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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Thursday, 6 April 2006

Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactuals in a Dynamic Context

By Kai von Fintel

This paper has presented a sketch of an alternative implementation of the standard possible worlds semantics of counterfactuals.

The Presupposition of Subjunctive Conditionals

By Kai von Fintel

Why are some conditionals subjunctive? It is often assumed that at least one crucial difference is that subjunctive conditionals presuppose that their antecedent is false, that they are counterfactual (Lakoff 1970). The traditional theory has apparently been refuted. Perhaps the clearest counter-example is one given by Alan Anderson (1951: 37): If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown just exactly those symptoms which he does in fact show. A typical place to use such a subjunctive conditional would be in the course of an argument that tries to bolster the hypothesis that Jones did in fact take arsenic. But then it would of course be self-defeating to presuppose that the hypothesis is false. Thus, something else must be going on.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006 01:45 BST
Friday, 31 March 2006

Topic: Interconnections

Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information Science

By Marcia J Bates

Background. Many definitions of information, knowledge, and data have been suggested throughout the history of information science. In this article, the objective is to provide definitions that are usable for the physical, biological, and social meanings of the terms, covering the various senses important to our field.

Argument. Information 1 is defined as the pattern of organization of matter and energy. Information 2 is defined as some pattern of organization of matter and energy that has been given meaning by a living being. Knowledge is defined as information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding.

Elaboration. The approach is rooted in an evolutionary framework; that is, modes of information perception, processing, transmission, and storage are seen to have developed as a part of the general evolution of members of the animal kingdom. Brains are expensive for animals to support; consequently, efficient storage, including, particularly, storage at emergent levels-for example, storing the concept of chair, rather than specific memories of all chairs ever seen, is powerful and effective for animals. Conclusion. Thus, rather than being reductionist, the approach taken demonstrates the fundamentally emergent nature of most of what higher animals and human beings, in particular, experience as information.


Source: Philoinfo group

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:53 GMT
Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006 17:59 GMT
Friday, 24 March 2006

Topic: Interconnections

A Paradox:

Tony Marmo

We try to defeat death everyday by moral means, which is to say: once one human is aware of or believes in his temporal finitude, he endeavours to overcome it by attaching a time transcending significance to his own existence. In this sense, each of us needs to believe in his own significance, which he maps onto immortality, whilst he believes in the insignificance and hence in the mortality of the others. The kind of significance that transcends time and at the same time seems reachable to individuals is the Philosophical one.

From the Maieutikos Blog

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:12 GMT
Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006 16:15 GMT
Monday, 20 March 2006

Topic: Interconnections

The Truth According to James

By Andre Fuhrmann

In this paper I shall be mainly concerned with James’s thesis that pragmatist truth is absolute. James tried to safeguard this aspect of pragmatist truth by means of a particular version of the convergence thesis. But before turning to this aspect of his theory, I shall begin by briefly reviewing James’s view of how the three theses are to be integrated into a pragmatist theory of truth. I shall then discuss in some detail James’s theory of absolute truth as it emerges in a discussion of a supposed problem case for any evidence-constraint theory of truth such as James’s. This is the case of past events that have left no evidential traces. James’s theory of absolute truth, so I shall argue, is a close cousin to Crispin Wright’s theory of superassertibility.

Appeared in Pragmatism Today, ed. A. Fuhrmann and E. Olsson

Posted by Tony Marmo at 20:25 GMT
Friday, 10 March 2006


Davidson's Criticism of the Proximal Theory of Meaning

By Dirk Greimann

According to the proximal theory of meaning, which is to be found in Quine’s early writings, meaning is determined completely by the correla-tion of sentences with sensory stimulations. Davidson tried to show that this theory is untenable because it leads to a radical form of skepticism. The present paper aims to show, first, that Davidson’s criticism is not sound, and, second, that nonetheless the proximal theory is untenable because it has a very similar and equally unacceptable consequence: it implies that the truth-value of ordinary sentences like ‘Snow is white’ is completely determined by the properties of the speaker, not by the properties of the objects to which these sentences refer.

Appeared in Principia - An International Journal Of Epistemology, volume 9, n. 1-2, p. 73-86, 2005.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:25 GMT
Monday, 6 March 2006


Universal versus Existential Quantifiers

The Russian vsjakij

By Georgy Bronnikov

The quantifier vsjakij has drawn considerable attention from semanticists in the Russian tradition. This article proposes an analysis based on the morphological structure of the word, using Carlson’s (1977) theory of kind reference. The result is an account that allows us to give a unified treatment to generic [sic] and existential uses of vsjakij, which, to my knowledge, has never been done before. There remain a number of problematic cases; those are noted and, where possible, analyzed as well. If the proposed account is correct, vsjakij turns out to be a near-exception to a well-known universal stating that no language has determiners specialized for kind reference (see, for example, Gerstner-Link and Krifka 1995, p. 967, Dayal 2004, p. 394).

