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Chapter 1 Kearns: Reading guide

Make sure you know what the following concepts mean and how to use them appropriately:

  • denotation and sense
  • within denotation: extension and intension
  • recursiveness (check definition on p. 4)
  • compositionality (check definition on p. 5)
  • possible world
  • truth condition(s)
Make sure you understand:
  • what the problems are in accounting for word meaning in terms of primitive semantic markers.
  • that, if a person understands the meaning of a word, that person can identify the referents denoted by that given word in a given context. For instance, if Bruna knows the meaning of dog, she will be able to identify the three dogs that are strolling around Brentwood park at 5pm on Tuesday Feb. 28th. Formal semantics assumes some mechanism for going from word meaning (sense) to reference (denotation), and operates with denotation alone.
  • what type of extension and intension names, predicates, sentences have.
  • that syntactic and semantic rules work in parallel in formal semantics.
  • how a compositional formal theory works.
  • why what we are aiming at is to define the truth conditions for a given phrase or sentence in natural language.
Make sure you know how to:
  • formalize a sentence through the application of syntactic and semantic rules, using the SVal function (section 1.3.4; see (31) to (36)).
  • state the truth conditions of a sentence in English (see (35), (37)).