Theory of Interpretation

Paul Dekker (ILLC/Department of Philosophy, Universty of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

The course elaborates upon the concept of a theory of interpretation by translation, mostly in the spirit of Frege, Quine, Davidson, Hintikka and Kamp. The course provides formal tools for presenting ways in which we can make sense of (that is to say: \textsc{present readings of}) actually occurring discourse. The readings are proposed to formally render our extensional understanding of actual and, in particular, intentional, discourse.

While most of the formalism is familiar from relatively common semantic architectures, the proposed approach does not commit to any substantialist, platonist, possibilist, or representationalist assumptions, so neither does it engage in excluding any one of them. Not endulging in non-trivial conceptual and ontological commitments, the architecture will be seen to allow for neat but novel treatments of indexicals, names, propositional attitudes, and intentional objects. It does not fall victim to philosophical/logical problems either, besides the usual practical, empirical, ones.

The proposed architecture can be claimed, even though it is not here argued, to be compatible with various more specified frameworks like formal dynamic semantics, cognitive conceptual grammar, and distributional approaches to meaning.

Here is an extensive description of the course Theory of Interpretation.
As an appetizer I have assembled a compilation of fragments from the work of Frege and Davidson, and as a tool for the preparation of the first class I have cooked up a handsome, I hope, introduction to Natural Deduction.