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Review. The Idea Theory. Partly Resembles. Dog. Sees. Dog. Mind. Idea of a Dog. Connotes. Dog. Dog. Mind. Idea of a Dog. Conventional Relation. Dog. Dog. Mind. Idea of a Dog. Conventional Relation. Dog. Natural Relation (Resemblance). Dog. Mind. Idea of a Dog. Denotes. Dog.

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slide3

Partly Resembles

Dog

Sees

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide4

Connotes

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide5

Conventional Relation

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide6

Conventional Relation

Dog

Natural Relation (Resemblance)

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide7

Denotes

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

problems for idea resemblance theory
Problems for Idea/ ResemblanceTheory
  • Can’t distinguish concepts and propositions.
  • Resemblance is an equivalence relation, representation is not.
  • Resemblance is in some ways more and in some ways less determinate than representation.
1 concepts and propositions
1. Concepts and Propositions

The idea theory seems to have trouble distinguishing concepts and propositions.

Are mental pictures truth-evaluable?

  • If they are, then concepts aren’t ideas.
  • If they aren’t, then propositions aren’t ideas.
2 resemblance as an equivalence relation
2. Resemblance as an Equivalence Relation

Resemblance, like identity, is an equivalence relation, meaning it’s reflexive, symmetric, and transitive:

  • Reflexive: for all X, X resembles X. (Everything resembles itself.)
  • Symmetric: for all X and Y, if X resembles Y, then Y resembles X.
  • Transitive: for all X, Y, and Z, if X resembles Y and Y resembles Z, then X resembles Z.
2 representation is not and eq relation
2. Representation Is Not and Eq. Relation

Problem for the idea theory: resemblance is an equivalence relation, but representation is not. Therefore representation ≠ resemblance.

verificationist semantics
Verificationist Semantics

#1. The meaning of a sentence is the set of experiences that would verify it.

#2. Observation sentences are directly connected with their verification conditions: we can immediately tell whether they are verified in any particular circumstance.

immediate experience
Immediate Experience

RED

LOUD

PAIN

THREE

non observation sentences
Non-Observation Sentences

#3 All the other meaningful sentences (according to the verificationist) are defined in terms of the protocol sentences and the logical vocabulary (AND, OR, NOT, ALL, SOME, NO, etc.).

example definition of arthropod
Example: Definition of ‘Arthropod’

‘That is an arthropod’ :=

  • That is an animal
  • AND it has a jointed body
  • AND it has segmented legs
slide18

Perfectly correlates with

“Dagger”

Experiences

Dagger

Mind

Experience of a wound

slide19

Connotes

“Dagger”

Dagger

Mind

Experience of a wound

slide20

Conventional Realation

“Dagger”

Dagger

Mind

Experience of a wound

slide21

Connotes

“Dagger”

Natural Relation (Correlation)

Dagger

Mind

Experience of a wound

slide22

Denotes

“Dagger”

Dagger

Mind

Experience of a wound

too little is meaningless
Too Little Is Meaningless

If youthink “The Absolute is Perfect” and “God exists” are meaningless, then you probably think “Either some socks are cotton or the Absolute is Perfect” and “Either God exists or snow is purple” are also meaningless.

But the latter two clearly have conditions that would verify them.

too much is meaningless
Too Much Is Meaningless

A bigger focus of criticism, however, was that according too the verifiability criterion, too much is meaningless, including:

  • Statements about the past or future.
  • Negative existentials.
  • Positive universals.
  • Certain positivist doctrines.
4 the verifiability criterion itself
4. The Verifiability Criterion Itself

Consider the verifiability criterion: “a sentence is meaningless unless some finite procedure can conclusively verify its truth.”

If this criterion is meaningful, then it must be that some finite procedure can conclusively verify this claim.

But what procedure would that be?

the problem
The Problem

For many theoretical terms, it took years or decades after their introduction for us to discover any way of verifying claims about them.

Consider the claim: “DNA has a double-helical structure.” This claim seems to be meaningful.

the problem1
The Problem

But Watson and Crick had to discover how to verify it.

the problem2
TheProblem

The reason we discover methods of verification, rather than stipulate them in advance, is that confirmation is theory dependent.

