November 02, 2016, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Bernhard Nickel (Harvard University)

Predicativism and the Semantic Argument

Predicativism about names holds that proper names are fundamentally count nouns, a hypothesis most directly illustrated by examples like “there are two Alfreds at Princeton.” When names are used to refer to particular objects, they form complex noun phrases. On one prominent elaboration of the view, “Alfred is in the room” has roughly this logical form: “[The] Alfred is in the room”, where the square brackets indicate that the article is present in the logical form but unpronounced. This is a form of descriptivism that may make descriptivist treatments of long-standing puzzles about proper names available while being immune to Kripke’s challenges to descriptivism. Much of the literature has asked whether predicativism can answer Kripke’s modal argument, which turns on the claim that names are rigid designators. This paper focuses on Kripke’s semantic argument, which seeks to show that the reference of a proper name cannot be fixed by a description the speaker grasps (exemplified by the Godel/Schmidt case). I argue that predicativism falls prey to this objection, as well.

November 16, 2016, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Juliette Kennedy (University of Helsinki)

Squeezing Arguments and Strong Logics

G. Kreisel has suggested that squeezing arguments, originally formulated for the informal concept of first order validity, should be extendable to second order logic, although he points out obvious obstacles. We develop this idea in the light of more recent advances and delineate the difficulties across the spectrum of extensions of first order logics by generalised quantifiers and infinitary logics. This is joint work with Jouko Väänänen.