ACLC seminar | Professor Paul Pietroski (Rutgers)

Meanings, Most, and Mass

12Oct2018 16:15 - 17:30

Lecture

Paul Pietroski, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers, is the guest speaker at this joint ACLC / CoSaQ seminar session.

Abstract

Abstract: In the talk, I will discuss a series of studies that show how experimental methods can help adjudicate between provably equivalent but procedurally distinct specifications of word meanings, focussing on 'most' and 'more'. For example, while semanticists often paraphrase (1) with (2) or its formalization (2a), 

            (1)  Most of the dots are blue.

            (2)  The number of blue dots exceeds the number of non-blue dots.

            (2a)  #{x: x is a blue dot} > #{x: x is a non-blue dot}

There is evidence that (3/3a) better represents how speakers of English understand (1).

            (3)  The number of blue dots exceeds the number of dots minus the number of blue dots.

            (3a)  #{x: x is a blue dot} > [#{x: x is a dot} – #{x: x is blue dot}]

As time permits, I’ll also review some evidence which suggests that (i) logically equivalent sentences involving 'most' and ‘more' are understood in different ways, and (ii) given a single scene that can be described with a count noun like ‘dot’ or a mass noun like ‘goo’, the grammatical contrast is correlated with distinct modes of representation, in a way that tells against attempts to analyze mass nouns in terms of count nouns. In short, linguistic meanings exhibit specific representational formats that are experimentally detectable.

Joint DiP / CoSaQ seminar session

Professor Pietroski will also give a lecture in the Discourse in Philosophy (DIP) Colloquium:

Monday 8 October 2018, 16:00 - 17:30
Paul Pietroski (Rutgers) (Abstract)
Title: Confronting Existential Angst
Location: ILLC seminar room F1.15

Room 5.02

Published by  ACLC