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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Sunday, 11 December 2005

Topic: Counterfactuals

The Myth of the Categorical Counterfactual

By David Barnett

Remarkably, standard theories presuppose that, contrary to their surface form, counterfactuals are actually categorical statements. On this view, to state that, if it were that A, it would be that C is to state something, not relative to any supposition or hypothesis, but categorically. Differences in detail among the standard theories are differences over which thing is categorically stated by a counterfactual. Nelson Goodman (1947) says that it is an entailment from the antecedent, together with laws of nature and particular facts about the actual world, to the consequent; Robert Stalnaker (1968) says that it is a predication of a single possible world; and David Lewis (1973) says that it is an existential generalization over a set of possible worlds.

By contrast, W.V.O. Quine (1950), John Mackie (1973), Michael Dummett (1978), and Dorothy Edgington (1995) maintain that counterfactuals are as their surface form suggests: conditional statements. I defend this view by presenting a datum that no categorical interpretation can accommodate. The only way to accommodate the datum is to turn to a conditional, or what I shall call a suppositional interpretation, on which to state that, if it were that A, it would be that C is to state, from within the scope of the supposition that it were that A, that it would be that C. On this view, what is stated by a counterfactual is that it would be that C, and what is supposed by it is that it were that A. Counterfactual statements are acts of supposing-cum-stating. The idea of a categorical counterfactual one that states what it does outside the scope of any suppositionis a myth.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 15:52 GMT
Thursday, 8 December 2005

Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactual Cognitive Operations in Dreams

By Patrick McNamara, Jensine Andresen, Joshua Arrowood, & Glen Messer

We hypothesized that counterfactual (CF) thought occurs in dreams and that cognitive operations in dreams function to identify a norm violation or novel outcome (recorded in episodic memory) and then to integrate this new content into memory by generating counterfactuals to the violation. In study 1 we compared counterfactual content in 50 dream reports, 50 pain memory reports and 50 pleasant memory reports (equated for word length) and found a significantly greater number of CFs in dream and in pain memory reports relative to pleasant memory reports. In study 2 we used a more liberal method for scoring CF content and analyzed 34 dream reports obtained from elderly individuals engaged in an ongoing study of neuropsychologic, health and religiosity variables. Study 2 also examined neuropsychologic associations to CF content variables. In the elderly sample and with our more liberal scoring procedures we found that norm violations along with counterfactual-like attempts to correct the violations occurred in 97% of reports. In 47% of these cases (roughly half of all reports), attempts to undo the violation obeyed at least one constraint on mutability typically observed in laboratory studies of CF processing. Cognitive operations associated with attempts to undo the norm violation (e.g. transforming focal actors or the most recent causal antecedent of the violation) were significantly correlated with measures of right frontal function. We conclude that dreaming may involve a process of learning from novel outcomes (particularly negative outcomes) by simulating alternative ways of handling these outcomes through counterfactual cognitive processes.

Dreaming, Vol. 12 No. 3, September 2002

Posted by Tony Marmo at 18:43 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Conditionals as Definite Descriptions
(A Referential Analysis)

By Philippe Schlenker

In Counterfactuals, David Lewis noticed that definite descriptions and conditionals display the same kind of non-monotonic behavior. We take his observation literally and suggest that if-clauses are, quite simply, definite descriptions of possible worlds (related ideas are developed in Bittner 2001). We depart from Lewis's analysis, however, in claiming that if-clauses, like Strawsonian definite descriptions, refer. We develop our analysis by drawing both on Stalnaker's Selection Function theory of conditionals and on von Heusinger's Choice Function theory of definiteness, and by generalizing their analyses to plural Choice/Selection Functions.
Finally, we explore some consequences of this referential approach: being definites, if-clauses can be topicalized; the word then can be analyzed as a pronoun which doubles the referential term; the syntactician's Binding Theory constrains possible anaphoric relations between the if-clause and the word then; and general systems of referential classification can be applied to situate the denotation of the descriptive term, yielding a distinction between indicative, subjunctive and `double subjunctive' conditionals.

keywords: definite descriptions, conditionals, semantics

Reference: lingBuzz/000215

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:00 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005 18:46 GMT
Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Topic: Interconnections

IV European Meeting
E-CAP 2006@NTNU Norway

Norwegian University of Science and Technology Dragvoll Campus, Trondheim, Norway, June 22-24, 2006

Conference Co-Chairs:
Charles Ess (Drury University / NTNU)
May Thorseth (NTNU)

E-CAP 2006 is generously supported by the Programme for Applied Ethics and the Globalization Programme, NTNU.

E-CAP is the European conference on Computing and Philosophy, the European affiliate of the International Association for Computers and Philosophy (IACAP).


