Stockholms universitet

Peter PaginProfessor



I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • A general argument against structured propositions

    2019. Peter Pagin. Synthese 196 (4), 1501-1528


    The standard argument against ordered tuples as propositions is that it is arbitrary what truth-conditions they should have. In this paper we generalize that argument. Firstly, we require that propositions have truth-conditions intrinsically. Secondly, we require strongly equivalent truth-conditions to be identical. Thirdly, we provide a formal framework, taken from Graph Theory, to characterize structure and structured objects in general. The argument in a nutshell is this: structured objects are too fine-grained to be identical to truth-conditions. Without identity, there is no privileged mapping from structured objects to truth-conditions, and hence structured objects do not have truth-conditions intrinsically. Therefore, propositions are not structured objects.

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  • Belief Sentences and Compositionality. Notional Part

    2019. Peter Pagin. Journal of Semantics 36 (2), 241-284


    This paper presents an account of notional belief attributions, that is, belief attributions where the belief content is fully specified. The proposal combines a Hintikka style possible-worlds semantics for the belief operator and a structured meanings approach for giving a structured mode of presentation of the belief content. The semantics is not standard compositional, but it satisfies a more general notion of compositionality, explained in the paper. This notion, general compositionality, allows semantic switching: the semantic function relevant for an embedded term is distinct from that which applies to the term in which it is embedded. The general relation between compositionality and hyperintensional contexts is discussed in detail. In the first section, it is argued that we need to combine structured and unstructured meanings.

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  • Compositionality in Davidson's Early Work

    2019. Peter Pagin. Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 7 (2), 76-89


    Davidson’s 1965 paper, “Theories of Meaning and Learnable Languages”, has (at least almost) invariably been interpreted, by others and by myself, as arguing that natural languages must have a compositional semantics, or at least a systematic semantics, that can be finitely specified. However, in his reply to me in the Żegleń volume, Davidson denies that compositionality is in any need of an argument. How does this add up?

    In this paper I consider Davidson’s first three meaning theoretic papers from this perspective. I conclude that Davidson was right in his reply to me that he never took compositionality, or systematic semantics, to be in need of justification. What Davidson had been concerned with, clearly in the 1965 paper and in “Truth and Meaning” from 1967, and to some extent in his Carnap critique from 1963, is (i) that we need a general theory of natural language meaning, (ii) that such a theory should not be in conflict with the learnability of a language, and (iii) that such a theory bring out should how knowledge of a finite number of features of a language suffices for the understanding of all the sentences of that language.

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  • Enrichment, coherence, and quantifier properties

    2019. Peter Pagin. Journal of Pragmatics 154, 92-102


    In Pagin 2014 I provided a new account of pragmatic enrichment. Building on the theory of coherence relations defended by Andrew Kehler, I proposed a four step scale of coherence strength. According to the account, free enrichment takes place, subject to constraints, when it raises the degree of coherence. It turned out that there is an intriguing interaction between coherence raising and determiner semantics: certain determiners license coherence raising while others tend to block them. In this paper I investigate the phenomenon. I try to identify the determiner properties that license coherence raising, and provide an explanation of why they do. 

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  • How Donald Trump’s bullshit earned him a place in the history of assertion

    2018. Richard Marshall, Peter Pagin.


    Peter Pagin‘s area is philosophy of language, and within philosophy of language he has primarily taken an interest in the foundations of semantic theories and semantic concepts. In the last few years he has worked on the principle of compositionality for natural language. He has tried to develop two thoughts: on the one hand that compositional semantic theories contribute to explain the success of linguistic communication, and on the other hand that precisely this explanatory role is the foundation of semantic concepts like truth and reference.

