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Joint Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind & Logic and Philosophy of Science Research Interest Groups Talk (Justin Bledin, Johns Hopkins)

Friday May 12, 2023, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind Research Group and the Logic and Philosophy of Science Research Group welcome as guest speaker Justin Bledin, an associate professor of Philosophy at John Hopkins University. His core research develops an informational view of logic and deductive inquiry. He also serves as the director of graduate studies in the Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins.

Talk Title

Negative Individuals in a Semantics of Menus

Talk Abstract

I explore a nonstandard perspective on the logical foundations of English that shifts the focus from the truth value to what I will call the “menu.” On this view, speakers demonstrate their logical competence by building or constructing alternative sets, or menus, of different items throughout the grammar—determiner phrases signify menus of entities, while verb phrases signify menus of states, and so forth. The logical connectives are ‘menu constructors’: conjunction is a collective operator for putting combinations of items on a menu, disjunction contributes nondeterminism or choice between items on a menu, while negation renders items ‘off menu’ by introducing negative individuals or states. The inclusion of negative individuals in my semantic theory allows for a non-Montagovian alternative to generalized quantifier theory on which determiner phrases are interpreted uniformly in a lower type as menus of entities rather than in a higher-order type as generalized quantifiers or property sets. The primary linguistic application of the theory pertains to the debate between the collective “non-Boolean” theory of conjunction based on plurality formation versus the traditional intersective “Boolean” theory based on logical conjunction. I demonstrate how a collective conjunction can be integrated with my semantics for negation to yield appropriate truthmaking conditions for sentences that involve coordinations with non-upward entailing determiner phrases, which have previously been considered one of the toughest challenges for the collective theory. 




Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada


Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Mind Group
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