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The Science of MeaningEssays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics$
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Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198739548.001.0001

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Semantic Possibility

Semantic Possibility

Chapter:
(p.361) 13 Semantic Possibility
Source:
The Science of Meaning
Author(s):

Wolfgang Schwarz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198739548.003.0013

This chapter starts out from the idea that semantics is a “special science” whose aim, like that of chemistry or ecology, is to identify systematic, high-level patterns in a fundamentally physical world. I defend an approach to this task on which sentences are associated with sets of possible worlds (of some kind). These sets of worlds, however, are not postulated for the compositional treatment of intensional contexts; they are not meant to capture what is intuitively asserted or communicated by an utterance; nor are they supposed to shed light on the cognitive processes that underlie our linguistic competence. Instead, their job description is to capture certain regularities in the interactions between subjects using the relevant language. I also raise some questions about how the relevant worlds might be construed.

Keywords:   scientific models, communication, propositions, possible worlds, metasemantics

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