Logic and Conversation, Fall 2015

Time: Fall 2015, Block 2, Tuesdays 9.00-11.00 and Thursdays 9.00-11.00
Place: Science Park G0.10 (Tuesdays) / B0.208 (Thursdays)
Coordinator: Floris Roelofsen

General course description

The theme of the course is the interplay between semantics and pragmatics in the interpretation of natural language in conversation, and the role of logic in formulating semantic and pragmatic theories. Traditionally, logic is concerned with the characterization of valid reasoning and argumentation, and therefore focusses on informative content, defined in terms of truth conditions. When analyzing conversation, however, other notions become of interest as well. In particular, besides informative content, inquisitive content also comes to play a crucial role.

The main focus of the course will be on recent work in inquisitive semantics, starting with a general introduction and then moving to more advanced topics.


Good working knowledge of first-order logic is required. Familiarity with type-logical semantics will be convenient for some parts of the course. Ideally, students have already taken Structures for Semantics, though this is not strictly necessary.

Lecture notes

The lecture notes for the first part of the course (including exercises) can be downloaded here.


   Lecture   Date  Material  Content  Lecturer
 Part 1    General introduction 
 1: Basic framework  1  27/10  LN chapter 1  Motivation (slides)  Floris
   2  29/10  LN chapter 2  Basic notions  Floris
   3  3/11  LN chapter 3  Operations on propositions  Ivano
   4  5/11  LN chapter 4  First-order inquisitive semantics  Floris
 2: Basic applications  5  10/11  LN chapter 6  Declarative and interrogative lists  Floris
   6  12/11  LN chapter 5  Question semantics  Floris
   7  17/11  LN chapter 7  Inquisitive epistemic logic  Ivano
 Part 2    Topics in current research 
 1: Conditionals  8  19/11  Stalnaker 1984
 McCawley 1993
 Counterfactuals with atomic  antecedents:
 the Stalnaker/Lewis account
 24/11  handout  Counterfactuals with complex antecedents:
 causality and inquisitive connectives
 2: Pragmatics  10  26/11  handout  Pragmatics  Jeroen

 11  1/12  handout
 InqS paper
 Pragmatics   Jeroen

 12  3/12  handout  Pragmatics  Jeroen
 3: Logic  13  8/12  dissertation
 pages 46-65
 Logic (slides)  Ivano
   14  10/12   dissertation
 chapter 3
 Logic  Ivano

Assignments and grading

There will be five homework assignments, each of which will make up 20% of the grade. For some of the assignments it may be useful to make use of the latex template available here.

- First assignment, posted 26/10, due 8/11.
- Second assignment, posted 10/11, due 22/11.
- Third assignment, part A, posted 19/11, due 24/11.
- Third assignment, part B, posted 24/11, due 1/12.
Fourth assignment, posted 3/12, due 13/12.
- Fifth assignment, posted 9/12, due 22/12.