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TIMELing 2012: Time and Temporality in Language and Human Experience University of Łódź . 11-13 October 2012. Temporality and Epistemic Commitment: An Unresolved Question Kasia M. Jaszczolt University of Cambridge http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/kmj21. Part I. Main questions.

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TIMELing 2012: Time and Temporality in Language and Human Experience University of Łódź. 11-13 October 2012

Temporality and Epistemic Commitment:

An Unresolved Question

Kasia M. Jaszczolt

University of Cambridge

http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/kmj21


Part I


Main questions

  • Is the human concept of time a universal concept?

  • Is it primitive or composed of simpler concepts?

  • How do linguistic expressions of time reflect it?


Main questions

  • Is the human concept of time a universal concept?

    Probably yes

  • Is it primitive or composed of simpler concepts?

    Supervenient on properties of modality

  • How do linguistic expressions of time reflect it?

    Representations in Default Semantics/Interactive Semantics


What is expressed in the lexicon in one language may be expressed by grammar in another.


What is expressed in the lexicon in one language may be expressed by grammar in another.

What is expressed overtly in onelanguage may be left to pragmatic inference or default interpretation in another.


Swahili: consecutive tense marker ka

(1)

a.…wa-Ingerezawa-li-wa-chukuawa-lemaiti,

3Pl-British 3Pl-Past-3Pl-take3Pl-Demcorpses

‘…then the British took the corpses,

b.wa-ka-wa-tiakatikabaomoja,

3Pl-Cons-3Pl-put.ononboardone

put them on a flat board,

c.wa-ka-ya-telemeshamaji-nikwautaratibu w-ote…

3Pl-Cons-3Pl-lower water-Locwithorder 3Pl-all

and lowered them steadily into the water…’

adapted from Givón (2005: 154)


cf. rhetorical structure rules, Asher and Lascarides 2003

Narration:

(2)Lidia played a sonata.The audience applauded.

e1 e2


St’àt’imcets [ˈstɬʼɛtɬʼemxəʧ](Lillooet Salish), British Columbia

only future (kelh) – non-future distinction

from Matthewson (2006)


Central Pomo

Future can be realis or irrealis


(3)f3ont1ok

rain fall

(3a)It is raining. (default meaning)

(3b)It was raining. (possible intended meaning)


‘…I shall speak of the series of positions running from the far past through the near past to the present, and then from the present to the near future and the far future, as the A series. The series of positions which runs from earlier to later I shall call the B series. The contents of a position in time are called events.’

McTaggart (1908: 111)


From A series to epistemic detachment

‘Why do we believe that events are to be distinguished as past, present, and future? I conceive that the belief arises from distinctions in our own experience.

At any moment I have certain perceptions, I have also the memory of certain other perceptions, and the anticipation of others again. The direct perception itself is a mental state qualitatively different from the memory or the anticipation of perceptions.’

McTaggart (1908: 127)


Time as Modality: Supervenience

(i)supervenience of the concept of time on the concept of epistemic detachment (temporal properties on modal properties in semantics)

(ii)supervenience of the concept of time on space-time (properties of the concept of time on properties of space-time).


Time as Modality: Supervenience

(i)supervenience of the concept of time on the concept of epistemic detachment (temporal properties on modal properties in semantics)

(ii)supervenience of the concept of time on space-time (properties of the concept of time on properties of space-time).

(i) + (ii): It is not just the construal of reality that requires modality; it is reality itself.


Supervenience

A set of properties T supervenes on a set of properties M iff no two things can differ with respect to T properties without also differing with respect to M properties.

‘There cannot be a T-difference without an M-difference.’

adapted from McLaughlin & Bennett 2005


Representing Time: Pragmatic Compositionality


?

‘How much pragmatics’ is allowed in the semantic representation?


“Is semantic interpretation a matter of holistic guesswork (like the interpretation of kicks under the table), rather than an algorithmic, grammar-driven process as formal semanticists have claimed? Contextualism: Yes. Literalism: No.”

Recanati (2012: 148)


Assumptions

  • The output of syntactic processing often leaves the meaning underdetermined.


Assumptions

  • The output of syntactic processing often leaves the meaning underdetermined.

  • The object of study of a theory of meaning is a pragmatically modified representation. (Default Semantics is a radical contextualist theory.)


