Logic and Language

Mark Jago (University of Nottingham) : Meaning: between truth and proof

Speaker: Mark Jago (University of Nottingham)
Title: Meaning: between truth and proof
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: ILLC seminar room, F1.15
Meaning can’t be understood purely in proof-theoretic terms, but neither can it be understood without appeal to proof-theoretic structure. That’s the claim I’ll defend in the first half of this talk. In the rest of the talk, I’ll sketch an approach to meaning that overcomes this dilemma. On this approach, the content of a sentence is understood in terms of the situations according to which it takes a truth-value, as on the realist, truth-functional account of meaning. But those situations cannot all be possible worlds, on pain conflating distinct meanings. Meaning is hyperintensional, and so the situations in question must be drawn from impossible as well as possible worlds. Those worlds must bear logical relations to one another, on pain of trivialising our theory of meaning. I suggest that worlds are linked to one another in graph-like structures, which structurally resemble proof trees. This approach, I argue, resolves some of the problems of hyperintensional meanings.