analysis), and the presentifying uses of `here' which are the spatial counterpart of the historical present. The second type of context-shifting pretense is illustrated by various sorts of displayed assertion (non-quotational echoes, irony, free indirect speech) and, again, by direct speech reports insofar as they involve the two types of shift simultaneously. The fourth type of case is that of expressions which are not really indexical, but perspectival, and for which we do not need to appeal to the notion of context-shift in order to account for their shifty behaviour. In this category I have placed the adverb `now', and the verb `come' in one of its uses; I have also mentioned a possible treatment of the English tenses as perspectival rather than indexical. The question arises whether all this complexity is needed. Maybe this is too much and some category can be dismissed as superfluous. But another possibility is that this is still not enough. Indeed there is a notion of context-shift that has been prominent in the recent literature on indexicality and which I have not dealt with yet. To make room for it it seems that we need a fifth category.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 3 December 2004 04:14 GMT
Tuesday, 30 November 2004


Focus without variables: A multi-modal analysis

By Gerhard J?ger
Source: Semantics Archive
In this paper I will explore a certain phenomenon concerning the interaction between ellipsis and focus that has been used as an argument (by Kratzer (1991), see also Pulman (1997)) that both the use of variables and of an intermediate level of representation are indispensable. I will present a surface compositional and variable free analysis. The techniques used are not new (the most important sources are Krifka (1992) and Jacobson (1997)), but the paper aims to show that integrating these concepts into multi-modal categorial grammar (cf. Carpenter (1997), Moortgat (1997), Morrill (1994)) results in a system that is more than just the sum of its parts.

Section 2 discusses the problem to be explored and Kratzer's proposal for it's solution. In section 3 the basic concepts of multi-modal categorical grammar are introduced. Section 4 and 5 are concerned with the treatment of ellipsis and of focus in this approach to grammar. Section 6 explicates the interaction of these modules.

Let me take a look

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:56 GMT



By Laura Dominguez

This dissertation investigates the realization and interpretation of information structure in Spanish. Focused constituents may appear in the right-periphery, in the left-periphery or in situ in Spanish. Recent studies have addressed the relative weight of syntactic and phonological cues in the realization of information structure, but have not adequately accounted for these three types of focus. Syntax-based accounts, asserting that focused phrases move to the left-periphery to check features, fail to account for focus in the right-periphery. So-called prosody-based accounts, which in fact depend on the syntactic requirement that focus has to be aligned with nuclear stress, are unable to account for focus in a position other than final. Experimental data from a pilot study reported in this dissertation suggest that prominence in all three types of focus is determined by a prosodic structure without syntactic motivation.
Get a copy


By Roger Schwarzschild

The association of only with focus is explained in terms of
(a) a semantics for only which makes no mention of focus and
(b) discourse appropriateness conditions on the use of focus and principles of quantifier domain selection.

This account differs from previous ones in giving sufficient conditions for association with focus but without stipulating it in the meaning of lexical items. Detractors have contended that foci have different pragmatic import depending on whether or not they are associated with a higher operator. I give evidence against this claim. Others argue that there is no deterministic connection between intonational focus and association. One argument for this is the fact that association readings are possible even when nothing in the scope of the operator is focussed. The present account predicts the absence of intonational focus in these cases and explains how the readings come about. The wide variety of associating operators provide incentive for pursuing accounts like the present one based on independent principles of grammar.

Get a sample

Posted by Tony Marmo at 05:31 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 November 2004 05:32 GMT
Saturday, 27 November 2004

Topic: Syn-Sem Interface
Note: The asymmetry Panagiotidis & Tsiplakou mention is also found in Romance. Take for instance the spanish sentences (S) below:
(S) 1. La madre de Sofia{1} la{1} beso.
2. La*{1}/{2} beso la madre de Sofia{1}.

The difference is that in (S1) de Sofia is a PP and not a DP in the genetive case. As a complement of la madre, the PP de Sofia does not c-command la.

