Fine-grained semantics for attitude reports

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Harvey Lederman


I observe that the “concept-generator” theory of Percus and Sauerland (2003) , Anand (2006), and Charlow and Sharvit (2014) does not predict an intuitive true interpretation of the sentence “Plato did not believe that Hesperus was Phosphorus”. In response, I present a simple theory of attitude reports which employs a fine-grained semantics for names, according to which names which intuitively name the same thing may have distinct compositional semantic values. This simple theory solves the problem with the concept-generator theory, but, as I go on to show, it has problems of its own. I present three examples which the concept-generator theory can accommodate, but the simple fine-grained theory cannot. These examples motivate the full theory of the paper, which combines the basic ideas behind the concept-generator theory with a fine-grained semantics for names. The examples themselves are of interest independently of my theory: two of them constrain the original concept-generator theory more tightly than previously discussed examples had.

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