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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Friday, 18 March 2005


The (Non-)Transitivity of Knowledge reports

If some propositional attitudes are interpretable as negation of propositions, should veridical reports containing verbs like to know interpreted as the simple statement of the propositions? This question seems to make sense, since it has been observed that to know something entails that that thing is true. However, a claim like (1a) might mean that the propositional attitude contributes nothing to the meaning of the whole expression. Moreover, if (1a) is true, then (1b) should be the case:
(1) Hypothesis A
a. Γ (π)|=π
b. (Γ (π)|=π)&(π|=β) → Γ (π)|=β

Let us call one of the ideas that seems to underlie the intuition formalised in (1a) Hypothesis A? and re-write it as (2):
(2) Hypothesis A?
a. Γ (π)=π
b. ∴ Adding to know to a proposition σ adds nothing to its meaning.

Hypothesis A? would lead to think that the negation of Γ (π) is the negation of π itself:
(2?) ¬Γ (π)=¬π

Should (2?) hold, then statements of the type not know π and those of the type to know that π is the not case would mean the same. But the evident contrast between sentences (3a) and (b) below does not confirm such prediction:
(3) a. We know that Giselle is not a singer. ≠
b. We do not know that Giselle is a singer.

This contrast suggests that Γ (π) is not equal to π but rather that it means one epistemic agent has access to a truth π , while ¬Γ (π) does not mean that ¬π , but rather that an agent has not access to a truth π .
Still this finding only excludes hypothesis A?, while it would be possible to maintain hypothesis A. Additional evidences, on the contrary, suggest that to know is perhaps the most opaque of the attitudinal verbs, in the sense that sentences with to know somehow block transitivity. Consider this example:
(4) a. People can skate on the lake. |= Its water has frozen.
b. John knows that people can skate on the lake. |≠ Its water has frozen.

Being the entailment in (4a) valid, and if (1b) applies, then the addition of John knows? should not affect the entailment. But (4b) disconfirms such expectation: the mere fact that John knows that people can skate on the lake does not mean right at the same moment that the water of the lake is covered by a thick layer of ice.
Now consider this other hypothesis:
(5) Hypothesis B
(π |=β) → (Γ (π)|= Γ (β))

This second hypothesis is not true either, as shown by (6)
(6) a. Oedipus killed the man he met at the crossroads.
|= The oracle has been fulfilled.
b. Oedipus knows he killed the man he met at the crossroads.
|≠ Oedipus knows the oracle has been fulfilled.

So evidences point to the contrary conclusion, although an expression of the type to know π entails the truth of π , it somehow unmakes π |=β :
(7) Non-transitivity
(Γ (π)|=π)&(π |= β) → (Γ (π)|≠β)& (Γ (π) |≠ Γ (β))

The non-transitivity of veridical reports requires closer examination and more attention. For the sake of economy, such topic cannot and will not be herein investigated in more detail. Here it will suffice to say that the apparent non-transitivity of veridical reports is also an anti-trivialisation mechanism.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 12:29 GMT
Updated: Friday, 18 March 2005 12:36 GMT


Deferential Utterances

By Isidora Stojanovic, Philippe De Brabanter, Neftali Villanueva Fernandez and David Nicolas

Our aim in this paper is to clarify the distinctions and the relationships among several phenomena, each of which has certain characteristics of what is generally called "deference". We distinguish linguistic deference, which concerns the use of language and the meaning of the words we use, from epistemic deference, which concerns our reasons and evidence for making the claims we make. In our in-depth study of linguistic deference, we distinguish two subcategories: default deference (roughly, the ubiquitous fact, noted by externalists like Burge or Putnam, that the truth conditions of our utterances are determined with respect to the language parameter supplied by the context), and deliberate deference (roughly, the intentional, commu-nicative act of using a given expression the way it is used in some contextu-ally specified idiolect or dialect). We also discuss the phenomenon of im-perfect mastery, often associated with deference, and which we show to be independent both of linguistic deference and of epistemic deference. If our analysis is correct, then some recent debates on deference (e.g. between Recanati and Woodfield) can be shown to result from a failure to appreciate all the distinctions that we draw here.

Source: Jean Nicod Institute

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2005 23:58 GMT
Thursday, 17 March 2005


Semantic Minimalism and Non-Indexical Contextualism

By John MacFarlane

On this picture, the sentence Chiara is tall is not context-sensitive in the sense that it expresses different propositions at different contexts. But it is context-sensitive in the sense that the truth value of an utterance of it depends on features of the context—not just the world of the context, but the speaker’s intentions, the conversational common ground, and other such things. Accordingly, this brand of Semantic Minimalism might also be described as a Non-indexical Contextualism. This way of describing it brings out how close it is to Radical Contextualism. Too close, Cappelen and Lepore may feel! However, it is immune to their best arguments against Radical Contextualism, so if they are going to reject it, they need fresh reasons.

