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Volume 17, 2002
Semantic Theory and Reported Speech

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Displaying: 1-18 of 18 documents

the meaning of what is said and the ascription of attitudes
1. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Emma Borg The Semantic Significance of What is Said
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It is often held that a correct semantic theory should assign a semantic content, p, to a given sentence, s, just in case a speaker who utters s says that p – thus ‘what is said’ is taken to be a semantically significant notion. This paper explores what exactly such a claim amounts to and offers five versions of the relationship between a semantic theory and judgements of what is said. The first three of these versions embody the central claim of semantic significance; however, I argue that none of these versions are feasible. Thus, contrary to the initial proposal, I claim that ‘what is said’ is not a semantically significant notion. Assignments of semantic content do not turn on evaluations of what a speaker uttering a sentence says.
2. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Cara Spencer Representing What Others Say
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The semantics of belief reports has recently received a great deal of attention. Speech reports have largely been left behind in this discussion. Here I extend a familiar recent account of attitude reports, the Russellian theory, to the special case of speech reports. I then consider how it compares to Davidson’s paratactic theory with respect to a few examples that raise special problems about speech reports. Neither theory accounts for everything we want to say about these cases. I suggest that the problem lies in an assumption common to both theories, that in reporting what others say, we aim to represent what was said exactly as the original speaker represented it, in so far as this is possible.
3. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Jonathan Sutton The Things People Say
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It appears that the objects of belief and the objects of assertion are, often, one and the same. The objects of assertion must be communicable – if an assertion leads to successful communication, the audience grasps what the speaker said. There are good reasons for thinking that beliefs are relations to very fine-grained contents, however, which appear to be unsuitable for reliable transmission from speaker to audience. I consider two accounts of the apparent intersection of the objects of belief and the objects of assertion, and find them unable to embrace both of these claims. I defend the view that beliefs have multiple, truth-conditionally equivalent contents on the grounds that it is able to reconcile the apparently conflicting claims.
4. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Sanford C. Goldberg Reported Speech and the Epistemology of Testimony
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Speech reports of the form ‘A said that p’ are sometimes used by a speaker S as a reason in support of S’s own claim to know that p – in particular, when S’s claim to know is made on the basis of A’s testimony. In this paper I appeal to intuitions regarding the epistemology of testimony to argue that such ‘testimonial’ uses of speech reports ought to be ascribed their strict de dicto truth conditions. This result is then used as the basis for the claim that, no matter how they are used, all speech reports of this form ought to be ascribed their strict de dicto truth conditions. I conclude by offering a characterization of the content of the notions of saying and what is said, and by making some programmatic remarks regarding the role of these notions in semantic theory.
5. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Eros Corazza Reports and Imagination
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The following thesis will be discussed and defended:An attitude ascription is an empathetic exercise resting on our, more general, imaginative faculty. Sentences of natural language are the best medium we have to classify someone’s mental life.The sentence used to classify one’s mental state is the one the reporter would use to express the attributee’s mental state if the reporter were in the attributee’s situation. A report of the form “A believes/desires/wishes/… that p” captures the attributee’s (A) mental life inasmuch as it conveys the sentence the reporter would use to express her mental state if the latter were in A’s situation.
propositional content and cognitive structure
6. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
David Hunter On Representing Content
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I consider whether the content of a speech act is best represented by a set of possible worlds or by an ordered set containing the individual and properties the speech act is about. I argue that there is nothing in such contents that an ordered set can represent that a set of worlds cannot. In particular, both can be used to capture what is distinctive about singular propositions. But a set of worlds better represents content in cases where the content concerns individuals that no longer exist. It is also better at representing how content can be expressed in different ways, and how assertion relates to the pursuit of truth. Finally, representing content by a set of worlds allows for a clearer view of the puzzle about logical omniscience, even though it is often taken to founder on that puzzle.
7. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Max A. Freund Conceptual Realism and Interpretation
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Conceptual realism (a logico-philosophical semantic theory) has introduced a logical distinction between the cognitive structure of an assertion and its truth-conditions. We shall argue that the cognitive structure is part of the meaning of an assertion and that, consequently, should be taken into account when interpreting a natural language. We shall also explore this topic in relation to the problem of radical interpretation. The distinction will be made evident by first formulating a logical system (having conceptual realism as its philosophical background) and then exhibiting it in the formal system. This will be preceded by a description of the main philosophical features of conceptual realism.
8. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Corey Washington Content Partialism and Davidson’s Dilemma
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Hartry Field, Jerry Fodor and others differ with Donald Davidson over the question of how a theory of content should be structured. Field and Fodor maintain that a theory should begin by following the compositional structure of a sentence in reducing the semantic properties of complex expressions to the semantic properties of their simplest parts and complete the job by reducing the semantic properties of the parts to non-semantic ones. Davidson describes this approach as the ‘Building-Block method’ and maintains that it cannot possibly succeed. He holds that a theory of content should ‘give up reference’ by treating the semantic properties of basic expressions as a purely technical devices with no direct relation to non-semantic phenomenon. In this essay, I examine what I call “Davidson’s Dilemma”, the conflict between the apparent soundness the arguments for the view that a theory must treat reference as a point where linguistic and non-linguistic reality meet and the equally apparent soundness his argument that reference cannot possibly play this role. I propose a resolution to the dilemma that grants the validity of Davidson’s arguments against the building-block theories but is, I believe, more palatable to mainstream semanticists than Davidson’s solution. This solution, which I call ‘content partialism’ treats the reference of terms as regularities across propositional contents. I show how content partialism is consistent with a Kripkean theory of reference fixing, the touchstone of those who advocate building-block theories.
9. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Steven Gross Vagueness, Indirect Speech Reports, and the World
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Can all truths be stated in precise language? Not if true indirect speech reports of assertions entered using vague language must themselves use vague language. Sententialism – the view that an indirect speech report is true if and only if the report’s complement clause “same-says” the sentence the original speaker uttered – provides two ways of resisting this claim: first, by allowing that precise language can “same-say” vague language; second, by implying that expressions occurring in an indirect speech report’s complement clause are not used. I reject the first line of resistance, but argue that the second is successful if one accepts sententialism.
on contemporary philosophy and social sciences
10. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Hans Lenk Epistemological Remarks Concerning the Concepts “Theory” and “Theoretical Concepts”
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Current interpretations of the concept of theory by philosophers of science of different orientations are sketched out, in particular the traditional statement view (theories as systems of statements) and the formal axiomatic interpretation (theories as calculi) as well as the historical or historicist interpretation of theories as series of successive research programs or paradigms etc. (theory dynamics). In addition, the model-theoretical nonstatement view (the so-called structuralist interpretation) of theories is roughly delineated and discussed as regards the status and interpretation of theoretical (T-theoretical) concepts. Finally, technological and action-theoretical approaches defining the model-theoretic view are presented as particularly apt for a methodology of technology.A number of recommendations are developed from this, particularly the idea of satisficing in construction theory and the methodological idea of optimum fit instead of approximation to truth.The interplay between action, experiment and gaining knowledge is highlighted from a methodological and schema-interpretationist perspective. This approach seems to be conducive to a methodology and epistemology of engineering sciences, in particular construction theory and design theory.
11. ProtoSociology: Volume > 17
Steven Miller, Marcel Fredericks Social Science and (Null) Hypothesis Testing: Some Ontological Issues
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On ProtoSociology
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Published Volumes
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ProtoSociology: Digital volumes vailable
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