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 14:24 GMT
Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006 14:28 GMT
Saturday, 25 February 2006


What is a Field

PROPAEDEUTICS was a section inaugurated on the 13th of November of 2005 and is devoted to the introduction of basic formal concepts in the relevant fields of this blog.
The first entry was about what the term field means in mathematical language. The entry was updated today.

Soon there will be a post about the notion of Boolean Algebra.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006 13:41 GMT
Wednesday, 22 February 2006


Degrees of Truth, Degrees of Falsity

By Toby Ord

In this paper I recall the reasons in favour of extending the classical conception of truth to include degrees of truth as well as truth value gaps and gluts, then provide a sketch of a new system of logic that provides all of these simultaneously. Despite its power, the resulting system is quite simple, combining degrees of truth and degrees of falsity to provide a very flexible and elegant conception of truth value.

A paper recommended by Greg Restall.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:27 GMT
Monday, 20 February 2006



The community of Logicians and Philosophers and Linguists will remember Strawson for many years. A man makes himself eternal when his works pervade History.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 22:08 GMT
Thursday, 16 February 2006



One of the curious properties of the Modal Semantics of Human Languages is that they do have a T principle and a Necessitation rule, and even Aristotle’s law, but lack banalisation or collapse.
The T principle may be stated as follows:
T A⊃ A

In Logic the Necessitation Rule requires that if A is a thesis of a certain modal system S, then A is also a thesis of the S. In the study of Natural Languages one may, for instance, think of a variation of Necessitation by simply saying that if a string or sentence that expresses a proposition is a sentence of a language, then the sentence that expresses that the same proposition is necessary must also be a sentence of the same language. But that would be a very basic and elementary principle of natural language.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:45 GMT
Wednesday, 8 February 2006



A very small Tribute to the Greatest Phonetician of the World, who just left us. We shall hereafter and for ever be his disciples.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 05:18 GMT
Monday, 6 February 2006


Some properties of counterfactuals

This note is intended to cover questions some readers have about the posts here and some of my comments on works on counterfactual conditionals.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 08:36 GMT
Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006 08:38 GMT
Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Topic: Interconnections

On Linking Dispositions with Conditionals

By Ryan Wasserman and David Manley

We introduce a dilemma that faces any analysis of dispositional ascriptions in terms of subjunctive conditionals. However carefully the relevant conditionals are formulated, the analysis will founder either on the problem of accidental closeness or on the problem of Achilles’ heels. The dilemma arises even for sophisticated versions of the conditional analysis that are designed to avoid the familiar problems of finks and masks. We conclude by evaluating the prospects for an analysis and offering a proposal of our own.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Saturday, 21 January 2006


New Old Animals from South America

Several species of birds, reptiles and mammals, which were recently discovered, widen the diversity of the pre-historic South American fauna. About 30 new fossil species of South American animals were presented at the Second Latin-American Congress on Vertebrate Paleontology (Rio de Janeiro 2005), such as the 230 million year old and 1.8 meter tall Staurikosaurus pricei, or the first Brazilian Pyrotheria, with a trunk longer than that of an elephant, although smaller in size. Fapesp mag tell us more.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 22:22 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 21 January 2006 22:25 GMT
Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Topic: Counterfactuals

The Content of Counterfactuals and their Role in Explanation

( Or The Benefit of Hindsight)

By Dorothy Edgington

What are counterfactuals for? The question is pressing. Why do we evaluate counterfactuals the way we do? What would go wrong for us if we chose to evaluate them in some other way, e.g. according to the "standard picture"? The question deserves more attention than it has had in the vast literature on counterfactuals. I don't pretend to an exhaustive answer, but highlight some important aspects of their use.

We use counterfactuals in empirical inferences to conclusions about what is actually the case. We need to try to get them right, in order to avoid, as much as possible, arriving at wrong conclusions about what is the case.

We have seen a way in which our counterfactual judgements explain and justify our other beliefs. Of course they play other roles. As is implicit in several of my earlier examples, they also explain and justify our reactions of being glad or sorry, relieved or regretful, that such-and-such has happened.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 04:04 GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 January 2006 04:16 GMT

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