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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Tuesday, 4 January 2005

Topic: Syn-Sem Interface


I am happy that someone is working with the extended Larsonian Shell hypothesis that I proposed in my MA thesis. Of course, Butler has probably not read or heard about my thesis, for it is not written in English, but I like to know that somehow he uses it anyway!


By Jonny Butler

I argue that phases should be defined as domains of quantificational closure. I propose that a phase consists of a core predicative category (V, T), topped by l-syntactic little heads (v, t) that introduce situation variables; this whole structure then topped off by a CP level which closes off the variables introduced by the little heads. This derives a theory of temporal construal akin to that of Stowell (1996). The system is extended to cover aspectual notions like perfect/progressive, where evidence from their interaction with modality suggests that perfect and progressive aspect should be considered to head their own phases.

Source: lingBuzz/000065

Posted by Tony Marmo at 19:31 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 January 2005 19:34 GMT
Monday, 3 January 2005

Now Playing: REPOSTED

Information Dependency in Quantificational Subordination

By Linton Wang, Eric McCready, and Nicholas Asher

The purpose of this paper is to
(a) show that the received view of the problem of quantificational subordination (QS) is incorrect, and that, consequently, existing solutions do not succeed in explaining the facts, and
(b) provide a new account of QS.

On the received view of QS within dynamic semantic frameworks, determiners treated as universal quantifiers (henceforth universal determiners) such as all, every, and each behave as barriers to inter-sentential anaphora yet allow anaphoric accessibility in a number of situations. We argue that universal determiners are not intrinsic anaphora barriers and that anaphoric accessibility under them is enabled factors including lexicon information and discourse effects of universal determiners. In support of this viewpoint, we first provide a data survey on the phenomena of QS and its interactions with plurals, rhetorical relations, and adverbial quantification. The results of the survey show that judgments of (naive) native English speakers on the QS examples are quite different from what is claimed in the literature. We argue that the various solutions in the literature, which in general accept that universal determiners are intrinsic anaphora barriers, fail to account for the facts from the survey data. We then describe the approach we adopt, which denies that universal determiners are anaphora barriers and reconstructs their semantics so that information in their scope can be released for anaphora. The constraints on QS noted in the literature we model in Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT) as conditions on the discourse relations which can hold between subordinated constituents. We show that this approach accounts for the QS data.

Keywords: Anaphora, Dynamic Semantics, Pronouns, Quantificational Subordination, Rhetorical Relations, SDRT, Telescoping, Universal Determiners

To obtain more information

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 3 January 2005 13:52 GMT
Sunday, 2 January 2005

Now Playing: REPOSTED

Investigations in grounded semantics for multi-agent systems specification via deontic logic

By Alessio Lomuscio and Marek Sergot

We investigate an extension of the formalism of interpreted systems by Halpern and colleagues to model correct behaviour of agents. The semantical model allows for the representation and reasoning about states of correct and incorrect functioning behaviour of the agents, and of the system as a whole. We axiomatise this semantic class by mapping it into a suitable class of Kripke models. The resulting logic, KD45ni-j, is a stronger version of KD, the system often referred to as Standard Deontic Logic. We discuss these issues and present further directions of work related to epistemic Logic.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 2 January 2005 12:08 GMT
Saturday, 1 January 2005


Logics for Dialogue

By Alain Lecomte

This paper is essentially a survey of some logical approaches to dialogue. We start with Dialogical Logic, which was initiated by Lorenzen and has mainly been explored as a new foundation for logics. It continues with Hintikka's Game Theoretical Semantics, which has been more developed in contact with Natural Language. For instance, we show how to deal with generalized quantifiers by using games, after ideas taken from Ahti Pietarinen. The two perspectives, if different in their objectives, could be mixed for applicative purposes like the treatment of argumentative dialogues: this requires that they be recast in a neutral form, which consists in Dialogue Games in Extensive form. Nevertheless, to stay at one level of elementary language games is not sufficient: in every day life, games are combined. At this point, it seems that the Game-Theoretic interpretation of Linear Logic provides us with the appropriate tool for combining elementary games of various kinds.