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  • Constructing the World and Locating Oneself

    2017. Peter Pagin. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (4), 827-852


    In Our Knowledge of the Internal World, Robert Stalnaker describes two opposed perspectives on the relation between the internal and the external. According to one, the internal world is taken as given and the external world as problematic, and according to the other, the external world is taken as given and the internal world as problematic. Analytic philosophy moved from the former to the latter, from problems of world-construction to problems of self-locating beliefs. I argue in this paper that these problems are equivalent: both arise because experience and objective, external facts jointly underdetermine their relation. Both can be seen as a problem of expressive completeness; of the internal language in the former case, and of the non-indexical language in the second.

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  • Radical Interpretation and Pragmatic Enrichment

    2017. Peter Pagin.


    I consider a problem from pragmatics for the radical interpretation project, relying on the principle of charity. If a speaker X in a context c manifests the attitude of holding a sentence s true, this might be because of believing, not the content of s in c, but what results from a pragmatic enrichment of that content. In this case, the connection between the holding-true attitude and the meaning of s might be too loose for charity to confirm the correct interpretation hypothesis. To solve this problem, I apply the coherence raising account of pragmatic enrichment developed in Pagin 2014. The result is that in upward entailing linguistic contexts, the enriched content entails the prior content, and so charity prevails: the speaker also believes the prior content. In downward entailing contexts this would not hold, but I argue that enrichments tend not to occur in downward entailing contexts.

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  • Tolerance and higher-order vagueness

    2017. Peter Pagin. Synthese 194 (10), 3727-3760


    The idea of higher-order vagueness is usually associated with conceptions of vagueness that focus on the existence of borderline cases. What sense can be made of it within a conception of vagueness that focuses on tolerance instead? A proposal is offered here. It involves understanding 'definitely' not as a sentence operator but as a predicate modifier, and more precisely as an intensifier, that is, an operator that shifts the predicate extension along a scale. This idea is combined with the author's earlier approach to the semantics of vague expressions, which builds on the idea of a central gap associated with a predicate. The central gap approach is generalized to handle arbitrarily many iterations of 'definitely'.

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  • Assertion

    2016. Peter Pagin. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


    An assertion is a speech act in which something is claimed to hold, for instance that there are infinitely many prime numbers, or, with respect to some time t, that there is a traffic congestion on Brooklyn Bridge at t, or, of some person x with respect to some time t, that x has a tooth ache at t. The concept of assertion has occupied a central place in the philosophy of language, since it is often thought that making assertions is the use of language most crucial to linguistic meaning. In recent years, by contrast, most of the interest in assertion has come from epistemology.

    The nature of assertion and its relation to other categories and phenomena have been subject to much controversy. Some of the ideas of assertion will be presented below. The article will situate assertion within speech act theory and pragmatics more generally, and then go on to present the current main accounts of assertion.[1]

    By an account of assertion is here meant a theory of what it consists in to make an assertion. According to such accounts, there are deep properties of assertion: specifying those properties is specifying what a speaker essentially does in making an assertion (e.g., express a belief). There must also be surface properties, which are the properties by which we can tell whether an utterance is an assertion, for instance that it is made by means of uttering a sentence in the indicative mood. Some accounts specify deep properties only, while others relate deep properties to surface properties, as we shall see.

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  • De Se Communication

    2016. Peter Pagin. About oneself, 272-306


    It was pointed out, first by Robert Stalnaker, then also by Andy Egan, that David Lewis’s model of centered-worlds contents has undesired consequences for communication of de se contents. The recent years have seen a number of attempts to save the model by amending it to handle de se communication. Proposals include the appeal to sequences of individuals in the centers, to ersatz classical propositions, and to operations of “re-centering”. The authors are Dilip Ninan and Stephan Torre (sequences), Sarah Moss and Max Kölbel (ersatz), and Alan Gibbard and Clas Weber (re-centering). The present paper discusses these attempts. The conclusion is that they fail.

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  • Problems with norms of assertion

    2016. Peter Pagin. Philosophy and phenomenological research 93 (1), 178-207


    In this paper I draw attention to a number of problems that afflict norm accounts of assertion, i.e. accounts that explain what assertion is, and typically how speakers understand what assertion is, by appeal to a norm of assertion. I argue that the disagreements in the literature over norm selection undermines such an account of understanding. I also argue that the treatment of intuitions as evidence in the literature undermines much of the connection to empirical evidence. I further argue that appeals made to conversational patterns do not require the existence of any norms at all.

