UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Graduate Seminar Series on Pragmatics - Emma Borg

13 November 2019, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Graduate Seminar Series on Pragmatics image

Chandler House room G15

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students




Robyn Carston and Nausicaa Pouscoulous


Room G15
Chandler House
Wakefield Street

Truth, Meaning and Polysemy
Abstract: There is a long tradition in philosophy of assuming a connection between linguistic meaning and truth: words are held to refer to or to describe things in the world, sentences are held to be bearers of truth-conditions or to express propositions which are true just in case the world is as represented. This intuitive philosophical leaning is well-captured in Lewis’ famous slogan that “semantics with no treatment of truth-conditions is not semantics”. But is this move to connect linguistic meaning and truth just an ungrounded prejudice? Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in internalist approaches to content (most obviously in work by Noam Chomsky and Paul Pietroski), where the explanatory work of meaning is exhausted by capturing certain language-internal features (such as compositionality and entailment), rather than forging word-world relations. On this model, questions of truth are orthogonal to issues of meaning.
In this talk, I ask what is involved in adopting a truth-conditional approach to linguistic meaning, and investigate the arguments both for and against such an approach. In particular, I explore the extent to which polysemy poses a problem for a truth-conditional approach and critically assess the extent to which internalism provides a better answer.


About the Speaker

Emma Borg

at University of Reading

More about Emma Borg