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1. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Herman Cappelen, Ernie Lepore Semantic Theory and Indirect Speech
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Much work in the philosophy of language assumes that a semantic theory T, for a language L should assign p as the semantic content of an utterance u, by A, of a sentence S in L, if and only if “A said that p” is true. This assumption is mistaken. More generally, the aim of semantics cannot be to capture the extension of English expressions such as “meaning” or “what was said”. This provides support for Davidson’s paratactic theory of indirect speech and for the view that a semantic theory should take the form of a truth-theory.
2. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Louise Röska-Hardy Language Acts and Action
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Speech act theorists agree unanimously that language or speech acts are a species of intentional action. I argue that J.R. Searle’s influential speech act theory actually precludes our explaining sayings truly as doings, i.e. as linguistic actions, because it assimilates speakers’ beliefs, desires and intentions to the linguistic meaning of expression types. An adequate explanation of speech acts as intentional performances must treat the meanings of expression types and speakers’ beliefs, desires and intentions as separate, but co-ordinate factors in the production, understanding and characterization of linguistic acts.
3. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Kirk Ludwig The Truth about Moods
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Assertoric sentences are sentences which admit of truth or falsity. Non-assertoric sentences, imperatives and interrogatives, have long been a source of difficulty for the view that a theory of truth for a natural language can serve as the core of a theory of meaning. The trouble for truth-theoretic semantics posed by non-assertoric sentences is that, prima facie, it does not make sense to say that imperatives, such as ‘Cut your hair’ or interrogatives such as ‘What time is it?’ are true or false. Thus, the vehicle for giving the meaning of a sentence by using an interpretive truth theory, the T-sentence, is apparently unavailable for non-assertoric sentences. This paper shows how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a theory of meaning that gives central place to an interpretive truth theory for the language, without, however, reducing the nonassertorics to assertorics or treating their utterances as semantically equivalent to one or more utterances of assertoric sentences. Four proposals for how to incorporate non-assertoric sentences into a broadly truth-theoretical semantics are reviewed. The proposals fall into two classes, those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences solely by appeal to truth conditions, and those that attempt to explain the meaning of non-assertoric sentences by appeal to compliance conditions, which can be treated as one variety of fulfillment conditions for sentences of which truth conditions are another variety. The paper argues that none of the extant approaches is successful, but develops a version of the generalized fulfillment approach which avoids the difficulties of previous approaches and still exhibits a truth theory as the central component of a compositional meaning theory for all sentences of natural languages.
4. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Jeffrey King The Source(s) of Necessity
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Though virtually all philosophers agree that a sentence like ‘Every bachelor is a bachelor’ expresses a logical truth, there is some disagreement as to whether ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’ does. One way of addressing the question as to whether ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’ expresses a logical truth is to ask whether the source of the necessity of ‘Every bachelor is a bachelor’ is the same as the source of the necessity of ‘Every bachelor is unmarried’. Assuming the framework of the theory of structured propositions, the question of whether the propositions expressed by these two sentences have their necessity in the same source is addressed. The view that the source of necessity is the same in the two cases is rejected, and an alternative view is sketched.
5. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Filip Buekens The Genesis of Meaning (a Myth)
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In ‘Meaning Revisited’, a reconsideration of his famous views on meaning, H.P. Grice has put forward the thesis that natural meaning (n-meaning) might be a precursor or predecessor of non-natural meaning. In this paper, I will take up Grice’s challenge and sketch a picture of how natural meaning could give rise to nn-meaning. The relevance of Grice’s challenge is obvious for current attempts at naturalizing nn-meaning: a plausible theory of the genesis of meaning must show why nn-meaning is not an unexplicable cosmic event but a product of various ways creatures more or less like us optimize communicative behaviour and learn to reason about mental states that causally explain that behaviour.
6. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Robert Hanna Extending Direct Reference
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It is an interesting and important linguistic fact that we sometimes use singular terms — proper names or indexicals — to refer to wholly future individuals. Given this fact, and given the further fact that wholly future individuals are contingent and indeterminate, neither the “descriptivist” theory of singular reference, nor the “causal theory,” nor Gareth Evans’s “mixed” theory, nor even the “classical” direct reference theory developed by David Kaplan, can account for future singular reference. Only a semantic strategy drawn from direct reference theory is able to solve the puzzle. But in order to solve it, the very idea of direct reference must be extended by invoking two important supplementary notions: (1) “reference delivery systems,” and (2) “referential handiness or skill.” With the addition of these notions — which are updatings of some ideas sketched by Martin Heidegger in Being and Time — direct reference theory effectively accounts for the possibility of future singular reference. But just insofar as the puzzle is solvable along these lines, it follows that the theory of reference cannot be “naturalized.”
7. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Reinaldo Elugardo Descriptions, Indexicals and Speaker Meaning
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In his paper, “Descriptions, Indexicals, and Belief Reports: Some Dilemmas (But Not the Ones You Expect)” (Mind 104, (1995)), Stephen Schiffer presents a powerful argument against anyone who accepts a Russellian account of definite descriptions (including incomplete descriptions) and who also accepts a direct referential account of indexicals. On the one hand, the most plausible version of the Theory of Descriptions, namely, the Hidden-Indexical Theory of Descriptions, entails that a speaker who uses an incomplete description, “the F”, referentially means some description-theoretic, object-independent proposition by an utterance of a sentence of the form, “The F is G”. On the other hand, since speaker meaning supervenes on one’s psychological states, what holds for referential uses of incomplete descriptions must also hold for referential uses of indexicals and demonstatives. In other words, speakers who produce literal, referential, indexical utterances of the form, “" is G” also mean some description-theoretic proposition by their utterances. Furthermore, the Russellian has no non-arbitrary reason for preferring a direct referential account of indexicals, which he should accept, to a rival, incompatible account which treats indexicals as disguised descriptions. In my paper, I argue that the Russellian does have such a reason: the rival account cannot explain all the relevant speaker meaning facts that the direct reference theory can. I conclude the paper by defending the Russellian view that, in producing a referential utterance of “the F is G”, a speaker can mean a description-theoretic proposition and, in addition, mean an object-dependent proposition involving the speaker’s referent.
8. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Peter Ludlow Semantics, Tense, and Time: a Note on Tenseless Truth-Conditions for Token-Reflexive Tensed Sentences
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According to a number of authors it is possible to give tenseless (B-series) truth conditions for tensed sentences by utilizing token indexicals in something like the following fashion. (1a) An utterance u of 'Past S' is true iff at some time earlier than u, S is true (1b) An utterance u of 'Pres S' is true iff at some time overlapping u, S is true This strategy has been challenged on the grounds that it will break down in cases like (2). (2) There was no spoken language A number of strategies have been attempted to circumvent this difficult, including the introduction of possible utterances, etc. In this paper I argue that such moves are unnecessary — that the problem turns on scope interactions with hidden modals in the theorems of the T-theory.
9. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Mark Sainsbury Can Rational Dialetheism Be Refuted By Considerations about Negation and Denial?
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Rational dialetheism is the view that for some contradictions, it is rational to believe that they are true. The view, associated with the work of among others, Graham Priest, looks as if it must lead to absurd consequences, and the present paper is an unsuccessful attempt to find them. In particular, I suggest that there is no non-question-begging account of acceptance, denial and negation which can be brought to bear against the rational dialetheist. Finally, I consider the prospect of attacking the position without trying to "refute" it, but even these approaches seem unpromising in the present case. If the drift of the paper is correct, the only strategy is to examine the paradoxes one by one, and show in each case that the best account is non-dialetheic.
10. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Joseph Agassi Wittgenstein — The End of a Myth
11. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Bookpublications within the Project
12. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
13. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
14. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
Kent A. Peacock, Richard Feist The Einstein-DeSitter Controversy
15. ProtoSociology: Volume > 10
On ProtoSociology
16. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Richard N. Manning All Facts Great and Small
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I examine the arguments Donald Davidson has offered through the years concerning the ontological bona fides of facts. In “Truth and Meaning”, Davidson uses the so-called “slingshot” argument to the effect that if true sentences refer, then they are all coreferential. Through a detailed examination of the assumptions underlying this argument, I show that, while it is effective as part of a reductio of bottom-up, reference based semantics, it has no tendency to establish the truth of its negative conclusion concerning the existence of facts. Davidson also argues against facts by claiming they are of no help in the explication of truth. I claim that his repeated invocation of the slingshot in this context, as well as of arguments from other authors employing assumptions similar to the slingshot's, is inappropriate, especially in light of his own commitment to a top-down semantics — a committment inspired, ironically, by the reductio offered in “Truth and Meaning”. Davidson's other argument against truth as correspondence, namely that our grasp of facts is no better than our grasp of truths, is sound. But this argument does not show that there are no facts; it shows only that no theory of truth in terms of corre- pondence to facts can genuinely illuminate its explanandum.
17. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Barbara Fultner Of Parts and Wholes: The Molecularist Critique of Semantic Holism
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Pace Dummett, the issue between molecularism and holism does not turn on whether a meaning theory is compositional, but on how successful communication is conceived. Given a notion of partial understanding, molecularism escapes the two most prevalent objections against holism (learnability and communication). Holism, too, can escape these objections, provided we also grant the holist a notion of partial understanding and suitably amend our conception of successful communication.
18. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Louis Goble Re-Evaluating Supervaluations
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The method of supervaluations offers an elegant procedure by which semantic theory can come to terms with sentences that, for one reason or another, lack truth-value. I argue, however, that this method rests on a fundamental mistake, and so is unsuitable for semantics. The method of supervaluations, I argue, assigns semantic values to sentences based not on the semantic values of their components, but on the values of other, perhaps homophonic, but nevertheless distinct, expressions. That is because supervaluations are generated from classical valuations which necessarily require reinterpreting the component expressions, but the reinterpretation of an expression is tantamount to the introduction of a new expression, or alternatively, to a shift to an entirely new language. To confuse the expression of the language for which a semantic theory is developed with its reinterpreted counterpart, is to commit a fallacy of equivocation. That is the flaw within the method of supervaluations. We see it manifest in a number of examples.
19. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
Gerhard Preyer, Michael Roth On Donald Davidson’s Philosophy: An Outline
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Donald Davidson's unified theory of language and action can be understood as a continuation of the traditional analytic approach within philosophy of language and action. In the following we give an outline of some of the main themes of his philosophy centered around his core theory of radical interpretation (RI). His theory of rationality, his thesis of the anomalousness of the mental, and the externalist approach in his model of triangulation all follow in a systematic way from RI. Yet, Davidson's philosophy can also be seen as giving a new systematic elaboration of central perspectives of W,v.O Quine's theory of language. In order to follow Davidson's main theses one therefore has to clarify the main differences and correspondences between both approaches.
20. ProtoSociology: Volume > 11
David Simpson Interpretation and Skill: On Passing Theory
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In this paper I argue that Donald Davidson's rejection of the notion of language, as commonly understood in philosophy and linguistics, is justified. However, I argue that his position needs to be supplemented by an account of the development and nurture of pre-linguistic communicative skills. Davidson argues (in ‘A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs' and elsewhere) that knowledge of a language (conceived of as a set of rules or conventions) is neither sufficient nor necessary for 'linguistic' communication. The strongest argument against the initial formulation is that while Davidson may have shown that knowledge of a language is not sufficient, he failed to show that it is not necessary. Subsequently, Davidson has invoked his Triangulation' thesis, to show that understanding can rest on the apprehension of mutuality in a shared objective world, and does not presuppose the sharing of rules or practices. I argue that the starting position arrived at from the triangulation thesis itself presupposes the possibility of communication. The triangulation thesis needs, therefore, to be supplemented by a (non-reductive) naturalistic account of non-linguistic communicative skills. In such an account we must posit shared practices (practices of mutual engagement with a shared world), but not an account of practices conceived on the model of rules or conventions. I note, finally, that by adopting such an approach we offer a way of explicating the formulation of passing theories, which in Davidson's account are the point at which communicative understanding occurs.