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  • Sentential semantics

    2016. Peter Pagin. Cambridge Handbook of Formal Semantics, 65-105


    Sentences and sentence meaning

    There are three basic conceptions of a sentence: syntactic, semantic and pragmatic (Stainton, 2000). According to the syntactic conception, a sentence is an expression with certain grammatical properties, as specified in a grammar. According to the semantic conception, a sentence is an expression with a certain type of meaning, for instance a sentence expressing a proposition, something that is true or false (with respect to the actual world). According to the pragmatic conception, a sentence is an expression with a certain kind of use, typically that of making a speech act.

    These three conceptions are naturally enough pretty well correlated. Speakers of natural languages typically use sentences in the grammatical sense for making speech acts and expressing propositional thoughts by means of the sentence meaning. Nevertheless, in many cases they come apart. On the one hand, speakers often use sub-sentential expressions, such as ‘Reserved for tonight’, pointing to a chair (Stainton, 2000, p. 446), for making a speech act.

    On the other hand, very often, what is a grammatical sentence does not have a meaning that is simply a propositional content in an ordinary sense. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as indexicality, presupposition, conventional implicature, discourse phenomena, interrogative mood.

    In this chapter, we shall be concerned with sentences in the syntactic sense, and we shall look at how semantic theories of various types model sentence meaning. In some cases we will also consider their philosophical motivations. The topic will be delimited in certain ways. We shall only discuss declarative sentences (see Dekker et al., Chapter 19, and Portner, Chapter 20 for chapters on non-declaratives). We shall also not cover dynamic phenomena in discourse semantics (see Asher, Chapter 4). We are also not going to discuss presupposition and similar phenomena in the semantic/pragmatics interface (see Schlenker, Chapter 22). We shall be concerned with semantic context dependence and related phenomena.

    One of the key features of the syntactic conception of a sentence is that sentences are syntactically (or morphosyntactically) complex. Since they result from combining linguistic elements, there is a question of how the meaning of the sentence is related to the meanings of its parts and the way they are combined.

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  • Bibliometric analysis of two subdomains in philosophy: free will and sorites

    2015. Per Ahlgren (et al.). Scientometrics 103 (1), 47-73


    In this study we tested the fruitfulness of advanced bibliometric methods for mapping subdomains in philosophy. The development of the number of publications on free will and sorites, the two subdomains treated in the study, over time was studied. We applied the cocitation approach to map the most cited publications, authors and journals, and we mapped frequently occurring terms, using a term co-occurrence approach. Both subdomains show a strong increase of publications in Web of Science. When we decomposed the publications by faculty, we could see an increase of free will publications also in social sciences, medicine and natural sciences. The multidisciplinary character of free will research was reflected in the cocitation analysis and in the term co-occurrence analysis: we found clusters/groups of cocited publications, authors and journals, and of co-occurring terms, representing philosophy as well as non-philosophical fields, such as neuroscience and physics. The corresponding analyses of sorites publications displayed a structure consisting of research themes rather than fields. All in all, both philosophers involved in this study acknowledge the validity of the various networks presented. Bibliometric mapping appears to provide an interesting tool for describing the cognitive orientation of a research field, not only in the natural and life sciences but also in philosophy, which this study shows.

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  • Fusing Quantifiers and Connectives

    2015. Peter Pagin. Dag Prawitz on Proofs and Meaning, 259-280


    A paper by Dag Westerstahl and myself twenty years ago introduced operators that are both connectives and quantifiers. We introduced two binary operators that are classically interdefinable: one that fuses conjunction and existential quantification and one that fuses implication and universal quantification. We called the system PFO. A complete Gentzen-Prawitz style Natural Deduction axiomatization of classical PL was provided. For intuitionistic PL, however, it seemed that existential quantification should be fused with disjunction rather than with conjunction. Whether this was true, and if so why, were questions not answered at the time. Also, it seemed that there is no uniform definition of such a disjunctive-existential operator in classical PFO. This, too, remained a conjecture. In this paper, I return to these previously unresolved questions, and resolve them.

