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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Friday, 24 June 2005


On the practice of indirect reports

by Alessandro Capone

In this paper, I shall deal with the practice of indirect speech reports. I shall argue that indirect speech reports are transformations of original speech events (or speech acts), subject to severe limitations, which it is my aim in this paper to spell out in detail. I shall study the interactions with the theory of pragmemes, of indexicals, and of modes of presentation. I end this paper suggesting, given appropriate evidence, that a key to the understanding of indirect reports is the exploration of analogies with the theory of speech acts and that analogies with the theory of propositional attitudes may be misleading.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 23:19 BST
Wednesday, 22 June 2005


On the Storeyed Revenge of Strengthened Liars

By Jordan Howard Sobel

The Strengthened Liar observes that if we follow a partiality theorist and declare the Liar sentence neither true nor false (or failing to express a proposition, or suffering from some sort of grave semantic defect), then the paradox is only pushed back. For we can go on to conclude that whatever this status may be, it implies that the Liar sentence is not true. This claim is true, but it is just the Liar sentence again. We are back in paradox. (Glanzberg 2002, p. 468; 2004, p. 29; 2001, p. 222, “We are back in our contradiction.”)

There are problems with this charge that strengthened liar sentences avenge would be disparagements that they do not express propositions, by reappearing as claims that are easy consequences of these disparagements. For one thing, if, as one supposes, claims would be propositions not sentences, [t]his claim cannot be the Liar sentence again. (Cf., Grim 1991, p. 19.) For another thing, while it does follow from the disparagement that a Liar sentence does not express a proposition, that this sentence does not express a true proposition, it is a consequence of that disparagement that this claim or proposition is not expressed by the Liar sentence itself. However, there are ways in which informal and formal revelations that Liar sentences do not express propositions and seem to bring them back with vengeance. This is their story.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:55 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 22 June 2005 04:03 BST
Tuesday, 21 June 2005


Standard and Non-Standard Quantifiers in Natural Language

By Edward L. Keenan

Since the early 1980s we have been witnessing an explosive growth in our knowledge of natural language quantifiers, specifically of their denotations as opposed to their form, distribution, or compositional interpretation. Our concern here is to unify and extend these results, highlighting generalizations of linguistic interest. We present first an inventory of semantically defined classes of quantifiers expressible in English, and then a list of linguistic generalizations stated in terms of these classes and their defining concepts. We close with two types of quantification that lie outside these classes and which invite further research as less is known about them.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:03 BST
Thursday, 16 June 2005


Zero Tolerance for Pragmatics

By Christopher Gauker

The proposition expressed by a sentence is relative to a context. But what are the values of the context variables? Many theorists would include among these values aspects of the speaker's intention in speaking. My thesis is that, on the contrary, the values of the context variables never include the speaker's intention. My argument for this thesis turns on a consideration of the role that the concept of proposition expressed in context is supposed to play in a theory of linguistic communication and on a consideration of what a speaker and a hearer can reasonably expect of one another. Although I call this thesis zero tolerance for pragmatics, it is not an expression of intolerance for everything that might be called pragmatics.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 07:48 BST
Updated: Thursday, 16 June 2005 07:59 BST
Friday, 10 June 2005


Questioning Contextualism

By Brian Weatherson

There are currently a dizzying variety of theories on the market holding that whether an utterance of the form S knows that p is true depends on pragmatic or contextual factors. Even if we allow that pragmatics matters, there are two questions to be answered. First, which kind of pragmatic factors matter? Broadly speaking, the debate here is about whether practical interests (the stakes involved) or intellectual interests (which propositions are being considered) are most important. Second, whose interests matter? Here there are three options: the interests of S matter, the interests of the person making the knowledge ascription matter, or the interests of the person evaluating the ascription matter.
This paper is about the second question. I’m going to present some data from the behaviour of questions about who knows what that show it is not the interests of the person making the knowledge ascription that matter. This means the view normally known as contextualism about knowledge-ascriptions is false. Since that term is a little contested, and for some suggests merely the view that someone’s context matters, I’ll introduce three different terms for the three answers to the second question.
• Environmentalism – The interests of S, i.e. her environment, matter.
• Indexicalism – The interests of the person making the knowledge ascription matter, so ‘know’ behaves like an indexical term.
• Relativism – The interests of the person evaluating the knowledge ascription matter, so knowledge ascriptions are not true or false simpliciter but only relative to an evaluator.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 05:40 BST
Updated: Friday, 10 June 2005 05:42 BST
Saturday, 4 June 2005

This post is also available here.

