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Title: Modality and the theory of meaning : an examination of the programmes of Davidson, Dummett and Montague
Author: Spencer-Smith, Richard Mervyn
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1981
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Abstract:
Each of the three main chapters of this thesis is concerned with a different style of theorising about the semantics of natural language and in particular with the way they would tackle expressions of modality. What unites the three approaches is their commitment to the study of a language through a systematic theory which will account for all its sentences, according to some general principle such as: meaning = truth conditions. They diverge widely on the implementation of this idea, ie. on the aims and form of a theory of meaning. The first promises a very spartan hind, of theory; there is therefore considerable interest in discovering how such an austere method will manage to handle the intricacies of intensionality. To this end several ways of coping are examined, in the first chapter. The second approach permits itself a much richer means of describing the semantics of a language. Consequently, the concern of the second chapter is not so much with coping, as with marshalling these more powerful resources into a detailed analysis of some of the linguistic manifestations of modality. The third approach is, as yet, more often critical than constructive. It seeks to replace theories of the first two kinds, founded on what it sees as an unjustified realist metaphysics, with a more cognitive semantics. In the course of the thesis, different manifestations of modal concepts within sentences of natural language are examined, ranging from the 'outermost', sentential operator occurrences to the 'innermost' occurrences where the modality is interwoven into the property expressed by a simple predicate. Thus in the last chapter, the import of the criticisms raised by the third approach is assessed with special reference to dispositional predicates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.704474  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy
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