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|Title: ||The routes of sense : thought, semantic underdeterminacy and compositionality|
|Authors: ||Pedriali, Walter B.|
|Supervisors: ||Greenough, Patrick|
|Issue Date: ||2012|
|Abstract: ||What does it mean to be a rational language user? What is it to obey
linguistic rules? What is the proper account of linguistic competence?
A Fregean answer to these questions would make essential appeal
to the notion of sense: we are masters of a language to the extent
that we are able to recognise the cognitive value of its expressions; we
are rational judges regarding truth-value assignments to the extent
that we are sensitive to the ways in which the sense of an expression
guides us in the semantic evaluation process; and as for obeying rules,
it is our ability to respond to how sense directs us, for a particular
assertion of a sentence, towards the determination of its truth-value
that best exemplifies what it is like to follow a linguistic rule.
My thesis explores a cluster of closely interrelated issues arising
from these questions (whether or not considered from a Fregean perspective).
Accordingly, in tracing the routes of sense my dissertation places
itself at the intersection of the philosophy of language, linguistics,
philosophy of logic, and meta-ethics—and indeed, I end up agreeing
with Allan Gibbard that the theory of meaning really belongs to
Chapter 1 introduces some of the main research questions that I try
to address in the rest of the thesis.
In chapter 2 I state a number of theses which I take to be the defining
ones for semanticism. I show that they form a class of jointly
incompatible commitments. I choose nonsense as a problem case for
compositionality and I argue that it forces the semanticist to abandon
either the learnability or the compositionality constraint. The
escape route I adopt, going radically minimalist about content, is incompatible
with another key semanticist thesis, namely, that grasp of
meaning is grasp of truth-conditions (robustly conceived).
In chapter 3, I consider the account of atomic meanings given by
both the semanticist and the pragmaticist and I conclude that on neither
account does interpretation come out as a process of rational choice between candidate bearers of content. Again, I suggest the lesson
from indeterminacy is that we ought to embrace an ineradicably
minimal conception of content.
In chapter 4 I turn my attention to the meaning of the logical constants
and I argue that indeterminacy worries extend to the very heart
of the compositional machinery.
Chapter 5 examines the view that logic is the science of reasoning.
Unsurprisingly, I conclude that a defence of this claim requires endorsing
In chapter 6 I conclude my dissertation by sketching a radical view
of content minimalism and I try to show how it can solve the puzzles
I had been considering over the course of the previous chapters.|
|Publisher: ||University of St Andrews|
|Appears in Collections:||Philosophy Theses|
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