January 27, 2006 Submission of extended abstracts
March 1, 2006 Notification of acceptance
May 5, 2006 Early registration deadline
June 22-24, 2006 Conference

From Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 June 2006 the Fourth International European Conference on COMPUTING AND PHILOSOPHY will be held on the Dragvoll

Campus of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Continuing the foci of the E-CAP conferences (beginning in Glasgow, 2002), ECAP'06 will deal with all aspects of the computational turn that has emerged over the past several decades, and continues to expand and develop as a result of the multiple interactions between philosophy and computing.

Dr. Lucas Introna, Centre for the Study of Technology & Organisation, Lancaster University, UK
Dr. Raymond Turner, Department of Computer Science, University of Essex, UK
Dr. Vincent Hendricks, Department of Philosophy and Science Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark

We invite papers that address all topics related to computing and philosophy, including cross- and interdisciplinary work that explores the computational turn in new ways. Hence, the following is intended to be suggestive, but not exclusive:

- Philosophy of Computer Science (see here.)
- Ontology (Distributed Processing, Emergent Properties, Formal
Ontology, Network Structures, etc)
- Computational Linguistics
- Global Information Infrastructures
- Philosophy of Information and Information Technology (Including: Information as structure; Semantic information)
- Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Problem of Consciousness and Cognition
- Computer-based Learning and Teaching Strategies and Resources & The Impact of Distance Learning on the Teaching of Philosophy and Computing
- IT and Gender Research, Feminist Technoscience Studies
- Information and Computing Ethics
- Biological Information, Artificial Life, Biocomputation
- New Models of Logic Software
- "Intersections" - e.g., work at the crossroads of logic, epistemology,
philosophy of science and ICT/Computing, such as Philosophy of AI
- Ethical and Political Dimensions of ICTs in Globalization.

Authors should submit an electronic version of an extended abstract (total word count approximately 1000 words). The file should also contain a 300 word abstract that will be used for the conference web site/booklet. Final papers must not exceed a total word count of 3500 words and an abstract of not more than 500 words. The submissions should be made electronically, either as PDF, rtf ,or Word format.

To submit papers click here.
The extended abstract submission deadline is Friday 27th January 2006.

For information about paper submission and the program that is not available on the conference web site, please contact the Conference Co-Chairs.


Registration will take place through the conference web site. The registration fee includes the conference reception, conference lunches and coffee and tea breaks, and one ticket to the conference banquet.

Discounted ("earlybird") registration fee (prior to May 5, 2006): € 200
Discounted registration fee - PhD students: € 100 Euro

Regular registration fee (after May 5, 2006): € 250
Regular registration fee - PhD students: € 150 Euro

(Masters and undergraduate students may register for the conference at no cost: a fee will be assessed, however, to cover the costs of the lunches and catering.)

To book accommodation, please visit the conference web site.

The dragvoll campus at NTNU offers excellent conference facilities as well a beautiful physical setting as it overlooks Trondheim and the Trondheim fjord. The city of Trondheim (Norway's ancient capital and home to theNidaros Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Rhine) is easily accessible by air and rail, and is itself more than worth the visit. Beyond city-related information provided on the conference website, see this.

Source: Philo Info group

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:54 GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005 17:01 GMT
Saturday, 3 December 2005

Topic: Counterfactuals

Useful Counterfactuals

By Tom Costello & John McCarthy

Counterfactual conditional sentences can be useful in artificial intelligence as they are in human affairs. In particular, they allow reasoners to learn from experiences that they did not quite have. Our tools for making inferences from counterfactuals permit inferring sentences that are not themselves counterfactual. This is what makes them useful. A simple class of useful counterfactuals involves a change of one component of a point in a space provided with a cartesian product structure. We call these cartesian counterfactuals. Cartesian counterfactuals can be modeled by assignment and contents functions as in program semantics. We also consider the more general tree-structured counterfactuals.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 01:04 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

An Objective Counterfactual Theory of Information

By Jonathan Cohen & Aaron Meskin

Philosophers have appealed to information (as understood by [Shannon, 1948] and introduced to philosophers largely by [Dretske, 1981]) in a wide variety of contexts; information has been proffered in the service of understanding knowledge, justification, and mental content, inter alia. However, the standard accounts of information in circulation suffer from two defects. First, while they construe information in terms of probabilities, the particular conditional probabilities they appeal to are difficult to make sense of on any of the usual understandings of probability. Second, standard accounts relativize the information carried by a signal to the background knowledge of the receiver, and consequently make essential reference to doxastic states of subjects; but if so, then information can't provide the objective, reductive explanations of notions in epistemology and philosophy of mind that many have hoped it could. This paper is an attempt to solve these problems, and thereby to restore the metaphysical bona fides of information.
We'll begin by showing why the usual, probabilistic understandings of information are unsatisfactory (?1). Next we'll go on to propose an alternative account based on counterfactuals (?2), and compare it against Dretske's more familiar account (?3). After that, we'll turn to questions about objectivity: we'll argue that information should not be relativized to doxastic states of subjects, and show how the account of ?2 can be formulated in non-doxastic terms (?4). Finally, we'll consider objections against the our proposed account (?5). At the end of the day, we'll suggest, the objective counterfactual account of information should be taken as a serious contender to more traditional rivals.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:11 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Branching Space-Time, Modal Logic and the Counterfactual Conditional

