Logic and Conversation: Fall 2021

Amsterdam Master of Logic, University of Amsterdam

Traditionally, logic is concerned with the characterization of valid reasoning and argumentation, and therefore identifies the meaning of a sentence with its truth conditions. When analyzing the meaning of sentences in conversation, however, other notions become of interest as well. The focus of the course will be on inquisitive semantics, which enriches the traditional truth-conditional picture in ways that allow for a more comprehensive logical analysis of the meaning of sentences in linguistic interaction. The first part of the course introduces the basic inquisitive semantics framework. The second part discusses some current research in this area, concerning in particular the semantics of epistemic attitude verbs (like believe and think) and the integration of inquisitive semantics with dynamic semantics.

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Term papers

The course has ended and has led to some very interesting term papers:


Good working knowledge of first-order logic is required, and some background in formal semantics is convenient, though not really necessary. For students of the Master of Logic, it is typically best to take this course in the second year of the programme (although there may be exceptions of course, depending on your specific background).


The first part of the course uses a textbook. The book is open access, so everyone can download a pdf for free. If you prefer a hardcopy, you can order one at amazon or other online bookstores.


The grade will be based on two homework assignments (each counting for 20%) and a final paper (60%).


  • A latex template for drawing inquisitive semantics diagrams can be downloaded here.
  • Assignment 1, posted on Monday 1/11, was due on Monday 15/11 before class.
  • Assignment 2, posted on Monday 15/11, was due on Monday 29/11 before class.

Instructions for final paper

The final paper must written individually. Please discuss possible topics with us early on in the course. Topics should be determined by December 1 at the very latest and should be communicated to us by that date. A preliminary version of the paper is to be presented during the last lecture, December 15, and the final version is due on December 23, 6pm. See Appendix B of the textbook for pointers to some relevant literature, which may help in finding an interesting topic. We strongly encourage students to discuss their projects with each other and give each other feedback.

Grading criteria for final paper

The grading criteria for the final paper are the same as for a master thesis, though of course here we do not expect as much as in the case of a thesis.

  1. Correctness All claims should be correct, precisely formulated and carefully argued for.
  2. Writing The paper should be well-structured; the writing should be clear and concise. Typically, papers are around 10 pages. There is no official upper or lower bound, but quality is preferred over quantity: a single idea or result that is clearly explained in 7 pages is better than a collection of multiple half-baked ideas discussed in 15 pages.
  3. Difficulty Both conceptual and technical difficulty are taken into account.
  4. Originality The paper should contain some new results. This can take many forms: establishing previously unknown properties of one of the logical systems discussed in class, or closely related ones; further enriching the theories discussed; testing the predictions of the theories; developing new applications; developing a theory of your own that solves some of the remaining challenges for the theories discussed.

Late policy

Deadlines are strict. Late submissions will be accepted until three days after the deadline, but 0.5 points will be subtracted from the grade per day.


Mondays 9.00-11.00, Wednesdays 11.00-13.00, see datanose for more information on the location, which is not the same for all lectures

# Date Room Material Content Lecturer
The basic inquisitive semantics framework
1 1/11 ILLC F2.19 Book chapter 1 Motivation and overview (slides) Floris
2 3/11 Startup Village Book chapter 2 Basic notions (slides) Tom
3 8/11 ILLC F2.19 Book chapter 3 Operations on propositions (slides) Floris
4 10/11 B0.204 Book chapter 4 First-order inquisitive semantics (slides) Floris
5 15/11 B0.208 Book chapter 5-6 Question semantics (slides) Floris
6 17/11 B0.204 Book chapter 8 Inquisitive epistemic logic (slides) Tom
7 22/11 A1.28 Book chapter 9 Comparison with other frameworks (slides) Floris
Ongoing research: cross-linguistic attitude semantics and dynamic inquisitive semantics
8 24/11 B0.204 Theiler et al 2019 Diving deaper into epistemic attitude verbs: believe Tom
9 29/11 ILLC F2.19 Roberts 2021 Diving deaper into epistemic attitude verbs: can't believe and modality Tom
10 1/12 B0.204 Ozyildiz 2021, chapter 2 Diving deaper into epistemic attitude verbs: think and aspect Tom
11 6/12 B0.201 Groenendijk et al 1996,
Dotlacil and Roelofsen 2021, Chapter 1
Dynamic inquisitive semantics: motivation and core ideas (slides) Floris
12 8/12 B0.204 Dotlacil and Roelofsen 2019 First-order dynamic inquisitive semantics (slides) Floris
13 13/12 G0.18A Dotlacil and Roelofsen 2020 Compositionality and plurality (slides) Floris
14 15/12 ILLC F2.19 Project presentations