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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Saturday, 23 October 2004

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Could a machine have a mind?

By Tennessee Leeuwenburg

Attempting to answer poses a frankly massive ontological problem - so great that I believe that could one solve the ontological issues, the answer to the question would be apparent. There is a definite history to understanding the philosophy of the mind, and many of the attempts to describe the mind will be outlined in this essay. However, there is only one logical launching point - the simple fact that humans have minds. It will be my eventualy position that a machine can indeed have a mind, but before this can be argued for, let alone established, the problem must first be understood.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 22 October 2004 18:30 BST
Friday, 22 October 2004

Coulda,Woulda, Shoulda

By Stephen Yablo

An enormous amount has been done with the metaphysical/conceptual distinction. Yet, and I think this is agreed by everyone, the distinction remains not terribly well understood. One reason it is not well understood is that the conceptual side of the distinction didn't receive at Kripke's hands the same sort of development as the metaphysical side.

This might have been intentional on Kripke's part. He might have thought the conceptual notion to be irremediably obscure, but important to mention lest it obscure our view of metaphysical necessity. Certainly this is the attitude that many take about the conceptual notion today. It could be argued that much of the contemporary skepticism about narrow content is at the same time skepticism about conceptual possibility. Narrow content, if it existed, would give sense to conceptual possibility: holding its narrow content fixed, S could have expressed a truth. If one rejects narrow content, one needs a different explanation, and none comes to mind. Going in the other direction, one might try to define S's narrow content as the set of worlds w whose obtaining conceptually necessitates that S. Lewis remarks somewhere that whoever claims not to understand something will take care not to understand anything else whereby it might be explained. If you don't understand narrow content, you will take care not to understand conceptual possibility either.

But,although many people have doubts about conceptual possibility,a number of other people are entirely gung ho about it. Some even treat it (and narrow content) as more, or anyway no less, fundamental than metaphysical possibility (and broad content).

Read more

Posted by Tony Marmo at 04:06 BST
Updated: Friday, 22 October 2004 04:08 BST
Thursday, 21 October 2004


Why Compositionality Won't Go Away:
Reflections on Horwich's `Deflationary' Theory

By Jerry Fodor and Ernie Lepore

Compositionality is the idea that the meanings of complex expressions (or concepts) are constructed from the meanings of the less complex expressions (or concepts) that are their constituents. Over the last few years, we have just about convinced ourselves that compositionality is the sovereign test for theories of lexical meaning. So hard is this test to pass, we think, that it filters out practically all of the theories of lexical meaning that are current in either philosophy or cognitive science. Among the casualties are, for example, the theory that lexical meanings are statistical structures (like stereotypes); the theory that the meaning of a word is its use; the theory that knowing the meaning of (at least some) words requires having a recognitional capacity for (at least some) of the things that it applies to; and the theory that knowing the meaning of a word requires knowing criteria for applying it. Indeed, we think that only two theories of the lexicon survive the compositionality constraint: viz., the theory that all lexical meanings are primitive and the theory that some lexical meanings are primitive and the rest are definitions. So compositionality does a lot of work in lexical semantics, according to our lights.

Well, so imagine our consternation and surprise when, having just about convinced ourselves of all this, we heard that Paul Horwich has on offer a `deflationary' account of compositionality, according to which,

...the compositionality of meaning imposes no constraint at all on how the meaning properties of words are constituted (154; our emphasis).

Surely, we thought, that can't be right; surely compositionality must rule out at least some theories about what word meanings are; for example, the theory that they are rocks, or that they are sparrows or chairs; for how could the meanings of complex expressions be constructed from any of those? What, we wondered, is going on here?


This essay, together with a number of others on related topics, is reprinted in the book `The Compositionality Papers' by Fodor and Lepore (OUP).

Posted by Tony Marmo at 05:30 BST
Updated: Thursday, 21 October 2004 21:50 BST
Wednesday, 20 October 2004


Dialetheism, logical consequence and hierarchy

By Bruno Whittle

Dialetheism is defined by Graham Priest to be the view that there are true contradictions. It is supposed to offer treatments of the semantic paradoxes that avoid the problems faced by more orthodox resolutions. The advantage of these treatments is supposed to be that they avoid the sort of appeal to a hierarchy of languages or concepts that more orthodox resolutions seem invariably to have to make. For since a dialetheist can simply accept as sound the derivations of contradictions involved in the paradoxes, there is no need for him to invoke a hierarchy to block these derivations.

