CNPq - Programa RHAE
Philosophical Grammar: Meaning, Form, and Metaphysics
Professor Stephen Neale (short cv)
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Logic and Methodology of Science, Department of Philosophy, Moses Hall, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley CA, 94720, USA
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WCIE 7HX, United Kingdom
Supported by a CNPq/RHAE Project entitled "Deductive Systems for Discourse Representation" we are organising a "Logic in Natural Language (LINGUA)" week in the Departamento de Informatica, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), with the participation of Prof Ruth Kempson (SOAS, UK) and Prof Stephen Neale (Berkeley, USA), in the period January 13-17, 1997. This will involve the presentation of tutorial and advanced lectures on current topics in natural language representation and understanding, and the role of logic in the development of a theory of logical form and utterance interpretation.
The tutorials: (i) "Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation - A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language", by Prof Kempson, and (ii) "Meaning, Truth, and Logical Form" by Prof Neale, will take place on the 14th of January 1997, and each shall be approximately 2-hour long. The purpose of the tutorial is to present the state-of-the-art in: (i) the way in which expressions of natural language systematically underdetermine their construal in context, and the processes involved in resolving this underspecification; (ii) our understanding the relationship between meaning and truth, and the role of theories of logical form in attempts to relate syntax and semantics.
Apart from the tutorial scheduled for 14th of January, two more `advanced'
lectures will be presented (1-hour long each) by each guest speaker:
Tuesday, 14th January:
10am: "Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation -- A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language"
by R. Kempson
2:30pm: "Philosophical Grammar: Meaning, Form, and Metaphysics"
by S. Neale
Wednesday, 15th January:
9:30am: "A Typology for Question Structures: How to Make Syntax Dynamic"
by R. Kempson
2:30pm: "On the Logic and metaphysics of Nonextensional Constructions in Natural
by S. Neale
Thursday, 16th January:
9:30am: "Syntax as the Architecture for Pragmatic Processing"
by R. Kempson
2:30pm: "Logical Form, Binding, and Minimalism"
by S. Neale
Place: All lectures will take place in room M1, Depto. Informática, UFPE.
ABSTRACTS OF THE TALKS
"Towards a Theory of Utterance Interpretation -
A Labelled Deductive System for Natural Language" (Tutorial)
In this talk I shall introduce a formal framework (LDS-NL) for modelling
the way in which natural language is interpreted in context. A central goal of
this theory is to explain the way in which expressions of natural language
systematically underdetermine their construal in context, and the processes
involved in resolving this underspecification. Interpretation is seen as a task
of labelled natural deduction from a left-to-right sequence of words. The
projection of structure is part of this process, with linguistic input
underdetermining both the content to be assigned, and its structure, with
on-line choices resolving this underspecification. Concepts of both syntax and
semantics are reinterpreted in the light of this dynamic perspective. The
framework is exemplified by its ability to explain the interaction between
construal of question words and pronouns - the phenomenon known as "crossover".
Crossover is a syntactic puzzle, currently thought to divide into at least 3
different sub-phenomena. Seen from the perspective of how information is
incrementally built up on a left to right basis as articulated in the LDSNL
framework the puzzle is resolved and a unified explanation provided.
"A Typology for Question Structures: How to make Syntax Dynamic"
The array of phenomena displayed by WH questions is generally taken to be
definitive of syntactic (as opposed to semantic) properties of natural
language. These include WH-initial structures,"subjacency" effects, crossover
effects, WH in situ structures, "reconstruction" effects, "partial WH movement"
structures. From current syntactic perspectives, these constitute a
heterogeneous body of data for which a number of independent principles have to
be set up to explain the rich array of cross-language variation. In this talk
I apply the LDSNL framework developed in the Tutorial to provide a general
account of WH structures, and show how the dynamic perspective on syntactic
analysis developed within LDSNL enables us to explain why the overall cluster
of properties occurring in WH questions arises. The perspective throws new
light on the relation between grammars and parsing.
"Syntax as the Architecture for Pragmatic Processing"
In this talk, I draw together the results of the first two lectures, show how they fit within the background of pragmatic theory, indicate the new avenues of research it suggests in a number of areas, and consider the consequences for syntax, semantics, and general linguistic theory.
"Meaning, Truth, and Logical Form" (Tutorial)
In this talk I shall explain (i) the philosophical and linguistic attraction of
approaching the construction of a theory of meaning via a theory of truth,
(ii) the role of syntactically sophisticated theories of quantification,
anaphora, and "logical form" in this enterprise, (iii) the logical and
metaphysical problems that result once nonextensional constructions are taken
into account. I shall then propose some revisions to traditional ways of
addressing these problems that involve factoring semantics into two
"On the Logic and Metaphysics of Nonextensional Constructions in Natural
In this lecture I will articulate the nature of two constraints on
nonextensionality in natural language and on the ontological posits of semantic
theories. The first is derived from an argument due to G"odel in the context of
a discussion of Russell's account of facts as entities to which true sentences
correspond; the second emerges from reflecting upon the nature of any logical
system capable of producing semantic theorems of the sort that are standardly
required by truth-conditional approaches to meaning. The first constraint is
cut-and-dried; the moral of the second is that we must either narrow our
nonextensional inquiries or else abandon a purely truth-conditional approach to
meaning. Either way, there are severe repercusssions for our understanding of
locutions that appear to meak ereference to modality and causation.
