A shorter version of this piece is intended for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Comments are welcome while I'm working on it. [Keywords: substitution-failure, de re/de dicto distinction, Frege, hidden indexical semantics, Russellianism.]
Free-choice disjunction manifests itself in complements of comparatives, existential modals, and related contexts. For example, "Socrates is older than Plato or Aristotle" is usually understood to mean "older than each", not "older than at least one". Normally, to get an "at least one" reading, a wh-rider has to be appended, e.g., "whichever is younger" or "but I don't remember which". Similarly, "Socrates could have been a lawyer or a banker" usually means "Socrates could have been a lawyer and (not "or") could have been a banker". And "Socrates needs an umbrella or a raincoat" is normally understood in a way that isn't synonymous with "Socrates needs an umbrella or Socrates needs a raincoat". Roughly, the reading is "getting a satisfactory umbrella would meet his need and getting a satisfactory raincoat would meet his need".
These examples all have "conjunctive force" and the question I address is whether there's a relatively simple pragmatic account of why the force is with them. I present a straightforward Gricean argument, much easier to follow than derivations of conjunctive force via 'exhaustification', that the "co-operative speaker" assumption, added to a disjunctive literal meaning, produces conjunctive force for epistemic modals. This argument may work for some other modals too, but I express some pessimism about covering the full range.
A revised version will appear in Further Advances in Pragmatics and Philosophy I, Alessandro Capone, Marco Carapezza and Franco Lo Piparo (eds.), Springer 2018.
[Keywords: disjunction, conversational implicature, epistemic possibility, non-monotonic logic]
Discusses Kit Fine's recent "compatibilist" semantics for vagueness, the successor to his well-known supervaluationist semantics. After exposition, I compare the compatibilist and degree-theoretic accounts of three versions of the Sorites Paradox: the modus ponens version, the conjunctive syllogism version, and the disjunctive syllogism version. A revised version of this paper will appear in Metaphysics, Meaning and Modality: Themes from Kit Fine, edited by Mircea Dumitru; Oxford University Press 2018. [Keywords: sorites, supervaluationism, compatibilism, degrees of truth.]
A lightly revised version of my first book, long out of print.
This is my contribution to an author-meets-critics panel on Diana Raffman's book on vagueness, Unruly Words. APA Pacific Division, Vancouver, April 2015.
This is a draft of my review of Kripke's collection of papers. It appears in Mind (2015) 124: 927-933.
For many attitude verbs, replacing a 'that'-clause with the corresponding propositional term produces a change in truth-condition, perhaps absurdity, or perhaps even nonsense. Thus 'Holmes fears that Moriarty has returned' may be true but it is unlikely that 'Holmes fears the proposition that Moriarty has returned' is. For only the exceptionally timorous fear propositions. Some philosophers (Bach, Moltmann, Pryor...) have taken this behavior to cast doubt on the standard view that 'that'-clauses have propositions as their semantic values. I argue that the standard view may be maintained in a neo-Davidsonian framework in which a certain side-effect of the term-for-clause substitution has a large truth-conditional impact. Revised version to appear in Non-Propositional Intentionality, Grzankowski and Montague (eds.), Oxford University Press 2018. [Keywords: substitution-failure, opacity, neo-Davidsonian semantics, event semantics, thematic roles, categorial grammar, lexicon.]
This is my contribution to an author-meets-crtics panel on Francois Recanati''s book on reference Mental Files. APA Pacific Division, San Diego, April 2014.
This is the penultimate version of a paper I wrote on the semantics of free-choice "or" ("you can buy the book or borrow it from me") for a volume on the work of Ede Zimmerman (Approaches to Meaning: Composition, Values and Interpretation, Gutzmann, Köpping and Meier (eds.), Brill 2014, 167-186). It discusses comparative adjectives, deontic, epistemic and metaphysical possibility, a puzzle of Larson's, Zimmerman's theory, and intensional transitives. The paper is an extended defense of Makinson's semantics. It also contains the most groan-inducing joke I've ever written (alluding to Star Wars). [Keywords: free-choice operator, intonational thumping, conjunctive force.]
