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7.5.1 Entities or individual concepts?

We left our proper names out of the intensional sphere, so to speak, by giving them de-
notations that are independent of the world we are in. It is wise to question this move.
Exercise A.43 pushes you in that direction.


7.5.2 Tautologies and contradictions

Despite major enrichments and near model-theoretic overload, it is arguably true that we
still don’t have enough meanings. Intensions distinguish most of the truths from one an-
other, and they distinguish most of the falsities from one another. But they still do not
make enough distinctions:



(7.6) a. Ed believes Sue squared the circle.
b. Ed believes two and two make seven.
(7.7) a. Ed believes Sue is self-identical.
b. Ed believes two and two make four.
In (7.6), the complement sentences denote necessary falsities; they both denote the empty
set. In (7.7), the complement sentences denote necessary truths; they both denote the full
set of worlds.

7.5.3 The definite determiner

Hypothesis (7.1b) says that the arguments to predicates are of type e. This interacts well
with hypothesis (7.1a), which says that proper names are of type e. It now makes good
semantic sense that proper names are free to be the arguments to almost any predicate.
Quantifiers and definite descriptions call this neat picture into question, though. There
is not space here to discuss theissue ofquantified arguments(see Heim and Kratzer 1998).
But we can look briefly at why definites are a challenge for the current theory.
The bottom line is that we can’t get away with saying that definite descriptions are
of type e in the way proper names are. The best way to see this is to place them into
intensional contexts, where we there is a chance of seeing them evaluated with respect to
worlds different from our own:
(7.8) a. Al Gore might have been the president.
b. Sue believes that Bart is the culprit, but in fact the culprit is Maggie.
Evidently, Sue’s beliefworlds are all such that Bart is the culprit in — Sue is somehow
out of touch with reality. We can capture this easily by allowingthat the culprit varies from
world to world:

♀ →

♂ →


But, by our function–type correspondence, this means that definites must be of type s,e ,
the type of individual concepts. This leads directly to the prediction — quite false! — that
definites cannot be the arguments of predicates. Something has got to give, and exercise
A.46 asks you what that something is.




7.5.4 Logical omniscience

Our treatment of the attitude predicate believe predicts logical omniscience in the fol-
lowing sense: if you believe p, and p q, then you believe q as well. This is by no
means an innocent assumption. If we check basic cases, we get some confirmation that
there is something correct about it. But figuring out whether one thing entails another is
a supremely challenging task in every relevant sense, and it is routine to find that peo-
ple have failed to grasp that their belief in p entails that they must also, if they are to be
regarded as rational in the strictest sense, believeq.


7.5.5 On the size of worlds

The name ‘possible world’ is misleading. It would be more accurate to say ‘possible
reality’. When we talk about ‘possible worlds’, we’re not comparing different planets, or
different regions of the solar system, but rather entire realities.
This is rather counterintuitive. If I say to you, Chris is happy, I pick out all the realities
in which Chris is happy (and perhaps indicate that I think ours is one of them). What
seems like a small claim turns out to be a rather large on model-theoretically.
There are semantic theories that do away with possible worlds (realities), in whole
(Barwise and Perry 1983) or in part (Kratzer 2007).


Logic for Linguists, LSA Institute 2007, Stanford (Christopher Potts)

Handout 8: Building a suitable machine

Kaplan (1989:541) is in search of a suitable “machine” — a system that will
capture the generalizations he is after in a way that seems illuminating. This
handout provides some guidance for people who are on such a search.

Very often, one constructs a model only to find that it is not expressive enough to make
certain distinctions. Here are some examples, along with responses.


Problem: Basic propositional logic has only expressions of type t. There is no way
to talk about Bob or Carol or Ted or Alice.

Response: Add a domain of entities and define function that take members of that
domain (and functions build from them) as arguments. (Handout 5.)


Problem: Even D e,t isn’t sufficient. We cannot, for instance, give a semantics for
belief statements in these terms

Response: Add a new set of entities, Ds = W, the set of possible worlds. Sentence
meanings are now functions from worlds into truth values; VP meanings are now
functions from entities to sentence meanings; and so forth. (Handout 7.)


Problem: A model with no elements for representing time cannot give a semantics
for any explicitly temporal expressions.

Response: Add a new set of entities, Dj = R, the class of times. Sentence meanings
are now functions from times into something else.



Logic for Linguists, LSA Institute 2007, Stanford (Christopher Potts)

Handout 9: Quantifiers

This handout is a brief introduction to quantifiers. I can’t hope to be compre-
hensive, but I can try to impart a sense for the deep results of this subfield of
semantics. (For a comprehensive, technical, but nonetheless accessible review
of the field today, I recommend Peters and Westerståhl (2006).) My treatment
is purely extensional; see the exercises for tips on intensionalization.

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