NYU Workshop Clausal Complements, Truthmaking, and Attitudes, February 21, 2015

February 21, 2015

Sponsored by the New York Institute of Philosophy

NYU, Department of Philosophy, 2nd floor


10.00 - 11.30:  Jane Grimshaw (Rutgers): Clausal Complements to Say: The Driving Force.
11.30 - 11.45: Coffee
11.45 - 13.15: Wataru Uegaki (MIT): Reducing Declarative-Embedding to Question-Embedding: Arguments from Selectional Restrictions, Content Nouns and Exhaustivity

14.30 - 16.00: Kit Fine (NYU): Truthmaker Semantics: An Overview
16.00 - 16.15: Coffee
16.15 - 18.00: Friederike Moltmann (CNRS-IHPST/NYU): Cognitive Products, Satisfaction Conditions, and Complement Clauses
Comments by Mark Richard


Clausal Complements to SAY: The Driving Force

Jan Grimshaw

The pattern of combination for the universal light verb SAY and embedded 'questions'/wh-clauses and 'declaratives'/'that'-clauses result from the interplay between force (e.g. interrogative vs assertive) encoded in the clause and force encoded in the verb's meaning. The notion of 'selection' (e.g. for 'type' or for +/- wh features) plays no role. This is demonstrated for English verbs with SAY as their core, those which participate in 'indirect discourse'.
     The observed patterns are complex, but they are entailed by three hypotheses: (i) The semantics of SAY allows for, but does not reauire, the encoding of the force of its complement. (ii) A clause may encode force, but is not reauired to do so. (iii) A clause which combines with SAY embeddding verbs must be assigned a force. Under these assumptions, we predict both significant variation in complementation patterns and the highly restricted nature of the variation.

Reducing declarative-embedding to question-embedding: Arguments from selectional restrictions, content nouns and exhaustivity

Wataru Uegaki

Several semantic accounts have been proposed to account for the fact that "know" and other so-called RESPONSIVE PREDICATES (e.g., "forget", "tell", "predict") take both declarative and interrogative complements (e.g., Groenendijk & Stokhof 1984, George 2011). In this talk, I argue that responsive predicates select for questions (modelled as sets of propositions) rather than propositions. Declarative complements denote singleton proposition-sets, meaning that embedding of declaratives is a special ('trivialized') case of question-embedding. This analysis is in contrast to the more standard analysis of responsive predicates that treats them as proposition-taking items and reduces embedded questions to propositions (e.g., Groenendijk and Stokhof 1984; Lahiri 2002).

Three arguments will be made to support the reduction of declarative-embedding to question-embedding. First, the theory enables a natural semantic account of the selectional restrictions of attitude predicates as a whole, which is difficult in a standard theory. Second, only the proposed theory explains the interpretations of attitude predicates embedding content nominals, such as "the rumour" and "the story". Third, the theory offers a straightforward account of several puzzles involving exhaustivity of question-embedding sentences, including George's non-reducibility puzzle.

Truthmaker Semantics: An Overview

Kit Fine

Cognitive Products, Satisfaction Conditions, and Complement Clauses

Friederike Moltmann

This talk develops the view that complement clauses (of both verbs and nouns) are not terms standing for propositions, but rather  are predicates of cognitive products, entities of the sort of claims, thoughts, and demands. The view will be applied to different types of complement clauses and embedding predicates by making use of the idea that cognitive products are  not only bearers of truth- and satisfaction conditions, but also the bearers of truthmakers and satisfiers, of various sorts.