Assumptions

  • The output of syntactic processing often leaves the meaning underdetermined.

  • This pragmatically modified representation is an object of study of a theory of meaning (Default Semantics is a radical contextualist theory).

  • There is no syntactic constraint on the object of study.


(4)A:Shall we meet tomorrow?

B: I’m in London.

(4a) B is in London at the time of speaking.

(4b) B will be in London the following day.

(4c)B can’t meet A the following day.


Interlocutors frequently communicate their main intended content through a proposition which is not syntactically restricted.

Experimental evidence:

Nicolle and Clark 1999

Pitts 2005

Schneider 2009


Merger Representation 

  • Primary meanings are modelled as merger representations.


Merger Representation 

  • Primary meanings are modelled as merger representations.

  • The outputs of sources of information about meaning merge and all the outputs are treated on an equal footing.


Merger Representation 

  • Primary meanings are modelled as merger representations.

  • The outputs of sources of information about meaning merge and all the outputs are treated on an equal footing. The syntactic constraint is abandoned.

  • Merger representations have the status of mental representations.


Merger Representation 

  • Primary meanings are modelled as merger representations.

  • The outputs of sources of information about meaning merge and all the outputs are treated on an equal footing. The syntactic constraint is abandoned.

  • Merger representations have the status of mental representations.

  • They have a compositional structure.


Sources of information for 

(i)world knowledge (WK)

(ii)word meaning and sentence structure (WS)

(iii)situation of discourse (SD)

(iv)properties of the human inferential system (IS)

(v)stereotypes and presumptions about society and culture (SC)


(iv)properties of the human inferential system IS

(5)The author of The Catcher in the Rye still shocks the readership.

(5a)J. D. Salinger still shocks the readership.


sources of information types of processes


Mapping between sources and processes

WK  SCWD or CPI

SC  SCWD or CPI

WS  WS (logical form)

SD  CPI

IS  CD

DS makes use of the processing model and it indexes the components of  with a subscript standing for the type of processing.


Compositionality of Primary Meanings

  • DS: compositionality of utterance meaning rather than sentence meaning.

    ?Fodor (2008) compositionality of Mentalese only?


Compositionality is a methodological principle:

‘…it is always possible to satisfy compositionality by simply adjusting the syntactic and/or semantic tools one uses, unless that is, the latter are constrained on independent grounds.’

Groenendijk and Stokhof (1991: 93)


Compositionality should be an empirical assumption about the nature of possible human languages.

Szabó (2000)


Merger Representations for the Past

(6)Lidia went to a concert yesterday.(regular past)

(7)This is what happened yesterday. Lidia goes to a concert, meets her school friend and tells her…(past of narration)

(8)Lidia would have gone to a concert (then).(epistemic necessity past)

(9)Lidia must have gone to a concert (yesterday). (epistemic necessity past)

(10)Lidia may have gone to a concert (yesterday).(epistemic possibility past)

(11)Lidia might have gone to a concert (yesterday).(epistemic possibility past)


Fig. 3: Degree of epistemic commitment for selected expressions with past-time reference


Acc ├ p‘it is acceptable that it is the case that p’

Grice (2001)


ACCΔ ├ Σ

‘it is acceptable to the degree Δ that Σ is true’


amended and extended language of DRSs (Kamp and Reyle 1993)


Fig. 4: Σ for ‘Lidia went to a concert yesterday.’ (regular past)

Σ


Merger Representations for the Present

(12)Lidia is at a concert now.

(regular present)

(13)Lidia will be at a concert now.

(epistemic necessity present)

(14)Lidia must be at a concert now.

(epistemic necessity present)

(15)Lidia may be at a concert now.

(epistemic possibility present)

(16)Lidia might be at a concert now.

(epistemic possibility present)


Fig. 5: Degree of epistemic commitment for expressions with present-time reference


Fig. 6: Σ for Lidia will be at a concert now’ (epistemic necessity present)

Σ


Merger Representations for the Future

(17)Lidia goes to a concert tomorrow evening.

(‘tenseless’ future)

(18)Lidia is going to a concert tomorrow evening.

(futurate progressive)

(19)Lidia is going to go to a concert tomorrow evening.