By Thomas Muller

The paper gives a physicist's view on the framework of branching space-time (Belnap, Synthese 92 (1992), 385?434). Branching models are constructed from physical state assignments. The models are then employed to give a formal semantics for the modal operators possibly and necessarily and for the counterfactual conditional. The resulting formal language can be used to analyze quantum correlation experiments. As an application sketch, Stapp's premises LOC1 and LOC2 from his purported proof of non-locality ( Am. J. Phys. 65 (1997), 300?304) are analyzed.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:09 GMT
Thursday, 1 December 2005


Dynamic Situations: Accounting for Dowty’s Inertia Notion Using Dynamic Semantics

By Ido Ben-Zvi

The theory I advocate is three fold. First, while trying to follow closely in the footsteps of Dowty’s intuitively appealing concept of inertia (the idea of ‘things going on in a normal fashion’), I hold that the modal basis for this concept is epistemic and not ontological. This may seem to be in line with Dowty’s own theory, at least with that fuzzy part about things going on normally. But I will show that Dowty’s modality is either completely ontological, in which case it does not provide the required results, or else is an inconsistent mix up of an ontological and an epistemic base.
Second, I hold that the notion of partiality plays a critical role in the semantics of the progressive. I think that at the intuitive level this too is an enticing conviction. The progressive appears to be a kind of commonsensical projection of what we know on to the parts of reality of which we do not know. Thus the zebra may truly be said to be finishing off the greenery if its (or our) partial knowledge does not include data about the approaching feline death. In trying to analytically bite off a chunk from the vague notion of normality I will take partiality a step further and use it to formally explain what it means for nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary to happen. This is a particularly difficult notion to catch formally because of the double use of negation: not only are we after those ‘things’ which are un-expected, but also are we interested in those cases where they don’t happen.
This leads us to the third pillar on which this thesis rests. Partiality will give us na explanation of what the unexpected happenings are, and my third point is that built into the progressive operator is a kind of minimality constraint. Being interested only in those cases where nothing unexpected happens means throwing away all those cases where something superfluous does happen if we can also imagine a similar case where it does not. Once again, my aim is to crystallize this intuition in a formal way.

Keywords: progressive imperfective dynamic semantics situations

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:42 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005 16:45 GMT
Tuesday, 22 November 2005


Semantic Underdetermination and the Cognitive Uses of Language

By Agustín Vicente & Fernando Martínez Manrique

According to the thesis of semantic under-determination, most sentences of a natural language lack a definite semantic interpretation. This thesis supports an argument against the use of natural language as an instrument of thought, based on the premise that cognition requires a semantically precise and compositional instrument. In this paper we examine several ways to construe this argument, as well as possible ways out for the cognitive view of natural language in the introspectivist version defended by Carruthers. Finally, we sketch a view of the role of language in thought as a specialized tool, showing how it avoids the consequences of semantic under-determination.

Appeared in Mind & Language Volume 20 Issue 5 Page 537- November 2005

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005 00:31 GMT



By Robert Goldblatt

Over a period of three decades or so from the early 1930’s there evolved two kinds of mathematical semantics for modal logic. Algebraic semantics interprets modal connectives as operators on Boolean algebras. Relational semantics uses relational structures often called Kripke models, whose elements are thought of variously as being possible worlds, moments of time, evidential situations, or states of a computer. The two approaches are intimately related the subsets of a relational structure form a modal algebra (Boolean algebra with operators), while conversely any modal algebra can be embedded into an algebra of subsets of a relational structure via extensions of Stone’s Boolean representation theory. Techniques from both kinds of semantics have been used to explore the nature of modal logic and to clarify its relationship to other formalisms particularly first and second order monadic predicate logic.
The aim of this article is to review these developments in a way that provides some insight into how the present came to be as it is. The pervading theme is the mathematics underlying modal logic and this has at least three dimensions. To begin with there are the new mathematical ideas, when and why they were introduced, and how they interacted and evolved. Then there is the use of method and results from other areas of mathematical logic, algebra and topology in the analysis of modal systems. Finally, there is the application of modal syntax and semantics to study notions of mathematical and computational interest.