An A-binding asymmetry in Greek

and its significance for Universal Grammar

By Phoevos Panagiotidis & Stavroula Tsiplakou

Principle C of the Binding theory is set up to capture why the grammaticality of the coreferential reading between the pronominal and the R-expression is precluded in sentences such as (1) below

(1) She{i} called Sophia{i}/{j}'s mother.

on the basis that the R-expression is illicitly bound by the pronominal. By the same token, the coreferential reading in sentences such as (2) below

(2) Sophia{i}'s mother called her{i}.

is not disallowed as the R-expression is free everywhere.
In Modern Greek, a language which displays largely free constituent order, the equivalent of the English sentence in (2) can have two different realizations, shown in (3) and (4) below, and the following A-binding asymmetry obtains:

(3)i mitera tis Sofias{i}/{j} tin{i} fonakse
the mother-NOM the Sophia-GEN her-ACC called

(4) tin*{i}/{j} fonakse i mitera tis Sofias{i}
her-ACC called the mother-NOM the Sophia-GEN

Sophia's mother called her

The coreferential reading between the pronominal and the R-expression tis Sofias is obtainable in (3), where the R-expression is contained within the preverbal subject phrase [ i mitera [tis Sofias ]], but it is absolutely disallowed in (4), where the R-expression is contained in the postverbal subject. This sharp asymmetry, first noted in Tsiplakou 1998, is surprising in view of the fact that, at least at first blush, the object clitic pronoun tin should not be able to bind into the subject at the level where the Binding Principles operate. The question that naturally arises is whether this asymmetry should be ascribed to some particularity of the syntax of Greek or whether it has more far-reaching implications for Binding theory as it is currently formulated within the Minimalist framework. (...)

Bind it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:50 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 27 November 2004 21:17 GMT



By Hana Filip
Source: Semantics Archive

Languages differ in the variety of quantificational structures they employ (cf. Bach et al. (eds.), 1995) and in the extent to which the surface form of various quantificational structures provides us with explicit clues about semantic interpretation. The semantic structure of sentences with a single quantificational operator can be determined by the overt phrase structure or by the phrase structure together with information about topic and/or focus. If the semantic structure of quantified sentences is underdetermined (or ambiguous) by both the phrase structure and topic and/or focus structures, it may be disambiguated by the non-linguistic context (cf. Partee, 1995:541).
I propose that there is yet another factor that determines the semantic structure of quantified sentences: namely, the argument structure. A case in point are sentences in which the main quantificational operator is a lexical V-operator. Drawing mainly on the data from Czech, I propose that lexical V-operators function as quantifiers over episodic predicates and their arguments. They bind the variable introduced by the Incremental Theme argument (Hinrichs, 1985; Krifka, 1986; Dowty, 1988,1991), and possibly also the event variable (Davidson, 1967; Parsons, 1986; Kratzer, 1989). If there is no Incremental Theme argument, quantification is directed at the event variable alone; quantification is undefined, if there is neither. The hypothesis builds on Partee's (1991a, 1995) distinction between "syntactic" A-quantifiers (VP- or S-operators) and "lexical" A-quantifiers (V-operators) and presupposes that the denotations of nominal and verbal predicates have a lattice structure of the type proposed by Link (1983, 1987) and Bach (1986). It also builds on the telicity account proposed by Hinrichs (1985), Krifka (1986, 1992) and Dowty (1988, 1991) whose central part is the homomorphic mapping between the denotations of the Incremental Theme argument and the relevant episodic predicate.
Although I focus on lexical quantifiers that function as V-operators in Czech, the results of this study can be applied to other Slavic languages. It is yet to be seen how the conclusions that I reach about Czech will fare when tested against the data from typologically unrelated languages. (Preliminary investigations strongly suggest that my conclusions seem to be applicable to such languages as Hindi, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.)

Take a look

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 November 2004 04:33 GMT
Friday, 26 November 2004

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Content, Embodiment and Objectivity

The Theory of Cognitive Trails

By Adrian Cussins

The possibility of a new kind of representational theory is demonstrated: a theory which explains concepts and thoughts in terms of the nonconceptual, embodied contents of experience. The theory is neither empiricist nor rationalist as it adopts a symmetric metaphysics in which mind and world are explained as the logical genesis of objectivity. The notion of "cognitive trails through environmental experience" is introduced, and objective content is formalised as a dynamic construction within a two-dimensional space whose axes are given by the perspective dependence of the cognitive trails, and by their degree of stabilization.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:58 GMT
Thursday, 25 November 2004

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology


By Alva No?

