SPE 2013

The Sixth Semantics and Philosophy in Europe colloquium will take place at Saint-Petersburg State University, June 10-14, 2013. June 10 will consist of a tutorial on the interface between philosophy of mind and linguistic semantics given by Robert Matthews and Friederike Moltmann.

The purpose of the Semantics and Philosophy in Europe colloquia is to enhance the dialogue between linguists and philosophers by providing a forum for presenting research in the interface between linguistic semantics and the various areas of philosophy (philosophy of language, logic, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, epistemology).

SPE takes place annually in different European cities. The previous meetings took place in Paris (SPE 1, 2008 and SPE 3, 2010), London (SPE 2, 2009), Bochum (SPE 4, 2011) and Turin (SPE 5, 2012).

Special topics:

1. The Interface between Linguistic Semantics and Philosophy of Mind
The topic of this session is the connection between philosophy of mind and linguistic semantics, an underexplored interface between philosophy and linguistic semantics. The themes that fall within this topic include the semantics of attitude reports, the notion of a proposition and its cognitive accessibility, the relation between mental and linguistic representation, the semantics of perception reports and reports of phenomenal experiences, and first-person reference.

2. The Status of Semantics in the History of Generative Grammar
The workshop targets the emergence of generative grammar and the exact conceptual shift it represented, with a particular view to how the conception of language that comes forth in generative theory (as developed in LSLT) informs matters of semantics and language use. Three central questions are: Firstly, is there among the levels of grammatical representation a semantic level, constructed in the manner that other grammatical levels are specified? Secondly, to what extent are we to take the derivationally based notion of syntactic structure embedded within generative theory as spawning the sort of compositional structures that are implicated in semantic analysis? Thirdly, how do recent developments in Minimalism bear on these questions, especially given recent views concerning interface asymmetries and the relation between the ‘Language of Thought’ and UG? The overall goal is to carefully explore the generative conception of language, how it emerged within linguistic theory as a chapter in the history of science, and how it informs our current philosophical thinking about language and the representation of meaning.

The topic includes the following:
– the status of semantics in generative grammar
– the notion of formality in generative grammar
– the notion of a ‘semantic level of representation’
– the question of linguistics and semantics as a part of human psychology
– the shift to generative grammar from the viewpoint of the philosophy of science
– the development of the concept of the syntax-semantics interface
– the exclusion or inclusion of thought in relation to the domain of grammar
– the notion of interface asymmetries (the primacy of the semantic interface over the phonetic one)

3. Empirical Methods in the Investigation of Semantics
The topic includes the following:
– investigating semantics with neurolinguistic methods (e.g. ERP, fMRI)
– investigating semantics with psycholinguistic methods
– investigating semantics with corpus-linguistic methods
– investigating semantics in “experimental philosophy”
– issues related to the philosophy of linguistics
– general philosophical issues regarding the empirical investigation of semantics

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