Month: November 2017

Talk of interest on 11/17: Philosophy Colloquium with Janice Dowell (Philosophy, Syracuse)

The Philosophy Colloquium on Friday, November 17, at 4pm in FSB 217, will feature Janice Dowell, philosopher from Syracuse.

Normative Questions Semantics Should Not Settle

“The semantic analysis tells us what is true (at a world) under an ordering.  It modestly declines to choose the proper ordering.  That is work for a moralist, not a semanticist.” D. Lewis (1978: 85-6.)

Call “Semantic Neutrality” the presumptive requirement that a semantics for deontic modal sentences in a natural language should be neutral between plausible candidate normative theories about what morality (and more broadly, practical rationality) requires, permits, and forbids. Here I consider a variety of cases in which such a requirement appears pretheoretically attractive. I then assess how well recent contextualist rivals to Angelika Kratzer’s own formal semantics fare in meeting this requirement in those cases.  As I hope to show, the flexibility of Kratzer’s semantics permits a wide degree of neutrality not clearly available in those rival theories, constituting a powerful attraction in its favor.

Talk of interest on 11/17: Logic Colloquium with Una Stojnić (Philosophy, Columbia and ANU)

The Logic Colloquium on Friday, November 17, at 2pm in Laurel Hall 108, will feature Una Stojnić, semanticist from Columbia and ANU.

The Logic and Grammar of Prominence

The recent literature maintains that the behavior of modal expressions motivates a non-truth-conditional account of their meaning, and non-classical account of their underlying logic. The key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the characteristic dynamic effect they have on the context, and the corresponding dynamic notion of validity captures their seemingly non-classical behavior.  While prima facie supported by the puzzling behavior of modals in discourse, I argue that this approach is empirically inadequate. Instead I develop and argue for a dynamic theory of context-change which assigns standard truth-conditional meaning to modal utterances, and a corresponding dynamic notion of validity which preserves classical logic.

Talk of interest on 11/10: Linguistics Colloquium with Rajesh Bhatt (UMass Amherst)

The Linguistics Colloquium Series is having a talk by Rajesh Bhatt (UMass Amherst) on Friday, Nov. 10th, in Oak 112, at 4:00pm.

Polar Questions, Selection and Disjunction: clues from Hindi-Urdu ‘kyaa’
[joint work with Veneeta Dayal, Rutgers]

Hindi-Urdu has an optional marker `kyaa’ that appears in polar and alternative questions. We delineate its properties distinguishing it from the homophonous thematic `kyaa’ (what); in particular we locate it in ForceP.  We demonstrate that its distribution in embedded environments is similar to that of embedded inversion in English.

We show that its interaction with disjunctive questions (alternative or polar) supports a treatment of the semantics of polar questions as denoting a singleton set {p} rather than the more commonly assumed {p, not p}. Our proposal offers a unified treatment of alternative and polar questions.