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  • Intending to be misinterpreted

    2015. Peter Pagin. Organon F 22, 5-18


    In his paper 'Two Notions of Utterance Meaning', Petr Kot'atko criticises Davidson's conception of the relation between meaning and intention. He ascribes the following view (D) to Davidson: If S makes an utterance in order to perform a certain speech act, he intends and expects that act to be assigned to the utterance in A's interpretation. Kot'atko's objection to (D) is that a speaker can intend to be misinterpreted. The present paper discusses this objection. It is argued that Kot'atko's main example of such an intention fails. It is also argued that although there can be cases that would be adequately described as examples of intending to be misinterpreted, they are not of the kind needed for an objection against (D).

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  • Intersubjective intentional identity

    2014. Peter Pagin. Empty representations, 91-113


    Geach’s basic idea of intentional identity is reconsidered and the idea of a common focus is elaborated in possible-worlds terms. A distinction betweeen internalism and externalism about common focus is made; internalism is characterized by the idea that mental anaphora always succeeds in establishing common focus. It is then argued that internalism makes intersubjective intentional identity, as expressed in Geach sentences, impossible. Finally, a semantic account of Geach sentences is proposed, which can make them true on certain realist assumptions about possible worlds and possible objects.

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  • Pragmatic enrichment as coherence raising

    2014. Peter Pagin. Philosophical Studies 168 (1), 59-100


    This paper concerns the phenomenon of pragmatic enrichment, and has a proposal for predicting the occurrence of such enrichments. The idea is that an enrichment of an expressed content c occurs as a means of strengthening the coherence between c and a salient given content c’ of the context, whether c’ is given in discourse, as sentence parts, or through perception. After enrichment, a stronger coherence relation is instantiated than before enrichment. An idea of a strength scale of types of coherence relations is proposed and applied.

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  • Vulcan might have existed, and Neptune not

    2014. Peter Pagin, Kathrin Glüer. Empty Representation, 117-141


    Empty names such as ‘Vulcan’ or ‘Sherlock Holmes’ have intrigued philosophers of language at least since Frege. They are clearly problematic for Millian accounts of the semantics of proper names, but also for certain recent versions of descriptivism trying to accommodate Kripkean intuitions regarding proper names. In ‘Proper Names and Relational Modality’ (2006), we suggest an alternative to such semantics: introducing the technique of semantic evaluation switching, we develop a semantics allowing (non-empty) proper names to have descriptive contents while accommodating Kripkean modal intuitions. This chapter extends the switcher semantics to empty names.

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  • Acceptable Contradictions

    2013. Sam Alxatib, Peter Pagin, Uli Sauerland. Journal of Philosophical Logic 42 (4), 619-634


    Naive speakers find some logical contradictions acceptable, specifically borderline contradictions involving vague predicates such as Joe is and isn't tall. In a recent paper, Cobreros et al. (J Philos Logic, 2012) suggest a pragmatic account of the acceptability of borderline contradictions. We show, however, that the pragmatic account predicts the wrong truth conditions for some examples with disjunction. As a remedy, we propose a semantic analysis instead. The analysis is close to a variant of fuzzy logic, but conjunction and disjunction are interpreted as intensional operators.

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  • Compositionality, Complexity, and Evolution

    2013. Peter Pagin. Proceedings: Symposium on Language Acquisition and Language Evolution, 51-62


    Is there a reason to believe that the evolution of language leads to compositional semantics? A proposal from Henry Brighton is presented and criticized. As an alternative, the role of compositionality for the complexity of semantic interpretation is emphasized.