Appeared in: Handbook of the History of Logic. Volume 6 Dov M. Gabbay and John Woods (Editors)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005 11:35 GMT


Linguistic Side Effects

By Chung-chieh Shan

Apparently non-compositional phenomena in natural languages can be analysed like computational side effects in programming languages: anaphora can be analysed like state, intensionality can be analysed like environment, quantification can be analysed like delimited control, and so on. We thus term apparently non-compositional phenomena in natural languages 'linguistic side effects'. We put this new, general analogy to work in linguistics as well as programming-language theory.
In linguistics, we turn the continuation semantics for delimited control into a new implementation of quantification in type-logical grammar. This graphically-motivated implementation does not move nearby constituents apart or distant constituents together. Just as delimited control encodes many computational side effects, quantification encodes many linguistic side effects, in particular anaphora, interrogation, and polarity sensitivity. Using the programming-language concepts of evaluation order and multistage programming, we unify four linguistic phenomena that had been dealt with only separately before: linear scope in quantification, crossover in anaphora, superiority in interrogation, and linear order in polarity sensitivity. This unified account is the first to predict a
complex pattern of interaction between anaphora and raised-wh questions, without any stipulation on both. It also provides the first concrete processing explanation of linear order in polarity sensitivity.
In programming-language theory, we transfer a duality between expressions and contexts from our analysis of quantification to a new programming language with delimited control. This duality exchanges call-by-value evaluation with call-by-name evaluation, thus extending a known duality from undelimited to delimited control. The same duality also exchanges the familiar 'let' construct with the less-familiar 'shift' construct, so that the latter can be understood in terms of the former.

PhD Dissertation, Harvard University

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005 09:04 GMT


EVENT POSITIONS: Suppression and emergence

By James Higginbotham

Donald Davidson proposed in 1967, and elaborated in subsequent work, the thesis that action predicates in natural language contain an argument position ranging over events, a position that in simple sentences was cashed out through existential quantification. As Claudia Maienborn remarks, Davidson's proposal is naturally extended from action predicates to predicates of all sorts; thus for instance I myself proposed that it extend to all heads in the X' system, including Nouns. A number of linguistic contexts, including those of causation (a relation between events), and accomplishment predicates (involving two events, as process and telos), invite us to consider event complexes. Moreover, there is reason to appeal to an ``E-position'', as I called it, within modifiers that are themselves predicates of events (I expand upon this point in section 3 below). As Maienborn appreciates, the analytic wheel has turned: instead of looking for detailed considerations that would practically compel acknowledgement of the E-position in this or that construction, we assume that the position is always available, and we take the consequences for universal language design and for language difference, both syntactic and semantic.

Appeared in: Theoretical Linguistics Vol 31, No 3 (2005)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005 05:18 GMT


Abandoning Coreference

By Ken Safir

In order to linguistically evaluate what a sentence is permitted to mean (not what it actually means), we do not have to know what a speaker intends to say. Grammar permits us to determine a range of meanings a given coconstrual can have and compute which meanings it cannot have - the rest is not a matter for the grammar at all. In saying so, I am certainly not advocating that it is of no consequence for anybody to examine notions of what people intend to accomplish by uttering what they do - doubtless a complete picture of communicative situations requires such a project. I am explicitly arguing that the full interpretation of a sentence is something greater than the result of formal grammar. In other words, I am insisting, as Lasnik and Chomsky do, on a line between formal grammar and the uses to which the products of formal grammar are put.

To appear in Thought, Reference and Experience: Themes from the Philosophy of Gareth Evans. Ed. J. L. Bermudez. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005 11:41 GMT


Many-valued Logics Enriched with a Stonean Negation: a Direct Proof of Representation and Completeness

By Martinivaldo Konig

This paper studies Lukasiewicz's many-valued logic enriched with a new operator: the Stonean negation. This research focuses on the class of algebras containing the algebraic counterpart of this new logic: the class of Stonean MV-algebras. A direct proof of subdirect representation Theorem is given, as well as an algebraic completeness Theorem.

Keywords: MV-algebra, Stonean MV-algebra, Stonean negation operator, Chang's subdirect representation, Chang's algebraic completeness.

Appeared in L&PS - Logic and Philosophy of Science: Vol. 1 - No.1 - 2005

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Monday, 14 November 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Chimpanzee Theory of Mind: Looking in All the Wrong Places?

By Kristin Andrews

I respond to an argument presented by Daniel Povinelli and Jennifer Vonk that the current generation of experiments on chimpanzee theory of mind cannot decide whether chimpanzees have the ability to reason about mental states. I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's proposed experiment is subject to their own criticisms and that there should be a more radical shift away from experiments that ask subjects to predict behaviour. Further, I argue that Povinelli and Vonk's theoretical commitments should lead them to accept this new approach, and that experiments which offer subjects the opportunity to look for explanations for anomalous behaviour should be explored.

Appeared in Mind & Language, Volume 20, Issue 5, Page 521 - November 2005

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005 00:14 GMT

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