Meaning and the Dynamics of Interpretation

Selected Papers of Hans Kamp

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This selection of research papers written by Hans Kamp presents the core of his scientific research on natural language semantics and its relation to logic, philosophy and linguistics. Arranged in six sections, the topics range from philosophical reflection on the foundational issues in the ancient Sorites Paradox with a formal account of its solution, to a detailed account of presuppositions in dynamic semantics.

Ranking among the philosophers with great and lasting influence on formal semantics, Hans Kamp contributed early foundational research to core theoretical topics like temporal reference and vagueness, then pushed the boundaries of the discipline in new and productive directions. Showing the importance of non-truth-functional aspects of meaning, Discourse Representation Theory proved the value of a dynamic approach to interaction of text and context for our understanding of anaphora, word meaning and context-dependence. This collection shows very clearly how Kamp has forged ground-breaking connections among semantics, computation, and mental representation, challenging the once dominant Fregean anti-psychologism, while demonstrating that the best theoretical research can simultaneously yield important computational applications and novel cognitive insights. Barbara Partee, University of Massachussetts Amherst
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Biographical Note

Klaus von Heusinger, Dr. phil. (1992) and Habilitation (1999) at University of Konstanz, Germany, is Professor in German Linguistics at the University of Cologne. He approaches linguistic analysis from a theoretical as well as empirical point of view and focuses on the semantics and pragmatics of referring expressions in discourse.

The application of logical methods to natural language has long been the key research program of Alice ter Meulen (Ph.D. Stanford, 1980). She has published extensively on a variety of topics in natural language semantics, including (in)definiteness, mass terms, aspect and temporal reference, generics and natural kinds, Montague grammar and Situation Semantics.

The core research interests of Hans Kamp (off. Johan Anthony Willem Kamp, Ph.D. 1968 UCLA) have converged on the question how human beings represent meaning and how those representations enable them to various things with information, such as drawing inferences and making plans for action. Context dependence and vagueness of meaning, and the dynamic character of interpretation are at the core of his well-known account of meaning and interpretation Discourse Representation Theory.

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION TO MEANING AND THE DYNAMICS OF INTERPRETATION

EVENTS, TEMPORAL REFERENCE, AND DISCOURSE
Introduction to Events, Temporal Reference, and Discourse
Formal Properties of ‘now’
Events, Instants and Temporal Reference
Deixis in Discourse: Reichenbach on Temporal Reference

SEMANTICS AND PRAGMATICS
Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics
Free Choice Permission
Semantics versus Pragmatics

VAGUENESS
Introduction to Vagueness
Two theories about adjectives
The Paradox of the Heap

DISCOURSE REPRESENTATION
Introduction to Discourse Representation
A Theory of Truth and Semantic Representation
Context, Thought and Communication
Disambiguation in Discourse

PRESUPPOSITION
Introduction to Presupposition
Presupposition Computation and Presupposition Justification: One Aspect of the Interpretation
of multi-sentence Discourse
The Importance of Presupposition

PROPOSITIONAL ATTITUDES
Introduction to Propositional Attitudes
Prolegomena to a Structural Account of Belief and Other Attitudes
Temporal Reference inside and outside propositional attitudes

INTERVIEW WITH HANS KAMP

Readership

All interested in the semantics and pragmatics of natural language, and anyone concerned with the relation of logic and semantics.

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