Our theories advance, and according to the new theories, certain experiences confirm certain phenomena.

the problem3
TheProblem

If our theories change, those same experiences may no longer confirm those same phenomena.

The experiences that confirm a statement shouldn’t be tied to its meaning unless we want to accept that meaning is theory-dependent.

the problem4
The Problem

So positivism seems to suggest that claims about DNA, electrons, positrons, mesons, or whatever did not mean anything until we discovered ways of verifying them.

At that time we discovered their meanings.

slide32

Partly Resembles

Dog

Sees

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide33

Connotes

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide34

Conventional Relation

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

denotation
Denotation

But there’s another sense in which the word ‘dog’ means dogs (those furry smelly barking things): it applies to dogs and it’s true of dogs (and false of everything else).

Denotation involves the relation between words and the world– what words apply to/ are true of.

slide36

Conventional Relation

Dog

Natural Relation (Resemblance)

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

slide37

Denotes

Dog

Dog

Mind

Idea of a Dog

circularity
Circularity

For any finite set of definitions containing only words that have definitions in the set: some word w defines w. (For example, “ambagious” defines “ambagious”)

So in order to learn what w is true of, I have to already know what w is true of.

particular definition theories
Particular Definition Theories

The way to go then is to adopt a particular definition theory. On such an account, not every word has a definition for its meaning, only some particular subclass of all the words.

the problem of examples
The Problem of Examples

Philosophers are fond of ‘bachelors are unmarried men.’ Why?

Because it’s really hard to find examples of definitions that work– where the defining part means the same thing as the defined part.

‘Bachelor’ isn’t even obvious (is the pope a bachelor? Are 14 year-olds?). Kinship terms and animal terms are about the only good bets.

the causal historical theory1
The Causal-Historical Theory

Let’s call that baby ‘Feynman’

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

the causal historical theory2
The Causal-Historical Theory

Let’s call that baby ‘Feynman’

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

Historical Chain of Transmission

the causal historical theory3
The Causal-Historical Theory

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

Feynman

Denotation

the causal historical theory4
The Causal-Historical Theory

Let’s call that thing a “tiger.”

TIGER

TIGER

TIGER

TIGER

the story of madagascar
The Story of Madagascar

Let’s call that place ‘Mogadishu’

Madagascu

Madagishu

Madagascar

Madagasceir

c h theory predicts
C.H. Theory Predicts

Let’s call that place ‘Mogadishu’

Madagascu

Madagishu

Madagascar

Madagasceir

Denotation

c h theory predicts1
C.H. Theory Predicts

Let’s call that place ‘Mogadishu’

Madagascu

Madagishu

Madagascar

Madagasceir

Denotation

Wrong!!!

real denotation
Real Denotation

Let’s call that place ‘Mogadishu’

Madagascu

Madagishu

Madagascar

Madagasceir

Denotation

madagascar
Madagascar

The “Madagascar” case illustrates a general point: the Causal-Historical Theory cannot account for unintentional meaning change.

slide56

Gareth

Saul

slide57

Saul

Gareth

twins switched at birth
Twins Switched at Birth

Now imagine it’s 73 years later and we’ve been calling one man “Saul” for 72.99 years, even though (unknown to us) he was baptized “Gareth.”

Saul

twins switched at birth1
Twins Switched at Birth

TRUE or FALSE: Saul is wearing a hat.

Saul

the use theory3
The Use Theory

means

and

AND

the use theory4
The Use Theory

A and B

B

follows

AND

A and B

A

A, B

A and B

the use theory5
The Use Theory

A et B

B

follows

ET

A et B

A

A, B

A et B

the use theory6
The Use Theory

same concept

AND

ET

summary of principles
Summary of Principles
  • Words mean concepts, and “meaning” is univocal– it always means just “indication.”
  • For any word, all of its uses may be explained by a basic acceptance property: a regularity in the use of the word, that explains irregular uses as well.
  • Concepts are individuated by the basic acceptance properties of the words that express them.
inference rules
Inference Rules

A tonk B

B

A .

A tonk B

proof involving tonk
Proof Involving Tonk

Michael is a philosopher = A

Michael is the greatest philosopher = B

  • A Premise
  • A tonk B Tonk Rule #2
  • B Tonk Rule #1
inference rules1
Inference Rules

A tonk B

B

A .