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  • The Cognitive Significance of Mental Files

    2013. Peter Pagin. Disputatio 5 (36), 133-145


    The paper concerns Francois Recanatis Book Mental Files. It presents the main features of the mental files theory, and draws attention to some problematic features of the account of cognitive significance within the theory.

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  • A Note on the Phenomenal Sorites

    2012. Peter Pagin. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (36), 519-524


    Is observational indiscriminability non-transitive? This was once an accepted truth, and it was used by philosophers like Armstrong and Dummett to argue against the existence of appearances (sense data, sensory items). It was objected, however, early on by Jackson and Pinkerton, and more recently by vagueness contextualists like Raffman and Fara, that the case for non-transitivity is flawed. The reason is the context dependence of appearance. I argue here that if we take context dependence properly into account, we still have (a modified version of) non-transitivity, and that therefore we still face the problem of appearances.

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  • Assertion, inference, and consequence

    2012. Peter Pagin. Synthese 187 (3), 869-885


    In this paper the informativeness account of assertion (Pagin in Assertion. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011) is extended to account for inference. I characterize the conclusion of an inference as asserted conditionally on the assertion of the premises. This gives a notion of conditional assertion (distinct from the standard notion related to the affirmation of conditionals). Validity and logical validity of an inference is characterized in terms of the application of method that preserves informativeness, and contrasted with consequence and logical consequence, that is defined in terms of truth preservation. The proposed account is compared with that of Prawitz (Logica yearbook 2008. pp. 175-192. College Publications, London, 2009).

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  • Communication and the Complexity of Semantics

    2012. Peter Pagin. Oxford Handbook of Compositionality, 510-529


    I first argue that we have reason to look to the computational needs of communication for justifying the claim that natural language semantics is compositional. I then turn to discussing appropriate measures of computa- tional complexity. For the measure chosen I present arguments that maxi- mally efficient computational systems have a certain form. I argue that se- mantic functions of a certain more specific compositional kind can be com- puted by systems of that form. In this sense, they have minimal complexity. I finally discuss the converse question about the extent to which maximal efficiency mandates compositionality, and conclude that although it is not strictly required, there is reason to think that natural language semantics at least approximates a kind of semantics that is in one respect more specific than, and in another respect a generalization of, standard compositionality.

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  • Reply to Forbes

    2012. Kathrin Glüer-Pagin, Peter Pagin. Analysis 72 (2), 298-303


    In earlier work (Glüer, K. and P. Pagin. 2006. Proper names and relational modality. Linguistics & Philosophy 29: 507–35; Glüer, K. and P. Pagin. 2008. Relational modality. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 17: 307–22), we developed a semantics for (metaphysical) modal operators that accommodates Kripkean intuitions about proper names in modal contexts even if names are not rigid designators. Graeme Forbes (2011. The problem of factives for sense theories. Analysis 71: 654–62.) criticizes our proposal. He argues that our semantics predicts readings for certain natural language sentences which these simply do not have. These sentences contain mixed contexts involving factive attitude verbs. We argue that the readings our semantics predicts do indeed exist, even if it might take a little work to bring them out. Moreover, denying their existence would have some rather unattractive consequences.

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  • Truth Theories, Competence, and Semantic Computation

    2012. Peter Pagin. Davidson on Truth, Meaning, and the Mental, 49-75


    The paper discusses the question whether T-theories explain how it is possible to understand new sentences, or learn an infinite language, as Davidson claimed. I argue against some commentators that for explanatory power we need not require that T-theories are implicitly known or mirror cognitive structures. I note contra Davidson that the recursive nature of T-theories is not sufficient for explanatory power, since humans can work out only what is computationally tractable, and recursiveness by itself allows for intractable computational complexity. I finally consider the complexity of T-theories, transformed into term rewriting systems, and find that the complexity of such systems is indeed tractable. Therefore Davidson's claim stands, even though a further condition had to be met.

