Hans Kamp est invité par l’assemblée du Collège de France sur proposition du Pr François Recanati.
Conférences en anglais.
Much that we want to say to others, or express for the clarification of our own minds, is better said in several sentences than in a single one. There is too much we want to say that can be comfortably expressed in a single sentence; such a sentence would be far too long to be readily understood and often also too long even for us to produce without losing track of its grammar. Our languages are well-equipped for such multi-sentence communications of complex thoughts, with rules for how what is contributed by the next sentence must be integrated into the content obtained from the preceding sentences. Here is one illustration:
(1) Fred has bought his daughter a donkey. She doesn’t like it much.
The two sentences of (1) are related in more ways than one. Among these are the connections established by the pronouns she and it with their antecedents his daughter and a donkey. Because of these connections, the two sentences together express the single proposition that there is a donkey that Fred has bought for his daughter and that his daughter doesn’t much like. One important task for the linguist is to understand how sentence-connecting devices like pronouns work. The framework of DRT (“Discourse Representation Theory”, Kamp (1981,a,b)) was set up to study such devices.
It isn’t always possible to analyze referential dependency connections between sentences like those in (1) in terms of single propositions the two sentences jointly express. For example, (2)
(2) Fred has decided to buy his daughter a donkey. He hopes she will like it.
describes Fred as having made a certain decision and as entertaining a certain hope. The content of the hope depends on the content of the decision in the same way that the 2nd sentence of (1) depends on its 1st sentence. But here it won’t do to analyze the connection between the two contents simply in terms of a single proposition; Fred’s hope plays a different role in his mental state than his decision; so a correct analysis of what the roles are that the hope and the decision play in his mental life has to keep their contents separate. DRT is not suited for dealing with this adequately, but an extension of it, MSDRT (“Mental State Discourse Representation Theory”, Kamp (2021,2022)), has been developed for this very purpose. MSDRT will be the framework presented and applied in these lectures.
One of the central tools of MSDRT is Entity Representations (ERs) closely related to the file cards of Heim (1982) and the mental files of Recanati (2012,2016), among others. ERs can be used not only to deal with referential dependencies like those in (2), but also with many other problems and puzzles about reference in language and mind, among them names occurring in fiction, inadvertently empty names like that for the non-existing planet name Vulcan, multiple names for the same object (e.g. Hesperus and Phosphorus for the planet Venus) and others. These problems and puzzles will accompany us throughout the lectures and especially during the final two.
Both the conception behind MSDRT and its concrete applications are that there are three dimensions to reference: (i) The objective dimension: the noun phrase N has the referent d, as an objective fact about the language to which N belongs; (ii) the psychological dimension: the representations that individual agents have of d; (iii) the intersubjective dimension: how the representation that individual agents have of d are connected with each other through communication.
These three dimensions are just as important in relation to other aspects of thought and language. But for the case of reference the issues are better understood at the current time; and it is on them that we will focus.
The four lectures:
(1) Discourse Representation Theory: Principles of Multi-Sentence Interpretation and Implications for Mental Representations of Processed ContentDiscourse Representation Theory: Principles of multi-sentence interpretation and implications for mental representations of processed content.
(2) MSDRT: a Semantics for Attributions of Multiple Attitudes with Referential Dependencies: Format, Logical Form Construction, Model Theory .
(3) MSDRT as the Foundation of a General Communication-Theoretic Approach to Natural Language Semantics. An Account of the Use and Meaning of Referring and Non-referring Proper Names and Other Noun Phrasesas the foundation of a general communication-theoretic approach to natural language semantics. An account of the use and meaning of referring and non-referring proper names and other noun phrases.
(4) MSDRT and the Semantics of Fiction. More Philosophical Puzzles about Fictional and Other Empty and Non-empty Namesnd the semantics of fiction. More philosophical Puzzles about fictional and other empty and non-empty names.