In this article I argue that dialetheists have a problem with the concept of logical consequence. The upshot of this problem is that dialetheists must appeal to a hierarchy of concepts of logical consequence. Since this hierarchy is akin to those invoked by more orthodox resolutions of the semantic paradoxes, its emergence would appear to seriously undermine the dialetheic treatments of these paradoxes. And since these are central to the case for dialetheism, this would represent a significant blow to the position itself.

In ?1 I explain why and how a dialetheist needs to be able to talk about logical consequence. In ?2 I argue that there are in fact severe restrictions upon how exactly a dialetheist can talk about logical consequence. These restrictions stem from a version of Curry's paradox. I then argue in ?3 that a dialetheist must appeal to a hierarchy of concepts of logical consequence, and, further, that each of these concepts is dialetheically unobjectionable. The justification of this latter claim involves proving that the addition of these concepts together with natural rules for them conservatively extends dialetheic logic. This is proved in the appendix.

Read this article

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 October 2004 04:23 BST
Tuesday, 19 October 2004


Lockean and Logical Truth Conditions

By James Dreier
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

The distinction between logical and Lockean truth conditions helps Expressivism to distinguish itself from Subjectivism. Expressivism is the view that moral judgements lack logical truth conditions. Subjectivism says that moral judgements have logical truth conditions involving the speaker's attitudes. Both theories may allow that moral judgements have Lockean truth conditions involving the speaker's attitudes.

See more

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 October 2004 05:18 BST
Monday, 18 October 2004


Indicative versus subjunctive in future conditionals

By Adam Morton

There are both Indicative and Subjunctive future-tense conditionals. And moreover sometimes the same words can be used to express both.

Jonathan Bennett (2003), in his wonderfully clear and persuasive book, A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals, continues a debate concerning conditionals about the future. For conditionals about the past there is a clear contrast between so-called indicative and subjunctive conditionals. For most people the contrast is typified by a familiar family of incompatible pairs of sentences such as
If Shakespeare did not write Hamlet someone else did.
If Shakespeare had not written Hamlet someone else would have.

The first of these is assertable, given normal beliefs about the world, and the second is not, so the `did/would have' contrast seems to mark a difference in meaning. I'll call these `Adams pairs', since the first examples were due to Ernest Adams.
I'll assume familiarity with the basic use of Adams pairs to make an indicative/subjunctive distinction. Most people on absorbing the distinction are inclined to classify many future tense conditionals, such as

If Bill won't write the play, someone else will.

with subjunctive `did/would have' past-tense conditionals. Bennett argues against this, urging us to classify `will/will' and `is/will' conditionals with indicative `did/did' ones. Bennett's claim is strong: not only are future tense conditionals usually of the indicative variety, but we cannot use these grammatical forms to express subjunctive conditionals. In this paper I shall contest this latter claim, focusing on paired examples in the familiar family. So the central task is to show that there are Adams pairs set in the future.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 19:24 BST
Updated: Monday, 18 October 2004 19:28 BST


Binding alongside Hamblin alternatives calls for variable-free semantics

Chung-chieh Shan
Source: Semantics Archive

The compositional, bottom-up computation of alternative sets was first introduced by Hamblin (1973) into Montague grammar to treat in-situ wh-questions. In the thirty years since then, alternative sets have found their way into theories of focus (Rooth 1985), indeterminate pronouns (Shimoyama 2001), and free-choice indefinites (Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002). These theories often position alternatives as a scope-taking mechanism that operates separately from Quantifier Raising (May 1977), Quantifying In (Montague 1974), or some other scope-taking mechanism for "genuine" quantifiers like most. On these theories, then, it is not surprising that (say) in-situ who takes scope di erently from most, as is empirically observed.
In particular, if "genuine" scope requires syntactic movement but alternative scope does not, then constraints on movement apply only to the former, and we predict--correctly--that the scope of most is more restricted than the scope of in-situ who.

(1) Who denied that who left?
`Which x and y are such that x denied that y left?'
(2) Who denied that most people left?
*`Which x is such that, for most y, x denied that y left?'

