Month: January 2018

Meeting on January 30: Jon Gajewski (UConn Linguistics)

Our first meeting of the spring semester will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 11:00-12:00 in Manchester Hall Room 227. Jon Gajewski (UConn Linguistics) will be presenting his own work. Title and abstract below.


It’s not syntax, I don’t think: neg-raising and parentheticals

English allows a construction in which a sentence contains a parenthetical with a clausal gap, as in (i).  I will refer to phrases such as I think in (i) as clausal parentheticals.  Typically, clausal parentheticals cannot be negative, cf. (ii).

(i) There is beer in the fridge, I think.

(ii) *There is beer in the fridge, I don’t think.

It has been noted that when the clausal parenthetical contains a neg-raising predicate, an apparent doubling of a negation in the main clause is allowed, as in (ii).

(ii)           There is no beer in the fridge, I (don’t) think.

This doubling has been taken to be an argument in favor of syntactic approaches to neg-raising, as in Ross (1973) and Collins & Postal (2014). I will defend an analysis of the doubling in (ii) that is compatible with a semantic/pragmatic approach to neg-raising, as in Horn 1989, Gajewski 2007, Romoli 2013.

Talk of interest on 1/26: Logic Colloquium with Joshua Knobe (Yale)

The Logic Colloquium on Friday, November 17, at 2pm in Oak Hall 110, will feature Joshua Knobe (Yale).

Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics

When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences (“X is wrong”/“X is not wrong”), it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences (i.e., that it has to be the case that at least one of them is incorrect). This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories in moral semantics. In this paper, we introduce new evidence that bears on this debate. We show that there are moral conflict cases in which people are inclined to say both (a) that the two speakers disagree and (b) that it is not the case at least one of them must be saying something incorrect. We then explore how we might understand such disagreements. As a proof of concept, we sketch an account of the concept of disagreement and an independently motivated theory of moral semantics which, together, explain the possibility of such cases.