Meaning and Truth: Essential Readings in Modern Semantics

Meaning and Truth: Essential Readings in Modern Semantics

Meaning and Truth: Essential Readings in Modern Semantics

Meaning and Truth: Essential Readings in Modern Semantics

Synopsis

Contemporary semantic theory rests upon lively theoretical disputes about the meaning of words, the proper form of semantic theory, and, ultimately, on the very possibility of semantic theory itself. Jay L. Garfield and Murray Kiteley have collected, in Meaning and Truth, the definitive articles on the history of semantics and the primary voices debating the interpretation of description, the theory of truth intensionality, the structure of meaning, natural language, and the relation of semantics to pragmatics. The details, complexities, and charming eccentricities of language thus become visible against a background of abstract theory. Undergraduate and graduate students of semantics, linguistics, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of language will now be able to encounter all of the important theoretical debates of modern semantics in a single volume. Selections begin with the classic essay by Mill, "Of Names and Propositions," include such standards as "General Semantics" by Lewis and "Actualism" by Plantinga, and conclude with a chapter on "Linguistic Approaches to Semantics.">

Excerpt

This volume is intended as a companion to Ken Taylor Introduction to Modern Semantics, also in the Paragon Issues in Philosophy Series. The essays collected herein present alternative and sometimes conflicting positions on issues raised in that text. It is hoped that when these texts are used in tandem students will receive both a general introduction to a set of questions and problems and a taste of the primary literature and recent debate they occasion. While many of these essays are somewhat challenging, all are accessible to intermediate or advanced undergraudate students of philosophy, linguistics, or cognitive science. It would be folly to pretend that every major topic in contemporary semantic theory is represented, or that every significant position taken on the topics addressed is presented. We have tried as much as possible to avoid duplicating any of the many excellent anthologies on the philosophy of language now available, and to present a selection of readings that recognizes the interdisciplinary character of semantics, and in particular to represent what might be called the more "linguistic" side of that enterprise to a greater degree than it is represented in other anthologies. The selection of essays was determined in part by the availability of primary material accessible to students using that text, and, unfortunately, in part by the reasonableness of publishers in setting fees for permission to reprint scholarly articles. This last problem deserves some comment: In producing an anthology for textbook use, it is obviously essential to keep costs down, so that the resulting volume will be affordable to students. While many publishers recognize this, and charge modest fees, or no fees at all, for permission, and while some others willingly modify their price structure in recognition of this problem, others ask such exorbitant fees that it is for all practical purposes impossible to reprint material originally published by them, even despite the requests of authors for abatement of fees. This, in our view, is a serious impediment to the dissemination of scholarly work, and to its use in the classroom. We urge all scholars before publishing articles, chapters, or books to pay close attention to the policies regarding the reprinting of their work . . .

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