Chapter

The Problem of Semantic Defects in Natural Languages

Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig

in Donald Davidson

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251346
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602634 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199251347.003.0010
 The Problem of Semantic Defects in Natural Languages

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Responds to objections to providing a truth theory for a natural language, namely, that natural languages are ambiguous, that they do not have a well-defined syntax, that they give rise to semantical paradoxes which will infect any truth theory that adheres to Contention T, and that the presence of vague terms in natural languages will result in a truth theory with truth value gaps. Argues that ambiguity and the lack of a well-defined syntax are not serious obstacles to providing an illuminating compositional meaning theory by the vehicle of a truth theory for much of natural language, and that the explicit statement of the meaning theory provided in Ch. 9 shows that neither the semantic paradoxes nor vagueness are a threat to the meaning theory, as opposed to the truth theory.

Keywords: ambiguity; semantical paradoxes; vagueness; well-defined syntax

Chapter.  8343 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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