The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 4/28 - Harvey Lederman (Princeton)

Speaker: Harvey Lederman (Princeton)
Title: Fregeanism, sententialism, and scope
Time: Thursday, April 28th, 12:30pm – 1:50pm

Abstract: Among philosophers, Fregeanism and sententialism are widely considered two of the leading theories of the semantics of attitude reports. But these theories have received much less recent attention from linguists. This talk will aim to bridge this divide. I’ll present a new formal implementation of Fregeanism and sententialism, with the goal of showing that the theories can be developed in sufficient detail and concreteness to be serious competitors to theories which are more popular among semanticists. I’ll start by offering a modern treatment of quantifying in for Fregeanism and sententialism, in the style of Heim and Kratzer (1998), and then show how these theories can— somewhat surprisingly—account for “third readings” (Fodor, 1970) on the model of the “Standard Solution” from possible-worlds semantics (von Fintel and Heim, 2002). The resulting Fregean/sententialist proposal has a distinctive attraction: it treats data related to counterfactual attitudes (Ninan, 2008; Yanovich, 2011; Maier, 2015; Blumberg, 2018)—which have proven challenging to accommodate in the setting of possible worlds semantics—straightforwardly as third readings.