Spring 2015

3 February: Invited lecture

Speaker: Gert-Jan Munneke (ILLC)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 5
Title: Non-monotonic universal moral grammar theory
Abstract: A recent theoretical framework to study moral cognition is universal moral grammar theory (UMGT), proposed by legal scholar John Mikhail. This framework borrows many concepts from Chomskian linguistics and imports them into moral psychology. In my recent research I have extended UMGT with non-monotonic logic to accommodate the defeasible nature of moral reasoning. My talk will give an overview of the main concepts of standard and non-monotonic UMGT; and of some of my empirical experiments that investigated how the moral judgement of moral dilemma’s depends on socio, cultural and contextual framing effects which exemplify the need for a non-monotonic extension of standard UMGT.

10 February: Invited lecture

Speaker: Barbara Maria Tomaszewicz (TiLPS)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Interpreting superlatives − scope of the superlative -est, definiteness of ‘the’ and focus
Abstract: The English sentence in (1) can receive three readings because the superlative expression ‘the most expensive cake’ needs to be interpreted with respect to a ‘comparison set’. For the reading in (i), the ‘absolute’ reading, some salient set of cakes it chosen. For the two ‘relative’ readings, (ii-iii), the comparison set is necessarily narrowed down to the set of cakes that someone bought for Mary, (ii), and to those that John bought for someone, (iii). The presence of focus in a sentence presented out of the blue disambiguates between the two relative readings, (2). Focus signals the presence of alternatives in the discourse context, but, as first noticed in Pancheva and Tomaszewicz (2012), the focus on ‘cake’, as in (3), cannot result in the comparison among the alternatives to ‘cake’, which would yield the reading in (iv).

(1) John bought Mary the most expensive cake.
(i) ‘John bought Mary the cake that was more expensive than any other cake.’ Absolute
(ii) ‘John bought Mary a more expensive cake than anyone else bought her.’ Relative
(iii) ‘John bought Mary a more expensive cake than he bought for anyone else.’ Relative

(2) a. [JOhn]Focus bought Mary the most expensive cake. Readings: (i), (ii), but not (iii)
b. John bought [MAry]Focus the most expensive cake. Readings: (i), (iii), but not (ii)

(3) John bought Mary the most expensive [CAKE]Focus.
Unavailable reading:
(iv) ‘John bought Mary a more expensive cake than anything else he bought her.’ Relative

The existing approaches to the syntax and semantics of the superlative morpheme ‘-est’ either overgenerate by failing to block the reading (3iv) in English (Szabolcsi 1986, 2012, Heim 1985, 1999, Coppock and Beaver 2014), or undergenerate by predicting that the reading (3iv) is never found cross-linguistically (Sharvit and Stateva 2002). In Pancheva and Tomaszewicz (2012) we observe that the reading (3iv) is available in languages where the definite determiner ‘the’ is absent from the superlative phrase, e.g. in Bulgarian and Polish. In this talk I will introduce the proposal in my dissertation that unifies the previous approaches and correctly accounts for the data. I will also discuss the aspects of my account that can be tested experimentally.


3 March: Invited lecture

Speaker: Reinhard Muskens (TiLPS)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Sweet Sixteen
Abstract: In a now famous paper published in 1976, Nuel Belnap argues that computer reasoning should be modeled on the basis of a four-valued logic in which each value is a combination of the two classical values. Belnap also considers two lattices on these four values, one corresponding to increase in truth and non-falsity, the other to increase of information. Together these two lattices form what is now called a bilattice.

More recently Yaroslav Shramko and Heinrich Wansing (2005) have in a sense repeated Belnap’s move, arguing that the logic of the reasoning of computer networks should be 16-valued, with each value corresponding to a set of Belnap’s values. They consider what is called a trilattice on these 16 values and distinguish between an entailment relation based on the notion of truth and one based on falsity. These two relations are not equal or each other’s inverses.

In this talk, which reports on joint work with Stefan Wintein (see our paper here), I will look at syntactic characterisations for these logics, with particular reference to propositional logics that are functionally complete. Even in Belnap’s logic entailment relations that are coextensional on some reasonable but incomplete fragment of the propositional language (e.g. the classical fragment) may be distinguished if larger fragments are considered. I will show that a language with connectives for the three meet operations on the 16-element trilattice, plus three negation connectives corresponding to certain involutions on this trilattice is functionally complete (and minimally so). This language will be provided with four semantic consequence relations, one based on truth, one on falsity, one on approximation, and one the intersection of the first two. An analytic signed tableau calculus will be given that can model each of these semantic consequence relations in a sound and complete way. It has the property that a single proof in general requires several tableaux, four tableaux for any of the first three consequence relations just mentioned, and six for the last. It will be shown how this calculus generalises a calculus for a functionally complete variant of Belnap’s logic, which in its turn generalises a standard signed tableau calculus for classical logic. Time permitting I will also spend a few words on a simple theorem prover implementing the calculus.


