Types of Meanings: Two, Not Too Many

Types of Meanings: Two, Not Too Many
17 September 2019, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


Title: Types of Meanings: Two, Not Too Many

Abstract: Human children regularly acquire languages, spoken or signed, that connect pronunciations with meanings. Whatever these meanings are, each phrase (e.g., ‘brown horse’ or 'ate some apples’) has one that somehow depends on the meanings of the constituent words. But many proposals about the details are based on very implausible assumptions about which—and how many--types of meaning can be exhibited by human linguistic expressions. Standard textbooks assume that the expressions of a natural human language can exhibit endlessly many “semantic types,” while a slightly older tradition eschews any appeal to semantic typology. There is, however, both room and reason for adopting accounts that posit a small number of semantic types. In the talk, I’ll urge the strategy developed in Conjoining Meanings (OUP 2018): eschew the now standard typology that assumes entity-denoters, truth-evaluable sentences, and a recursive principle of abstraction; start by positing a minimal typology according to which lexical items come in two flavors, corresponding to monadic and dyadic concepts, while all complex expressions are semantically monadic; and be willing to posit further types if--but only if--they are needed. 

The Centre for Logic and Language hosts a regular seminar series - the Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics Forum (LEM). The forum generally meets fortnightly in term time.

This seminar is supported by the ERC project MetCogCon (GA 681422)


Institute of Philsophy
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