(periphrastic future)

(20)Lidia will go to a concert tomorrow evening.

(regular future)

(21)Lidia must be going to a concert tomorrow evening.

(epistemic necessity future)

(22)Lidia may go to a concert tomorrow evening.

(epistemic possibility future)

(23)Lidia might go to a concert tomorrow evening.

(epistemic possibility future)


Fig. 7: Degree of modal detachment for selected expressions with future-time reference


Fig. 8: Σ for ‘Lidia is going to a concert tomorrow evening.’ (futurate progressive)


Other applications vis-à-vis cross-linguisitic differences:some examples

Realis/irrealis future (Central Pomo): ACCΔ ├ Σ

Consecutive tense (Swahili): WS + CPIpm


Part II


‘Temporality and Epistemic Commitment: An Unresolved Question’

in K. M. Jaszczolt & L. de Saussure, eds (in press). Time: Language, Cognition and Reality. Oxford Studies of Time in Language and Thought vol. 1, Oxford University Press.


Unresolved Question

qualitative differences between P, N, F

quantitative modal differences( in ACC)


UQ:

If

The concept of time is underlyingly modal and supervenes on the degrees of epistemic commitment to (or detachment from) the narrated eventuality associated with the speech act by the speaker,

then

What is the exact correlation between the value of  that represents this degree of commitment in DS and the type of temporal reference: P, N or F?


quantitative concept (ACC ) qualitative concepts (P, N, F)

(i) correlation

or

(ii) P, N, F as quantitative concepts


Two possible solutions:

Direct-Quantitative (DQ) & Modal-Contextualist (MC)


Supervenience

A set of properties T supervenes on set M just in case no two things can differ with respect to T-properties without also differing with respect to their M-properties. ‘There cannot be an T-difference without an M-difference’.

adapted from McLaughlin & Bennett (2005: 1)


logical and conceptual supervenience


Internal, psychological time supervenes on

  • modality qua epistemic detachment

  • real time which itself entails various metaphysical possibilities in which world histories and predictions develop – all of them equally real.


Modality = explanansfor four related domains:

  • metaphysical

  • epistemic

  • conceptual

  • linguistic


Perspectives on time

  • phenomenological (Husserl 1928), time ‘comes from within’, is imposed on human experience

    1.1.‘objective’ ‘immanent’ time with the property of duration

    1.2.‘pre-immanent time’ with the property of flowing. It contains the moving actuality (‘now’), as well as what follows and precedes it (anticipated experiences vs. memories, knowledge and ‘fixed’ experiences)


2.‘real time’ of space-time, founded on (real) possibilities for the universe


A and B theory

McTaggart (1908)

A theory: reality is tensed; time flows; (P), N, (F) are real. = psychological time

B theory: reality is tenseless;there is no P, N, F out there and time does not flow. Events are real, and so is their ordering, but they don’t have pastness, futurity, or present actuality. = metaphysical time


?

How exactly, if at all, does the value associated with the degree of epistemic commitment/epistemic detachment identify the ‘direction’ of detachment, into the past and into the future?


Truth-makers

  • P is only as real as its present effects (e.g. Łukasiewicz 1961).

    P that does not exist in N in any form is only a possibility.

  • F exists only in so far as it is to be derived from N (Heidegger 1953: finiteness of life).


Quantifying time

This relative status of F and P is well conveyed in natural languages (hierarchies of epistemic modals and hierarchies of evidentials, Faller 2002).


Quantifying time

This relative status of F and P is well conveyed in natural languages (hierarchies of epistemic modals and hierarchies of evidentials, Faller 2002).

The speaker’s choice of a construction with a stronger or weaker degree of trust in the truth of the embedded proposition, or an indicator of the kind of evidence (in itself weak or strong) can be taken as an indicator of the degree of commitment.


Modality interacts with time:

The modal base (MB): a function from world-time pairs to sets of possible worlds that represents the epistemic state of the speaker.

MB(w,t) = the set of worlds compatible with what the speaker knows at time t; P = property; [t,_) = an interval from t to infinity.


‘may’ and ‘might’

λPλwλtw [wMB(w,t) & AT([t, _), wP)]

There is a world wthat belongs to the set of worlds of the speaker’s epistemic state such that the given property is instantiated in this world at a certain interval.