Some cognitive states -- e.g. states of thinking, calculating, navigating -- may be partially external because, at least sometimes, these states depend on the use of symbols and artifacts that are outside the body. Maps, signs, writing implements may sometimes be as inextricably bound up with the workings of cognition as neural structures or internally realized symbols (if there are any). According to what Clark and Chalmers[1998] call active externalism, the environment can drive and so partially constitute cognitive processes. Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? If active externalism is right, then the boundary cannot be drawn at the skull. The mind reaches -or at least can reach --- beyond the limits of the body out into the world. (...)

To appear in Perceptual Experience, edited by Tamar Szab-- Gendler and John Hawthorne. Oxford University Press.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 November 2004 04:30 GMT
Wednesday, 24 November 2004


By Arnon Avron

In this paper we look at negation from two dierent points of view: a syntactical one and a semantical one. Accordingly, we identify two dierent types of negation. The same connective of a given logic might be of both types, but this might not always be the case.
The syntactical point of view is an abstract one. It characterizes connectives according to the internal role they have inside a logic, regardless of any meaning they are intended to have (if any). With regard to negation our main thesis is that the availabilityof what we call below an internal negation is what makes a logic essentially multiple-conclusion.
The semantic point of view, in contrast, is based on the intuitive meaning of a given connective. In the case of negation this is simply the intuition that the negation of a proposition A is true if A is not, and not true if A is true.
Like in most modern treatments of logics, our study of negation will be in the framework of Consequence Relations (CRs). See more

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:52 GMT
Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Topic: Notes on Pirah?

Note #3

Assume that in a hypothetical language Pop there is a three word basic vocabulary for three sizes, magnitudes, greatnesses or points of a very generic scale:

Wow... Large (L)
Okay... Medium (m)
Hun... Small (s)

Is it possible to derive a numeric system from such small vocabulary? The answer is yeas, it could be noted as a base 3 system, through the following convention:


Accordingly, the numbers or numerals of the Pop linguistic community would look like the examples below:

Decimal to base 3 system:
4... 11
5... 12
6... 20
7... 21
8... 22
9... 100
50... 1212
51... 1220
100... 10201
987... 1100120

Now assume that these figures are `read' with the basic morphemes wow, okay and hun, provided that by some phonological factors okay+wow is uttered okwow, okay+hun is okun and wow+okay is wakay, and any sequence of ww becomes hw. Then, one gets the following numerals:

4... okayokay
5... okwow
6... wowhun
7... wakay
8... wohwow
9... okunhun
50... okwowokwow
51... okwohwowhun
100... okunwowhunokay
987... okayokunhunokwowhun

So, mathematically speaking, there is no sound reason to conclude that, by having only a vocabulary for three basic greatnesses, the users of a language like Pop lack numbers or the concept of counting. The Pop speaking Pople would do fine with such system.

However, the users of the aforementioned base 3 system would find any decimal system as unusual, useless and unintelligible to them as persons from a decimal culture would find the system of the Pop speaking people too foreign and difficult.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 22 November 2004 08:41 GMT
Monday, 22 November 2004


Direct compositionality on demand

By Chris Barker
Source: Semantics Archive

This paper starts with the assumption that the expression saw everyone, as in John saw everyone, is a constituent. It can be coordinated, clefted, focussed, questioned, pronominalized, you name it. In general, if you have a constituent containing an NP, and you replace that NP with a quantificational NP like everyone, then the result is still a full-fledged constituent. But everyone can take scope outside of a verb phrase. As a result, the semantics of everyone must somehow gain access to material that can properly contain the constituent saw everyone. Despite decades of research on quantification, I will suggest that no existing analysis (including my own published accounts to date) provides an adequate characterization of both the local and the long-distance aspects of the syntax and the semantics of quantificational expressions. The main goal of this paper, then, is to propose an explicit new account that tries to do better.

Demand it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 22 November 2004 15:29 GMT

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