Rambling thoughts on random topics

Liège

Semantics and natural language metaphysics

One issue that seems relevant to the question what the status of formal semantics actually is, concerns the ontological commitments of the formal theories employed. Does the “metaphysics vs. natural language metaphysics” distinction answer this question in a satisfactory manner? Only, it seems, if we are willing to shield the speakers of the language in question from its very metaphysical assumptions: the semantics of their language has certain metaphysical implications that they, as speakers of that language, need not share (or even be aware of). But this does create a tremendous distance between speakers and their language, and as such it seems to point toward a much more instrumental interpretation of the various theoretical (logical, metaphysical) concepts which are involved in the description of the language.

Martin Stokhof
from: Interpretation
date:
05/1997

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