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From Whorf to MontagueExplorations in the Theory of Language$
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Pieter A. M. Seuren

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199682195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199682195.001.0001

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The intensionalization of extensions

The intensionalization of extensions

(p.301) 9 The intensionalization of extensions
From Whorf to Montague

Pieter A. M. Seuren

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues for replacing possible world semantics (PWS) with an ecologically motivated alternative. Besides failing to account for intensionality phenomena or scope differences, PWS is a mathematical theory whereas the semantics of natural language must place language in its ecological (cognitive) context. The alternative theory of meaning presented defines meaning as a type-level property of sentences enabling a hearer to reconstruct the speaker’s intent (speech act over a proposition), given values for contextual and situational parameters. It is strongly influenced by the Kantian ‘paradox of knowledge’, developing a theory of natural ontology, incorporating virtual (as well as actual) elements. It places semantics primarily in the world of intensions. The methodological issue of realism versus instrumentalism is discussed, whereby it is maintained that semantics makes sense only if seen as a realist enterprise. Failure of substitution salva veritate in propositional attitude sentences is discussed, placed in a wider context and solved in terms of the new paradigm. Finally, an alternative semantic theory of quantification is presented.

Keywords:   hardware/software realism, inductive leap, instrumentalism, keying, model-theoretic semantics, Montague, natural ontology, paradox of knowledge, partiscience, possible world semantics, propositional attitudes

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