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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
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


From Paradox to Judgment: towards a metaphysics of expression

By Mariam Thalos

The Liar sentence is a singularly important piece of philosophical evidence. It is an instrument for investigating the metaphysics of expressing truths and falsehoods. And an instrument too for investigating the varieties of conflict that can give rise to paradox. It shall serve as perhaps the most important clue to the shape of human judgment, as well as to the nature of the dependence of judgment upon language use.

The Australasian Journal of Logic

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005 06:33 GMT
Tuesday, 8 November 2005


Are Intensions Necessary? Sense as the Construction of Reference

By Almerindo Ojeda

It seems that PEST can overcome the difficulties that have hitherto plagued the extensional theory of meaning. As we have seen in the course of this paper, PEST can account for the variable informativeness of identity statements, the failure of substitution in opaque contexts, the compositional interpretation of modal verbs and adverbs, the non-trivial nature of counterfactuals, and the non-synonymy of vacuous predicates.

In fact, there are instances in which the accounts of these facts provided by PEST are actually better than the ones provided by possible-worlds semantics. For one thing, PEST accounts are by and large simpler, less abstract, and more intuitive than those issuing from the intensional account.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 08:08 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005 08:09 GMT


Modal Logics in the Vicinity of S1

By Brian F. Chellas & Krister Segerberg

We define pre-normal modal logics and show that S1, S10, S0.9, and S0.90 are Lewis versions of certain pre-normal logics, determination and decidability for which are immediate. At the end we characterize Cresswell logics and ponder C. I. Lewis's idea of strict implication in S1.

Source: Notre Dame J. Formal Logic 37, no. 1 (1996), 1–24

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:20 GMT


Linear Kripke Frames and Gödel Logics

By Arnold Beckmann & Norbert Preining

We investigate the relation between logics of countable linear Kripke frames with constant domains and Gödel logics. We show that for any such Kripke frame there is a Gödel logic which coincides with the logic of his Kripke frame and vice versa. This allows us to transfer several recent results on Gödel logics to the logics of countable linear Kripke frames with constant domains.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005 08:13 GMT

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