SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Logicality of Language Hypothesis: New Evidence in Favour of the Rescale Approach
(Philosophy of Language, English)

In the generative tradition syntax is assumed to be autonomous and independent from logic (Chomsky 1955, 1957). The autonomy of syntax, if interpreted in terms of irrelevance of logical considerations for syntactic formation, seems to make the generative approach compatible with a consolidated tradition in philosophy (e.g. Husserl 1901; Croce 1905; Carnap 1934; the discussion in Pistoia-Reda 2021), which focuses on the syntactic acceptability of analytic constructions such as 1)-3).

1) It did and did not rain at the same time and place (Mill 1878)

2) "Questa tavola rotonda" quadrata (Croce 1905)

3) All quadrilaterals have 5 vertices (Bar-Hillel 1957)

In the logicality of language hypothesis (Gajewski 2002, 2009; Fox, Hackl 2006; Chierchia 2013; Abrusan 2014; Del Pinal 2019), the grammaticality of analytic propositions such as 1)-3) is acknowledged, but the conclusion about the irrelevance of logical considerations for syntactic formation is rejected to account for ungrammaticalities such as 4)-5).

4) *Someone but John smokes (Von Fintel 1993)

5) *There are any cookies left (Chierchia 2013)

How can we account for the asymmetry between the ungrammaticality of 4)-5), due to their analytic status, and the grammaticality of 1)-3), notwithstanding their analytic status? According to a standard articulation of the logicality of language hypothesis (Gajewski 2002, 2009; Fox, Hackl 2006; Chierchia 2013), linguistic constructions are associated with austere representations, different from classical logical forms, which reveal truly analytic contents only in the ungrammatical cases. According to an alternative articulation, the ungrammaticality of 4)-5) derives from the impossibility of transforming them into informatively adequate contributions, by modulating the lexical content (Del Pinal 2019, 2021; Sauerland 2014; Pistoia-Reda, Sauerland 2021; Pistoia-Reda, San Mauro 2021).

The talk intends to offer a brief reconstruction of the logicality of language hypothesis and its two articulations, and to present new evidence that seems to support the alternative one. If this evidence is solid, then it is possible to accept the said hypothesis without necessarily having to assume a purely linguistic logic, and then the said hypothesis may be invoked with less trepidation.

Chair: Teresa Flera
Time: 11:20-11:50, 08 September 2022 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.007

Giada Coleschi 
(University of Siena, Italy)

Testability and Meaning deco