Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Paul Pietroski
University of Maryland

"Human Syntax, and Why Philosophers Should Care"

Abstract:   The first part of the talk will be devoted to illustrating various constraints on semantic composition in natural human languages. For example, 'Was the hiker who lost kept walking in circles' cannot be used to ask whether or not the hiker who was lost kept walking in circles. Such constraints, often surprising, provide explananda for linguists. And as discussed in the second part of the talk, these "negative facts" suggest that many conceptions of meaning--currently popular among philosophers--are fundamentally mistaken. If time permits, I'll sketch an alternative (Chomskyan) conception of linguistic meanings as instructions for constructing (typically monadic) concepts in accordance with constraints imposed by the human language faculty.

Two relevant forthcoming articles are:  "Meaning Before Truth" and "Character Before Content". They can be found here.

Friday, January 14, 2005
SST 777
3 pm

Refreshments will be served