for philosophical questions concerning the nature, origins, and usage of natural language

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1answer
63 views

Why does Philosophy of Language matter?

Why does philosophy of language matter? I'm not trying to troll here; I'm interested in what people who find this subject fascinating are so fascinated about!
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4answers
236 views

Can a “real” paradox exist?

Given a statement, S: "S is not true." We arrive at a paradoxical solution whether or not we assume S to be true or false. Does this automatically imply that we have made an error in logic, ...
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1answer
29 views

What are the names, or arguments of the atomic sentence “Max ate a cake” and “I ate a cake.”

What are the names, or arguments of the atomic sentence Max ate a cake and I ate a cake. ? First of all, "Max" is definitely a name. But is "cake" a name? And in the second sentence, is ...
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1answer
35 views

Is the line between use and mention always defined?

Consider the sentence "I like Heroin", meaning that you enjoy the famous song by the Velvet Underground. Is the expression in italics used or mentioned? To me it seems that it's a use, but a weird ...
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0answers
32 views

which philosopher was suspicious of the word “natural”?

He was suspicious because he noticed that the word "natural" is often used to convince people that something is "true without need for further explanation" - a suspicious usage, certainly. Heard ...
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1answer
144 views

If qualia are “something extra” to explain, isn't it weird that the brain produces speech about qualia?

This question is mainly directed at people who are firm physicalists (as opposed to dualists) but still think qualia are "something extra to be explained". I believe Searle and Chalmers both fall into ...
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4answers
2k views

Who does Wil Wheaton represent in “Big Bang Theory”?

Following the aesthetics-challenge my first question on this site: In several episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" Wil Wheaton appears. In the credits it is stated that he plays "himself". But I have ...
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1answer
41 views

Word and image (in poetry)

A 2011 book on conceptual poetry titled conceptualisms claims Note: there is no aesthetic or ethical distinction between word and image. They seem to define "images" as what manifest to create ...
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0answers
57 views

Universal quantifier in Russell's Theory of descriptions - Who is the UNIVERSE?

In Russell's 1905 paper "on denoting" in which he introduces his theory of descriptions, he uses his method of analyzing propositions that include denoting phrases (descriptive ones), by rewriting ...
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1answer
46 views

what is the exact meaning of bedeutung for Frege?

When we read the seminal essay of "sense and reference" by Frege, one of the most important ambiguity is the meaning of "bedeutung". Of course Michael Dummett the Late great philosopher point out to ...
2
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1answer
98 views

Why is Tarski's semantic theory of truth formally correct and materially adequate?

In "The Semantic Conception of Truth and the Foundations of Semantics" (1944) Alfred Tarski asserts that a satisfactory definition of truth must be both formally correct and materially adequate. A ...
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1answer
31 views

Need of source for the 2nd half of “On sense and reference”

As you know, much of the second half of “On Sense and Reference” is devoted to carefully considering when subordinate clauses and embedded sentences contribute customary or indirect senses to the ...
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4answers
215 views

Generalizing mathematical concepts

It's sometimes useful and interesting to generalize mathematical concepts - e.g., turning the familiar notion of number of things in a given set into the concept of cardinality of a set, etc. Lately I ...
3
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1answer
83 views

What is the relation between the material conditional in logic and conditionals that we use every day?

The material conditional has a truth-value of T in every case except where the antecedent proposition is true and the consequent is false. However, this means that many conditionals are true (if only ...
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0answers
25 views

Composite truth tables for sentence relations (entailment, synonymy,etc.)

I'm using John Saeed's 'Semantics'. Now in chap 4 I see he is trying to formalize sentence relations such as entailment, synonymy, contradiction, etc., by some kind of different truth tables he calls ...
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1answer
42 views

Do sentences that are “selection violations” have truth values?

Given a grammatical sentence like "Colorless green grass sleeps furiously" is it possible to assign a truth value to it?
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2answers
77 views

Why do Conditional Semantics matter?

It seems that in most everyday cases, taking conditionals to have material truth conditions suffices for us to reason with them correctly (in the sense that using material truth conditions will most ...
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0answers
118 views

What is an “unarticulated background”?

Does a sentence only mean something because it draws on knowledge outside of itself? Take 2 + 2 = 4: is it a tautology? No: it depends on a conception of '+', which is not located within that ...
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2answers
90 views

Why does it matter whether knowledge is synthetic or analytic?

I have done some reading around Kant's idea of splitting knowledge into synthetic and analytic. I don't understand why does this split matter, knowledge could be split in other way by different ...
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2answers
111 views

Abstract versus Concrete

Who drew the line between abstract/concrete and general/specific in the philosophy of language? Are there any comprehensive resources on the early history of their development specifically with ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the Frege-Sense of “I am here”

I am fairly familiar with Frege's usage of sense and reference, but how does he deal with indexicals?
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1answer
75 views

Does the word 'And' refer?

The word 'house' and the word 'shed' refer - they are physical things we can point to (their referent). Now consider the word 'and' - this at first appears to not refer to anything. If one is trained ...
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2answers
74 views

What do we mean by the symbolic representation of nothing?

The word 'nothing' symbolically represents nothing-in-itself. But how can we refer to something that by definition is not there? To make this clearer: the word 'horse' refers to an actual living ...
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4answers
164 views

Is Horse a Concept?

Frege famously said horse is not a concept (it is an object). When we consider the sentence 'Socrates is a philosopher', 'Socrates' is an object and 'philosopher' is a concept, and there is a copula, ...
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2answers
164 views

Why does one worry about the existence of a number but not of a dog?

