2017 Generics and Ways of Being Normal
Linguistics and Philosophy
This paper is concerned with the semantics of bare plural I-generics such as ‘Tigers are striped’, ‘Chickens lay eggs’, and ‘Kangaroos live in Australia’. In a series of recent papers, Bernhard Nickel has developed a comprehensive view of a certain class of bare plural I-generics, which he calls characterizing sentences (Nickel 2009; 2010a; 2010b). Nickel’s ambitious proposal includes a detailed account of their truth-conditions, an account of certain pragmatic phenomena that they give rise to, a metaphysical picture of their truth-makers in terms of mechanisms, and an epistemological story connecting characterizing sentences to such concepts as induction and explanation. This paper offers an extended critique of the central truth-conditional component of Nickel’s proposal. In a nutshell, his account has it that ‘Tigers are striped’ is true iff, for tigers, there is a way of being normal with respect to fur-pattern such that all tigers that are normal that way are striped. I begin by explaining what characterizing sentences are and distinguish several readings that are available for sentences with bare plurals in subject position. I then introduce Nickel’s account and discuss some of its predictions which, in my view, seem highly problematic. Moreover, I argue that Nickel’s principle of Homogeneity does not go together well with his proposed truth-conditions, and that his truth-conditional account violates a plausible principle about the logic of generics, a principle I call generic non-contradiction.
2016 ‘Meaning and Truth’ and ‘Truth and Meaning’
Dialectica 70, 201-215
The success of truth-theoretic semantics in its Davidsonian variant requires at least two things. First, natural languages must actually be amendable to truth theoretic treatment. Second, there must be a way to bridge the gap between a truth theory and a genuine meaning theory. Greg Ray (2014, Mind 123) suggests that the goal of giving meaning theories can easily be achieved, not by supplementing the truth-theoretic apparatus, but by doing away with it altogether. Ray proposes that what he calls means-that theories meet all the desiderata on meaning theories, and that ‘anyone with basically Davidsonian commitments must accept the means-that approach as viable and that it has certain evident virtues’. This paper argues that theories along Ray’s lines do not satisfy the central desideratum for meaning theories. Ray’s belief to the contrary rests on a common misunderstanding of what this desideratum amounts to. As indicated in the final section, there is a way of amending Ray’s approach in order to meet the central desideratum. However, in an ironic twist, this requires giving a full-fledged truth theory for the metalanguage, including its intensional constructions like ‘means that’ — precisely the project Ray attempted to avoid.
forth. Propositionen
Forthcoming in: M. Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik, Verlag J.B. Metzler.
An article about theories of propositions, commissioned for a handbook on metaphysics. The article is in German and comprises approximately 5.000 words. Joint work with Lars Dänzer.
2016 Handlungssätze
wrlddocument In: M. Kühler & M. Rüther (ed.), Handbuch Handlungstheorie, Verlag J.B. Metzler.
An article about the semantics of action sentences, commissioned for a handbook on action theory. The article is in German and comprises approximately 6.300 words.
2015 Wahrheitstheoretische Semantik
In: Nikola Kompa (ed.), Handbuch Sprachphilosophie, Verlag J.B. Metzler.
An article about truth conditional theories of meaning for a handbook on the philosophy of language. The article is in German and comprises approximately 6.700 words.
2013 Logical Form
wrlddocument In: Ernie Lepore & Kirk Ludwig (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Donald Davidson, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
I give a detailed reconstruction of what I take to be Davidson’s conception of logical form. This involves sketching the relation between truth theories, meaning theories, and assignments of logical form. I defend the resulting conception against some recent attacks.
2013 Introduction to Varieties of Dependence
wrlddocument In: Hoeltje, Schnieder, Steinberg (eds.), Varieties of Dependence, Munich: Philosophia
Introduction to a volume including state of the art surveys and research papers on the notions of ontological dependence, grounding, supervenience, and response-dependence. Comprises approximately 7.000 words.
2013 Explanation by Induction?
wrlddocument Synthese 190, 509-524
Philosophers of mathematics commonly distinguish between explanatory and non-explanatory proofs. An important subclass of mathematical proofs are proofs by induction. Are they explanatory? This paper addresses the question, based on general principles about explanation. First, a recent argument for a negative answer is discussed and rebutted. Second, a case is made for a qualified positive take on the issue. (This is a joint paper with Benjamin Schnieder and Alex Steinberg.)
2012 Lepore & Ludwig on ‘Explicit Meaning Theories’
wrlddocument Philosophical Studies, online-first
The fundamental problem proponents of truth conditional semantics must face is to specify what role a truth theory is supposed to play within a genuine meaning theory. This problem arises from the simple fact that truth theories are too weak to perform the job of a meaning theory. The most detailed proposal for tackling this problem is also the most recent one: the account developed in a series of publications by Ernest Lepore and Kirk Ludwig. I argue that theories along the lines of Lepore and Ludwig do not suffice to put someone into the position to understand the objectlanguage, since they have to presuppose knowledge of the language of the truth theory. The fundamental problem of truth conditional semantics thus remains unsolved.
2007 Theories of Meaning and Logical Truth: Edwards vs. Davidson
wrlddocument Mind 116, 121—129
I defend Davidson’s claim that a truth theory logically entails which object language sentences are logically true.
2012 Wahrheit, Bedeutung und Form — Eine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Davidson’schen Programm WBF-cover
Münster: mentis
This is a revised version of my dissertation. The book is in German. You can see the cover on the right. I got the Wolfgang-Stegmüller-Award for it.
documentInhaltsverzeichnis (Table of Contents)
documentAbschnitt 2.4: Eine neue Schlussregel (Reading Sample)
Edited Volumes
2013 Varieties of Dependence — Ontological Dependence, Grounding, Supervenience, Response-Dependence Dependence-cover
Munich: Philosophia
This is a volume I co-edited with Benjamin Schnieder and Alex Steinberg. With contributions by Ralf Bader, Eline Busck Gundersen, Stefano Caputo, Phil Corkum, Fabrice Correia, Kathrin Koslicki, Jonathan Lowe, Dan López de Sa, Carrie Jenkins, Stephan Leuenberger, Jussi Haukioja, Louis deRossett, Alex Steinberg, Kelly Trogdon.
documentTable of Contents
documentIntroduction (Reading Sample)
2013 Was dürfen wir glauben? Was sollen wir tun? – Sektionsbeiträge des achten internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie proceedings
Duisburg-Essen: open access
These are the proceedings of the 8th international conference of the Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie e.V. (GAP), which took place in Konstanz in 2012. Co-edited with Thomas Spitzley and Wolfgang Spohn.
documentTable of Contents
Curriculum Vitae
documentMy full CV.