May 27-28, 2022
University of Warsaw
Dobra 55, room 1.007
[poster by Palina Yaroshyk]
Perspectival plurality is the phenomenon whereby a sentence containing two or more "perspectival expressions" (predicates of taste, epistemic modals, aesthetic adjectives, moral terms, epistemic vocabulary etc.) requires access to two or more perspectives for its semantic interpretation (example: "We took the kids to a resort in Italy this summer. The wine was delicious and the water slide was great fun." (Kneer 2015)). This phenomenon has been taken to raise problems both for contextualism (Lasersohn 2009) and for relativism (Kneer, Vicente and Zeman 2017) about such expressions. However, neither the range of the phenomenon nor its various manifestations have been extensively studied. This workshop purports to contribute towards that aim. In the same connection, questions about how treatment of the phenomenon in relation to speech and attitude reports will be tackled, as well as about "the acquaintance principle" (the idea that one can use perspectival expressions felicitously only after having certain experiences of the relevant objects).
Among the main questions tackled by the presentations at the workshop are the following:
- How robust and widespread is perspectival plurality?
- What are the best accounts of it?
- What problems does perspectival plurality raise to extant semantic accounts of perspectival expressions?
- What is the best account of speech and attitudes reports that can be extended to cover this phenomenon?
- What is the status of "the acquaintance principle"? Etc.
The workshop is part of the project Semantic Relativism about Perspectival Expressions: A Reassessment and Defense
(OPUS 17 project no. 2019/33/B/HS1/01269) and is organized by Dan Zeman, with the precious help of Palina Yaroshyk, Maciej Jarzębski, Bartek Chudy, Daniel Grzelak, and the support of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. The workshop will be in hybrid form. Please write to danczeman[at]gmail.com if you want to participate.
(All times are in CEST)
FRIDAY, MAY 27
10.00-11.15: Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary University of London), "Impersonal Pronouns and the Acquaintance Inference"
11.30-12.45: Julia Zakkou (Bielefeld University) & Alexander Dinges (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), "Acquaintance Entailments"
14.30-15.45: Markus Kneer (University of Zurich), "Perspectival Plurality for Predicates of Personal Taste and Epistemic Modals"
15.45-17.00: Elsi Kaiser (University of Southern California), "On the Relation between Perspective-sensitive Anaphors and Predicates of Personal Taste: Implications for Perspectival Plurality" [ONLINE]
17.15-18.30: David Rey (University of Valle), "Against the Argument from Expressive Power" [ONLINE]
SATURDAY, MAY 28
11.30-12.45: Lixiao Lin (University of St Andrews): "Knowledge-why Norm and the Acquaintance Inference"
14.30-15.45: Dan Zeman (University of Warsaw), "Perspective-Shifting in Relativist Semantics"
15.45-16.30: Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska (University of Warsaw), "Perspectival Contradictions?" [ONLINE]
16.45-18.00: Justina Berškytė (University of Manchester), "Perspectival Plurality, Expressive-Relativism and Expressive Terms"
Justina Berškytė (University of Manchester): "Perspectival Plurality, Expressive-Relativism and Expressive Terms"
In this paper, I explore whether perspectival plurality is present among expressive terms. I argue that although the intuitions are not as strong as with other linguistic phenomena (e.g. predicates of personal taste) we have good reason to attribute cases of perspectival plurality to expressive terms. I then go on to consider whether a multiple indexing approach to perspectival plurality presented by Zeman (2019) can be applied to expressive terms whilst adopting Expressive-Relativism.