An advantage of the framework I have just sketched is that it offers a different (and perhaps deeper) diagnosis than Cappelen and Lepore’s of what goes wrong in Moderate Contextualists’ uses of Context Shifting Arguments. (Unlike Cappelen and Lepore’s diagnosis, this one does not require Speech Act Pluralism, though it is consistent with it.)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:41 GMT


Triggering from Alternative Sets and Projection of Pragmatic Presuppositions

By Dorit Abusch

This paper takes up the problem from Stalnaker (1974) of deriving the pragmatic presuppositions of verbs such as know, stop and win as conversational implicatures, without hypothesizing a semantic presupposition. I interpret data discussed by Karttunen (1969), Chierchia and McConnell-Ginet (1990), Simons (2001) and others as indicating that there is a distinct group of “soft” presupposition triggers whose pragmatic presuppositions, though systematic, are also context-dependent and easily suspendable. These are distinguished from “hard” presuppositions triggers like it-clefts and too which on the assumptions of this paper introduce semantic presuppositions. These distinctions are defended in sections 1 and 2. Sections 3 and 4 review and criticize proposals from Stalnaker (1974) and Simons (2001) for deriving the pragmatic presuppositions of soft triggers as conversational implicatures. Section 5 introduces the hypothesis that the pragmatic presuppositions of soft triggers come from alternatives to lexical meanings, such as the alternative lose to win. A pragmatic presupposition is derived as the default assumption that some alternative is true. In section 6, the default existential presupposition of intonational focus is attributed to the same process. Section 7 proposes a systematic pragmatic derivation of a conversational implicature, using a specific default axiom called G, and a general pragmatic process of enrichment reasoning. Sections 8, 9, and 10 address the projection problem for the pragmatic presuppositions of soft triggers. It is shown that projection data for these triggers is the same as what is seen for hard triggers, which would seem to favor an analysis using semantic presuppositions. The puzzle is resolved by replacing G with a default generalization L which refers to the local information states manipulated by compositional semantics in dynamic compositional theories. Section 9 also considers general issues of the interface between pragmatics and compositional semantics. Section 11 shows that the derivation using L also deals with projection data for focus.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:31 GMT



Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2005 16:19 GMT
Tuesday, 15 March 2005


Implying Existence

By Daniel Rothschild

This short paper tries to give a common explanation of two different semantic phenomena. One is the fact that certain uses of non-referring definite descriptions give an appearance of truth-value gaps while others uses do not. The other is that bare plurals in English sometimes have existential readings and sometimes have generic readings. I think the explanation involves the distinction between two kinds of predicates. One type of predicate places items within some realm of discourse (like the actual world), other predicates just attribute properties to objects that aren?t linked to any particular situation. This distinction reveals something about the relationship between predication and possible situations.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 01:57 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 March 2005 02:00 GMT
Saturday, 12 March 2005

Now Playing: REPOSTED

Supervaluationism and Paraconsistency

by Achille C. Varzi

Supervaluational semantics have been applied rather successfully to a variety of phenomena involving truth-value gaps, such as vagueness, lack of reference, sortal incorrectedness. On the other hand, they have not registered a comparable fortune (if any) in connection with truth-value gluts, i.e., more generally, with semantic phenomena involving overdeterminacy or inconsistency as opposed to indeterminacy and incompleteness. In this paper I review some basic routes that are available for this purpose. The outcome is a family of semantic systems in which (i) logical truths and falsehoods retain their classical status even in the presence gaps and gluts, although (ii) the general notions of satifiability and refutability are radically non-classical .

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:04 GMT


Paraconsistent logic from a modal viewpoint

By Jean-Yves Beziau

In this paper we study paraconsistent negation as a modal operator, considering the fact that the classical negation of necessity has a paraconsistent behavior. We examine this operator on the one hand in the modal logic S5 and on the other hand in some new four-valued modal logics.

Keywords: Modal logic; Paraconsistent logic; Negation; Square of opposition

Appeared at the Journal of Applied Logic.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2005 01:05 GMT
Friday, 11 March 2005



Professor Cesar Lattes, one of the most important Physicists of the world, died on the 8th day of March this year, in the University Hospital of Campinas. He was 80 years old. His most famous contribution to Physics was his important participation in the discovery of the pi meson, in 1947.

Later he became the founder of the Department of Cosmic Rays and Chronology of the "Gleb Wataghin" Physics Institute, at the State University of Campinas, and helped to erect many laboratories throughout Brazil.

