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Ideas of Laura Schroeter, by Text

[Australian, fl. 2010, At the University of Melbourne.]

2010 Two-Dimensional Semantics
1.1.1 p.3 Semantic theories show how truth of sentences depends on rules for interpreting and joining their parts
     Full Idea: Semantic theories explain how the truth or falsity of whole sentences depends on the meanings of their parts by stating rules governing the interpretation of subsentential expressions and their modes of combination.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.1)
     A reaction: Somehow it looks as if the mystery of the whole business will still be missing if this project is ever successfully completed. Also one suspects that such a theory would be a fiction, rather than a description of actuality, which is too complex.
1.1.1 p.3 'Federer' and 'best tennis player' can't mean the same, despite having the same extension
     Full Idea: A simple extensional semantics will assign the same semantic value to 'Roger Federer' and 'world's best tennis player', but they clearly differ in meaning, and if events had unfolded differently they would pick out different people.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.1)
     A reaction: You would think that this would be too obvious to need pointing out, but it is clearly a view that had a lot of popularity before the arrival of possible worlds.
1.1.1 p.3 Simple semantics assigns extensions to names and to predicates
     Full Idea: The simplest semantic frameworks assign extensions as semantic values of particular expressions. The extension of a name is the thing, of 'cool' is the set of cool things, and sets of ordered pairs for 2-place predicates. The sentence has T or F.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.1)
     A reaction: The immediate well-known problem is different predicates with the same extensions, such as 'renate' and 'cordate'. Possible worlds semantics is supposed to be an improvement to cover this, and to give a semantics for modal talk as well. Sounds good.
1.1.1 p.3 Possible worlds semantics uses 'intensions' - functions which assign extensions at each world
     Full Idea: In standard possible worlds semantics, the semantic value of an expression is an 'intension', a function that assigns an extension to the expression 'at' every possible world. ...It keeps track of the 'modal profiles' of objects, kinds and properties.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.1)
     A reaction: Personally I just don't buy a semantics which is entirely based on extensions, even if this has sorted out some more obvious problems of extensionality. When I say someone is 'my hero', I don't just mean to pick out a particular person.
1.1.1 p.4 Possible worlds make 'I' and that person's name synonymous, but they have different meanings
     Full Idea: In standard possible worlds semantics the semantic value of Hllary Clinton's utterance of 'I' will be the same as her utterance of 'Hillary Clinton'. But clearly the English word 'I' is not synonymous with the name 'Hillary Clinton'.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.1)
     A reaction: This problem was spotted by Kaplan, and it has been a chief motivator for the creation of two-dimensional semantics, which some people have then extended into a complete semantic theory. No purely extensional semantics can be right.
1.1.2 p.5 Array worlds along the horizontal, and contexts (world,person,time) along the vertical
     Full Idea: In a two-dimensional matrix we array possible circumstances of evaluation (worlds) along the horizontal axis, and possible contexts of utterance (world, person, time) along the vertical axis.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.1.2)
     A reaction: This is due to Stalnaker 1978, and is clearest in operation when applied to an indexical such as 'I' in 'I am President'. 'I' is a rigid designator, but depends on context. The grid is filled in with T or F for each utterance in each world.
1.2.1 p.9 If we introduce 'actually' into modal talk, we need possible worlds twice to express this
     Full Idea: At first glance necessity and possibility can be fully expressed by quantifying over all possible worlds, but this cannot capture 'Possibly everything actually red is also shiny'. This needs a double-indexed framework, with worlds playing two roles.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.2.1)
     A reaction: She points out that this also applies to tense logic, for the notion of 'now'. The point is that we not only need a set of possible worlds, but we also need a procedure (the 'Actuality' operator A or @) for picking out one of the worlds as special.
1.2.2 p.11 Superficial necessity is true in all worlds; deep necessity is thus true, no matter which world is actual
     Full Idea: If we have a 'fixedly' operator F, then a sentence is fixedly actually true if it is true no matter which world is designated as actual (which 'he actually won in 2008' fails to be). Maybe '□' is superficial necessity, and FA is 'deep' necessity.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 1.2.2)
     A reaction: Gareth Evans distinguishes 'deep' from 'superficial' necessity. Humberstone and others introduced 'F'. Presumably FA is deeper because it has to pass a tougher test.
2.1 p.12 2D semantics gives us apriori knowledge of our own meanings
     Full Idea: Generalized 2D semantics is meant to vindicate the traditional idea that we have apriori access to our own meanings through armchair reflection.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.1)
     A reaction: The idea is to split meaning in two, so that we know one part of it a priori. It is an unfashionably internalist view of meaning (which doesn't make it wrong!).