Elsi Kaiser (University of Southern California): "On the relation between perspective-sensitive anaphors and predicates of personal taste: Implications for perspectival plurality"
Many kinds of linguistic expressions are perspective-sensitive, including predicates of personal taste and certain anaphoric forms (often called logophors). I will present a series of experiments in English and Korean that systematically explore two kinds of perspective-sensitive phenomena – (i) reference resolution of picture-NP anaphors (e.g. picture of herself) and (ii) attitude-holder identification of PPTs (e.g. funny, scary) – to see whether there is a relation between the antecedent of the pronoun or reflexive and the attitude-holder of the PPT. This work builds on and evaluates prior claims of perspectival uniformity involving reflexives and subjective expressions. Our findings for English as well as Korean indicate that the relationship between picture-NP anaphors and PPTs is not subject to a categorical principle requiring all perspectival elements to be anchored to the same perspectival center. In particular, the experiments indicate that interpretation of picture-NP anaphors and identification of the attitude-holders of PPTs are not yoked together, although they may show some overlap in contexts where the constraints guiding these processes happen to partially converge. Thus, these results challenge uniform perspective-shifting accounts. Further implications of our findings for perspectival plurality and crosslinguistic variation will be discussed.
Markus Kneer (University of Zurich): "Perspectival Plurality for Predicates of Personal Taste and Epistemic Modals"
Perspectival plurality is the phenomenon according to which certain claims containing multiple predicates of taste can be sensitive to various contextually salient perspectives. For instance, if a father reports on a family holiday in Italy by saying ‘The wine was delicious and the water slide a lot of fun’, the predicate ‘delicious’ – in suitable contexts – must be relativized to the father and ‘fun’ to the kids. I'll argues that perspectival plurality raises serious problems for nonindexicalist semantics of perspectival expressions. Plurality blocks any attempt to justify parameter proliferation by aid of Kaplanian operator arguments, and it frustrates reasonable nonindexicalist strategies to account for syntactic binding. Both arguments must be taken seriously: I will present empirical data which demonstrates with examples invoking predicates of personal taste and epistemic modals that perspectival plurality is a genuine feature of ordinary linguistic discourse.
Lixiao Lin (University of St Andrews): "Knowledge-why Norm and the Acquaintance Inference"
This talk argues that aesthetic assertions — assertions that involve a predicate of personal taste or a properly aesthetic adjective — are governed by a special epistemic norm (“the knowledge-why norm"), according to which a plain aesthetic sentence S is assertable at c, only if you know the aesthetic reason why S is true at c. The main motivation for this view is that it accounts for different data surrounding the acquaintance inference — the inference that the asserter of a plain aesthetic sentence normally communicates that s/he has had the relevant first-hand experience of the object(s) under evaluation. A discussion of how this view compares with other proposals on the market is provided.
Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska (University of Warsaw): "Perspectival Contradictions?"
In my talk I’ll focus on apparent contradictions like “The rollercoaster was fun and not fun”, “The wine was delicious and disgusting”, “John is tall and not tall”. Zeman (2019) suggests that utterances containing several perspectival expressions should be evaluated with respect to multiple perspective parameters. The main problem I see with the multiple indexing view is that it works too well: namely, it makes all contradictions featuring perspectival expressions disappear. Moreover, when we hear “The rollercoaster was fun and not fun” and we look for a charitable interpretation on which it is not a flat contradiction, we would interpret the two occurrences of “fun” differently, but we would understand them as having different senses, rather than as being uttered from different perspectives. As far as contradictions involving unidimensional predicates are concerned, Égré and Zehr (2018) proved experimentally that people are quite willing to accept contradictions like “John is tall and not tall” and “John is neither tall nor not tall”, when John is a borderline case. Their explanation of this fact is attractive, but it is not clear to me how to square it with faultless disagreement. An alternative solution would be to try to appeal to multiple indices. However, while multiple indices might help explain why people accept contradictory conjunctions and they easily explain the faultlessness of disagreements concerning borderline cases, they won’t help with negative disjunctions.
Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary University of London): "Impersonal Pronouns and the Acquaintance Inference"
According to one view on predicates of personal taste, they take as their covert Experiencer argument an impersonal pronoun whose meaning is akin to that of generic one (Moltmann 2010, 2012; Pearson 2013). In this talk, I will provide a further argument for this claim: certain generic sentences with impersonal subjects give rise to inferences of first-person experience that pattern with the well-known ‘acquaintance inference’ for PPTs. This inference arises when the impersonal pronoun combines with an experiential predicate such as feel – that is, when it is an Experiencer. Time permitting, I will examine these findings in light of evidence that certain PPTs (ie stage-level ones) can take covert referential and bound variable Experiencer arguments as well as impersonal ones (cf. Pearson 2022).
