Philosophical Papers

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Syntax, Semantics, and Intentional Aspects

Hilla Jacobson-Horowitz


It is widely assumed that the meaning of at least some types of expressions involves more than their reference to objects, and hence that there may be co-referential expressions which differ in meaning. It is also widely assumed that "syntax does not suffice for semantics", i.e. that we cannot account for the fact that expressions have semantic properties in purely syntactical or computational terms. The main goal of the paper is to argue against a third related assumption, namely that what is responsible for a difference in meaning between co-referential expressions is the computational difference in the cognitive functioning of the expressions. "Intentional aspects" of expressions – those features which their meanings involve in addition to reference - cannot be syntacticized, since they are individuated not in terms of any cognitive feature, but rather in terms of those properties of the referents through which the expressions refer to them, and cognitive features cannot determine such properties in exactly the same sense as they cannot determine reference.

Philosophical Papers Vol.33(1) 2004: 67-95
AJOL African Journals Online