This is the handout for a work-in-progress talk I gave here. It's on Gricean accounts of free-choice "or", the idea that the conjunctive reading ("taller than both") of "Socrates is taller than Plato or Aristotle" is a scalar conversational implicature of the disjunctive reading ("taller than at least one") in the way that "some but not all" is said to be a scalar pragmatic enrichment of "some" in most uses. I use Grice's criterion of non-detachability to argue that a conversational implicature approach to free-choice disjunction is implausible. [Keywords: pragmatic enrichment, scalar implicature, cancellability, non-detachability, conjunctive force.]
This paper is excerpted from a talk I gave at the Mental Files workshop, Institut Nicod, Paris, November 2010. It argues that certain ways of trying to avoid Kripke's modal objections to sense-theories of names run aground on examples of mixed contexts (first noted by Mark Richard). I focus specifically on proposals by Gluer and Pagin and by Chalmers, and on the special case of mixed contexts that involve factive verbs and epistemic modalities. This is Draft 6, quite substantially changed from Draft 5. A descendant appears in Analysis in 2011 (654-662). [Keywords: rigidity operators, sense, names, factive verbs, two-dimensionalism.]
This is a revised version of a talk I gave at a workshop on vagueness at ESSLLI 2009 in Bordeaux. It addresses the question of whether contextualism (as developed by Kamp, Pinkal and Soames) can be used to pin the fallacy of equivocation on Sorites reasoning, in the way that a different kind of contextualism can dissolve alleged counterexamples to transitivity of the conditional by discerning an equivocation. A close descendant of this draft appears in Vagueness in Communication, eds. Nouwen et al., Springer Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 2010. [Keywords: epistemicism, contextualism, transitivity of "if...then", variably strict conditional, degrees of truth.]
This contains my replies to Peter Ludlow and Barbara Partee, who were my critics at an Author-Meets-Critics panel on Attitude Problems at the December 2008 Eastern Division APA meeting in Philadelphia. The replies are self-contained, in that the specific criticisms I respond to I also state in the text. This version is slightly revised from the one I spoke from at the session. I would again like to thank Ludlow and Partee for the time and effort they put into their discussions of my book. [Keywords: notional vs. relational vs. non-committal readings, propositionalism, Montague on intensional verbs, neo-Davidsonian event semantics, thematic roles.]
In Attitude Problems I gave an account of opacity in the complement of intensional transitive verbs that combined neo-Davidsonian event-semantics with a hidden-indexical account of substitution failure. In this paper I extend the account to clausal verbs. A revised version appears in Synthese, and is available at www.springerlink.com. [Keywords: substitution-failure, opacity, neo-Davidsonian semantics, event semantics, thematic roles, categorial grammar, lexicon.]
This is a descendant of the paper I gave at the University of Kansas, the 2007 Arché Conference on Vagueness at the University of St. Andrews, and the University of Frankfurt. A descendant of this draft appears in Cuts and Clouds: Vagueness, Its Nature and Its Logic, edited by Richard Dietz and Sebastiano Moruzzi, Oxford University Press 2010, 419-437 (if you would like an offprint of the published version, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org). In the paper, I explore the possibility of a uniform solution to various Sorites-type identity puzzles, based on the idea of there sometimes being no fact of the matter about a hypothetical identity (as in T. Parsons' Indeterminacy and Identity). I present a semantics which shares some features of fuzzy logic, but does not use degrees of truth or degrees of identity. The central example is, of course, the case of Old Number One, from the London High Court in 1990. [This paper replaces a slide presentation I had previously posted here under the same name.] Keywords: Chisholm's Paradox, fuzzy logic, Leibniz's Law, transworld identity, temporal persistence.
This is another minor revision of the first draft of a paper on some old examples of Chomsky's which he regarded as problematic for compositional, truth-conditional semantics. I try to give a compositional, truth-conditional account of them within the combination of neo-Davidsonian and type-logical semantics that I presented in Attitude Problems. For those who have seen Draft 1.0, the only substantial change is to (22b). A revised version of this paper is in Current Issues in Theoretical Philosophy III: Prospects for Meaning, edited by Richard Schantz, de Gruyter 2012, 121-142. Keywords: generics, focus, type-shifting.
