Semantics, Tense, and Time: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Natural Language

Semantics, Tense, and Time: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Natural Language

by Peter Ludlow

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Overview

Semantics, Tense, and Time: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Natural Language by Peter Ludlow

According to Peter Ludlow, there is a very close relation between the structure of natural language and that of reality, and one can gain insights into long-standing metaphysical questions by studying the semantics of natural language. In this book Ludlow uses the metaphysics of time as a case study and focuses on the dispute between A-theorists and B-theorists about the nature of time. According to B-theorists, there is no genuine change, but a permanent sequence of events ordered by an earlier-than/later-than relation. According to the version of the A-theory adopted by Ludlow (a position sometimes called "presentism"), there are no past or future events or times; what makes something past or future is how the world stands right now.

Ludlow argues that each metaphysical picture is tied to a particular semantical theory of tense and that the dispute can be adjudicated on semantical grounds. A presentism-compatible semantics, he claims, is superior to a B-theory semantics in a number of respects, including its abilities to handle the indexical nature of temporal discourse and to account for facts about language acquisition. Along the way, Ludlow develops a conception of "E-type" temporal anaphora that can account for both temporal anaphora and complex tenses without reference to past and future events. His view has philosophical consequences for theories of logic, self-knowledge, and memory. As for linguistic consequences, Ludlow suggests that the very idea of grammatical tense may have to be dispensed with and replaced with some combination of aspect, modality, and evidentiality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262519762
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 09/24/1999
Series: A Bradford Book
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Peter Ludlow, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, is the author of Semantics, Tense, and Time: An Essay in the Metaphysics of Natural Language (MIT Press, 1999), among other books, and the editor of Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias (MIT Press, 2001) and High Noon on the Electronic Frontier (MIT Press, 1996).

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 The Nature of Language
1.1 ILanguage vs. ELanguage
1.2 What is ILanguage For?
1.3 Is ILanguage the Language of Thought?
2 The Form of the Semantic Theory
2.1 The Nature of Semantic Knowledge
2.2 Why Absolute Semantics?
2.3 Modest vs. Robust Truth Theories
2.4 Psychological Evidence for the Nature of Semantic Knowledge
2.5 Do TTheories Display Senses?
2.6 A Word on Prediction
3 Attitudes and IndeXicals
3.1 Propositional Attitudes
3.2 IndeXicals
4 Drawing Metaphysical Consequences from a TTheory
4.1 The Nature of the Metaphysical Commitment
4.2 Sample Cases
4.3 Can a TTheory Avoid Having Metaphysical Consequences?
5 The BTheory Semantics
5.1 The Basic Theory
5.2 EXtending the Theory
5.3 Metaphysical Commitments of the Theory
6 Problems with the BTheory Semantics
6.1 Problems with the IndeXical Nature of Temporal Discourse
6.2 `There Are No Utterances'
6.3 The BTheorist's Dilemma
6.4 On Mellor's Way out
7 The ATheory Semantics
7.1 The Appeal of an ATheory Semantics
7.2 The Basic ATheory Semantics
7.3 Some Objections to the ATheory Semantics
7.4 The McTaggart ParadoX: Is the ATheory Contradictory?
8 Temporal Anaphora without BSeries Resources
8.1 EType Temporal Anaphora
8.2 Development of the Theory
8.3 More on EType Temporal Anaphora
8.4 Further Issues
8.5 McTaggart Revisited
9 Broadening the Investigation
9.1 Psycholinguistic Considerations
9.2 Saving the Phenomenology
9.3 Conclusion
10 Consequences
10.1 Philosophical Consequences
10.2 Linguistic Consequences
10.3 Conclusion
Philosophical AppendiXes
P1 IsILanguage the Language of Thought?
P2 Language/Word Isomorphism?
Technical AppendiXes
T1 A Basic Quantificational Fragment
T2 A Quantificational Fragment with Events
T3 A Fragment with ILFs for Propositional Attitudes
T4 A BTheory Technical Fragment
T5 A Basic ATheory Fragment
Notes
Bibliography
IndeX

What People are Saying About This

James Higginbotham

A notable work in many respects, with an extremely interesting discussion of the prospects for giving the semantics of tense in a tensed metalanguage. Semantics, Tense, and Time exemplifies the recent, very productive, evolution of the philosophy of language, with its characteristic amalgam of linguistics, metaphysics, and logic.

Endorsement

A notable work in many respects, with an extremely interesting discussion of the prospects for giving the semantics of tense in a tensed metalanguage. Semantics, Tense, and Time exemplifies the recent, very productive, evolution of the philosophy of language, with its characteristic amalgam of linguistics, metaphysics, and logic.

James Higginbotham, Professor of General Linguistics, University of Oxford

From the Publisher

"A notable work in many respects, with an extremely interestingdiscussion of the prospects for giving the semantics of tense in atensed metalanguage. Semantics, Tense, andTime exemplifies therecent, very productive, evolution of the philosophy of language,withits characteristic amalgam of linguistics, metaphysics, and logic." James Higginbotham, Professor of General Linguistics, University of Oxford

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