(Condoravdi 2002: 71, after Kratzer 1981/2012)


Graded modality can be explained as an ordering of the worlds (Kratzer 1981/2012).


The perfect interacts with the modals to produce past-time reference with t restricted to intervals preceding t.

John may/might have been here yesterday.

(compatible with the decomposition of the concept of time into degrees of modality)


The degrees of dissociation from the eventuality of John’s being at a deictically specified place at a deictically specified time persist across P, N and F.


Kratzer’s (1981/2012), Condoravdi’s (2002)

?temporality is composed of diversified modal atomic concepts e.g. mayn>mayn+1>mayn+2...

‘>’ = the ordering of the strength of expressed commitment


Kratzer’s(1981/2012), Condoravdi’s(2002)

?temporality is composed of diversified modal atomic concepts e.g. mayn>mayn+1>mayn+2...

‘>’ = the ordering of the strength of expressed commitment

  • (i) different degreesof detachment (values for n, n+1, n+2)

    or

     (ii) different typesof detachment


  • = the direct-quantitative view (DQ), the direct reliance on values of n, n+1, n+2...

    (ii) = the modal-contextualist view (MC), shifting the (arguably) qualitative differences between P, N and F to (arguably) qualitative differences between modal expressions on their occasions of use


(ii)

Qualitative differences in detachment pertaining to P, N, and F do not affect the supervenience as long as we can peg the differences on linguistic semantic and conceptual distinctions.


(ii)

  • ‘There is no temporal difference without a modal difference’, but modal differences themselves are more than the lexicon and syntax reveal.

    radical contextualist approach to meaning: Default Semantics (Jaszczolt 2005, 2009, 2010), Interactive Semantics (Jaszczolt, in progress)


In defence of contextualism

DQ and MC both rely on the modals’ malleability in context.

Different contextual requirements allow modal constructions to assume different interpretations.

cf. von Fintel and Gillies (2011: 108) “context-dependent quantifiers over a domain of possibilities”


Supervenience on Modality: Tensism or Tenseless Time?

  • supports B-theory:

    ‘in order for there to be a temporal relation between two events there must be the two events that stand in that relation” (Oaklander 2002: 74; cf. Le Poidevin 2007, 2011)


Supervenience on Modality: Tensism or Tenseless Time?

  • supports B-theory:

    ‘in order for there to be a temporal relation between two events there must be the two events that stand in that relation” (Oaklander 2002: 74; cf. Oaklander& White 2007; Le Poidevin 2007, 2011)

  • If all there is is duration and precedence, then DQ is preferred: events occupy certain metaphysical and conceptual space in a way that allows the thinking agent to form an attitude to them – an attitude that includes the degree of certainty.


Supervenience on Modality: Tensism or Tenseless Time?

  • supports B-theory:

    ‘in order for there to be a temporal relation between two events there must be the two events that stand in that relation” (Oaklander 2002: 74; cf. Oaklander& White 2007; Le Poidevin 2007, 2011)

  • If all there is is duration and precedence, then DQ is preferred: events occupy certain metaphysical and conceptual space in a way that allows the thinking agent to form an attitude to them – an attitude that includes the degree of certainty.


graded attachment

translates into

graded belief that a certain state of affairs is (tenselessly) real

produces

the illusion (‘time in the mind’) of ‘was/is/will be real’


Sattig (2006): supervenience of time on atemporal spatiotemporal location


DQ + B theory:

  • At some level of atomic concepts, time passing is not only not real but P, N and F are not even in the mind at all.


DQ + B theory:

  • At some level of atomic concepts, time passing is not only not real but P, N and F are not even in the mind at all.

  • Instead there are degrees to which states of affairs are accepted by the agent.


DQ + B theory:

  • At some level of atomic concepts, time passing is not only not real but P, N and F are not even in the mind at all.

  • Instead there are degrees to which states of affairs are accepted by the agent.

  • If the evidence for past events (memory, written records, etc.) differs from evidence for present (‘go and check’) and future (planning, fixing, strong prediction through causal links, etc.) events, this is just a problem with the nature of evidence, not with time itself. Time can remain underlyingly modal and quantifiable as modal.


?Is the thesis of modal foundations of internal time also compatible with A theory?

