Author: Stefan Kaufmann

Event of interest: ECOM Workshop, May 3-4

There will be no Meaning Group meeting on Friday, May 3. Instead, everyone is encouraged to check out the program of the Expression, Communication, and the Origins of Meaning (ECOM) Worskhop “Communication, Context, Conversatioun” this Friday and Saturday (see the attached flyer).

Talk of interest on 04/26: Adrian Brasoveanu (UCSC)

The Logic Colloquium on Friday, April 26, 2:30pm in the Humanities Institute (Babbidge Libarary, 4th floor), will feature Adrian Brasoveanu (UC Santa Cruz).

Computational Cognitive Modeling for Syntax and Semantics

(joint work with Jakub Dotlačil)

Abstract: I introduce a typical experimental task in psycholinguistics — self-paced reading — and show how to build end-to-end simulations of a human participant in such an experiment; end-to-end means that we model visual and motor processes together with specifically linguistic processes (syntactic and semantic parsing) in a complete model of the experimental task. The model embeds theoretical hypotheses about linguistic representations and parsing processes in an independently motivated cognitive architecture (ACT-R). In turn, the resulting cognitive models can be embedded in Bayesian models to fit them to experimental data, estimate their parameters and perform quantitative model comparison for qualitative theories.

Summer School on Conditionals

Stefan Kaufmann will be teaching at a one-week summer school on conditionals in Paris, France, June 3-7. The faculty there will be a mix of philosophers and linguists (well, one linguist…):

Dorothy Edgington
Igor Douven
Stefan Kaufmann
John Mackay
David Over

There will also be a concurrent workshop, run by Karen Lewis.

Here is a link to the website with more information.

People interested in conditionals from a linguistic, philosophical or psychological perspective should consider attending this. The deadline for early-bird registration is April 30. There is a registration fee, but I hear that that is somewhat flexible, so sticker shock should not deter you. Get in touch with me and/or the organizers if you have questions.

Talk of interest on 04/12: Branden Fitelson

The Logic Group Colloquium on Friday, April 12, 2019, 2:30pm in the Humanities Institute (Babbidge Libarary, 4th floor), will feature Branden Fitelson (Northeastern University).

How to model the probabilities of conditionals

David Lewis (and others) have famously argued against Adams’s Thesis (that the probability of a conditional is the conditional probability of its consequent, given it antecedent) by proving various “triviality results.” In this paper, I argue for two theses — one negative and one positive. The negative thesis is that the “triviality results” do not support the rejection of Adams’s Thesis, because Lewisian “triviality based” arguments against Adams’s Thesis rest on an implausibly strong understanding of what it takes for some credal constraint to be a rational requirement (an understanding which Lewis himself later abandoned in other contexts). The positive thesis is that there is a simple (and plausible) way of modeling the probabilities of conditionals, which (a) obeys Adams’s Thesis, and (b) avoids all of the existing triviality results.

Talk of interest on 04/05: Valentine Hacquard

The Linguistics Colloquium on Friday, April 5, 4:00 in Oak Hall 112, will feature Valentine Hacquard (Linguistics Maryland).

What to learn in learning attitude and modal meanings

Abstract: This talk explores the acquisition of modal and attitude verbs. These words do not name concrete objects, and their uses do not have reliable physical correlates. Consequently their acquisition may rely heavily on cues from the linguistic context. Reporting on three case studies, I will discuss what experience children have with these words, what the learnability problems arise for each, and how children might succeed. We will see what syntactic and pragmatic cues to meaning are (and are not) found in this input, and what capacities children would need to detect and make use of them.

Meeting on WEDNESDAY, 03/06: Chris Tancredi

The Meaning group will have a special meeting at an unusual time with an outside speaker. Everyone is welcome.

Wednesday, March 6, 9:30-10:45am, Oak Hall 338

Speaker: Chris Tancredi (Keio University, Japan)

Title: De dicto, de re and de qualitate unified


Past approaches to the semantics of belief statements have argued for a multiplicity of distinct interpretations, including de dicto, de re, de qualitate and de translato.  The need for ambiguity in attitude statements is clear from the potential truth of sentences like Ralph believes Ortcutt is a spy, but he doesn’t believe ORTCUTT is a spy.  However, I argue that the only ambiguity specific to attitude statements is the de translato/non-de translato distinction.  In particular, I show how to reduce de dicto/de re/de qualitate interpretations to a single form.  The key to the reduction is to analyze the embedded clause of an attitude statement as denoting a proposition inferable from an underlying belief of the subject rather than denoting the subject’s underlying belief itself.  I show that the semantics developed can account for attitudes toward necessary as well as impossible propositions, and that it further can account for the range of entailments felt to hold among multiple attitude statements.