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.

Author Item Summary Meta data
Situation semantics/Barwise/Perry/Hintikka: situation semantics is not so far away from the semantics of possible worlds.
Possible worlds/Hintikka: possible worlds are often more like situations, they are not always closed worlds. They are rather event progresses in a small corner of the universe and related to situations.
Difference: alternative situations could occur in one and the same world.
Situation semantics/Hintikka: situation semantics is not a serious rival of the semantics of possible worlds.
I 206
Situation semantics/Barwise/Perry/B/P/Hintikka: their situation semantics is a welcome addition to the semantics of possible worlds.
Situation/Hintikka: an interesting question is how small egocentric situations can be put together to form a larger comprehensive "world view".
Relations: There should be at least three types of relations between situations:
1. spatial
2. temporal
3. the distinction between fine-grained and coarse-grained situations.
It is best to study these separately.
I 207
Situation semantics/Barwise/Perry/Omniscience/Hintikka: how can situation semantics solve the problem of logical omniscience?
Barwise/Perry: give the following example:
(1) a sees how b X-t
(2) a sees how b Y-t
If X-en implies logically, to Y-en. ((s) e.g. to go, to move).
Solution/Barwise/Perry: they assume that there are richer and poorer situations and relations between them.
HintikkaVsBarwise/HintikkaVsSituation semantics/Hintikka: but this is not a triumph over the semantics of possible worlds, for two reasons:
1. because it is now about the relation fine/coarse (fine-grained/coarse-grained), it is nothing with which the semantics of possible worlds has to do.
2. The semantics of possible worlds has solved the problem by Rantala's urn models (changing worlds depending on whether drawn balls are returned or not).
Barwise/Perry: they consider only instances of omniscience, which arise through the introduction of new descriptive terms into the conclusion,...
I 208
...and go beyond what is mentioned in the premises.
Hintikka/Rantala: we have both looked at cases which require the introduction of new individuals in order to ensure the validity of the inference.
(3) Robert saw someone giving each boy his own book.
(4) Robert saw every boy how a book was given him by someone.
Question: entails (3) logically (4)?
Situation semantics/Barwise/Perry: according to situation semantics, yes it does.
Semantics of possible worlds/Hintikka: according to semantics of possible worlds it is at least questionable.

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.

Hin I
Jaakko Hintikka
Merrill B. Hintikka
The Logic of Epistemology and the Epistemology of Logic Dordrecht 1989

J. Hintikka/M. B. Hintikka
Untersuchungen zu Wittgenstein Frankfurt 1996

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-22