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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Friday, 5 August 2005


From Semantic Restrictions to Reciprocal Meanings

By Yoad Winter & Sivan Sabato

This paper proposes a new approach to the interpretation of reciprocal expressions using the Strongest Meaning Hypothesis of Dalrymple et al (1998). We propose a system in which reciprocal meanings are derived directly from semantic restrictions using the SMH, and characterize this derivation process. We present methods to construct a linguistic test for the availability of a reciprocal meaning, or otherwise to prove that a specific meaning is not available for reciprocals. These methods are then used to analyze two controversial reciprocal meanings.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 15:28 BST
Thursday, 4 August 2005


A Metasemantic Account of Vagueness

By Agustin Rayo

I argue for an account of vagueness according to which the root of vagueness lies not in the type of semantic-value that is best associated with an expression, but in the type of linguistic practice that renders the expression meaningful. I suggest, in particular, that conventions about how to use sentences involving attributions of vague predicates to borderline cases prevail to a lesser degree than conventions about how to use sentences involving attributions of vague predicates to clear cases.

Source: PhOnline

See also.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:59 BST
Wednesday, 3 August 2005


An Inconsistency in Direct Reference Theory

By George Bealer

My goal [here] is to expose a series of internal difficulties in direct reference theory, ultimately revealing an inconsistency which concerns neither meaning nor the propositional attitudes but rather our standard logic of identity itself. I will not focus on specific formulations, such as those put forward at one time or another by David Kaplan, John Perry, Jon Barwise, Nathan Salmon, Scott Soames, Mark Richard, Mark Crimmins, and many others. By the end it should nonetheless be evident that direct reference theory’s basic tenets make this inconsistency inevitable.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:44 BST
Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Machine Learning and the Cognitive Basis of Natural Language

By Shalom Lappin

Machine learning and statistical methods have yielded impressive results in a wide variety of natural language processing tasks. These advances have generally been regarded as engineering achievements. In fact it is possible to argue that the success of machine learning methods is significant for our understanding of the cognitive basis of language acquisition and processing. Recent work in unsupervised grammar induction is particularly relevant to this issue. It suggests that knowledge of language can be achieved through general learning procedures, and that a richly articulated language faculty is not required to explain its acquisition.

Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:20 BST
Monday, 1 August 2005


Uncertainty and the suppression of inferences

By Guy Politzer

The explanation of the suppression of Modus Ponens inferences within the framework of linguistic pragmatics and of plausible reasoning (i.e., deduction from uncertain premises) is defended.

First, this approach is expounded, and then it is shown that the results of the first experiment of Byrne, Espino and Santamaría (1999) support the uncertainty explanation but fail to support their counterexample explanation.

Second, two experiments are presented. In the first one, aimed to refute one objection regarding the conclusions observed, the additional conditional premise (if N, C) was replaced with a statement of uncertainty (it is not certain that N); the answers produced by the participants remained qualitatively and quantitatively similar in both conditions. In the second experiment, a fine-grained analysis of the responses and justifications to an evaluation task was performed. The results of both experiments strongly supported the uncertainty explanation.

Source: Jean Nicod, Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 19:37 BST
Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005 19:38 BST
Sunday, 31 July 2005

Mood:  happy


Greg Restall is talking about his participation in the Logic Colloquium 2005. Here is a report about the second day.

Saul Kripke recently visited Argentine and Brazil, and delivered some talks at the Centre for Logic, Epistemology and the History of Science, during a Workshop on Semantics and Meaning. During the same workshop, Jean-Yves Béziau advanced his views on Many-Valued and Kripke Semantics. Itala D'Ottaviano, Zeljko Loparic, Marcelo Coniglio and Walter Carnielli[1], together with their (current and former) advisees, have also made very important contributions. Those contributions will be online sooner or later. The expected debate between Da Costa and Kripke did not take place though, the overall series of debates was very interesting and insightfull. João Marcos' talk on Non-truth functional Logics included things that were new to me and which I shall try to summarise in the near future.

[1] Soon Carnielli will publish his views on Fitch' paradox, which became the hottest event on Wednesday. (It almost worked as if someone used a gallon of petrol to extinguish a bonfire! :P ) Some of his proposals were not only bold but fresh new and, after the responses of top senior Philosophers and Logicians and a great happy ending, everyone was eager to see what his paper will look like.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 20:24 BST
Updated: Sunday, 31 July 2005 21:08 BST
Wednesday, 27 July 2005


Where do presuppositions come from

By Richard Zuber
Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 20:53 BST
Sunday, 24 July 2005


