Author: Stefan Kaufmann

Nothing is Logical

Maria Aloni

People often reason contrary to the prescriptions of classical logic. In the talk I will discuss some cases of divergence between everyday and logical-mathematical reasoning and propose that they are a consequence of a tendency in human cognition to neglect models which verify sentences by virtue of an empty configuration [neglect-zero tendency, Aloni 2022]. I will then introduce a bilateral state-based modal logic (BSML) which formally represents the neglect-zero tendency and can be used to rigorously study its impact on reasoning and interpretation. After discussing some of the applications, I will compare BSML with related systems (truthmaker semantics, possibility semantics, and inquisitive semantics) via translations into Modal Information Logic [van Benthem 2019].

Maria Aloni. Logic and conversation: The case of free choice, Semantics and Pragmatics, vol 15 (2022)
Johan van Benthem. Implicit and Explicit Stances in Logic, Journal of Philosophical Logic, vol 48, pages 571–601 (2019)

Modeling Linguistic Causation

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal

This talk introduces a systematic way of analyzing the semantics of causative linguistic expressions, and of how natural languages express causal relationships. For this purpose, I will employ the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) framework and demonstrate how this method offers a rigorous model-theoretic approach to examining the distinct semantics of causal expressions. This paper introduces formal logical definitions of different types of conditions using SEM networks, and illustrates how this proposal, along with its formal tools, can help to clarify the asymmetric entailment relationship among different causative constructions.

Relativized Exhaustivity: Mention-Some and Uniqueness

Yimei Xiang

Wh-questions with the modal verb can admit both mention-some (MS) and mention-all (MA) answers. This paper argues that we should treat MS as a grammatical phenomenon, primarily determined by the grammar of the wh-interrogative. I assume that MS and MA answers can be modeled using the same definition of answerhood (Fox 2013) and attribute the MS/MA ambiguity to structural variations within the question nucleus. The variations are: (i) the scope ambiguity of the higher-order wh-trace, and (ii) the absence/presence of an anti-exhaustification operator. However, treating MS answers as complete answers in this way contradicts the widely adopted analysis of uniqueness effects in questions of Dayal 1996, according to which the uniqueness effects of singular which-phrases arise from an exhaustivity presupposition, namely that a question must have a unique exhaustive true answer. To solve this dilemma, I propose that question interpretations presuppose ‘Relativized Exhaustivity’: roughly, the exhaustivity in questions is evaluated relative to the accessible worlds as opposed to the anchor/utterance world. Relativized Exhaustivity preserves the merits of Dayal’s exhaustivity presupposition while permitting MS; moreover, it explains the local-uniqueness effects in modalized singular wh-questions.

The speaker also has a relevant manuscript on Lingbuzz:

The Logic of Speech Acts: Sentential Force vs Utterance Force

Sarah Murray

Across languages, sentences are marked for sentence type, or sentential mood, e.g., declarative and interrogative. These sentence types are associated with speech acts: assertions and questions, respectively. However, sentential mood does not determine the force of an utterance of a sentence. We argue that the semantic contribution of sentential mood is a relation that constrains utterance force. This relation takes a proposition as an argument and uses it to affect a component of the context. The semantic constraint together with additional pragmatic factors produce utterance force.

This logic for speech acts involves a semantics for the three main sentence types found cross-linguistically (declarative, interrogative, imperative) as well as a distinction between speaker commitment and discourse reference. In addition to a semantics for sentential mood, this approach provides a framework for a range of phenomena, including evidentials, parentheticals, hedges, and “speech act modifiers”. We conclude by discussing the Linguistic Modification Thesis, the idea that linguistic material can only influence utterance force by influencing sentential force.

This talk is based on joint work with William Starr