See it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 1 January 2005 09:58 GMT
Friday, 31 December 2004

Now Playing: REPOSTED
Topic: Interconnections

CHOMSKY, Noam Avram (1928- )

By Zolt?n Gendler Szab?

Noam Chomsky was born to Dr. William (Zev) Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928. His father emigrated to the United States from Russia. William was an eminent scholar, author of the study Hebrew, the Eternal Language (1957), as well as numerous other works on the history and teaching of Hebrew. Noam entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1945. There he came in contact with Zelig Harris, a prominent linguist and the founder of the first linguistics department in the United States (at the University of Pennsylvania). In 1947 Chomsky decided to major in linguistics, and in 1949 he began his graduate studies in that field. His BA honor's thesis Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew (1949, revised as an MA thesis in 1951) contains several ideas that foreshadow Chomsky's later work in generative grammar. In 1949 he married the linguist Carol Schatz. During the years 1951 to 1955 Chomsky was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows, where he completed his PhD dissertation entitled Transformational Analysis (1955; published as part of The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory in 1975).

Forthcoming in the Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960 ed., Ernest LePore, Thoemmes Press, 2004.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 31 December 2004 00:16 GMT
Thursday, 30 December 2004


On certain Arguments to Bring Scientists to Court

A Short Note

Freedom of Religion versus freedom of Science has again become a hot issue. I have seen in the web-site of the Earth Science Associates that a certain man and a certain organisation have filed a suit against a number of individual scientists and academic institutions. I shall not quote the names of either party here, although the reader can access the web-site mentioned above and see them. The Plaintiffs demand trial by jury for a number of the issues pled, arguing that the Defendants have violated their civil rights, i.e., have infringed the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

As I do not know what really happened, I cannot comment on the case. But the web-site mentioned above contains a text with some of the main intellectual arguments of the Plaintiffs against the Defendants. I would like to consider two of such arguments from a more general point of view, not attached to the specific legal case. The two excerpts are from this link.

First, let me quote the part of their arguments that seems valid as an intellectual position:

Over the past several decades, the vast majority of both the academic and governmental science community has come to regard the "big bang" theory of the universe's creation as irrefutable fact. The scientific community has been extremely effective in disseminating this particular theory throughout the world. Until recently, this dissemination has occurred with virtually no dissent. Without such dissent, the major medias of the United States have reported this theory as scientific truth, influencing not only the taxpaying public, but also legislators in Congress who use this information as the basis for funding an increasing number of astrophysical projects. The federal and state governments have invested mammoth sums of money in such programs in the hope that the mysteries of the "big bang" theory will ultimately be revealed.

Now let me quote the part that for me sounds nonsensical:
Recently a small, but growing number of scientists, have advanced theories and offered evidence suggesting that the universe was indeed created in conformity with the literal text of the Bible. This "creationist" theory postulates that science and the Bible are not in conflict, and that indeed science supports the theory of a Biblical creation by God. These creationist theories have met with considerable skepticism, derision and open scorn by the mainstream scientific community. Many in this community see the creationist theory as not merely a philosophical threat to the "big bang" theory, but also a scientific threat, which if successfully validated would undermine the evolutionary science foundation, which has been considered the starting point for all astro-physical and cosmologist studies. Decades of "established" evolutionary theory would be subject to scientific refutation, potentially creating a scientific reawakening among the public and media. Consequently, there has been a concerted effort by academic and governmental theorists and researchers, as well as certain government officials, to suppress the creationist idea.

The first argument points to a real issue, specially in regard with the manner mass media tend to present scientific theories as absolute truths and unproblematic solutions. Perhaps, the big-bang theory is not better than any model of Universe that presupposed the existence of a giant turtle carrying our world on its backs, except for the crucial fact that the big-bang has been based on objective evidence and more complex theoretical reasoning. But the point is how the Plaintiffs establish a cause and consequence relation between the two arguments. They fail to do so on intellectual grounds.

