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Title: States in flux : logics of change, dynamic semantics, and dialogue
Author: Lemon, Oliver
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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Verbal communication is a complex process of negotiation towards a common goal, maximizing each participant's information about the world. Conversations typically involve dispute, correction, and agreement between their participants. How could a formal theory begin to describe such phenomena? In particular, how might a mathematical theory of utterance interpretation (a "formal semantics") handle the idea that language use systematically changes the beliefs of communicating agents? The contributions of this thesis, in the fields of logic and formal semantics, are largely constructive. The research is carried out within two main "traditions", the research programmes of "Belief Revision", or Theory Change, and Dynamic Semantics (and to a lesser extent, Paraconsistent Logic). These theories are integrated, and applied in a formal model of dialogue. Thus, the objective of the thesis is to examine a marriage between "logic's" of Theory Change (which describe rational modifications to theories in the light of new information) and systems of Dynamic Semantics (which describe an agent's processing of incoming linguistic information). This venture involves providing a semantics for Theory Change, extending Theory Change systems to the first-order case (where theories are expressed in predicate logic), and interfacing the result with existing systems of dynamic semantics. The project is placed in the larger context of formal semantics for dialogues; a theory of changing information states in communication, and a theory of the rational agency of communicants. Philosophically speaking (in part I) the notions of information and communication come under scrutiny, as do some foundational issues for a formal semantics of communication. Particular definitions of information and communication are argued for; definitions which concentrate on transformations over epistemic states as the primary subject matter of formal semantics. A view of model-theoretic semantics is developed, which also concludes in the importance of an epistemic approach.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available