This paper was for a session on the philosophy of Ruth Barcan Marcus held at the Eastern Division APA meeting in December 2000. It's about how to formulate the substitutivity principle so that it's immune to various counterexamples, and how to explain the fact that quantifying into contexts that resist substitutivity makes no sense in some cases but seems fine in others. In adapting some of the material for my monograph Attitude Problems (OUP 2006) I made a few revisions, so I am reposting the paper. [A revised version of this draft appeared in Theoria 78 (2013), 359-374.]
The above link takes you directly to the published article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
This paper is descended from one written for a symposium on the work of Terence Parsons (Notre Dame University, 7th to 8th February 2003). Creation verbs ('build', 'construct', 'assemble' etc.) and depiction verbs ('sketch', 'draw', 'sculpt', 'imagine' etc.) have certain affinities, and my solution to the unfinished-object problem for creation verbs in the progressive deploys a treatment of intensional transitives I have proposed elsewhere. This turns out to have consequences (hitherto unnoticed, at least by me) for the semantics of notional readings of depiction-verb phrases in the progressive. There is then some discussion of negative quantifiers and Richard's "Literary Example". The paper ends with a theory about why depiction verbs betray a definiteness effect in DP syntactic complements ("Verrocchio painted two/many/no angels" have notional readings, "Verrocchio painted the two/most/all angels" don't).
[This paper is incorporated into my monograph Attitude Problems (OUP 2006) as Chapter 7.]
This paper is about a puzzling aspect of the behavior of depiction verbs ('sketch', 'draw', 'sculpt', 'imagine' etc.). Most groups of intensional transitive verbs form verb phrases with quantified noun phrases in a way that permits a notional reading of the verb phrase, regardless of the quantificational determiner in the noun phrase. For example, "Perseus seeks exactly one gorgon", "Perseus seeks another gorgon", and "Perseus seeks every gorgon" can all be understood notionally (the coda "but no particular gorgon(s)" makes sense in each case). But if we change "seeks" to "drew", the notional reading with "every gorgon" disappears. Similarly with "most gorgons", "the gorgon" and "both gorgons". I offer an account of why this happens in terms of Keenan's classification of determiners vis à vis the definiteness effect.
This short paper (3060 words exc. notes and bibliography) is excerpted from an earlier draft of "Verbs of Creation and Depiction" (see above). It appeared in the Yearbook for Logica 2003.
This paper in revised form appears in Facta Philosophica 5:1 (2003) 4975. It addresses some problems about intensional transitives raised by Moltmann and Zimmerman, corrects some oversights in my paper in The Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (S.V. for 2002), and adds new material on binary vs. tripartite construals of "relational/notional", bridge inferences, weakening inferences, and the relevance problem. Its other sections are, like the PASS paper, concerned with the conjunctive force of disjunctive NP complements of intensional transitive verbs: "Smith needs a good lawyer or a friendly judge" on its normal reading implies both "a good lawyer could help him" AND "a friendly judge could help him". The reading on which "Smith needs a good lawyer or a friendly judge" is implied just by "Smith needs a good lawyer" (and so doesn't imply a friendly judge could help him) is much less preferred, except when the disjunction is followed by a coda such as "and he doesn't care which".
Responds to (then-) recent discussion in Mind (Robertson, Hawthorne and Gendler) of certain arguments for the necessity of origin. This minor revision of draft 3 fixes a problem on pp.2-3 pointed out to me by Robertson. The final version of the paper appeared in Individuals, Essence and Identity: Themes of Analytic Metaphysics, Andrea Bottani, Daniele Giaretta and Massimiliano Carrara eds., Reidel 2002, 319340.
This paper is in Michael Tooley's Analytic Metaphysics Volume 5: Necessity & Possibility: The Metaphysics of Modality (Garland 1999). The version I am posting here is updated in minor ways from the version which appeared in Analysis in 1982.
Return to Graeme Forbes's Home Page