Lecture 1 (Wednesday, 16-18): Parameters of truth: back to the founding fathers
Lecture 2 (Thursday, 10-12): The contextualism/relativism debate: its motivations and scope
This crash course is devoted to "semantic relativism", which covers a family of positions that have recently emerged at the interface of semantics, pragmatics and philosophy of language. To better understand the issues involved in the recent debate(s), it will be helpful to briefly return to some foundational issues. In semantics based upon classical logic, the truth of a sentence is relative to a structure of interpretation and an assignment of values to the free variables. It has become customary, though, to take the truth of a sentence to be relative to further parameters, such as contexts, indices, or points of evaluation. In lecture 1, we will try to pin down and clarify the arguments, put forward by Kamp, Kaplan, Lewis, etc., for a parametrization of truth that goes along such lines. However, it has been suggested that these traditional frameworks fall short of accounting for the behavior of expressions such as epistemic modals, predicates of personal taste, knowledge ascriptions, future tense, etc., and that in order to account for these, we need to take truth to be even more relative - for instance, by introducing a novel parameter of context of assessment (as opposed to context of use). In lecture 2, we will try to pin down and clarify the arguments involved in these more recent debates, and shed some light on the differences among the various "relativist" positions.
Notions in elementary logic (such as first order predicate calculus) and some
familiarity with philosophy of language are advisable. There will be ample room
for questions and discussion.
For all inquiries, please contact the organiser, Philipp Keller.