The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 3/14 - Chris Tancredi (Keio University)

Speaker: Chris Tancredi (Keio University)
TitleDe dicto, de re and de qualitate unified
Time: Thursday, 3/14, 12:30-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461


Past approaches to the semantics of belief statements have argued for a multiplicity of distinct interpretations, including de dicto, de re, de qualitate and de translato.  The need for ambiguity in attitude statements is clear from the potential truth of sentences like Ralph believes Ortcutt is a spy, but he doesn’t believe ORTCUTT is a spy.  However, I argue that the only ambiguity specific to attitude statements is the de translato/non-de translato distinction.  In particular, I show how to reduce de dicto/de re/de qualitate interpretations to a single form.  The key to the reduction is to analyze the embedded clause of an attitude statement as denoting a proposition inferable from an underlying belief of the subject rather than denoting the subject’s underlying belief itself.  I show that the semantics developed can account for attitudes toward necessary as well as impossible propositions, and that it further can account for the range of entailments felt to hold among multiple attitude statements.