24 March: Invited lecture

Speaker: Raquel Fernández Rovira (ILLC)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Vagueness and Learning: A Type-Theoretic Approach
Abstract: Traditional semantic theories offer precise accounts of the truth conditional content of linguistic expressions, but do not deal with the connection between meaning, perception and learning. However, part of getting to know the meaning of linguistic expressions consists in learning to identify the individuals or the situations that the expressions can describe. For many concrete words and phrases, this identification relies on perceptual information. In this talk, based on joint work with Staffan Larsson, I will present a formal account of the meaning of vague scalar adjectives such as “tall” formulated in Type Theory with Records. Our approach makes precise how perceptual information can be integrated into the meaning representation of these predicates; how an agent evaluates whether an entity counts as tall; and how the proposed semantics can be learned and dynamically updated through experience.

31 March: Invited lecture

Speaker: Jakub Dotlačil (RUG)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: The timing and manner of updating quantifier scope representations in discourse
Abstract: I discuss how and when readers update their quantifier scope representations. The discussion is based on the results of two experiments, an eye-tracking and a self-paced reading study, that investigated the processing of sentences with three quantifiers: two indefinites in subject and object positions and a universal distributive quantifier in adjunct position. The experiments enable us to distinguish between different theories of quantifier scope interpretation in ways that are not possible when only simpler, two-way interactions are considered. They show that contrary to underspecification theories of scope, a totally ordered scope-hierarchy representation is maintained and modified across sentences and this scope representation cannot be reduced to the truth-conditional/mental model representation of sentential meaning. The experiments also show that the processor uses scope-disambiguating information as early as possible to (re)analyze scope representation.

14 April: Invited lecture

Speaker: Allard Tamminga (RUG)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Collective Obligations, Group Plans and Individual Action
Abstract: We study relations between collective obligations, member obligations, and individual obligations. We say that an individual agent fulfills her individual obligation if and only if she performs one of her optimal individual actions. Likewise, a group fulfills its collective obligation if and only if it performs one of its optimal group actions. A member obligation is what an individual group member ought to do in order to ensure that the group fulfills its collective obligation. Member obligations follow from a group plan designed to fulfill the group’s collective obligation: by highlighting particular group actions, a group plan specifies the individual actions that are the components of these highlighted group actions. Technically, the public adoption of a group plan updates the deontic ideality of the action profiles in a coordination game. We show that if a coordination game is updated with a good plan (in the sense defined below), then for every individual group member it holds that she fulfills her member obligation specified by the plan if and only if she fulfills her individual obligation in the coordination game that results from updating the original coordination game with the plan. We thus establish a strong connection between collective rationality and individual rationality.

28 April: Invited lecture

Speakers: Thomas Schindler and Lavinia Picollo (MCMP-University of Buenos Aires)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, Room DZ 7
Title: Disquotation and the purpose of truth
Abstract: According to deflationism, the truth predicate would be entirely dispensable save for the fact that it enables us to express certain generalisations or `infinite conjunctions’. Several authors claim that the truth predicate can serve this function only if it is fully disquotational– i.e. it satisfies the general equivalence between a sentence and its truth predication, which is impossible in classical logic. Accordingly, many non-classical theories of truth have been proposed. In this paper, we put forward a concise formulation of what it means for a theory of truth to enable us to express infinite conjunctions and examine existing truth theories in this light. We cast some doubt on the adequacy of some non-classical truth theories and argue in favour of classical truth theories.

22 June (Monday): Progress Report

Speaker: Alessandra Marra (TiLPS)

Time&Place: 16.45-18.30, CZ 111
Title: Deontic Reasoning by Cases
Abstract: Some months ago, the following puzzle occupied logicians’ facebook walls:
There are three people in a bar: Linda, Peter and Henry.
Linda is looking at Peter.
Henry is looking at Linda.
Henry is married.
Peter is not married.
Question: Is someone who is married looking at someone who is not married?

If your answer is yes, you have probably reasoned by cases: from the premises “A or B”, “if A, then C” and “if B, then C” to the conclusion “C”. The talk focuses on reasoning by cases as general deductive principle, distinct from its formalization in classical logic and from the rationality principle (also called “the sure-thing principle”) of Savage’s (1954) decision theory. More specifically, the talk concentrates on deontic reasoning by cases, in which the above “C” is a sentence containing deontic modals, such as oughts. To which extent deontic reasoning by cases is a good deductive principle? How logic can capture that? To approach those questions, I present and discuss the main solutions that have been proposed so far, starting from the distinction between circumstantial and evidence-sensitive oughts (cf. Silk 2014), passing through Horty’s (2001) stit logic, Kolodny&MacFarlane’s (2010) notion of “quasi validity”, and concluding with the information logic developed by Bledin (2014-2015).

Bledin, J.: Logic Informed. Mind, Vol.123, No.490, pp 277-316 (2014)
Bledin, J.: Modus Ponens Defended. Forthcoming in Journal of Philosophy (2015)
Horty, J.: Agency and Deontic Logic. Oxford University Press (2001)
Kolodny N., MacFarlane J.: Ifs and Oughts. Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 107, No. 3, pp. 115-143 (2010)
Savage, L.J.: The Foundations of Statistics. John Wiley&Sons, Inc. (1954)
Silk, A.: Evidence Sensitivity in Weak Necessity Deontic Modals. Journal of Philosophical Logic, Vol. 43, pp 691-723 (2014)


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