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Leverhulme Lectures 2019

The Department of Philosophy at University College London is delighted to announce the first edition of the Leverhulme Lectures. They will be given by Professor Angelika Kratzer (Visiting Leverhulme Professor at UCL Philosophy and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) on the theme of: Truthmakers for What We Say

The schedule for the lectures is as follows:

Thursday 25 April 2019, 4-6pm.
Friday 17 May 2019, 4-6pm.
Thursday 6 June 2019, 4-6pm.
The lectures will take place in term 3 on UCL campus, at Chandler House G10. Reception will follow. 

Everyone is welcome!


Abstract:

Any semantic theory worth its money needs to connect (1) to (4):

 

  1. A tile from my neighbor’s roof hit my car.
  2. That tile’s hitting my car made a big dent.  
  3. I heard a tile from my neighbor’s roof hit my car.
  4. Every time a tile from my neighbor’s roof hits my car, her insurance pays me £100.

 

Here is one way of making the connection. My saying (1) picks out a set of possible situations, parts of a world, that is. Among those are situations that are small enough to contain nothing that does not contribute to the truth of (1). Those situations may cause dents, may be heard, and may be quantified over. They are truthmakers for (1).

 

The lectures will make a case that it pays to connect (1) to (4) in this way. It may help with understanding counterfactual reasoning, knowledge ascriptions, and the semantics of tense and modality. It may help with explaining mistakes we make with conditionals and quantifiers, and it may help with explaining our preference for exhaustive interpretations.  


Professor Angelika Kratzer’s area of specialisation is Semantics, an interdisciplinary field located at the intersection of Linguistics, Cognitive Psychology, Logic and Philosophy. As a semanticist, she is interested in how natural languages construct complex meanings from small and simple pieces. This process involves intricate interactions between several cognitive components that semanticists are probing into using theoretical modeling to generate predictions, and cross-linguistic investigations to establish parameters of variation.

For many years now, Angelika Kratzer has been investigating modal meanings, that is, the way natural languages organise talk about mere possibilities: what might have been, could be, or should be. Notions of what is possible, inevitable, likely or desirable are fundamentally the same and highly systematic across diverse languages and disciplines, and this is why this area of research has attracted the attention of mathematicians, logicians, psychologists, legal scholars and philosophers. 

Angelika Kratzer received her PhD from the University of Konstanz (Germany). She is Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a fellow of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Thanks to a grant provided by the Leverhulme Trust, this year Angelika Kratzer is a visiting professor at UCL philosophy department, where she does collaborative research on the foundations of modal meanings, and continues her ongoing work on attitude ascriptions, sentential complementation, and embedded moods. 

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