The Stanley-Rett Debate

Nominal Restriction

By Jason Stanley

Extra-linguistic context appears to have a profound effect on the determination of what is expressed by the use of linguistic expressions. For a bewildering range of very different linguistic constructions, adhering to relatively straightforward linguistic intuition about what is expressed leads us to the conclusion that facts about the nonlinguistic context play many different roles in determining what is said. Furthermore, that so many different constructions betray this sort of sensitivity to extra-linguistic context understandably leads to pessimism about rescuing the straightforward intuitions while preserving any sort of systematicity in the theory of meaning.
A presumption motivating the pessimistic inclination is that, if we accept the ordinary intuitions, what appears to be very different ways in which context affects semantic content in fact are different ways in which context affects linguistic content. Pessimism is a natural reaction to those who adopt this presumption, because if appearance is a good guide to the facts in this domain, then there are just too many ways in which context affects semantic content to preserve systematicity. One common and natural reaction to these facts is, therefore, to deny the semantic significance of the ordinary intuitions, thereby relegating the project of explaining the apparent effects of extra-linguistic context on semantic content to a domain of inquiry outside the theory of meaning proper. So doing removes the threat context poses to the systematicity of semantic explanation, but at the cost of reducing the interest of the semantic project.
In this paper, I explore a different reaction to the situation. My purpose is to undermine the presumption that what appear to be very different effects of context on semantic content are very different effects. My challenge is of necessity rather limited, since it is too implausible to trace all effects of extra-linguistic context on semantic content to the very same source. Rather, I will take, as a case study, three superficially very different effects of context on semantic content, and show that they are due to the very same mechanism, what I call Nominal Restriction. I thereby hope to provide convincing evidence of the promise of the project of reducing all apparent effects of context on semantic content to a small number of sources.

Published in Logical Form and Language, edited by Peters and Preyer, Oxford University Press (2002)

Context, Compositionality and Calamity

By Jessica Rett

This paper examines an attempt made in a series of articles (Stanley 2002, a.o.) to create a syntactic placeholder for contextual information. The initial shortcoming of Stanley’s proposal is that it does not easily integrate these placeholders with domain-restricting information syntactically encoded elsewhere in the utterance. Thus, Stanley erroneously predicts that a sentence in which quantifier restricting information encoded in (for example) a prepositional phrase conflicts with quantifier-restriction valued by context is internally incoherent.
I continue by exploring the space of possible solutions to this problem that are available to Stanley, demonstrating how each of these possible solutions results in its own interpretation problem and, ultimately, fails. In doing so, I argue that Stanley’s syntactic/semantic approach to context is ultimately untenable.

Source: Semantics Archive
To appear in Mind & Language

Of related interest:

Context Dependence and Compositionality

By Francis Jeffrey Pelletier

Some utterances of sentences such as ?Every student failed the midterm exam? and ?There is no beer? are widely held to be true in a conversation despite the facts that not every student in the world failed the midterm exam and that there is, in fact, some beer somewhere. For instance, the speaker might be talking about some particular course, or about his refrigerator. Stanley and Szabo (in Mind & Language , 15, 2000) consider many different approaches to how contextual information might give meaning to these ?restricted quantifier domains?, and find all of them but one wanting. The present paper argues that their considerations against one of these other theories, considerations that turn on notions of compositionality, are incorrect.

Appeared in Mind & Language, April 2003, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 148-161(14)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Saturday, 4 June 2005 12:55 BST
Thursday, 2 June 2005

Topic: Interconnections

Many-valued logic vs. many-valued semantics

By Jaroslav Peregrin

Hence the task of the logician, viewed from this perspective, is the delimitation of the range of acceptable truth-valuations of the sentences of the given language – taking note of all the "lawful" features of the separation of true sentences from false ones. Let us call this the separation problem.
Consider the language of classical propositional calculus (and consequently the part of natural language which it purports to regiment). Here the ensuing "laws of truth" are quite transparent:
(i) ¬A is true iff A is not true
(ii) A^B is true iff A is true and B is true
(iii) A∨B is true iff A is true or B is true
(iv) A→B is true iff A is not true or B is true

Every truth-valuation which fulfills these constraints is acceptable and every acceptable truth-valuation does fulfill them. But the situation is, as is well known, not so simple once we abandon the calm waters of the classical propositional calculus.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Wednesday, 1 June 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Knowledge and Explanation

