Autumn 2014

25 September: Invited lecture

Speaker: Anna Szabolcsi (New York University / ILLC)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Quantifiers, connectives, or something else?
Abstract: In many languages, from Japanese to Russian to Hungarian, the same elements that form quantifier words (`everyone’ and `someone’) also occur as connectives, question particles, focus-associated particles, and so on. Do they have stable meanings? The good news is that meet and join seem to be at work in their varied environments, especially as understood in Inquisitive Semantics. A challenge is posed by the fact that, judged by their grammatical behavior, these elements are typically one-place operators, so they cannot be performing meet and join themselves.

14 October: Invited lecture

Speaker: Maria van der Schaar (Leiden)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Four different ways to believe
There are four different meanings of the term ‘belief’:
a. (a capacity) to judge
b. conviction
c. opinion
d. faith
Terms like ‘mere’ in ‘mere belief’ and ‘botched’ in ‘botched knowing’ are non-attributive terms. How can we use the logical properties of these terms to elucidate the relation between knowledge and belief in the different senses distinguished above?

30 October: Invited lecture

Speakers: Floris Roelofsen and Ivano Ciardelli (ILLC, Amsterdam)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Composing alternatives
In Montague grammar, the meaning of a sentence is built up compositionally by means of function application and abstraction, and meanings are compared through the notion of entailment, which is characterized uniformly for expressions of different categories (whole sentences, noun phrases, verb phrases, etcetera).

In alternative semantics, the meaning of a sentence is not a single proposition, but a set of propositions. How are such richer meanings to be composed and compared? Is it possible to preserve the essence of the compositional architecture of Montague grammar? Is it possible to generalize the cross-categorical notion of entailment? Previous work on alternative semantics has struggled quite a bit with these basic issues. We will suggest some adjustments of the framework, building on insights from recent work on inquisitive semantics, which make it possible to restore the standard composition rules and the standard notion of entailment. The result is a compositional alternative/inquisitive semantics framework which stays closer to the classical Montagovian framework and thereby avoids some of the persisting problems encountered by previous work on alternative semantics.  

11 November: Invited lecture

Speaker: Lasha Abzianidze (TiLPS)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Towards a wide-coverage analytic tableau system for natural logic
Abstract: The first step towards a wide-coverage analytic tableau system for natural logic will be presented.
I briefly describe an automatized method for obtaining Lambda Logical Forms and show how they can be used in combination with an implemented prover to hunt for new tableau rules in textual entailment data sets.
The collected tableau rules will be presented with the examples of those tableau proofs that employ these rules.
To assess the inventory of the rules from the practical point of view, we evaluate the performance of the prover against the development data sets.

2 December: Invited lecture

Speaker: Francesco Berto (UvA)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Telling Negations from In-Australia Operators
“Don’t we say ‘In Australia, the winter is in the summer’, ‘In Australia, mammals lay eggs’, ‘In Australia, swans are black’? If ‘In Australia’ can thus behave like ‘not’ […], perhaps the tilde means ‘In Australia’?”

This old joke by Timothy Smiley turns on the Quinean change-of-subject charge for the negations of non-classical logics: which among them (if any) are real negations, rather than in-Australia operators? I provide a principled answer supporting a moderate logical pluralism: not everything called “negation” in the literature deserves its name, but more than one item does. This is achieved by grounding negation in a (twofold) core notion: the concept of compatibility, together with its polar opposite, incompatibility. The features of (in)compatibility set precise constraints on what counts as a negation. The residual differences between the operators that pass the threshold depend on concepts different from the core notion. Some substantive claims are made here: Whatever does not satisfy (Minimal) Contraposition and Double Negation Introduction is a mere in-Australia operator; Some paraconsistent negations (unsurprisingly) are Australian, but others may qualify as real; Intuitionistic negation qualifies; Classical-Boolean negation does as well, for constructivist and paraconsistent doubts on it do not turn on the basic concept of (in)compatibility.


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