[MaFLa] invitation to a talk on "Functional Role Semantics and the Meaning of Logical Expressions"by Josep Macia - 5 March, 5.30 PM

Krisztina Biber biberk at ceu.hu
Wed Feb 27 08:09:00 CET 2013

The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk 
(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)
Josep Macia (Barcelona) 
"Functional Role Semantics and the Meaning of Logical Expressions"
Tuesday, 5 March, 2013, 5.30 PM, Zrinyi 14, Room 412
Functional role semantics (FRS) can be viewed as a semantic theory that claims that the meaning of an expression is certain role, or it can be viewed as a metaphysical theory that claims that what makes it the case that a certain expression has the meaning it has is that the expression has such-and-such kind of role.
Viewed in this second way FRS would provide an answer to the question "what makes it the case that symbols in a language mean what they mean?" even for the case where the language in question is the language of thought (in the case of the language of thought it is not open to us to give an account of meaning along Gricean lines since the Gricean account makes recourse to the content of speakers' intentions). 
What is the functional role of an expression? 
There are different possible answers to this question. One particularly clear and precise way of explaining what functional role is is to claim that it is logical inferential role. 
There are some serious and well known difficulties for FRS. Still, it is usually assumed (e.g., Fodor& Lepore, Holism: A shopper's guide) that even if FRS might not be able to provide a general explanation of what endows sentences or mental states with meaning, it can successfully account for what determines the meaning of logical expressions. 
In this paper we will show that there are serious difficulties for FRS even in the case of logical expressions. FRS has serious difficulties even for what is taken to be its "best case".

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