|Philosophy and Science of Semantics|
Joined: Jan 03, 2005
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Posted Dec 3, 2010 - 10:17 AM:
Subject: Philosophy and Science of Semantics
You begin your article "Realist Semantics and Content Ascription" with the claim:
We are disposed to assume that our sentences may possess conditions of truth transcending the conditions of assertibility which our recognitional capacities are capable of disclosing to us.
Would you agree that this means that a scientific model of language could describe all the relevant observable phenomena while nonetheless failing to capture these truth conditions? That is, could a scientist who concerns himself with the observable phenomena of linguistic communication (e.g. what is asserted under what conditions and what effect those assertions have on others) produce a model of semantics which ignores the truth conditions you assume to be vital?
(By way of background, I'm a cognitive scientist currently working on distributional models of semantics, which eschew the truth conditional approach in favour of a usage based approach.)
Are truth conditions actually a necessary part of a complete account of semantics? Are they necessary philosophically but not scientifically? In other words, could a complete scientific account be made of observable semantic phenomena, which was nonetheless inadequate philosophically? You say "We are disposed to assume ...", but does that "we" refer to scientists as well as philosophers? I would say not, and that in fact the difference between scientists and philosophers lies precisely in the former's unwillingness to make such assumptions without experimental support.
More generally, given the divergent methods of science and philosophy, is it conceivable that there are questions for which a valid scientific answer is not a valid philosophical answer, or vice versa?
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