Semantics and Ontology: On the Modal Structure of an Epistemic Theory of Meaning

Tabet, Chiara (2003) Semantics and Ontology: On the Modal Structure of an Epistemic Theory of Meaning. In: Pre-Proceedings of the 26th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, Kirchberg am Wechsel, pp. 337-341.


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In this paper I shall confront three basic questions. First, the relevance of epistemic structures, as formalized and dealt with by current epistemic logics, for a general Theory of meaning. Here I acknowledge M. Dummett"s idea that a systematic account of what is meaning of an arbitrary language subsystem must especially take into account the inferential components of meaning itself. That is, an analysis of meaning comprehension processes, given in terms of epistemic logics and semantics for epistemic notions. The second and third questions relate to the ontological and epistemological framework for this approach. Concerning the epistemological aspects of an epistemic theory of meaning, the question is: how epistemic logics can eventually account for the informative character of meaning comprehension processes. "Information� seems to be built in the very formal structure of epistemic processes, and should be exhibited in modal and possibleworld semantics for propositional knowledge and belief. However, it is not yet clear what is e.g. a possible world. That is: how it can be defined semantically, other than by accessibility rules which merely define it by considering its set-theoretic relations with other sets-possible worlds. Therefore, it is not clear which is the epistemological status of propositional information contained in the structural aspects of possible world semantics. The problem here seems to be what kind of meaning one attributes to the modal notion of possibility, thus allowing semantical and synctactical selectors for possibilities. This is a typically Dummett-style problem. The third question is linked with this epistemological problem, since it is its ontological counterpart. It concerns the limits of the logical space and of logical semantics for a of meaning. That is, it is concerned with the kind of structure described by inferential processes, thought, in a fregean perspective, as pre-conditions of estentional treatment of meaning itself. The second and third questions relate to some observations in Wittgenstein"s Tractatus. I shall also try to show how their behaviour limits the explicative power of some semantics for epistemic logics (Konolige"s and Levesque"s for knowledge and belief).

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Modal Logic; Possible Worlds; Theory of Meaning; Carnap, R.; Wittgenstein, L.
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Journale, Kongresse, Vereinigungen > Wittgenstein Symposium Kirchberg, Pre-Proceedings > Kirchberg 2003
Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Logik, analytische Philosophie
Depositing User: Stefan Köstenbauer
Date Deposited: 29 May 2008 07:28
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2011 18:52

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