A tonk B

When “B” is false, “A tonk B” must be false.

inference rules2
Inference Rules

A tonk B

B

A.

A tonk B

When “A” is true, “A tonk B” must be true.

inference rules3
Inference Rules

A tonk B

B

A .

A tonk B

So what happens when

“B” is false and “A” is true?

tonk vs the use theory
Tonk vs. the Use Theory
  • The rules are supposed to be the meanings, but it seems like ‘tonk’ doesn’t mean anything, even when we know its meaning.
  • If the rules are just the meaning of the word, then why is it wrong to use the word this way. And if it isn’t wrong, does that mean that

Michael is the greatest philosopher!

equilibria
Equilibria

An equilibrium point is a square on the grid where no player can improve his position through unilateral deviation.

Unilateral deviation is when one player changes strategy and all the other players do not.

equilibria as solutions
Equilibria as Solutions

An equilibrium strategy is a “solution” to a game. It’s what we predict will happen, and it’s what “rational” players will choose.

John Nash proved that there’s always an equilibrium (if we allow mixed strategies).

coordination problem meeting
Coordination Problem: Meeting

Suppose two people want to meet, but they have no way of communicating with each other.

It does not matter where they go, as long as they go to the same place.

convention first definition
Convention: First Definition

It is a convention for a group to follow a rule in a certain situation, if whenever they are in that situation:

  • Everyone follows the rule.
  • Everyone expects everyone else to follow the rule.
  • The situation is a coordination problem.
  • Everyone following the rule is a solution to the coordination problem.
  • The reason why they follow the rule is (3) and (4).
example money
Example: Money

Throughout history, people have used different things as money: gold, silver, sea shells, salt (whence ‘salary’), goats, cigarettes (in prison), coins and paper currency.

It doesn’t matter to me what I accept in exchange for my goods and labor as long as it’s what everyone else accepts (as long as I can spend it).

language and convention
Language and Convention

Many aspects of language are also conventional:

  • The meaning of each word.
  • Some facts about the grammar.
  • How the words get pronounced.
recursion and language
Recursion and Language

Here’s how language might do it:

NOUN PHRASE:

  • “man” is a noun phrase
  • If NP is a noun phrase then “old” + NP is a noun phrase.

From this recursive definition, it follows there are infinitely many noun phrases.

infinite use of finite means
Infinite Use of Finite Means

This is one sense in which language “makes infinite use of finite means.” There are finitely many words, and the rules of grammar are presumably finite. But recursion generates infinite complex expressions from a finite “base.”

compositionality1
Compositionality

The meanings of complex expressions depend on– and depend only on– the meanings of their simple parts and the ways that those parts are combined.

what s at stake
What’s at Stake?

Before we consider arguments for or against compositionality, let’s look at what’s at stake.

At various points, compositionality has been used to argue against all of the theories of meaning we have considered in class.

brown cows are dangerous
Brown Cows are Dangerous

However, suppose that the small number of dangerous cows and the small number of dangerous brown things are allbrown cows.

Thus the meaning of “brown cow” contains the experience of bodily harm. That experience confirms the presence of brown cows.

brown cows are dangerous1
Brown Cows are Dangerous

But how is this possible?

Neither the set of experiences that is the meaning of “brown” nor the set of experiences that is the meaning of “cow” contains the experience of bodily harm.

brown cows are dangerous2
Brown Cows are Dangerous

The meaning of “brown cow” thus seems to depend on something other than the meanings of its parts, “brown” and “cow”:

Verificationismviolates the principle of compositionality.

vs the use theory
Vs. the Use Theory

Does knowing how word W1 is used and how W2 is used suffice for knowing how [W1 W2] is used?

This seems unlikely.

slide99

Imagine teaching a Martian how the word ‘black’ is used.

We might show it color samples or something.

against locality
Against Locality

As we saw before, compositionality is local.

In the expression [old [brown dog]] what “brown dog” means cannot depend on what “old” means, even though that’s also part of the expression containing “brown dog.”

donkey sentences
Donkey Sentences

Normally, sentences S(‘a donkey’) are made true by the existence of a donkey who satisfies S(x). For example:

  • A donkey pooped on the train.
  • John punched a donkey.
geach sentence
Geach Sentence

However, consider the following sentence (due to Peter Geach):

  • Every farmer who owns a donkey beats it.

