Alternative Logics and Natural Language








Tue-Wed, June 20-21, 2017


All talks will take place at the Logic, Language and Cognition Center, Australia Complex, Mount Scopus Campus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 20 

First Session (9:30 – 12:45):

9:30-10:30          Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern): Logic and logics in natural language

10:30-10:45        Coffee Break

10:45-11:45          David Kashtan (HUJI): Pragmatics for Regimented Languages

11:45-12:45          Chris Barker (NYU): Structural rules for natural language


12:45-14:30        Lunch Break


Second Session (14:30 – 17:45):

14:30-15:30       Friederike Moltmann (CNRS, NYU) (via Skype): A Truthmaker Semantics for Modals with Modal Objects

15:30-16:30      Chris Kennedy and Malte Willer (Chicago) (via Skype): Have you ever been experienced?  The evidential basis for subjective judgment

16:30-16:45        Coffee Break

16:45-17:45        Stewart Shapiro and Craige Roberts (Ohio):  Open texture, and it ramifications for logic and semantics


Wednesday, June 21

Third Session (9:30 – 12:45):

9:30-10:30        Ole Hjortland (Bergen): Engineering Logical Concepts

10:30-11:30       Gil Sagi (Haifa): Logicality, Meaning, and Löwenheim Numbers

11:30-11:45        Coffee Break

11:45-12:45        Rea Golan (HUJI): Is There a Neutral Metalanguage?


All of these sessions are open to the public.



Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern): Logic and logics in natural language 

In earlier work, I argued that on a narrow conception of logic, we do not find logical consequence in natural language, while on a more permissive conception of logic, the connection between logical consequence and natural language becomes trivial.  I also argued that we can find consequence relations by abstracting away from important structure in natural language.  In this paper, I ask about the place of nonclassical logics in this picture.  I argue that if we take a permissive view, we can find in natural language a very broad range of logics, including subclassical and substructural logics.  However, a number of these examples involve using logics to model relations other than consequence.  If we focus on consequence, a more limited range of options is available. But this range is still wide enough to include subclassical options.


David Kashtan (HUJI): Pragmatics for Regimented Languages

Kaplan’s formal theory of indexicals, which is the framework for most subsequent semantic work on the topic, does not support its philosophical underpinning, the thesis of direct reference. In particular, one of the consequences of the thesis, the prohibition on monsters, is not naturally accommodated. In this paper I inquire what the logic of the metalanguage might be in order to do justice to the thesis of direct reference. This logic has some important applications elsewhere as well.


Chris Barker (NYU): Structural rules for natural language

Using a logic to model the structure and meaning of natural language requires rejecting the usual structural rules of classical language, and adding one additional structural rule (for movement and scope taking).  The logical (non-structural) rules of the logic, however, are the usual classical rules.


Friederike Moltmann (CNRS, NYU): A Truthmaker Semantics for Modals with Modal Objects

This talk will outline a novel semantics of modals based on what call ‘modal objects’, entities like permissions, obligations, needs, essences, and abilities. On this semantics, what was considered the scope of a modal serves to characterize a modal object in terms of its satisfiers (truthmakers) and possibly violators (falsifiers), in roughly the sense of Fine’s recent truthmaker semantics. On this account, the difference between modals of necessity and possibility is considered a matter of the content of modal objects as are inferential relations among modal sentences.


Chris Kennedy and Malte Willer (Chicago): Have you ever been experienced?  The evidential basis for subjective judgment

Consider a situation in which our friend Kim presents her two cats with a new brand of cat food. Hoshi, who eats anything, devours the food, but Nikko, who is very picky, takes one sniff and walks away. Observing this behavior, Kim says “This new food is not tasty.” We can report on this episode by uttering either (1a) or (1b), but not (1c).


a. Kim doesn’t believe the new food is tasty, because Nikko won’t touch it.

b. Kim doesn’t consider the new food tasty, because Nikko won’t touch it.

c. ??Kim doesn’t find the new food tasty, because Nikko won’t touch it.

The difference between (1a-b) and (1c) is that the latter but not the former presupposes that Kim has tasted the food.  This is a special case of a more general requirement associated with “subjective” predicates like ‘tasty’ and ‘beautiful’ that the individual whose judgment provides the basis for claims about whether an object satisfies these predicates must have experience of those features of the object that are relevant to the judgment:  how it tastes, how it looks, etc.  Our goal in this talk is to show that the experience requirement can be derived as an evidential condition on subjective judgments, given a pragmatic model of subjectivity as sensitivity to what Kennedy and Willer (2016) call “counterstances:” alternative ways of resolving uncertainty about meaning.


Stewart Shapiro and Craige Roberts (Ohio): Open texture, and it ramifications for logic and semantics

In this talk, we will sketch the notion of “open texture”, as characterized by Friedrich Waismann and others.  We show that open texture is a fact of linguistic life, and plays an important role in communication.  The ramifications for semantics and logic are explored.


Ole Hjortland (Bergen): Engineering Logical Concepts

Anti-exceptionalism about logic is the Quinean view that logical theories have no special epistemological status, in particular, they are not self-evident or justified a priori. Instead, logical theories are continuous with scientific theories, and knowledge of logic is as hard-earned as knowledge of physics, economics, and chemistry. In this paper, I explore how an anti-exceptionalist should think about logical concepts, and I argue for a view according to which logical concepts are the result of conceptual engineering. The view in turn helps block the so-called meaning-variance argument, and it supports an anti-exceptionalist story about theory choice in logic.


Gil Sagi (Haifa): Logicality, Meaning, and Löwenheim Numbers

In this talk I propose a graded account of logicality that is based on the function of logical terms in model-theoretic semantics. In standard model-theoretic semantics, the meaning of logical terms is said to be fixed in the system while that of nonlogical terms remains variable. Much effort has been devoted to characterizing logical terms, those terms that should be fixed, but little has been said on their role in logical systems: on what fixing their meaning precisely amounts to. I show that fixing some terms according to a preconceived meaning is requires more structure than fixing others. From this I draw a scale for logicality of terms: the less structure that is needed in order to fix a term faithfully to its intended meaning, the more logical it is. Invariance under isomorphisms on this approach is considered not as a criterion for logicality, but rather as a dividing line between those terms that can be fixed in standard model-theoretic semantics and those that can’t. I focus on the former set of terms, as they render themselves more easily to mathematical treatment. I propose a mathematical measure for the logicality of such terms based on their associated Löwenheim numbers.


Rea Golan (HUJI): Is There a Neutral Metalanguage?

Logical pluralists are committed to the idea of a neutral metalanguage, which serves as a framework for debates in logic. Two versions of this neutrality can be found in the literature: an agreed-upon collection of inferences, and a metalanguage that is neutral as such. I discuss both versions and show that they are not immune to Quinean criticism, which builds on the notion of meaning. In particular, I show that (i) the first version of neutrality is incompatible with the theories of meaning for logical constants, and (ii) the second version collapses mathematically, if rival logics, as object languages, are treated with charity in the metalanguage. I substantiate (ii) by proving a collapse theorem that generalizes familiar results. Thus, the existence of a neutral metalanguage cannot be taken for granted and logical pluralism might turn out to be dubious.