Many theories of quantification, including Quantifier Raising and Quantifying In, make essential use of variables for binding. In the first half of this paper, I show that using variables for binding is incompatible with computing alternatives bottom-up. For example, a theory on which who denotes an alternative set and most books binds a variable cannot account for who read most books. To fix this problem, we can either perform binding without variables (Jacobson 1999, 2000) or compute alternatives non-compositionally. Since Karttunen (1977) has already explored the latter option, I consider the former here: in the second half of this paper, I spell out how to compute alternatives compositionally in a variable-free theory of binding and quantification. Both options fix the problem.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Monday, 18 October 2004 19:09 BST
Sunday, 17 October 2004


Indexicals, Fictions, and Ficta

by Eros Corazza and Mark Whitsey

We defend the view that an indexical uttered by an actor works on the model of deferred reference. If it defers to a character which does not exist, it is an empty term, just as `Hamlet' and `Ophelia' are. The utterance in which it appears does not express a proposition and thus lacks a truth value. We advocate an ontologically parsimonious, anti-realist, position. We show how the notion of truth in our use and understanding of indexicals (and fictional names) as they appear within a fiction is not a central issue. We claim that our use and understanding of indexicals (and names) rests on the fact that their cognitive contribution is not exhausted by their semantic contribution.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 17 October 2004 04:46 BST
Friday, 15 October 2004


Double Negatives, Negative Concord and Metalinguistic Negation

By Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Elena Guerzoni

Two properties of the so-called (after Laka 1990) n-words (Italian nessuno, niente... and Spanish nadie, nada...) do not find a unified account in any of the existing analyses of Negative Concord (NC):
(i) their uses in the special context of denials and
(ii) their incompatibility with factive environments.

We suggest that the unifying property of these two apparently unrelated phenomena is the common sensitivity of these two environments (denials and factives) to non-truthconditional aspects of meaning. Therefor we take these properties to reveal that the meaning of n-words involves a nontruthconditional component. Specifically, we explore the hypothesis that n-words are existential quantifiers at the truth-conditional level but that they contribute negative existentials at the level of their conventional implicatures. This hypothesis explains the special uses of n-words in denials and their incompatibility with factive environments. The fact that they are restricted to the scope of negation (or more precisely averidical expressions (Giannakidou's 1997,2000)) in non-sentence-initial position follows as a consequence of the relation between their implicature and their semantic contribution to the truth conditions of the sentences they appear in. Under certain common additional stipulations, this view can be extended to preverbal occurrences as well.

Get it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:30 BST


On Tough Movement

By Milan Rezac

The problematique of Tough Movement (Kate[i] is easy to please e[i]) is addressed as four problems:
(i) What gives rise to the one-to-one correlation between a non-expletive subject and a clausal complement with a gap;
(ii) How does the subject link to the gap;
(iii) How does the gap enter into the A'-system in its clause and why does it show anomalous properties;
(iv) What determines the distribution of Tough Movement.

(i) and (ii) are shown to follow from the syntax and interpretation of non-thematic positions. Much of (iii) suggests that the gap does not move but enters pure A'-Agree with the C of its clause, combining the virtue of earlier A' and pro approaches. (iv) is addressed more vaguely in terms of the latter hypothesis and the need of pure A'-Agree to be externally identified.

Source: Ling Buzz/000045


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST



Please, if anyone has a website with online copies of all works by Newton da Costa and Graham Priest, let me know.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 15 October 2004 03:39 BST
Thursday, 14 October 2004


Ellipsis and the Structure of Discourse

By Daniel Hardt & Maribel Romero

It is generally assumed that ellipsis requires parallelism between the clause containing the ellipsis and some antecedent clause. We argue that the parallelism requirement generated by ellipsis must be applied in accordance with discourse structure: a matching antecedent clause must be found that locally c-commands the clause containing the ellipsis in the discourse tree. We show that this claim makes several correct predictions concerning the interpretation of ellipsis, both in terms of the selection of the antecedent (in sluicing and verb phrase ellipsis), and in terms of the possible readings assuming a particular antecedent (in the 'many-clause' puzzle and in antecedent-contained deletion).


[1], [2], [3].