He died of a myocardial infarction, and left four daughters and nine grandchildren.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:43 GMT


Counterfactuals and Preemptive Causation

By Jonardon Ganeri, Paul Noordhof & Murali Ramachandran

David Lewis modified his original theory of causation in response to the problem of late preemption (see 1973b; 1986b: 193-212). However, as we will see, there is a crucial difference between genuine and preempted causes that Lewis must appeal to if his solution is to work. We argue that once this difference is recognized, an altogether better solution to the preemption problem presents itself.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 11 March 2005 11:03 GMT


An Axiomatic Characterization of Causal Counterfactuals

By David Galles & Judea Pearl

This paper studies the causal interpretation of counterfactual sentences using a modifiable structural equation model. It is shown that two properties of counterfactuals, namely, composition and effectiveness, are sound and complete relative to this interpretation, when recursive (i.e., feedback-less) models are considered. Composition and eectiveness also hold in Lewis's closest-world semantics, which implies that for recursive models the causal interpretation imposes no restrictions beyond those embodied in Lewis's framework. A third property, called reversibility, holds in nonrecursive causal models but not in Lewis's closest-world semantics, which implies that Lewis's axioms do not capture some properties of systems with feedback. Causal inferences based on counterfactual analysis are exemplied and compared to those based on graphical

Keywords: Causality, counterfactuals, interventions, structural equations, policy analysis, graphical models

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 11 March 2005 11:03 GMT

Topic: Interconnections

Defending Time-Symmetrized Quantum Counterfactuals

By Lev Vaidman

Recently, several authors have criticized the time-symmetrized quantum theory originated by the work of Aharonov et al. (1964). The core of this criticism was a proof, appearing in various forms, which showed that the counterfactual interpretation of time-symmetrized quantum theory cannot be reconciled with standard quantum theory. I, (Vaidman, 1996a, 1997) have argued that the apparent contradiction is due to a logical error and introduced consistent time-symmetrized quantum counterfactuals. Here I repeat my arguments defending the time-symmetrized quantum theory and reply to the criticism of these arguments by Kastner (1999).

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 11 March 2005 11:14 GMT


Settling the Interpretation of Counterfactuals

By Lynn Nichols

This research contributes to the growing body of work on the role of context change in the interpretation of counterfactual conditionals. One result of the study was the delimitation of where context change and pragmatic factors external to the conditional are not involved in the construction of counterfactual meaning. With respect to the phenomena that had formerly led some to conclude that counterfactual interpretation derives from an implicature, two issues were resolved. First, when real (strict) counterfactuals were properly identified among the class of English non-indicative conditionals, it was revealed that the phenomena in question are not in fact found with counterfactuals. Second, these phenomena are not the result of implicature effects after all, rather they represent the settling of a truth value previously under consideration. The latter sort of interpretation has been referred to here as a live option interpretation, borrowing a term from Stalnaker (1975); Karttunen and Peters (1979) referred to this class as hypothetical, but live option more accurately characterizes the truth of these propositions as under consideration in the course of the conditional. On the basis of these findings, the case was made that counterfactual interpretation derives from internal compositional semantics.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 11 March 2005 11:01 GMT
Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Topic: Ontology&possible worlds

Who's Afraid of Impossible Worlds?

By Edwin D. Mares

A theory of ersatz impossible worlds is developed to deal with the problem of counterpossible conditionals. Using only tools standardly in the toolbox of possible worlds theorists, it is shown that we can construct a model for counterpossibles. This model is a natural extension of Lewis's semantics for counterfactuals, but instead of using classical logic as its base, it uses the logic LP.

Source: Notre Dame J. Formal Logic ?38 (1997), no. 4, 516?526

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Content and context effects in childrens and adults' conditional reasoning

By Pierre Barrouillet & Jean-Francois Lecas

We have recently shown that children [i.e. adolescents] interpret conditional sentences with binary terms (e.g., male/female) in both the antecedent and the consequent as biconditionals (Barrouillet & Lecas, 1998). We hypothesized that the same effect can be obtained with conditionals that do not contain binary terms provided that they are embedded in a context that restricts to only two the possible values on both the antecedent and the consequent. In the present experiment, we asked 12-year- old children, 15-year-old children, and adults to draw conclusions from conditional syllogisms that involved three types of conditional sentence:
(1) conditionals with binary terms (BB),

(2) conditionals with non-binary terms (NN), and

(3) conditionals with non-binary terms embedded in a restrictive context (NNR).

As we predicted, BB conditionals elicited more biconditional response patterns than did NN conditionals in all age groups. On the other hand, manipulating the context had the same effect in children but not in adults. Content and context constraints on conditional reasoning along with developmental issues are discussed within the framework of the mental models theory.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 10:21 GMT

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