Logic Café Lecture: Benjamin Zayton (IVC Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) | Carnap and Brandom on Subsentential Structure


Carnap and Brandom on Subsentential Structure

Logic Café Lecture
The Philosophy Department and the Institute Vienna Circle are jointly organizing a series of talks this term

Date: 19/06/2023

Time: 16h45- 18h15

Meetings are usually held on Mondays from 16:45 to 18:15 in Raum 3F (D0313), 3. floor Department of Philosophy


Accounts of meaning that take the primary bearers of meaning to be sentences face the challenge of explaining the meaning and ubiquity of subsentential structure. Call this challenge the puzzle of subsentential structure. Solving the puzzle is important because subsentential structure seems to be necessary to account for the compositionality and productivity of language. Classical Tarskian semantics does not face this challenge: The meaning of a subsentential expression can be identified with its extension, and sentences get their truth values in virtue of how the extensions of their subsentential components are arranged. Proceeding from the notion of truth, one can then define the notion of good, i.e. truth-preserving, inference. Inferentialist accounts of language reverse this order of explanation: According to them, sentences are the primary bearers of meaning, and this meaning is given by the inferential role of the sentence, or by the rules governing its use.  Most inferentialist accounts of meaning thus have to face the puzzle. One solution to it is developed in Brandom's magnum opus Making It Explicit in the form of his argument for the existence of singular terms. However, there is earlier work devoted to similar issues: Carnap, in chapter IV of his Logical Syntax, engages in a similar project, namely in a demarcation between different kinds of subsentential structure on an inferentialist basis. In this talk, I will present and compare Carnap's and Brandom's approaches to the puzzle of subsentential structure, with an eye towards common problems and solutions to these.

Raum 3F (D0313), 3. floor Department of Philosophy