"Logical Form, Binding, and Minimalism"
Over tha last few years, Chomsky has argued for what he calls a "minimalist"
program in linguistics. In this talk, I shall attempt to show that reflections
on what seems be required in order to provide a philosophically useful theory
of "logical form" lead naturally to a conception of syntax that is very close
to the conception Chomsky appears to have in mind. To put things another way,
I shall outline a research program in syntax and semantics that seems to
explain (i) why formal languages have tended to look the way they do, (ii) the
empirical and philosophical demands placed on a theories of variable-binding
and logical form, (iii) what was right-and what was very wrong-about talk of
"LF", (iv) what was right about generative semantics (before it went nuts), and
(v) what is right about the idea that syntax is just a projection of lexical
properties. I conclude with reflections on the philosophical connections
between these thoughts and the conclusions of the previous lecture.
For further information, contact:
Selection of Published Works
Research Articles (a selection):
Ruth Margaret Kempson
. Professor of Linguistics, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. (1 January 1986 to present)
. Fellow of the British Academy (July 1989 to present)
. Member of Council of the British Academy (July 1993-July 1996)
. Head of Linguistics Department, School of Oriental & African Studies, (July 1992-July 1996)
. BA Degree in English and Music, University of Birmingham, July 1965.
. MA in Modern English Language (with distinction). University of London, July 1969
. PhD in Linguistics, University of London, "Presupposition and the Delimitation of Semantics". December 1973
Linguistics, semantics, syntax, pragmatics, linguistics and communication, applications of logic in linguistics.
(1975) Presupposition and the Delimitation of Semantics. Cambridge University Press.
(1977) Semantic Theory. Cambridge University Press.
(1981b) (jointly with A.Cormack) 'Ambiguiity and quantification', Linguistics and Philosophy 4, 259-309.
(1988a) (ed.) Mental Representations: The Interface Between Language and Reality. Cambridge University Press.
(1992a) (with D.Gabbay) 'Natural-Language content: a proof-theoretic perspective' in M.Stokhof & P.Dekker (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Amsterdam Formal Semantics Colloquium. Amsterdam
(1994) (with D.Gabbay, J.V.Pitt) 'Labelled abduction and relevance reasoning' in Demolombe et al Nonstandard queries from Databases. Oxford University Press.
(1995) (ed.) Deduction and Language, A special issue of the Bulletin of the Interest Group in Pure and Applied Logics.
(1996) 'Semantics, Pragmatics and Natural Language Interpretation' in Lappin, S. (ed.) Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory. Blackwell.
Stephen R. A. Neale
. Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of Logic and Methodology of Science Department of Philosophy, Moses Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA, 94720, USA. (6/93 - present)
. Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WCIE 7HX, United Kingdom.
. Member of the Editorial Board of Natural Language Semantics.
1/84 - 8/88 Stanford University. Ph.D. in Philosophy, 9/88.
8/83 - 1/84 M.I.T. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Linguistics Ph.D. Program
9/80 - 6/83 University College, London. BA (Hons.) First Class, Linguistics, 6/83.
1994/95 President's Fellow, University of California
1995 Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy.
. Descriptions. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1990.
. The Language of Philosophy (To be submitted to Cambridge University Press)
. Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (Textbook), Westview/ Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
. "Slingshots and Boomerangs." Mind 106 (1997), forthcoming.
. "A Kripkean Argument Against Identity Theories of Mind and a Davidsonian Response". Forthcoming in U. Zeglen (ed.) "Donald Davidson and the Philosophy of Language", 1997, forthcoming.
. "Midescriptions and Multiple Propositions." Forthcoming in P. Leonardi (ed.) "Essays in Honor of Keith Donnellan", Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.
. "The Philoshophical Significance of Godel's Slingshot", Mind 104 (1995), pp. 761-825.
. "The Place of Language", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society XCIV (1994), pp. 215-227.
. "Logical Form and LF". In C. Otero (ed.) "Noam Chomsky: Critical Assessments" London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (1994), pp. 788-838.
. "What is Logical Form?". In D. Prawitz and D. Westerstahl (eds.) "Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science", Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994, pp. 232-245.
. "Term Limits", Philosophical Perspectives 7 (1993), pp. 89-124. . "Grammatical Form, Logical Form, and Incomplete Symbols". In A.D. Irvine and G.A. Wedeking (eds.), "Russell and Analytic Philosophy", Toronto: University of Toronto Press (1993), pp. 97--139
. "Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language". Linguistics and Philosophy 15, 5 (1992), pp. 509-559.
. "Indefinite Descriptions: In Defence of Russell." (with P.Ludlow) Linguistics and Philosophy 14, 2 (1991), pp. 171-202.
. "Descriptive Pronouns and Donkey Anaphora." The Journal of Philosophy 87, 3, (1990), pp. 113-150.
Selection of Published Works
Research Articles (a selection):