Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Situation Semantics, philosophy: situation semantics comprises a theory that assumes that the meaning of sentences is defined by the set of possible situations in which they are true. In concrete situations there is thus already a predefined meaning of the linguistic means used from the history of the use. The discussion about this theory focusses, among other things, on the distinction between situations and worlds. See also possible world semantics, situations, attitude semantics, centered worlds, context/context dependency, propositions, propositional attitudes, fine grained/coarse grained, internalism, externalism.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Books on Amazon:
Jon Barwise

Cresswell II 169
Situation semantics/Barwise/Perry/Cresswell: (Barwise/Perry, 1983): here it is explicitly denied that logically equivalent sentences in contexts with propositional attitudes are interchangeable. (1983, 175, 1981b, 676f) - e.g. double negation in the attribution of propositional attitudes. - Solution: partial character of situations. - Not everything has to be given - or the speaker may have to suspend judgment. ("do not ...") - Definition sentence meaning/Barwise/Perry: a relation between situations.
Cresswell I 63
Situation SemanticsVsPossible World Semantics/knowledge/meaning/Barwise/Perry/BarweiseVsCresswell/ PerryVsCresswell/Cresswell: the possible worlds are too big to explain what the speaker knows when he/she utters a meaningful sentence.
Possible worlds: are complete possible situations.
Situation semantics: we need a more partial type of entity. ((s) partial, nothing complete).
CresswellVsSituation Semantics: (Cresswell 1985a, 168 ff, 1985b, Chapter 7)
Solution/Cresswell: Thesis: The situations only have to be partial in the sense that they are small worlds.
Definition Abstract Situation/Barwise/Perry: (1983,57 ff): are theoretical constructs used for an adequate semantic modeling of reality consisting of real situations.
Cresswell: I ignore this distinction here. The semantics of possible worlds is better here, even if one differentiates between reality and theoretical representation.
What we need to compare are abstract situations and worlds.
I 64
Setting-SemanticsVsPossible World Semantics/BarwiseVsCresswell: there are often two proposition, one of which is believed by the person, but the other is not, but both are still true in the same worlds - for example, all logical and mathematical truths - but they are not all known, otherwise there could be no progress.
I 65
CresswellVs: the situations should play roles that cannot be played at the same time - solution: -Semantics of possible worlds: the roles are played by entities of different kinds.
Solution: Context with space-time specification - incorrect sentences: describes non-actual situations.
I 66
Sentences describe situations in a context - context is itself a situation that provides the listener with time, place, etc. - Interpretation/Barwise: Meaning of sentences in a context.
Meaning/CresswellVsSituation Semantics/CresswellVsBarwise/CresswellVsPerry: Meaning: = set of worlds in which they are true.
Problem: Meanings are often equated with proposition, and then there are problems in playing roles that they cannot play at the same time.
I 67
On the other hand, some of the other things that Barwise and Perry ask for from situations behave like worlds!
For example: Mollie barks
e*: = in I, Mollie, yes.
That describes a situation e iff e* < e. ((s) Subset of situations where Mollie barks otherwise? Or where Mollie exists and someone barks?).
Definition Generation property/terminology/Cresswell: (generation property): sentences that describe a situation have a situation property ((s) that is part of a set of situations). A sentence ? has the generation property in terms of a context u, iff there is a situation e*, so that
u[[φ]] e iff e* < e.
((s) If there is a sentence that is more general than the sentence "Mollie barks in the space-time situation I" Or: Generation property is the property that embeds the sentence in the context, because proposition as sets of worlds must not be limited to a single situation.
The sentence φ has the generation property (simpliciter) iff it has it in every context.
Atomic sentence/BP: Thesis: all atomic sentences have the generation property.
Cresswell: if situations are to be understood as proposition, all sentences should have the generation property. And that is because the generating situation e* can be understood as the proposition expressed by the sentence ? in context u.
In fact, we do not need the other situations at all! We can say that e* is the only situation described by ? in u. But that doesn't matter, because each e* determines the only class of e's, so e* < e, and each class generated by an e* determines that e* uniquely.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Barw I
J. Barwise
Situations and Attitudes Chicago 1999

Cr I
M. J. Cresswell
Semantical Essays (Possible worlds and their rivals) Dordrecht Boston 1988

M. J. Cresswell
Structured Meanings Cambridge Mass. 1984

Cr I
M. J. Cresswell
Semantical Essays (Possible worlds and their rivals) Dordrecht Boston 1988

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-04-21