Free Choice in Romanian

By Donka F. Farkas

This paper explores the determiner corner of the ‘any’ land in Romanian, taking Lee and Horn 1994 and Horn 2000a as tour guides. The immediate interest of the task lies in the fact that the work done in English by the over-employed determiner any is carried out in Romanian by a host of more specialized (and, one fears, lower paid) morphemes, which I review in the rest of this section. My aim is to introduce the details of the Romanian facts onto the scene and to show that an ‘indefinitist’ view that generalizes the scalar approach advocated in Horn’s work is useful in helping us understand the much more crowded Romanian field. The theory of any that serves as my starting point is summarized in Section 2. Section 3 proposes a generalization of the scalar view advocated by Horn in terms of an alternative-based approach in the spirit of Krifka 1995, Giannakidou 2001 and Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002, based on a novel way of defining alternatives. Section 4 looks at the consequences of the proposal, Section 5 considers ways of extending it, and Section 6 is a brief conclusion. The approach suggested here falls under what Horn calls quodlibetic theories. Its claim is that the unifying characteristic of both existentially and universally flavored free choice-like items is that they denote a maximal set of alternatives that verify the expression in which the item occurs. The scalar view is the important special case in which these alternatives form an implicational scale with respect to verifying the relevant expression.

To appear in a Festschrift for Larry Horn edited by Gregory Ward and Betty Birner
Source: Semantics etc.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 13:21 BST

The Many Presuppositions

The label presupposition covers a variety of ideas and the authors may mean different things when they use it.

Pre-requisites One common feature behind the several different meanings of presupposition is the idea that there are conditions. i.e., pre-requisites to be met or satisfied. One school of thought considers that those conditions have to do with truth-values. Another school of thought says that such conditions are those that allow a statement to function properly, i.e., to achieve its goals or serve its purposes.

Truth conditions One intuitive way to characterise the notion of presupposition in an alethic manner is by separating it from the contents of an utterance, i.e., to distinguish the ‘positus’ (what is proposed or put forward for consideration) from what is presupposed by a sentence.
According to a tradition that goes back to Peter of Spain, the existence of the subject (e.f.; Socrates of sentences like (1):
(1) Socrates wrote no book.

is something that is not explicitly stated by the sentence, so it is not part of its contents, but at the same time is one condition for the proposition expressed by (1) to be true. So the existence of Socrates is presupposed by (1).
There are cases that are more complex. Consider the sentences below:
(2) The Pope is a very good Protestant.
(3) The Pope is not a very good Protestant.

Given that (2) is false and (3) is its negation, then (3) should be true. Yet, intuitively the users of any natural language consider both sentences false. Why? One good reason for such intuitions is that both sentences somehow presuppose that the Pope is Protestant, which is false.
There are many thinkable ways to treat the duo proposition and presupposition. One obvious way to do it is by translating a natural language into a conjunct of the type (∃α)(p&q). So, a sentence like:
(4) The man who discovered the Americas was an Iberian.

can be rephrased in this manner:
(4’) There is an x such as x the Americas and X was an Iberian.

Felicity The notion of situational (in-) appropriateness consists of pre-requisites that are called felicity conditions. Felicity conditions determine under what circumstances it is appropriate to ask questions, give commands, etc.
To be continued…

Posted by Tony Marmo at 03:03 BST
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 12:53 BST
Saturday, 23 July 2005


On Strawsonian contexts

By Varol Akman

P.F. Strawson proposed in the early seventies a threefold distinction regarding how context bears on the meaning of ‘what is said’ when a sentence is uttered. The proposal was somewhat tentative and, being aware of this aspect, Strawson himself raised various questions to make it more adequate. In this paper, we review Strawson’s scheme, note his concerns, and add some of our own. We also defend its essence and recommend it as an insightful entry point re the interplay of intended meaning and context.
Being endless, the burden of context is too difficult to bear. It is the sort of burden with which one should learn to live intelligently rather than expect to think away.
Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1989:185)

Keywords: context, disambiguation, illocutionary force, indexical, literary theory, meaning, reference, translation, ‘what is said’
Appeared in Pragmatics & Cognition 13:2 (2005), 363?382.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 14:42 BST
Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2005 14:50 BST
Friday, 22 July 2005


Russell's Theory of Definite Descriptions

By Stephen Schiffer

The theory of definite descriptions Bertrand Russell presented in On Denoting one hundred years ago was instrumental in defining the then newly emerging philosophy of language, but a more remarkable achievement is that this centenarian theory is the currently dominant theory of definite descriptions. But what, exactly, is this theory? The question needs to be asked because the theory Russell presented in 1905 is not acceptable in the form in which he then stated it, and while we have little trouble in deciding whether a theory of definite descriptions is sufficiently like the one Russell formulated to be worth calling Russellian, it happens that what question one thinks a semantic theory of definite descriptions needs to answer will depend on how one thinks certain foundational issues in the theory of meaning need to be resolved.