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  • Compositionality

    2011. Peter Pagin, Dag Westerståhl. Semantics, 96-123


    This article is concerned with the principle of compositionality, i.e. the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the meanings of its parts and its mode of composition. After a brief historical background, a formal algebraic framework for syntax and semantics is presented. In this framework, both syntactic operations and semantic functions are (normally) partial. Using 20 the framework, the basic idea of compositionality is given a precise statement, and several variants, both weaker and stronger, as well as related properties, are distinguished. Several arguments for compositionality are discussed, and the standard arguments are found inconclusive. Also, several arguments against compositionality, and for the claim that it is a trivial property, are discussed, 25 and are found to be flawed. Finally, a number of real or apparent problems for compositionality are considered, and some solutions are proposed.

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  • Vagueness and Domain Restriction

    2011. Peter Pagin. Vagueness and Language Use, 283-307


    This paper develops an idea of saving ordinary uses of vague predicates from the Sorites by means of domain restriction. A tolerance level for a pred- icate, along a dimension, is a difference with respect to which the predicate is semantically insensitive. A central gap for the predicate+dimension in a domain is a segment of an associated scale, larger than this difference, where no object in the domain has a measure, and such that the extension of the predicate has measures on one side of the gap and the anti-extension on the other. The domain restriction imposes a central gap.

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  • Compositionality I

    2010. Peter Pagin, Dag Westerståhl. Philosophy Compass 5 (3), 250-264


    This is the first part of a two-part article on semantic compositionality, i.e. the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the way they are put together. Here we provide a brief historical background, a formal framework for syntax and semantics, precise definitions, and a survey of variants of compositionality. Stronger and weaker forms are distinguished, as well as generalized forms that cover extra-linguistic context dependence as well as linguistic context dependence. In the second article we survey arguments for and arguments against the claim that natural languages are compositional, and consider some problem cases. It will be referred to as Part II.

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  • Compositionality II

    2010. Peter Pagin, Dag Westerståhl. Philosophy Compass 5 (3), 265-282


    This is the second part of a two-part article on compositionality, i.e. the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the way they are put together. In the first, Pagin and Westerståhl (2010), we provide a general historical background, a formal framework, definitions, and a survey of variants of compositionality. It will be referred to as Part I. Here we discuss arguments for and against the claim that natural languages have a compositional semantics. We also discuss some problem cases, including belief reports, quotation, idioms, and ambiguity.

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  • Pure Quotation and General Compositionality

    2010. Peter Pagin, Dag Westerståhl. Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (5), 381-415


    Starting from the familiar observation that no straightforward treatment of pure quotation can be compositional in the standard (homomorphism) sense, we introduce general compositionality, which can be described as compositionality that takes linguistic context into account. A formal notion of linguistic context type is developed, allowing the context type of a complex expression to be distinct from those of its constituents. We formulate natural conditions under which an ordinary meaning assignment can be non-trivially extended to one that is sensitive to context types and satisfies general compositionality. As our main example we work out a Fregean treatment of pure quotation, but we also indicate that the method applies to other kinds of context, e.g. intensional contexts.

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  • Vagueness and central gaps

    2010. Peter Pagin. Cuts and Clouds, 254-272


    Ordinary intuitions that vague predicates are tolerant, or cannot have sharp boundaries, can be formalized in first-order logic in at least two non-equivalent ways, a stronger and a weaker. The stronger turns out to be false in domains that have a significant central gap for the predicate in question, i.e. where a sufficiently large middle segment of the ordering relation (such as taller for ‘tall’) is uninstantiated. The weaker principle is true in such domains, but does not in those domains induce the sorites conclusion.

    This fact can be used for interpreting ordinary uses of vague expres- sions by means of a new kind of contextual quantifier domain restriction. A central segment is cut from the domain, if consistent with speaker in- tentions. As long as this is possible, tolerance, bivalence and consistency can all be retained.

    This paper focuses on the basic semantic properties in a model- theoretic setting. The natural language application is sketched and the nature of the approach briefly discussed.

