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Outlook-based Semantics

Elizabeth Coppock
University of Gothenburg
January 13, 2017 - 3:30pm
Margaret Jacks Hall, Greenberg Room (460-126)
This talk presents and advocates an approach to the semantics of opinion statements, including matters of personal taste and moral claims. In this framework, possible worlds are not complemented by judges (as in ‘world-judge relativism’) but rather replaced by outlooks: ‘outlook-based semantics’. Outlooks are refinements of worlds that settle not only matters of fact but also matters of opinion. Several virtues of the framework and advantages over existing implementations of world-judge relativism are demonstrated. First, several authors have argued that world-judge relativism does not actually explain the ‘disagreement’ of ‘faultless disagreement’, while a straightforward explanation suggests itself in outlook-based semantics. Second, outlook-based semantics gives a satisfactory account of subjective attitude verbs which allows for lack of opinionatedness. Third, outlook-based semantics unproblematically explains the connection-building role of aesthetic discourse and the group-relevance of discretionary assertions, while capturing the same effects in world-judge relativism obviates the purpose of the judge parameter. Finally, because the proposed circumstances of evaluation (outlooks) are entirely analogous to possible worlds, the framework is easy to use and extend. 
Event Type: 
Linguistics Colloquium