The First UC Irvine Workshop in Logical Semantics
#214, Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway Bldg
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SPEAKER TITLES & ABSTRACTS
Friday, May 19th
9:30: Gregory Scontras (UCI), "Degrees and kinds: Rethinking the ontology"
11:00: Stefan Hinterwimmer (Cologne), "The Binding options of demonstrative pronouns, complex demonstratives and definite descriptions"
In this talk I will take a close look at the conditions under which demonstrative pronouns, complex demonstratives and definite descriptions receive bound-variable-like interpretations. In contrast to personal pronouns, those three types of expressions are standardly not assumed to denote variables, but rather to be (co-)referential DPs. I will argue that their more limited distribution as compared to that of personal pronouns on their bound readings cannot be accounted for satisfactorily by either Principle C of Binding Theory (as argued for by Wiltschko 1998 for demonstrative pronouns) or a pragmatic reconstruction of Principle C in terms of Minimize Restrictors! (as argued for by Schlenker 2005 for definite descriptions and complex demonstratives and Patel-Grosz and Grosz to appear for demonstrative pronouns). Rather, the notion of perspective-taking plays a decisive role: While demonstrative pronouns avoid the most prominent perspective-takers as binders, complex demonstratives and definite descriptions cannot be bound by perspective-takers in general.
12:00 – Lunch
1:30: Marcus Kracht (University of Bielefeld), "The morphology -semantics antagonism"
This talk will explore a particular view at the interplay of morphology and semantics. It is designed to overcome an impasse that is frequently found in semantics, namely that it is hard to come up with sensible semantics for basic morphemes. The more grammaticalized they become the less clear their semantic contribution tends to be. The limiting case is a fully grammaticalized morpheme that has no semantic import whatsoever. However, there are many intermediate cases where it is neither clear that the element is grammaticalized nor is it always easy to pin down its semantics.
I propose therefore to make each morpheme eligible to be either interpreted or taken as a grammatical element. It can be the latter if (and only if) it is selected for by a higher head. Thus, semantics and morphology compete in a construction for the resources. Since this approach does not divide the morphemes per se as one or the other but rather makes the outcome dependent on the construction, it opens room for the simplification of semantic analysis.
2:30: Stefan Kaufmann (U Connecticut), “Arbitrary Selection Semantics for Conditionals and Modality”
4:00: Ivano Caponigro (UC San Diego), "Montague’s turn towards natural language"
In the early 60s, Richard Montague still believed that: “[The] systematic exploration of the English language, indeed of what might be called the ‘logic of ordinary English’, […] would be either extremely laborious or impossible. In any case, the authors of the present book would not find it rewarding.” Just a few years later, he radically changed his mind: “There is philosophic interest in attempting to analyze ordinary English” and “I reject the contention that an important theoretical difference exists between formal and natural languages.” At the very same time – not by chance – Montague changed his beliefs in what should be the adequate framework for philosophy: from “set theory with individuals and the possible addition of empirical predicates” to higher-order “intensional logic.” These changes coincide with the beginning of Montague’s seminal work on natural language semantics that culminated with the last three papers he published before his sudden and violent death. In this talk, I will examine these changes with the goal of gaining some understanding about what motivated them and what light these motivations may shed on Montague’s subsequent work on natural language. This investigation is part of a much broader ongoing project of an intellectual and personal biography of Montague.
Saturday, May 20th
9:30: Ede Zimmermann (U of Frankfurt), "Explicit world variables vs. implicit indices"
11:00: Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley), "Dedicated de re attitude reports."
1:30: Yael Sharvit (UCLA), “Negative polarity items under ‘true’”
Strict negative polarity items (e.g., ‘in years’, ‘until tomorrow') are acceptable in the scope of ‘not’ unless the negative polarity item and some “blocker” are in the scope of the same occurrence of ‘not’, and the negative polarity item is in the scope of the “blocker”. ‘It is true that’ is a “blocker” but ‘think’ is not (as illustrated by the unacceptability of ‘It isn’t true that Mary has had a good friend in years’ vs. the acceptability of ‘I don't think that Mary has had a good friend in years’). We discuss what this fact implies about the syntax and semantics of ‘think S’ and ‘S is true/it is true that S’.
2:30: Kai Wehmeier (UCI), “Against free variables”
May 15, 2017, 9:00am PST
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