David Rey (University of Valle): "Against the Argument from Expressive Power"
A semantic theory for a natural language can posit temporalist propositions that have different truth-values at different times or it can posit eternalist propositions whose truth-values are constant across times. Typically, the temporalist approach is implemented using an operator-based formal framework, whereas the eternalist approach is implemented using variables and quantifiers. Something similar occurs in the domain of modality. A semantic theory can posit contingentist propositions which have different truth-values at different worlds and which are customarily formalized with the aid of intensional operators. Alternatively, the theory can posit necessitarian propositions with constant truth-values across worlds and it is usually assumed that their proper formalization requires a variable-based machinery. Schaffer (2012, 2021)
has recently argued that certain facts about the expressive power of multiply-indexed intensional languages provide a compelling argument for Eternalism—the view that natural-language propositions are eternalist—, Necessitarianism—the view that natural-language propositions are necessitarian—and, more generally, for the adoption of explicit semantics—the formalism which relies on explicit variables and quantifiers—in the study of natural languages. In my talk I will criticize this argument and I will argue that, contrary to what Schaffer suggests, the behaviour of temporal expressions and modals seem to speak for an intensional analysis consistent with the postulation of temporalist and contingentist contents.
Julia Zakkou (Bielefeld University) & Alexander Dinges (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) : "Acquaintance Entailments"
Many agree that you cannot properly assert "The cake tastes good to me" unless you have tried it. In a recent paper, we argue that this acquaintance requirement is best thought of as an entailment of the sentence "The cake tastes good to me". In this talk, we present this view in detail and defend it against recent criticism.
Dan Zeman (University of Warsaw): "Perspective-Shifting in Relativist Semantics"
Predicates of taste are perspectival, in the sense that they require a perspective to be supplied for their semantic interpretation. Although most of the time predicates of taste are used with the speaker’s perspective as default (as in (1)), the perspective can be shifted by using a predicate from someone else’s point of view (see Lasersohn’s “exocentric” vs. “autocentric” uses) or via explicit “for”-phases, quantifiers or attitude and speech verbs (as in (2)-(6)):
(1) Licorice is tasty,
(2) Licorice is tasty for Anne.
(3) Everyone got something tasty. (Schaffer 2011)
(4) Alicia believes/thinks/etc. that licorice is tasty.
(5) Helen finds licorice tasty.
(6) Mary said that licorice is tasty.
The combination of autocentric and exocentric uses of predicates of taste gives rise to perspectival plurality: the existence of readings of sentences containing them in which appeal to two different perspectives is needed. The phenomenon is present with sentences in which the predicates of taste are not modified (as in (7)), but also when embedded within “for”-phrases, quantifiers and attitude verbs (as in (8)-(10)):
(7) At Halloween, Johnny played a silly prank and had a lot of tasty licorice
(8) Licorice is tasty for Anne, but not for Bob.
(9) At Halloween, every kid played a silly prank and had a lot of tasty licorice.
(10) The mother snipe thinks the ugliest baby birds are beautiful. (Sæbø 2013)
In this paper I tackle the issue of what is the best way to handle perspective-shifting in a relativist framework, with the explicit aim of providing a unified relativistic account of all shifting phenomena. To this end, I explore two possibilities: i) an “intensional” approach, according to which all shifters are treated as intentional operators; ii) an “extensional” approach according to which all shifters are treated as variadic operators. Neither of these two accounts, however, has taken perspectival plurality into consideration. Relying on previous work, I argue that the best way to account for this phenomenon is by introducing a sequence of parameters for perspectives (a version of relativism which I dub “Multiple Indexing Relativism”). The paper addresses various formal and philosophical challenges for this version concerning issues like how do the lexical entries for predicates of taste change, whether new compositional rules are needed, what implications do the new type of (relative) contents have for asserting or believing and so on.