Logic and Language

Paul Pietroski (Rutgers): Confronting Existential Angst

Speaker: Paul Pietroski (Rutgers)
Title: Confronting Existential Angst
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: ILLC seminar room F1.15

[joint DiP / CoSaQ seminar session]

Davidson (1967) connected two old ideas: action reports are understood as existential generalizations over events; and in the scope of existential generalizations, conjunct reduction is a valid form of inference. This turned out to be the tip of an iceberg. The symbols ‘’ and ‘&’ regularly appear in posited logical forms for sentences that do not contain corresponding overt analogs (e.g., ‘some’ or ‘and’). But this raises questions about the sources of the existential and conjunctive implications. One can posit covert constituents, combinatorial operations that are not logically innocent, or both. Thinking about the options raises further questions about which departures from innocence are warranted if our goal is to explain how expressions are understood, as opposed to merely characterizing “semantic values” for expressions.