By Carrie Jenkins

In this paper I attempt a project of this kind. I propose a necessary and sufficient condition for A knows that p which is, although recognizably similar to the traditional sets of conditions, arguably immune to the kind of counterexample which tends to deter philosophers from thinking that any illuminating conditions can be found. I present this condition, however, not as an analysis of knowledge, but rather as a way of getting a handle on the concept and furthering the effort to understand what its role in our lives might be. Taken in this spirit, the current proposal is not at odds with the principles that motivate Craig?s view.
In denying my proposal the status of a reductive analysis, I am mindful of the fact that it will tell us little more than that knowledge is ?non-accidental true belief?. What it offers is a (hopefully fruitful) way of spelling out what is meant by ?non-accidental? in this context. In what follows, I shall write ?KAp? for ?A knows that p? and ?BAp? for ?A believes that p.? I shall propose that KAp just in case BAp and it can be said (under specific circumstances, to be described shortly) that A believes p because p is true. But this is not a causal account of knowledge. The ?because? signals not causation, but explanation.

To appear in the Canadian Journal of Philosophy
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:41 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 1 June 2005 17:53 BST
Tuesday, 24 May 2005


The Proper Treatment of Coreference Relations

By Louis-H. Desouvrey

A novel approach to coreference relations is proposed. It is shown that there are no coreference principles per se in the grammar. Rather three constraints independently needed account for this phenomenon: the Oligatory Contour Principle (OCP), the Avoid Ambiguity Constraint (AAC), and the Freedom Constraint. The OCP and the AAC deal with features lexical elements are specified for. Referring elements are indeed distinguished from each other by a relational feature, which represents what the element stands for in the real world. Given nonlinear phonological representations whereby each feature belongs to its own plane, R-features spread from a referential expression to an adjacent referring element, either a pronoun or an anaphor. The ban on line crossing in the representation, which constrains the spreading, accounts for the adjacency between anaphors and their antecedents. The complementarity in the distribution of anaphors and pronouns follows from the feature specification of these elements as well as the interaction of the OCP and the Ambiguity Constraint.

Keywords: coreference, constraints, domains, pronouns, anaphors, syntactic features.
Source: Semantics Archive

The three principles mentioned above are:
(1) Freedom Constraint (FC)
Referring elements must be free in their minimal domain.

(2) Obligatory Contour Principle (OCP)
Two elements bearing identical R-features are banned in the same syntactic domain.

(3) Avoid Ambiguity Constraint (AAC)
Morphological ambiguity must be avoided whenever possible.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2005 14:37 BST
Sunday, 15 May 2005


Tense and Choice Functions

By Mean-Young Song

In this paper, I argue against the two major approaches to the semantics of tense: the quantificational approach and the referential approach. The difference between them lies in the fact that the former is in favor of the indefinite view of tense, whereas the latter the definite view of tense. Tenses are characterized by the variability in the sense that they can be interpreted as being indefinite in some context or definite in other context. The difficulty the two approaches are faced with is that neither takes an appropriate account of the variability of tense. To provide a proper semantic treatment of tense, I propose in this paper a treatment of tense which incorporates choice functions. The choice functions, which apply to a non-empty set of intervals, picks the most salient time the speaker might have in mind at the utterance time. This might assist in capturing the variability of tense.

Key words: tense, definite tense, indefinite tense, the quantification approach, the referential approach, choice functions, presuppositions, temporal predicates

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 08:10 BST
Saturday, 14 May 2005

Topic: Interconnections

Counterfactuals and historical possibility

by Tomasz Placek and Thomas Muller

We show that truth conditions for counterfactuals need not always be given in terms of a vague notion of similarity. To this end, we single out the important class of historical counterfactuals and give formally rigorous truth conditions for these counterfactuals, employing a partial ordering relation called ``comparative closeness'' that is defined in the framework of branching space-times. Among other applications, we provide a detailed analysis of counterfactuals uttered in the context of lost bets. In an appendix we compare our theory with the branching space-times based reading of counterfactuals recently proposed by Belnap [1992].

Keywords: branching space-times, historical counterfactuals, comparative closeness,

Source: PhilSci Archive, Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 15 May 2005 08:14 BST
Sunday, 8 May 2005

Another interesting introduction to Paraconsistent Logic:


By Anthony Hunter
In practical reasoning, it is common to have “too much” information about some situation. In other words, it is common for there to be classically inconsistent information in a practical reasoning database [Besnard et al., 1995]. The diversity of logics proposed for aspects of practical reasoning indicates the complexity of this form of reasoning. However, central to practical reasoning seems to be the need to reason with inconsistent information without the logic being trivialized [Gabbay and Hunter, 1991; Finkelstein et al., 1994]. This is the need to derive reasonable inferences without deriving the trivial inferences that follow the ex falso quodlibet proof rule that holds in classical logic.
[Ex falso quodlibet]
α ¬α