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  • Assertion Not Possibly Social

    2009. Peter Pagin. Journal of Pragmatics 41, 2563-2567


    In his paper ‘Why assertion may yet be social’ (Pegan, this issue), Philip Pegan directs two main criticisms against my earlier paper ‘Is assertion social?’ (Pagin, 2004). I argued that what I called ‘‘social theories’’, are inadequate, and I suggested a method for generating counterexamples to them: types of utterance which are not assertions by intuitive standards, but which are assertion by the standards of those theories. Pegan’s first criticism is that I haven’t given an acceptable characterization of the class of social theories. His second criticism is that I have overlooked some alternatives, and that there are social theories that are not affected by my argument. In Section 1 I discuss the first, and in Section 2 the second.

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  • Compositionality, Understanding, and Proofs

    2009. Peter Pagin. Mind (Print) 118 (471), 713-737


    The principle of semantic compositionality, as Jerry Fodor and Ernie Lepore have emphasized, imposes constraints on theories of meaning that it is hard to meet with psychological or epistemic accounts. Here, I argue that this general tendency is exemplified in Michael Dummett’s account of meaning. On that account, the so-called manifestability requirement has the effect that the speaker who under- stands a sentence s must be able to tell whether or not s satisfies central semantic conditions. This requirement is not met by truth-conditional accounts of meaning. On Dummett’s view, it is met by a proof conditional account: understanding amounts to knowledge of what counts as a proof of a sentence. A speaker is supposed always to be capable of deciding whether or not a given object is a proof of a given sentence she understands. This requirement comes into conflict with composition- ality. If meaning is compositionally determined, then all you need for understand- ing a sentence is what you get from combining your understanding of the parts according to the mode of composition. But that knowledge is not always sufficient for recognizing any proof at all of a given sentence. Dummett’s proof-theoretic argument to the contrary is mistaken.

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  • Indeterminacy and the analytic/synthetic distinctions: a survey

    2008. Peter Pagin. Synthese 164, 1-18


    It is often assumed that there is a close connection between Quine’s criticism of the analytic/synthetic distinction, in ‘Two dogmas of empiricism’ and onwards, and his thesis of the indeterminacy of translation, in Word and Object and onwards. Often, the claim that the distinction is unsound (in some way or other) is taken to follow from the indeterminacy thesis, and sometimes the indeterminacy thesis is supported by such a claim. However, a careful scrutiny of the indeterminacy thesis as stated by Quine, and the varieties of the analytic/synthetic distinction, reveals that the two claims are mutually independent. Neither does the claim that the distinction is unsound follow from the indeterminacy thesis, nor that thesis from unsoundness claim, under any of the common interpretations of the analytic/synthetic distinction.

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  • Informativeness and Moore's Paradox

    2008. Peter Pagin. Analysis 68 (1), 46-57


    It is argued that a) non-intentional systems can exhibit what is intuitively reconizable as Moorean absurdity; b) that main-stream accounts of Moore's paradox cannot explain this; c) that an alternative account focused on informativeness (or information-giving) can explain it; d) that an account of assertoric force as prima facie informativeness is plausible; e) that the informativeness account of Moorean absurdity can explain standard examples of Moore's paradox in virtue of this theory of assertion.

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  • Intuitionism and the anti-justification of bivalence

    2008. Peter Pagin. Logicism, Intuitionism, and Formalism — What has Become of Them?, 221-236


    Dag Prawitz has argued (Prawitz 1998) that it is possible intuitionist- ically to prove the validity of ‘A → there is a proof of [A]’ by induction over formula complexity, provided we observe an ob ject language/meta- language distinction. In the present paper I mainly argue that if the ob ject language with its axioms and rules can be represented as a formal system, then the proof fails. I also argue that if this restriction is lifted, at each level of the language hierarchy, then the proof can go through, but at the expense of virtually reducing the concept of a proof to that of truth in a non-constructive sense.

