Mircea Dumitru – A Finean Semantic-Relationist Approach to Opacity

Miercuri, 2 martie, la ora 18:00 va avea loc seminarul departamentului de filosofie teoretica. Invitat, prof. Mircea Dumitru va tine o conferinta cu titlul: A Finean Semantic-Relationist Approach to Opacity.

Rezumatul conferintei:

Mircea Dumitru
Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest

In his book, Semantic Relationism, Kit Fine argues in favor of a fundamentally new view of meaning, which he calls “Semantic Relationism”. What is the main idea behind this approach? Fine’s view is that there may be irreducible semantical or representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought, ones that are not reducible to the intrinsic semantic features of the expressions or elements of thought themselves between which they hold. This semantic approach leads naturally to a novel view on representation in both language and thought. The explanatory job Fine does is twofold. He shows how this view can be articulated to offer solutions to persistent and intriguing puzzles in philosophical logic and philosophy of language, such as Frege’s identity puzzle, Russell’s antinomy of the variable, Moore’s paradox of analysis, Kripke’s puzzle about belief. And he also uses his new doctrine to ground a more defensible form of direct reference theory, one which can successfully meet the criticism that Fregeans have recently mounted against it.

In my paper I shall first present the overall framework of the new semantic approach emphasizing one methodological aspect having to do with the way one can specify semantic relationism as opposed to the much debated doctrine of semantic holism. The sharp contrast between Fine’s semantic relationism and the doctrine of semantic holism can be summarized thus: semantic relationism is meant to be an extension of usual representational semantics while semantic holism is an alternative to representational semantics. What is at stake in the ongoing dispute between proponents of semantic holism and their rivals is the form that an appropriate semantic theory should have. The holists insist that the proper theory should provide an account of the expressions’ “conceptual” or inferential role. The anti-holists will hold that the theory should be representational. The goal of a representational semantics is to assign referents or senses to expressions and then consider various semantic relationships between them.

Fine’s semantic relationism also provides a revolutionary approach to the semantic phenomenon of opacity, and I shall devote the last part of the paper to explaining the benefits of going relational – through the concept of coordination – when dealing with the intriguing deviant logic-semantic behavior of names when they occur within the domain of opacity inducing propositional attitude ascriptions phrases.

Fine, Kit (2003) ”The Role of Variables”, The Journal of Philosophy, volume C, number 12, pp. 605-631.
Fine, Kit (2007) Semantic Relationism, Blackwell.


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