So for example, from a database {α, ¬α, α→β, δ} reasonable inferences might include α, ¬α, α→β, and δ by reflexivity, β by modus ponens, α^;β by introduction, ¬α→¬β and so on. In contrast, trivial inferences might include γ, γ^¬δ, etc, by ex falso quodlibet.
Solutions to the problem of inconsistent data include database revision and
paraconsistent logics. The first approach effectively removes data from the database to produce a new consistent database. In contrast, the second approach leaves the database inconsistent, but prohibits the logics from deriving trivial inferences. Unfortunately, the first approach means we may loose useful information— we may be forced to make a premature selection of our new database, or we may not even be able to make a selection. We consider here the advantages and disadvantages of the paraconsistent approach.
The primary objective of this chapter is to present a range of paraconsistent logics that give sensible inferences from inconsistent information.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 09:36 BST
Friday, 29 April 2005


Foundations of Attentional Semantics

By Giorgio Marchetti

Words are tools that pilot attention. As such, they can be analyzed in terms of the attentional changes they convey. In this article, the process by which words produce attentional changes in the subject hearing or reading them is examined. A very important step in this process is represented by the subject’s conscious experience of the meaning of words. The conscious experience of the meaning differs from the conscious experience of images and perceptions in that the former lacks the qualitative properties of the latter; moreover, while meanings refer to a whole class of objects or events, images and perceptions do not. The peculiar quality and the context- and object-independent character of this form of consciousness is determined by the kind of elements that constitute meanings: attentional operations. As shown by the psychological literature on attention, and by personal experience, attention can be variously piloted to perform several kinds of operations: it can be oriented, focused at variable levels of size and intensity, sustained for variable amounts of time, each single attentional operation can be variously combined with other attentional operations, forming an orderly, albeit complex, sequence of attentional operations, etc. Each meaning is composed of a specific sequence of attentional operations. This sequence represents the skeleton that supports and allows the conversion or actualization of the meaning into any of its sensible, perceptible instances. It is precisely the presence of the attentional operations that induces in the subjects the conscious experience of the meaning.
The subject learns the meanings of words by focusing its attention on the attentional operations that constitute them. The capacity, here labelled as a meta-attentional one, to isolate the attentional operation constituting the meaning does not entail a secondary process occurring at a different level from, but simultaneous with, the primary process to be analyzed. On the contrary, the analyzing process occurs at the same level - the conscious one - as the analyzed process, but a moment later: the subject becomes conscious of the attentional operations constituting the meaning simply by performing them.
Once the process that makes it possible for words to produce attentional changes is explained, and the kind of
components constituting meanings is identified, the foundations of Attentional Semantics are laid: the road to analyze the meaning of words in terms of attentional operations is open.

Keywords: attention, conscious experience, meaning, words, language, attentional operations, semantics
Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:19 BST
Updated: Friday, 29 April 2005 16:20 BST
Tuesday, 26 April 2005


The Meta-Fibring Environment: Preservation of meta-properties by fibring

By Marcelo E. Coniglio

In this paper the categories Mcon and Seq of multiple-conclusion consequence relations and sequent calculi, respectively, are introduced. The main feature of these categories is the preservation, by morphisms, of meta-properties of the consequence relations. This feature is obtained by changing the usual concept of morphism between logics (that is, a signature morphism preserving deductions) by a stronger one (a signature morphism preserving meta-implications between deductions). This allow us to obtain better results by fibring objects in Mcon and in Seq than using the usual notion of morphism between deduction systems:
In fact, meta-fibring (that is, fibring in the proposed categories) avoids the phenomenon of fibring that we call anti-collapsing problem, as opposite to the well-known collapsing problem of fibring. Additionally, a general semantics for objects in Seq (and, in particular, for objects in Mcon) is proposed, obtaining a category of logic systems called Log. A general theorem of preservation of completeness by fibring in Log is also obtained.
Source: CLE

Posted by Tony Marmo at 21:42 BST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2005 21:44 BST
Thursday, 21 April 2005

Topic: Syn-Sem Interface


In the following I shall show that there is not one single notion of phase in Chomsky (2001) and that each of the different formulations have diverse consequences.

The set of analyses and conclusions delineated in my paper (forthcoming) and Chomsky?s (1999) proposals converge to the notion that the phases of a derivation are propositional. Indeed, as Chomsky himself acknowledges, verbal phrases have full argument structure and CPs force indicators. However the same notion of phase in Chomsky (2001) is derived throughout other four different paths.