There is no consensus as to how those issues should be resolved. I elaborate on this a little in section I and in section II propose as a working hypothesis a conception of meaning for which I have argued elsewhere and in terms of whose architecture a Russellian theory of definite descriptions may be formulated. How the theory should be formulated in terms of that architecture is then the topic of section III. Section IV confronts my formulation of the Russellian theory with the apparent problem for it implied by certain referential uses of definite descriptions. There are at the most general level of abstraction two possible Russellian responses to this problem,
and one of them is the standard Russellian response to the referential-use problem. Section V critically discusses that response and argues for its rejection. Section VI critically discusses the other possible Russellian response and argues for its rejection, too. The final section, VII, gives a brief summary and discusses what the correct positive theory of definite descriptions might be, if it is not the Russellian theory.

Forthcoming in special edition of Mind, guest ed. Stephen Neale, celebrating 100th anniversary of On Denoting


Indefinite anaphoric expressions?

By Maria Luiza Cunha Lima & Edson Françozo

Definiteness is a central concern in semantics and philosophy of language since Russell (1905), for whom the difference between definite and indefinite expressions lies in the impossibility of referential use of indefinites. Since Strawson (1959) and Kripke (1977), however, indefinites are held to have referential uses as well. Given that both are now seen as referential, the difference between them became a matter of the given/new informational status of the referring expression in sentences or discourse ? in this connection, indefinite expressions are said to always indicate new referents. Therefore, one could never have indefinite anaphoric expressions. Yet, recent data (Schwartz 1999, Cunha Lima 2004) show that indefinite expressions are quite common in ordinary discourse. In the face of it, one can wonder what the role of indefinites is. We will discuss some proposals, stemming mainly from linguistic semantics, and will make the case for interpreting indefinites as type identifying devices. This, in turn, will point toward to the need of re-assessing the functions of articles in natural language.
(A PDF copy will be available soon)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005 02:43 BST
Monday, 18 July 2005

Topic: Interconnections

The Gamut of Dynamic Logics

By Jan van Eijck & Martin Stokhof

Dynamic logic, broadly conceived, is the logic that analyses change by decomposing actions into their basic building blocks and by describing the results of performing actions in given states of the world. The actions studied by dynamic logic can be of various kinds: actions on the memory state of a computer, actions of a moving robot in a closed world, interactions between cognitive agents performing given communication protocols, actions that change the common ground between speaker and hearer in a conversation, actions that change the contextually available referents in a conversation, and so on.
In each of these application areas, dynamic logics can be used to model the states involved and the transitions that occur between them. Dynamic logic is a tool for both state description and action description. Formulae describe states, while actions or programs express state change. The levels of state descriptions and transition characterisations are connected by suitable operations that allow reasoning about pre- and post-conditions of particular changes.
From a computer science perspective, dynamic logic is a formal tool for reasoning about programs. Dynamic logics provides the means for formalising correctness specifications, for proving that these speci cations are met by a program under consideration, and for reasoning about equivalence of programs. From the perspective of the present paper, this is but one of many application areas. We will also look at dynamic logics for cognitive processing, for communication and information updating, and for various aspects of natural language understanding.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 23:51 BST
Friday, 8 July 2005

Topic: Interconnections

Definability and Invariance

By Newton C. A. da Costa & Alexandre Augusto Martins Rodrigues

In his thesis Para uma Teoria Geral dos Homomorfismos (1944), the Portuguese mathematician José Sebastião e Silva constructed an abstract or generalized Galois theory, that is intimately linked to F. Klein's Erlangen Program and that foreshadows some notions and results of today's model theory; an analogous theory was independently worked out by M. Krasner in 1938. But Silva's work on the subject is neither wholly clear nor sufficiently rigorous. In this paper we present a rigorous version of the theory, correcting the shortcomings of Silva's exposition and extending some of its main results.

Source: CLE
Of related interest: Remarks on Abstract Galois Theory by Newton C.A. da Costa.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 02:41 BST
Updated: Friday, 8 July 2005 02:48 BST


Posted by Tony Marmo at 02:26 BST


Logics of essence and accident

By João Marcos

We say that things happen accidentally when they do indeed happen, but only by chance. In the opposite situation, an essential happening is inescapable, its inevitability being the sine qua non for its very occurrence. This paper will investigate modal logics on a language tailored to talk about essential and accidental statements. Completeness of some among the weakest and the strongest such systems is attained. The weak expressibility of the classical propositional language enriched with the non-normal modal operators of essence and accident is highlighted and illustrated, both with respect to the definability of the more usual modal operators as well as with respect to the characterizability of classes of frames. Several interesting problems and directions are left open for exploration.

Keywords: philosophy of modal logic, non-normal modalities, formal metaphysics, essence, accident

Appeared in
[i.] Bulletin of the Section of Logic, 34(1):43-56, 2005
[ii.] Marcos (2005) Logics of Formal Inconsitency, Chapter 3.1: 199-210

Sources: João Marcos' Webpage, Paraconsistency group, Paraconsistent Newsletter.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 8 July 2005 02:19 BST

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