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  • Relational modality

    2008. Peter Pagin, Kathrin Glüer. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 17, 307-322


    Saul Kripke’s thesis that ordinary proper names are rigid designators is supported by widely shared intuitions about the occurrence of names in ordi- nary modal contexts. By those intuitions names are scopeless with respect to the modal expressions. That is, sentences in a pair like (a) Aristotle might have been fond of dogs (b) Concerning Aristotle, it is true that he might have been fond of dogs will have the same truth value. The same does not in general hold for definite descriptions. If we, like Kripke, account for this difference by means of the intensions of names and descriptions, we have to conclude that names do not in general have the same intension as any normal, identifying description. However, the difference in scope behavior between names and description can be accounted for alternatively by appeal to the semantics of the modal expressions. On the account we suggest, dubbed ‘relational modality’, simple singular terms, like proper names, contribute to modal contexts simply by their actual world reference, not by their (standard) intension. The relational modality account turns out to be fully equivalent with the rigidity account when it comes to truth of modal and non-modal sentences (with respect to the actual world), and hence supports the same basic intuitions. Given an alternative definition of consequence for relational modality, and a restriction to models with reflexive accessibility relations and non-empty world-bound domains, relational modality also turns out to be model theoretically equivalent with rigidity semantics with respect to logical consequence. Here we introduce the semantics, give the truth definition for relational modality models, and prove the equivalence results.

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  • What is communicative success?

    2008. Peter Pagin. Canadian journal of philosophy 38 (1), 85-115


    The author presents a classical view of communicative success and defends it against modern views that compel a requirement of knowledge or reliability. He believes that there is no well-defined pre-theoretic concept of communicative success that is present as object of conceptual analysis. Moreover, he offers a theoretical argument for taking agreement in the mental context to be more basic than agreement in linguistic meaning. Lastly, he claims that non-compositional theories would be chosen by the charity principle because one can select more freely what meaning to assign to his sentences.

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  • Analyticity, Modality and General Terms

    2007. Peter Pagin, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin. Hommage à Wlodek


    ABSTRACT: In his recent paper ‘Analyticity: An Unfinished Business in

    Possible-World Semantics’ (Rabinowicz 2006), Wlodek Rabinowicz takes on the task of providing a satisfactory definition of analyticity in the framework of possible-worlds semantics. As usual, what Wlodek proposes is technically well-motivated and very elegant. Moreover, his proposal does deliver an interesting analytic/synthetic distinction when applied to sentences with natural kind terms. However, the longer we thought and talked about it, the more questions we had, questions of both philosophical and technical nature. Hence the idea of this little paper – for how better to honor a philosopher than by trying very hard to criticize him? After quickly running over some background in possible worlds semantics and setting out Wlodek's proposal against that background, we shall bring up and discuss our questions in sections 3 – 5. In the final section, we shall also make a stab at a different solution to the problem, making use of our own earlier idea of relational modality.

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  • Proper Names and Relational Modality

    2006. Kathrin Glüer, Peter Pagin. Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (5), 507-535


    Saul Kripke’s thesis that ordinary proper names are rigid designators is supported by widely shared intuitions about the occurrence of names in ordinary modal contexts. By those intuitions names are scopeless with respect to the modal expressions. That is, sentences in a pair like (a) Aristotle might have been fond of dogs, (b) Concerning Aristotle, it is true that he might have been fond of dogs will have the same truth value. The same does not in general hold for definite descriptions. If one, like Kripke, accounts for this difference by means of the intensions of the names and the descriptions, the conclusion is that names do not in general have the same intension as any normal, identifying description. However, this difference can be accounted for alternatively by appeal to the semantics of the modal expressions. On the account we suggest, dubbed ‘relational modality’, simple singular terms, like proper names, contribute to modal contexts simply by their actual world reference, not by their descriptive content. That account turns out to be fully equivalent with the rigidity account when it comes to truth of modal and non-modal sentence (with respect to the actual world), and hence supports the same basic intuitions. Here we present the relational modality account and compare it with others, in particular Kripke’s own

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