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On the Dynamics of Conversation

Rothschild, DH; Yalcin, S; (2017) On the Dynamics of Conversation. Noûs , 51 (1) pp. 24-48. 10.1111/nous.12121. Green open access

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Abstract

There is a longstanding debate in the literature about static versus dynamic approaches to meaning and conversation. A formal result due to van Benthem (1986, 1996) is often thought to be important for understanding what, conceptually speaking, is at issue in the debate. We introduce the concept of a conversation system, and we use it to clarify the import of van Benthem’s result. We then distinguish two classes of conversation systems, corresponding to two concepts of staticness. The first class, the strongly static conversation systems, corresponds to a generalization of the class of systems that van Benthem’s result concerns. The second class, the weakly static conversation systems, corresponds to a broader class, one permitting a certain commonly recognized form of context sensitivity. In the vein of van Benthem’s result, we supply representation theorems which independently characterize these two varieties of conversation system. We observe that some canonically dynamic semantic systems correspond to weakly static conversation systems. We close by discussing some hazards that arise in trying to bring our formal results to bear on natural language phenomena, and on the debate about whether the compositional semantics for natural language should take a dynamic shape.

Type: Article
Title: On the Dynamics of Conversation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/nous.12121
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nous.12121
Language: English
Additional information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Rothschild, DH; Yalcin, S; (2015) On the Dynamics of Conversation. Noûs, which has been published in final form at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nous.12121. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-828039.html#terms).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470274
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