This sentence is (emphatically!) not made true by a donkey who satisfies “Every farmer who owns x beats x.”

against semantic closure
Against Semantic Closure

Compositionality includes semantic closure: the meanings of expressions depend only on the meanings of their parts and how they’re combined, not things other than their meanings.

pure quotation
Pure Quotation

Pure quotation is an interesting phenomena. Consider that “bachelor” and “unmarried man” are synonymous. The substitutability criterion (compositionality) says:

“For any sentence S(E) containing some expression E as part, if E and E* have the same meaning, then S(E) and S(E*) have the same meaning.”

a counterexample
A Counterexample

So let

E = “bachelor”

E* = “unmarried man”

S(E) = “‘bachelor’ used to mean squire.”

S(E*) = “‘unmarried man’ used to mean squire.”

The substitutability criterion fails!

common three way equivalence
Common Three-Way Equivalence:
  • Sentence meanings
  • The objects of the attitudes
  • The referents of ‘that’-clauses

We can call whatever is all of these things a “proposition.” Now we have the question: what are propositions?

facts
Facts

Facts are complex entities composed of objects, properties, and relations “going together” in the world– e.g. objects instantiating properties and multiple objects instantiating relations.

facts as propositions
Facts as Propositions?

There aren’t any “false facts.” But there are:

  • Sentences that are false.
  • Beliefs that are false.
  • Attitude ascriptions that ascribe false attitudes (e.g. beleifs).
states of affairs
States of Affairs

States of affairs are like facts (composed of objects, properties, and relations “going together”), but they can be merely possible.

The state of affairs Michael is not wearing pants exists, even though Michael is notnot wearing pants. It exists but it fails to obtain. It is merely possible.

states of affairs as propositions
States of Affairs as Propositions?
  • There are no impossible states of affairs, but we can believe or mean impossible things.
  • The state of affairs Superman can fly is the same state of affairs Clark Kent can fly, but I can believe that Superman can fly without believing Clark Kent can fly.
  • States of affairs are not truth-evaluable, but we might think propositions are: the things we believe are true or false.
  • Compositionality
compositionality worry
Compositionality Worry

TRUE: Lois Lane believes Superman can fly.

FALSE: Lois Lane believe Clark Kent can fly.

what a theory of propositions needs
What a Theory of Propositions Needs

Propositions should be:

  • Fine-grained
  • Truth-evaluable
  • Sometimes necessarily false (impossible)
  • Compositionally determined
possible worlds semantics
Possible Worlds Semantics

One way of understanding truth conditions is with possible worlds:

The meaning of a sentence S is the set of all possible worlds where that sentence is true, {w: S is true in w}.

fine grainedness
Fine-Grainedness

One of the problems with treating states of affairs as meanings was that the state of affairs wherein Clark Kent flies is the same state of affairs wherein Superman flies.

Sets of possible worlds have the same problem: the set of worlds where Clark Kent flies is the set of worlds where Superman flies.

Thus, on this account, if you believe the one proposition, you believe the other as well.

syntactic structure
Syntactic Structure

Paisley

likes

Michael

lexicon
Lexicon

The lexicon is a pairing of words with their meanings.

“Michael” →

“Likes” →

“Paisley” →

grain too fine
Grain Too Fine?

However, the structured propositions theorist will also be forced to admit that these are different propositions:

B

A

B

A

&

&

slide125

means

Dog

determines

grasps

?

Sense of “Dog”

Dog

Mind

senses1
Senses

For Frege, senses are objective: two people who grasp the sense of ‘horse’ are grasping one and the same thing. The sense of a word is grasped by everyone who understands it

slide127

determines

grasp

?

Sense of “Dog”

Thinkers

Dog

senses2
Senses

Each object can be the referent determined by many (perhaps infinite) senses. That is, many different locutions (with different meanings) can all pick out the same thing. Some senses have no referent, e.g. ‘the least rapidly converging series’ or ‘Odysseus.’

slide129

Sense of “Michael’s favorite animal”

?

determines

grasps

?

Sense of “Canine”

?

Dog

Mind

Sense of “Dog”