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Referential MechanicsDirect Reference and the Foundations of Semantics$
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Joseph Almog

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199314379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199314379.001.0001

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Foundational Consequences: The Form of Semantics

Foundational Consequences: The Form of Semantics

(p.87) Chapter 4 Foundational Consequences: The Form of Semantics
Referential Mechanics

Joseph Almog

Oxford University Press

The foundations of direct reference semantics are laid out. Two key puzzles pertaining to the fundamental notions are examined. The first puzzle, from Frege, concerns the notions of informativeness and cognitive significance. It has been viewed for over40 years as threatening direct reference semantics with paradoxes. To the contrary, it is found that the relevant data is a consequence of the fundamental cognitive findings by direct reference theorists regarding what information ordinary users need in order to use language effectively. A second puzzle is concerned with the integration of a referential proper noun semantics with a general theory of compound determiner (“denoting”) phrases. This puzzle is said to concern the very possibility of generalizing the insights of direct reference into a general global semantics for natural language and a semantics that does not indulge in revisionist analyses of logical forms but takes visible surface forms of English at face value. The solution to this puzzle launches a sequel monograph, The Semantics and Logic of Visible English, where such a direct—logical form free—account of a general syntax-semantics interface is given.

Keywords:   general semantics, syntax, logical form, Partee, Montague, Kaplan, determiner phrase, model theory, Frege puzzle

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