One can ask whether the number one exists, and there are a range of answers. In particular, Platonism holds that this number does exist in some abstract world. Now observe that number and one are ...
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1answer
46 views

If the referent is the thing referred to, what is the thing referring? [closed]

This is a very quick question, and the title says it all. For example, we may take the phrase "this tree" (standing, as we are, in front of a tree) to refer to that tree. We call that tree the ...
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3answers
192 views

Is Chomskys universal grammar synthetic a priori?

Chomskys notion of a universal grammar is his way of comprehending that human languages appear to have a deep grammar, and that children appear to learn language as though they are primed for it. It ...
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0answers
120 views

What's the point of 'dthat'?

David Kaplan famously formulated a logic for demonstratives (including terms like 'I', 'now', 'here' 'actually' etc.), LD, which is a version of first-order two-dimensional logic. Very roughly and ...
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1answer
92 views

How might a modern defender of positivism classify a “speech act”?

A few people here have wondered whether positivism is really dead. I was under the impression that it was for a long time; but there seem to be some sympathizers with positivism here, and I'd be ...
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2answers
185 views

How many legs does a dog have?

I recently came across a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg. Is this really so? Imagine ...
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0answers
43 views

Relativist semantics for attitude ascriptions?

Most recent semantic theories about attitude ascriptions(AAs) are contextualist in that they hold that AAs are context sensitive: AAs are associated with different truth conditions in different ...
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3answers
183 views

Propositions lacking referents, and their truth-values

Okay so I’ve recently been (briefly) introduced to the idea of propositions containing non-existent entities. The classic example is, of course, “The present king of France is bald.” Here the referent ...
4
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1answer
110 views

What is *lost* and *gained* in repudiating the analytic/synthetic distinction?

Analytic sentences are characterized as sentences whose truth values derive from their meanings alone. The truth of synthetic sentences depend on both meaning and fact. In the early modern ...
3
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1answer
116 views

Current philosophy of language

I wanted to know what are the current status of philosophy of language. What is valid today? What philosophers are accepting? For example, during the beginning of the XX centry, we have Frege's views ...
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3answers
1k views

Cheap linguistic trick

Consider the statement "I'm moving". It seems to me that this statement can be both true and false. That is, because motion is relative, I may not be moving relative to the Earth (i.e. standing ...
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4answers
562 views

Should we save endangered languages?

There are over six thousand living languages in the world, of which more than one thousand are defined as "endangered" - they are at serious risk of becoming extinct, with no living speakers. Rather ...
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2answers
171 views

What do philosophers mean by 'conceivable'?

Philosophers, especially in analytic metaphysics, often talk about the conceivability of things. Here are some examples: I can conceive a perfect being, therefore, a perfect being is possible. ...
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0answers
38 views

What is a sign?

Saussure wrote: It is... possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life. It would form part of social psychology, and hence of general psychology. We ...
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8answers
303 views

On speaking of 'apparently' non-physical things

Something has really been bugging me lately. Bare in mind I haven't really studied any Philosophy of Mind, but I currently accept that only the physical exists. It comes as being something very ...
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2answers
126 views

Can Frege coherently admit expressions that have a sense but lack a reference?

I am looking here for any sources that respond to the question given: Can Frege coherently admit expressions that have a sense but lack a reference? I am familiar with a lot of the exegetical work ...
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5answers
143 views

Learning a language from a dictionary

There's a nice question I thought about, and I'd like to know more about it. I would assume it has been discussed many times, but I'm not sure what its called so I'm having trouble finding any texts ...
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3answers
116 views

Why are exclamations like “Ouch!” not considered propositions?

Doesn't "Ouch!" mean "I am experiencing discomfort", which is a proposition?
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2answers
514 views

What is the difference between 'meaning' and 'reference' for Putnam?

In Reason, Truth and History, Putnam talks about 'meaning' and 'reference', but I don't understand the difference between the two for him. He says: what goes on inside our head does not determine ...
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5answers
302 views

“Why” vs. “How” in the Experimental Sciences

Based on the lively discussion of this question over at physics.stackexchange, I thought it might be useful to ask it here as well. The kernel of the debate is whether or not "why" questions are ...
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1answer
42 views

Does gender theory explain gender in linguistics?

Considering that one of the roots of Gender theory lies in linguistics via Derrida through deconstruction and subversion; and that Man as a subject not only thinks but also speaks (and possibly spoke ...
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3answers
128 views

Why should one read the Tracatus?

In the introduction to the Tractatus, Russell writes: In order to understand Mr Wittgenstein’s book, it is necessary to realize what is the problem with which he is concerned. In the part of his ...
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2answers
66 views

Rigorous resources on the philosophy of language

I would like to find some introductory resources on the philosophy of language that are also rigorous, as I come from a mathematical background with my interests rooted in mathematical logic. Ideally ...
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1answer
51 views

What would prevent me from putting brains in vats?

Following Putnam, I cannot possibly be a brain in a vat, because (if my understanding is correct) I can only refer to "vats" that are not the ones in which I suggest my brain could be. But what ...
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2answers
102 views

Are there philosophers who further develop ideas by Searle?

I'm reading a bit about John Searle's philosophies of mind and language at the moment. In his language lectures he keeps emphasizing that his views aren't considered mainstream. Are there any ...
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2answers
102 views

Is Be, Do and Have all we can talk about?

I have heard that theoretically you can classify all things you can possibly talk/write about into 3 categories i.e. be, do and have. People and things can be something, do something and have ...