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Re: [ontolog-forum] mKR (was Thing and Class)

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:14:14 -0500
Message-id: <A1D8D08E-5D0D-4174-8651-A5AC1B268FD1@xxxxxxxx>
On Sep 17, 2008, at 2:36 AM, Rob Freeman wrote:
> Chris Menzel and Pat Hayes: If you see no problem with formal logic  
> as a model for "meaning", then you will have difficultly  
> understanding a solution for those problems.    (01)

Hang on there.  Neither of us even mentioned the idea of using formal  
logic as a model for meaning.  Rather, we were responded to your  
sweeping remark about the "pitfalls of formal logic", full stop  
(which, frankly, doesn't even make sense -- it's like talking about  
the pitfalls of, say, algebra).  Of course, as I explicitly noted,  
pitfalls may indeed await those who attempt to use formal logic to  
solve problems it wasn't meant, or isn't able, to solve. Understanding  
the nature of meaning might be one of those -- although the work of,  
notably, Davidson and Dummett, suggests that this is by no means  
obvious.  (My own self, I think it is pretty obvious that many aspects  
of linguistic meaning can be very fruitfully explored through the  
tools for formal logic, especially model theory, but I think it is  
also pretty clear that meaning generally, esp viewed as a social and  
evolutionary phenomenon, outstrips what we can understand with formal  
methods alone.)    (02)

> However, Chris, in the spirit of providing more information, let me  
> mention that whether or not it is true as you say that "few  
> contemporary philosophers believe there are serious problems with  
> analyticity", the same is less true of linguistics,
> in your words that "Most contemporary philosophers of language and  
> logic do not share Quine's general skepticism about these notions."  
> To give one recent example:
> http://www.grsampson.net/AGwg.html    (03)

Well, of course, I did say "few", not "no", and I did say  
"philosophers", not "linguists", so I'm not sure what your sample of 1  
linguist is supposed to show.  But, judging from the linguists I know  
working in the area of the semantics of natural language, I would  
suspect the number of meaning skeptics even among linguists is fairly  
low -- though, not being a linguist, I must admit this is sheer  
speculation.    (04)

-chris    (05)

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