Assume that a scientific theory T has problems p(1)...p(n). It does not follow from p(1)...p(n) that the best substitute for T is a religious taught. The fact that T has p(1)...p(n) problems only means that T has a number of problems to be considered. A solution to any of such problems must come from a precise formulation of the alternatives to T and not from the choice of the references.

Furthermore, for anthropological reasons, a holly book and its teachings cannot be reduced to a set of mere competitive scientific theories. Firstly because religious teachings and scientific hypotheses are not comparable things. Secondly and most importantly, religious teachings are and must be sacrosanct for the society wherein they are embraced, while scientific theories are not and cannot be. A scientific theory like the big-bang does not challenge any Religion and is not intended to do it. In the same manner, a sacred book like the Genesis does not offer an explanation to the formation of the Universe, nor is it intended to do so. It is not a book about Biology or Cosmology, as the Exodus is not a History book.

The general purposes of any holly writing are spiritual and ethical. The story of how Moses liberated the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt matters because of its meaning and not because it actually happened. Its message is clearly against slavery and unlimited power. In the same manner, the Genesis is about the spiritual questions that have been part of men's lives since ever. The story the expulsion of Adam and Eve, for instance, contains a very deep reflexion about human existence: man kind cannot live a paradisiacal existence, like the irrational animals, because humans know the difference between good and evil. None of these stories and their teachings can be compared or confronted with current scientific theories.

This is not a question of believers against atheist. An atheist can perfectly understand what a holly book says, whilst a believer may misunderstand it completely. In the case of those believers that want to reduce their sacred writings into scientific manuals, it can be said that they may have an abundance of faith, but, from my humble point of view, they seem to lack understanding in crucial aspects.

In any case, although the intellectual debate may be interesting, I would suggest that scientists tried to discuss their different points of view with humanity, dignity and mutual respect and comprehension among themselves and preferably out of Courts. And, perhaps, for the benefit of general audiences and the freedom of thought, it would be interesting if some independent organisation built an internet archive with papers by authors from several denominations (not only Christians), who want to propose their own creationist theories in accordance with their construal of their respective holly books.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 02:17 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 30 December 2004 02:32 GMT
Monday, 27 December 2004


On the Logical Unsolvability of the Gettier Problem

By Luciano Floridi

The tripartite account of propositional, fallibilist knowledge that p as justified true belief can become adequate only if it can solve the Gettier Problem. However, the latter can be solved only if the problem of a successful coordination of the resources (at least truth and justification) necessary and sufficient to deliver propositional, fallibilist knowledge that p can be solved. In this paper, the coordination problem is proved to be insolvable by showing that it is equivalent to the coordinated attack problem, which is demonstrably insolvable in epistemic logic. It follows that the tripartite account is not merely inadequate as it stands, as proved by Gettier-type counterexamples, but demonstrably irreparable in principle, so that efforts to improve it can never succeed.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 27 December 2004 01:22 GMT
Friday, 24 December 2004


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Tuesday, 21 December 2004


Roles and Deontic Logic

By F. Cuppens

The objective of this paper is to propose a new semantics for a class of normative positions that applies deontic operators to descriptions of possible act-positions. This semantics is based on the concept of role which represents a behavior an agent is authorized to play. Within this new semantics, we investigate several deontic problems such as the treatment of Chisholm's Paradox, moral dilemmas and defeasible deontic reasoning.

