SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Monist Language-fundamentality
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

Recent work in metaphysics increasingly relies on the notion of language-fundamentality, intended to capture the idea that some languages afford objectively more perspicuous representations of reality's metaphysical structure. Despite this trend, research primarily focused on language-fundamentality itself is lacking, with the notable exception of work by Sider and few others. This talk contributes to filling the gap by sketching a simple taxonomy of theories of language-fundamentality and by motivating an alternative to Sider's account.

Sider defines a fundamental language as a language all primitive expressions of which are joint-carving ( fundamental), where joint-carving is understood as a generalisation of Lewisian naturalness. Sider's view suggests a simple two-dimensional taxonomy of theories of language-fundamentality, classifying views as atomist or monist, permissive or strict. Sider's view is a version of permissive atomism (PA).

I introduce a version of permissive monism (PM) as an alternative. This view takes language-fundamentality as primitive and captures expression-fundamentality via a binary predicate: expressions are fundamental in languages, by being primitives in fundamental languages. I motivate PM by showing it satisfies a platitude that PA doesn't. let Δ be a set of inter-definable expressions some of which must be fundamental (e.g . truth-functional connectives). Say an expression e is strongly indispensable iff it's primitive in all fundamental languages. The platitude is: some Δs don't contain any strongly indispensable expression, some Δs do.

Sider's PA implies, against the platitude, that no expression is strongly fundamental,because it accepts expressively inadequate fundamental languages?fundamental languages whose primitive vocabulary contains less than enough expressions of some Δ. The obvious move is to exclude expressive inadequacy by counting a language as fundamental iff all and only its primitives are joint-carving, but this revision makes any joint-carving expression strongly indispensable, again violating the platitude. By contrast, PM takes language-fundamentality as primitive, so it doesn't have to explain how role constitutive constraints reduce to facts about fundamental primitives. Hence, PM can take some expressive adequacy constraint as axiomatic, without over-generating strongly indispensable expressions.

Time: 14:00-14:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Antonio Maria Cleani 
(University of St Andrews, United Kingdom)

I am a postgraduate (masters) student at the University of St Andrews. Previously, I was an undergrad in Italy at the University of Padua. I work mainly in metaphysics and metaontology, with a focus on persistence, location, properties, fundamentality and the substantivity of metaphysical questions/disagreements. I also have research interests in the philosophy of language and in epistemology, traditional and formal.

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