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Philosophy of Language Research Seminar: Fabrizio Cariani's talk on Geach's Puzzle and Williams' Gambit.

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16 Jun 2010 15:00
16 Jun 2010 18:00
Europe/Rome

prof. Fabrizio Cariani (Northwestern University) will give a talk.

  • Speaker: Fabrizio Cariani
  • Venue: Sala rossa, via Azzo Gardino 23, Bologna
  • Title:Geach's Puzzle and Williams' Gambit.

Abstract

A while back, Peter Geach argued that 'ought' could not be a
propositional operator--as many philosophers and logicians had
supposed--but that it had to denote a relation between an agent and an
action. By contrast, Bernard Williams' argued that 'ought' could not
denote a relation and that it had to be a propositional operator.

Three things are surprising about this debate about logical structure. First,
it connects with important questions about how we should capture talk
of agency and responsibility within a semantic theory for natural
language.
Second, it turns out that both arguments are quite compelling and so
that the solution of the problem must not be obvious.
Third, the
debate can be framed with interesting results within the context of
contemporary syntax and semantics.
For example, it ties into whether a semantic account of 'ought'-sentences
requires a hyper-intensional component.

I argue that it does not. In fact, I argue that there are three incompatible solutions to the puzzles:
choosing between the three turns on ideological/methodological
considerations in semantics.

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