Get it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 21 December 2004 08:59 GMT
Monday, 20 December 2004


Semantics of Complex Sentences in Japanese

By Hiroshi Nakagawa and Shin-ichiro Nishizawa

The important part of semantics of complex sentence is captured as relations among semantic roles in subordinate and main clause respectively. However if there can be relations between every pair of semantic roles, the amount of computation to identify the relations that hold in the given sentence is extremely large. In this paper, for semantics of Japanese complex sentence, we introduce new pragmatic roles called observer and motivated respectively to bridge semantic roles of subordinate and those of main clauses. By these new roles constraints on the relations among semantic/pragmatic roles are known to be almost local within subordinate or main clause. In other words, as for the semantics of the whole complex sentence, the only role we should deal with is a motivated.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004 11:09 GMT
Saturday, 18 December 2004


The Quantificational/Referential Distinction and Negative Polarity

By Daniel Rothschild

There is an interesting class of expressions, including ever, any, and at all, called negative polarity items. They can only be used in certain linguistic contexts. We speak of such contexts as "licensing" the use of these terms. Some standard accounts of which contexts license negative polarity items (henceforth, NPIs) are inadequate. Here I will briefly discuss the problem with these accounts and propose new licensing conditions. Typically NPI's are thought to be licensed only in downward-entailing contexts (DE). I argue that they are rather only licensed in non-upwardentailing contexts. Then I give a semantic characterization of these contexts (non-UE contexts) in terms of domain-sensitivity. This proposal, I take to be roughly in line with some other proposals in the literature [Chierchia, forthcoming].
It turns out that the success of this account, or any account like it, requires examination of various questions about the semantics of noun-phrases. Definite descriptions, particularly, seem to provide a counterexample to my proposal for NPI-licensing. In order to handle this I examine a class of non-Russellian semantics for definite descriptions.
I then argue that NPI's indicate a fundamental semantic distinction between different forms of noun phrases. This distinction is meant to capture the intuitive distinction between quantificational and referential nounphrases. However, which noun phrases count as which is quite surprising.

See also

Posted by Tony Marmo at 09:42 GMT
Friday, 17 December 2004


Why Surprise-Predicates do not Embed Polar Interrogatives

By Klaus Abels

This paper is about the observation that certain predicates (like be surprised) do not embed polar interrogatives, i.e.
*John is surprised whether Mary was a the party.
Developing insights by Heim (1994) and d'Avis (2001, 2002), I claim that this observation follows from the independently motivated presuppositions of predicates like 'be surprised' and, crucially, the assumption that polar interrogatives denote singleton sets of propositions. Special clause type features as proposed for example in Grimshaw (1979) turn out not to be necessary.

Reference: lingBuzz/000061

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004 22:58 GMT
Thursday, 16 December 2004


Sententialism and Berkeley's Master Argument

By Zolt?n Gendler Szab?

Sententialism is the view that intensional positions in natural languages occur within clausal complements only. According to proponents of this view, intensional transitive verbs - such as `want', `seek', or `resemble' - are actually propositional attitude verbs in disguise. I argue that `conceive' (and a few other verbs) cannot fit this mold - conceiving-of is not reducible to conceiving-that. The path of the argument is somewhat unusual. I offer a new analysis of where Berkeley's Master Argument goes astray, analyzing what exactly is odd about saying that Hylas conceives a tree which in not conceived. It turns out that a sententialist semantics cannot adequately account for the source of absurdity in attitude ascriptions of this type; to do that, we need to acknowledge irreducibly non-propositional (but nonetheless de dicto) conceiving.

This paper is forthcoming in Philosophical Quarterly.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004 03:57 GMT
Tuesday, 14 December 2004


Contextual Variables as Pronouns

By Luisa Marti

In this paper I pursue the hypothesis that contextual variables of the kind associated with quantificational expressions like every, most or usually, abbreviated as C from now on, are covert pronominal items. An important advantage that this hypothesis offers is that, if true, then the grammatical tools needed to explain properties of pronouns can be used to explain properties of C, i.e., no new machinery needs to be introduced into the grammar to deal with C. If C is a pronoun, then we expect the behavior of C to be like the behavior of pronouns. What I do in this talk is show that the behavior of bound C is indeed like the behavior of bound pronouns. In particular, I show that C is subject to Weak Crossover (WCO).

Tell me more

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 December 2004 12:15 GMT
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

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