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Thursday, 14 October 2004 01:44 BST
Tuesday, 12 October 2004


Aspect and Scope in Future Conditionals

By Bridget Copley
DRAFT (3/10/2004)

This paper argues that though will and be going to both involve a future modal, their meanings differ aspectually. Be going to includes a progressive-like aspectual operator that takes scope over the future modal. Will, on the other hand, is ambiguous between a reading that is the future modal alone, and a reading that has a generic-like aspectual operator over the modal. The evidence for these logical forms consists primarily of modal effects caused by aspectual operation on the temporal argument of the future modal's accessibility relation. Similar evidence motivates a proposal that future modals in conditionals can have scope either over or under the antecedent of the conditional. These findings argue against analyses that treat futures as a kind of tense, and suggest possible directions for theories of aspect, modals, and conditionals.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Monday, 11 October 2004


Coherentism and Justified Inconsistent Beliefs: A Solution

By Jonathan Kvanvig

Problems for coherentism come in two forms. The fundamental issue that coherentists have not been very successful in addressing is the problem of saying precisely what coherence involves. BonJour's account in The Structure of Empirical Knowledge is among the most detailed available, but he admits that it "is a long way from being as definitive as desirable." More recently, he has been more skeptical about the accomplishments on this score to date, writing that "the precise nature of coherence remains an unsolved problem." Recently, some hope has emerged that progress can be made on this issue, but the more pressing problem for coherentism comes in the form of objections to the view that are independent of any particular construal of the coherence relation itself. These problems are more pressing, since if these objections are correct, coherentists need not waste their time explicating the nature of coherence-the view would be false independently of these details. Among these objections are the claims that coherentism cannot account for the essential role of experience in justification (commonly termed the isolation objection), that coherentism cannot correctly explain what it is to base one's beliefs properly, and that coherentism cannot explain properly the relationship between justification and truth. My view of the matter is that none of these objections decisively undermine coherentism, but there is a one version of the problem of the relationship between justification and truth that is, to my mind, the most pressing difficulty coherentism faces. It is the problem of justified inconsistent beliefs. In a nutshell, there are cases in which our beliefs appear to be both fully rational and hence justified, and yet the contents of the beliefs are inconsistent, often knowingly inconsistent. This fact contradicts the seemingly obvious idea that a minimal requirement for coherence is logical consistency.

I will first explain the problem of justified inconsistent beliefs for coherentism, and then show how to avoid it. To anticipate my argument, the key is to note that there are distinct types of justification. There is the ordinary intuitive notion on which justification is roughly synonymous with reasonable or rational belief. Coherentists, however, are interested in the type of justification that is part of a proper account of knowledge, the kind of justification which is such that if it is ungettiered and conjoined to true belief, yields knowledge. In slogan form, I will summarize this idea as by saying that the kind of justification in question for coherentists is the kind that puts one in a position to know. I will call such justification "epistemic justification", and when I intend to talk about the more ordinary, commonplace justification that need not put one in a position to know, I will use the term `justification' without the qualifier. I will argue, in my preferred terminology, that epistemic justification cannot be identified with justification. The key to solving the problem of justified inconsistent beliefs, then, is to allow that they are possible on the ordinary intuitive notion of justification but not on the kind of justification that puts one in a position to know. The trick is to substantiate these claims and not rely simply on the claim that such a distinction can be drawn. I will do so with little more in the way of assumptions than a relatively well-understood form of internalism, something coherentists (and others) are committed to, anyway.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Monday, 11 October 2004 10:28 BST
Sunday, 10 October 2004


Total Adjectives vs. Partial Adjectives: Scale Structure and Higher-Order Modifiers

Carmen Rotstein & Yoad Winter

This paper studies a distinction that was proposed in previous works between total and partial adjectives. In pairs of adjectives such as safe -dangerous ,clean -dirty and healthy -sick , the first ( "total ") adjective describes lack of danger, dirt, malady, etc., while the second ( "partial ") adjective describes the existence of such properties. It is shown that the semantics of adjective phrases with modifiers such as almost ,slightly , and completely is sensitive to whether the adjective is total or partial. The interpretation of such modified constructions is accounted for using a novel scale structure for total and partial adjectives. It is proposed that the standard value of a total adjective is always fixed as the lower bound of the corresponding partial adjective. By contrast, the standard value of partial adjectives can take any point on the partial scale. The effects of this theoretical distinction on the behavior of modified constructions are studied in detail, and their ramifications for the semantic theory of adjectives are discussed. Some other phenomena are surveyed that show evidence for total and partial adjectival constructions with various comparatives and exceptive phrases.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST

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