1. ‘degree presentism’: P and F have a lower degree of reality than N(Smith 2002).


“It seems intuitively obvious that what I am doing right now is more real than what I did just one second ago, and it seems intuitively obvious that what I did just one second ago is more real than what I did forty years ago.” Smith (2002: 119)


A problem:

If we are to accept that the adjective ‘real’ is gradable, we are committed to degrees of existence.

B theory over A-theory


degree presentismSmith ‘degree internal time’ view supporting DQ

  • a difference of degree (not kind), between P, N and F

  • these degrees are “immediately given in our phenomenological experience” Smith (2002: 120)


2. An ‘asymmetry’ version of presentism

  • P and N are real and F unreal: ‘now’ is the edge of real time, and the latter simply keeps growing.

  • arguments from causation (Tooley 1997, 1999)

  • arguments from relational concepts (‘x (past) is real as of y (present)’, Button 2006, 2007)


  • Accepting causation presupposes accepting a tensed world (Tooley’s asymmetric A-theory). But:

  • Tensed concepts can be broken down to and analysed in terms of tenseless ones.

  • Supervenience is ensured by relational properties: what facts are actual depends on the time at which they are assessed.


The supervenience of the tensed on the tenseless

One cannot have direct, non-inferential knowledge of the future, neither can one have direct perception of the past. One has present beliefs about the past and present beliefs about the future, and these, qua propositional, epistemic attitudes, exhibit properties such as being more, or less, certain that a state of affairs did happen, will happen or is happening.


If the concept is underlyingly modal (remembering), then the DQ solution applies and we can have different values for different eventualities.


value of  in ACC├ Σ >>

(24a)Tom remembers PRO saying that time doesn’t flow.

(24b)Tom remembers his saying that time doesn’t flow.

(24c)Tom remembers that he had said that time didn’t flow.


Higginbotham (2003: 504):

gerundive complements of the verb ‘remember’ pertain to events of memory rather than remembering propositions.

+ it is possible to ‘quasi-remember’ someone else’s experience as one’s own ( 24b) (24a).


MC view

supported by cross-linguistic empirical evidence (grammaticalisation of English will), default sense of Thai d1ay1II, pragmatic inference for ‘may’:

(25)He may be in London (now/tomorrow).


  • post-Griceanprinciples of rational conversational behaviour as pragmatic universals (von Fintel and Matthewson 2008; Jaszczolt 2012)

  • reliance on CPI (conscious pragmatic inference), or SCWD (social, cultural or world-knowledge defaults)


explanatory adequacy?


P/F asymmetry and the laws of physics

Events are ordered in a unidirectional sequence.

The second law of thermodynamics: disorder of a closed system (its entropy) increases with time (physical processes are irreversible).

Real time does not flow: the past and the future have no objective sense.


Psychological time (the human concept of time)

Just as entropy is unidirectional, so is memory: memory of an agent increases and produces the illusion of the flow of time.


Psychological time (the human concept of time)

Just as entropy is unidirectional, so is memory: memory of an agent increases and produces the illusion of the flow of time.

conceptual, epistemic reduction naturalistic reductionism


“The labels ‘past’ and ‘future’ may legitimately be applied to temporal directions, just as ‘up’ and ‘down’ may be applied to spatial directions, but talk of the past and the future is as meaningless as referring to the up and the down.”

Davies (2012: 11)


Conclusions I

  • Merger representations of Interactive Semantics can represent temporal reference which is achieved in discourse in a variety of ways.

  • Cross-linguistic differences in expressing time can be explained by a universal semantics of temporality in terms of the underlying concept of epistemic modality ACCΔ ├ Σ .

  • Compositionality is best understood as pragmatic compositionality, sought at the level of Σs rather than WS.


Conclusions II

  • Temporality is not a primitive concept. It supervenes on the concept of epistemic detachment (ACCΔ ├ Σ’)from the truth of the merged proposition (Σ’).

  • The differences between P, N, and F are either (i) underlyinglyquantitative rather than qualitative (DQ view) or (ii) the differences are qualitative and the value of  is contextually established (MC view).

  • Tensed and tenseless theories of time both uphold DQ.

  • MC view also seems tenable, supported by cross-linguistic data when the contextualist approach to meaning is adopted, but lacks explanatory adequacy.


Select References

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