The first path to derive the notion of phase, which Chomsky has chosen, departs from the inclusiveness condition. He maintains his 1995 idea that the input of a derivation is an array of items taken from the lexicon (LA), but divides it into sub-arrays. Each phase is determined by a sub-array LA{ i } of LA, placed in the active memory. When the computation exhausts LA{ i }, forming the syntactic object K, L returns to LA, either extending K to K' or forming an independent structure M to be assimilated later to K or to some extension of K.

These premises seem to pervade Chomsky?s thoughts, but in discussing what categories demark the phases, i.e., how to label them, he presents a second view, which furthers the first vie. So, he argues that a sub-array LA{i} must be easily identifiable and so contain exactly one lexical item that will label the resulting phase. If one accepts that substantive categories are selected by functional categories, namely V by a light verb v and T by C, then one gets the following thesis:
MT(1) Phases are CP and vP, and a sub-array contains exactly one C or v.

The third alternative to circumscribe phases consists of finding and summoning facts that maintain and correlate PF and LF integrity more generally, what Chomsky claims to be independent support:
MT(2) CP and vP are reconstruction sites, and have a degree of phonetic independence.

The fourth way consists of adopting the idea that the main functional categories, which may have an EPP feature and so function as targets for movement, are phases, but there are divided accordingly to their strength:
MT(3) CP and vP are strong phases, all the others are weak.
Accordingly to the thesis embraced, the spell out operation will apply simply at a phase or at a strong phase level. The options might all seem very stipulative, put this way, but they all play a crucial role in Chomsky?s consistent argumentation in favour of the idea that only the phonological component proceeds in parallel, and not the syntactic and semantic ones. This is expressed in the minimalist thesis bellow:
MT(4) a. There is no overt-covert distinction with two independent cycles; rather, a single narrow-syntactic cycle;
b. The phonological cycle is not a third independent cycle, but proceeds essentially in parallel.

We have already explained the distinction between delete and erase in Section 1, which underlies the reasoning above: by making the deleted features disappear, convergence at LF is allowed. In order to reduce computational burden and allow the phonological component to slight earlier stages of the derivation, another stipulation, the phase impenetrability condition, is added:
(PIC) Only H and its edge are accessible to operations outside a strong phase HP.

The edge being either specs or elements adjoined to HP. Under PIC, operations apply at the accessible elements of HP within the smallest strong ZP phase containing HP and not beyond, and the phonological component spells out elements that move no further. But this means that spell out interprets H and its edge as parts of ZP in a structure like:
(1) [ZP Z... [HP _ | [H YP]]]

Which leads to Ev1, already mentioned.
Let us summarise the dilemmas resulting from these views:
D1 a. A phase is the product of derivational procedures that divide lexical arrays, obeying the inclusiveness condition.
b. A phase is a special functional selector category.

D2 a. The motivation to postulate the existence of phases is semantic: they are characterised as propositional and as reconstruction sites.
b. The motivation to postulate the existence of phases is phonological: they are characterised by the cyclic application of spell-out.

D3 a. Functional categories are divided into phases and non-phases.
b. All functional categories are phases. Phases are divided into weak and strong types.

Neither alternative in the third dilemma is actually good, for phase should be maintained as a derivational notion and not treated as categorial one, by which reason (D1b) must also be discarded. Perhaps (D2) can never be solved, but it permits us to sustain the view that the notion of phase rests upon the application of an operation.
Indeed it has already been argued for the elimination of PIC in the literature. For instance, Stjepanovic' and Takahashi (2003) claim that the effects of PIC can be derived from independently necessary computational mechanisms, such as multiple spell-out and pied-piping. But any arguments in this direction also provide the means to derive the notion of phase from the application of spell-out. If, on the other hand, spell-out is not the only correspondence operation that maps the Syntactic Structure onto a representational level, i.e., if spell-out has a sister reading operation that interacts with the semantic level, then the two operations may be ordered, the application of second operation culminating in the formation of a phase. The only argument for assuming that the second correspondence operation is reading is the empirical observation that the Phonetic Structure seems always to be delayed in relation to the Conceptual Structure.
So, we have the point that PIC is not necessary, for it can be a mere effect of the cyclic application of different operations, as well as a consequence of a version of Godel?s diagonal lemma. Nevertheless, (D2b) also reveals the weak point of the narrow syntax hypothesis: it does not explain why the phonological cycle should essentially proceed in parallel, as stated in MT(7), but the semantic one should not.
(D1a) is the truly principled alternative among all others.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 22 April 2005 01:44 BST

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