Consciousness Thought

Pursuing Meaning by Emma Borg

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By Emma Borg

Emma Borg examines the relation among semantics (roughly, positive factors of the literal which means of linguistic goods) and pragmatics (features rising from the context in which such goods are being used), and assesses fresh solutions to the basic questions of ways and the place to attract the divide among the 2. particularly, she deals a defence of what's generally known as "minimal semantics." minimum semantics, because the identify indicates, desires to supply a minimum account of the interrelation among semantics and pragmatics. particularly, it holds that whereas context can have an effect on literal semantic content material with regards to actual (i.e. lexically or syntactically marked) context-sensitive expressions, this is often the restrict of pragmatic enter to semantic content material. On all different events the place context of utterance looks to impact content material, the minimalist claims that what it impacts isn't really literal, semantic content material yet what the speaker conveys by means of this literal content--it impacts what a speaker says yet no longer what a sentence potential. As Borg makes transparent, the minimalist needs to let a few contextual impact on semantic content material, yet her declare is this impact might be constrained to "tame" pragmatics--the type of rule-governed appeals to context which will not scare officially minded horses. Pursuing Meaning goals to make stable in this declare. The ebook additionally comprises an summary of the entire major positions within the quarter, rationalization of its frequently complicated terminology, and an exploration of key topics similar to be aware that means, mindreading, and the connection among semantics and psychology.

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So, why might we think, with our formal ancestors, that purely lexico-syntactically described objects (sentences) are (at least sometimes) capable of expressing truth-evaluable, propositional contents? Well, first I think we should note that much of the evidence we have for the existence of propositions in the first place comes from consideration of natural language sentences. It is because it seems so natural to treat ‘Snow is white’ or ‘Two plus two equals four’ as conveying information which represents the world as being a certain way, where this information is capable of being true or false depending simply on how the world in fact is, that I think we are led to posit the existence of proposition-like content at all.

On this kind of ‘predicate indexicalism’ there is no need to posit phonetically hidden indexicals, instead axioms are provided directly for predicates which treat them as context-sensitive terms on a par with standard indexicals. So, roughly, an utterance of ‘That is red’ in context c expresses a distinct syntactic item ‘redc’ and an object satisfies ‘redc’ iff it is red according to the contextual standard of redness operative in c. Finally, it seems that we might opt not to posit hidden indexicals nor to redefine expressions as indexicals, but rather to treat the properties terms express as the source of the additional context-sensitivity witnessed in (at least some) CSAs.

In what follows I’m going to take minimalism to be defined by the following four claims:2 i. 3 ii. Semantic content for a sentence is fully determined by its syntactic structure and lexical content: the meaning of a sentence is exhausted by the meaning of its parts and their mode of composition. 2 The following definition of minimalism differs from that advocated in Cappelen and Lepore 2005 in the following ways: C&L reject (i)—see next note—and (iv), and they take (iii)—understood as the claim that there are no indexical expressions beyond the intuitively obvious ones—to be the defining feature of minimalism.

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