The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingPhil Reading Group 10/29 – on Sauerland (2014)

Itai Bassi will be presenting a paper by Uli Sauerland. This paper uses Lewis counterpart theory to obtain a more constrained and empirically adequate view of the De Re/De Dicto phenomenon. The meeting will take place on Monday 29th in the 8th floor seminar room.

Title :
Counterparts block some “De Re” readings

Author(s) : Uli Sauerland

Abstract :

Irene Heim in unpublished work proposed a new syntax-semantics interface for propositional attitude reports based on an ontology without transworld individuals, but counterpart functions instead. We show that the approach can capture the ‘de re’/‘de dicto’ distinction, but makes different predictions from accounts with transworld individuals. Specifically, the account uses a non-invertible counterpart functions: a single individual in an alternative world can be the counterpart of many individuals of the real world. The directionality of counterpart functions predicts that a ‘de dicto’ interpreted DP cannot be an argument of a ‘de re’ interpreted predicate. We show that the predicted restriction is corroborated by existing work on restrictions on ‘de re’ interpretation. The derivation of constraints on ‘de re’ interpretation argues empirically for the counterpart ontology and Heim’s implementation thereof.