Language & Logic (abstracts)

logikaOutline of a Game Theoretical Approach of Semantic Normativity

Saul Kripke‘s famous but controversial interpretation of Wittgenstein‘s rule-following considerations ignited an ongoing debate on the normativity of meaning. The idea that meaning has a normative, action-guiding component, i.e. that the meaning of a word tells us how we should use it, is a central part of Kripke’s anti-reductionist argument. In the aftermath of Kripke‘s work, philosophy of language went through a ?normative turn.

Many defended some form of normativity, not only limited to the notion of meaning, but also often inextricably bound up with notions such as mental content and belief. Others, especially in recent years, have tried vigorously and in my opinion quite convincingly to refute (semantic) normativity. It is my intention to nonetheless confront these anti-normativist arguments with a game theoretic perspective based on David Lewis‘ classical work on the emergence of (language) conventions, that seems to be overlooked by many (anti-)normativists but is a booming philosophical branch itself.

I will argue that an approach grounded in so-called coordination games can give new and helpful insights in what it can mean for meaning to be normative. Normativity, it turns out, can and must be partially rehabilitated by reconciling an individual, internalist and possibly reductionist account of meaning with its social, externalist and Wittgensteinian‘ counterpart. Lewis‘ ?signaling games? can show us how such reconciliation is not only possible but also very plausible.
Author: Eli Nomes (MA)

The Dynamic Turn in Epistemic Logic: A Philosophical Perspective

Epistemic logic studies notions such as knowledge and belief. Although it has firm philosophical origins, it is now mainly used by computer scientists. Much recent work focuses on epistemic dynamics: how knowledge changes over time. This work has important technical applications. The aim of this presentation, however, is to show that even after this ?dynamic turn,‘ epistemic logic is still relevant for contemporary epistemological discussions.

For the sake of concreteness, I will focus on one much-debated topic: the relationship between the qualitative notion of belief and the quantitative notion of degrees of belief (often formalized as probabilities). The Lockean thesis says that belief is definable as ?sufficiently high degree of belief.‘ Although this thesis is problematic from the static perspective, I will argue that it is much more plausible from the dynamic perspective – thus illustrating the immediate philosophical relevance of the dynamic turn in epistemic logic.
Author: Lorenz Demey (PhD)

The Semantic Concept of Truth in Pre-Qin Chinese Philosophy

In this paper I argue, contrary to Chad Hansen‘s view, that pre-Qin Chinese philosophy has the semantic concept of truth. Hansen argues that pre-Qin Chinese philosophers do not have motivations to introduce the concept of truth in their philosophy of language, and that the concept does not fit well with the interpretations of the philosophical text at that time, in particular, the Mohist three standards of doctrine. However, I argue that his interpretation of the Mohist three standards does not make sense of the texts in which the standards are applied to concrete cases. Finally I argue that the term ?ran?? is sometimes used as a truth predicate in ancient Chinese, because it performs several functions identical to that of the truth predicate ?is true performs in English.
Author: Wai Chun Leong (PhD)

William of Ockham and a New Theory of Metaphor

?Juliet is the sun? gives a lot of trouble to contemporary philosophers. In this paper I will begin by enumerating three influential but conflicting theories of metaphor in the 20th Century. And then I will suggest that these three theories of metaphor can be reconciled using the philosophical framework of an unlikely candidate, the 14th Century Medieval Philosopher William of Ockham, thus paving the way for a more comprehensive theory of metaphor.

Though Ockham is most famous for his ?razor,? what is less known is that he had a well-developed theory of ? Mental Language, and used it in conjunction with the terminist logic of the late medieval philosophers. There are many elements in Ockham which do not have direct counterparts in contemporary logic, such as his unique understanding of the ?concept,? the distinction between absolute and connotative terms, and his theory of supposition. These can all be innovative tools for building a new theory of metaphor.
Author: Jeremiah A. Reyes (MPhil)

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