2.1 p.13 Do we know apriori how we refer to names and natural kinds, but their modal profiles only a posteriori?
     Full Idea: Perhaps our best way of understanding names and natural kind terms is that we have apriori access to currently associated reference-fixing criterion, but only a posteriori access to the associated modal profile.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.1)
     A reaction: This is the 'generalized' view of 2D semantics (covering everything, not just modals and indexicals). I know apriori what something is, but only study will reveal its possibilities. The actual world is easy to talk about, but possible worlds are harder.
2.2.3 p.18 Your view of water depends on whether you start from the actual Earth or its counterfactual Twin
     Full Idea: Your verdicts about whether the stuff on Twin Earth counts as water depends on whether you think of Twin Earth as a hypothesis about your actual environment or as a purely counterfactual possibility.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.2.3)
     A reaction: This is the 'two-dimensional semantics' approach to the Twin Earth problem, which splits meaning into two components. Whether you start from the actual world or from Twin Earth, you will rigidly designate the local wet stuff as 'water'.
2.3.1 p.22 Rationalists say knowing an expression is identifying its extension using an internal cognitive state
     Full Idea: In rationalist views of meaning, based on the 'golden triangle', to be competent with an expression is to be in an internal cognitive state that puts one in a position to identify its extension in any possible world based only on apriori reflection.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.3.1)
     A reaction: This looks like a proper fight-back against modern rampant externalism about meaning. All my intuitions are with internalism, which I think points to a more coherent overall philosophy. Well done, David Chalmers! Even if he is wrong.
2.3.1 p.22 Possible worlds semantics implies a constitutive connection between meanings and modal claims
     Full Idea: In standard possible world semantics an expression's intension reflects the modal profile of an object, kind or property, which would establish an important constitutive connection between meanings and modal claims.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.3.1)
     A reaction: The central question becomes 'do you need to know a thing's modal profile in order to have a decent understanding of it?', but if you express it that way (my way), then what counts as 'decent' will be relative to all sorts of things.
2.3.4 p.29 Contradictory claims about a necessary god both seem apriori coherent
     Full Idea: It seems apriori coherent that there could be a necessarily existing god, and that there could be no such god - but they can't both be true. Other examples include unprovable mathematical necessities
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.3.4)
2.3.4 p.31 2D fans defend it for conceptual analysis, for meaning, and for internalist reference
     Full Idea: Supporters of generalized two-dimensional semantics agree to defend apriori conceptual analysis in metaphysics, and that 2D captures meaning and not just belief-patterns, and it gives a broadly internalist approach to reference determination.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.3.4)
     A reaction: I'm not sure I can evaluate this, but I sort of like conceptual analysis, and the concept of meaning, and fairly internalist views of reference, so I am ripe for the picking.
2.4.2 p.34 2D semantics can't respond to contingent apriori claims, since there is no single proposition involved
     Full Idea: It is objected to 2D semantics that it cannot explain Kripke's cases of contingent apriori truths, for there is no single proposition (construed as a set of possible worlds) that is both apriori and contingent.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.4.2)
     A reaction: This sounds like a rather large objection to the whole 2D plan, if it implies that when we say something there is no single proposition that is being expressed.
2.4.3 p.35 Internalist meaning is about understanding; externalist meaning is about embedding in a situation
     Full Idea: Internalists take the notion of meaning to capture an aspect of an individual's current state of understanding, while externalists take the notion of meaning to reflect how an individual is embedded within her social and physical environment.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 2.4.3)
     A reaction: This idea also occurs in discussions of concepts (filed here under 'Thought').
3.3 p.40 In the possible worlds account all necessary truths are same (because they all map to the True)
     Full Idea: A problem for a standard possible worlds analysis is that all necessary truths have precisely the same content (the function mapping every world to the True). Hesperus=Phosphorus has the same content as Hesperus=Hesperus-and-2+2=4.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 3.3)
     A reaction: If this is supposed to be a theory of meaning then it has gone very badly wrong indeed. Has modern semantics taken a wrong turning somewhere? Two-dimensionalism is meant to address some of these problems.
3.4 p.42 Semantic theory assigns meanings to expressions, and metasemantics explains how this works
     Full Idea: A semantic theory assigns semantic values (meanings) to particular expressions of the language. In contrast, a metasemantic theory explains why expressions have those semantic values, appealing to facts about speakers and communities.
     From: Laura Schroeter (Two-Dimensional Semantics [2010], 3.4)
     A reaction: Presumably some people only want the metasemantic version. I assume that the two are entangled, but I would vote for both.