Institut Jean Nicod

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Conférences de Emar Maier, professeur assistant à l'Université de Groningue, maître de conférences invité à l'EHESS, en 2017-2018

Les 8, 15 février et 8 et 15 mars 2018

de 15h à 17h.

Ecole normale supérieure

salle 235A, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005


Presupposition, reference, attitudes, and fiction: A DRT approach.

In 4 lectures I introduce the logical framework of Discourse Representation Theory (DRT), and apply it to some foundational debates in semantics and philosophy of language. The aim is twofold: (i) use DRT as a uniform framework to introduce key themes in contemporary philosophy of mind/language (involving presupposition, proper names, indexicality, propositional attitudes, fiction), but also (ii) to pitch DRT -- esp. my Kamp-inspired brand of 'psychologistic DRT' -- as a useful tool not just for linguists, but also for philosophers.

In lecture 1 (February 8), we go back to the 1980s' Dynamic Turn, i.e. the shift from 'meaning = truth conditions' to 'meaning = context change'. We discuss how the development of dynamic semantics, including Kamp's DRT and Heim's File Change Semantics, led to a breakthrough in the theory of presupposition.

In lecture 2 (February 15) I turn to philosophical problems of reference associated with proper names and indexicals, and how to deal with (direct) reference in DRT (cf. Hunter 2010). We'll also discuss two different conceptions of basic DRT: the Stalnakerian common ground model, and a more traditional 'psychologistic' model, where we're modeling the hearer's interpretation processes. I attempt to rehabilitate the latter, partly drawing on parallels with Recanati's (2012) Mental Files paradigm.

In lecture 3 (March 8) we discuss some puzzles involving attitudes and reports (de re vs de se, and so-called 'parasitic attitudes', with particular focus on Ninan's 2012 puzzle about de re imagination).

In lecture 4 (March 15) I apply the analysis of imagination to the semantics of fiction and fictional names. I end with an application to the puzzle of imaginative resistance and unreliable narrators.