Kathrin Glüer-Pagin

Kathrin Glüer-Pagin
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dates de séjour

01/01/2010 - 30/06/2010


Sciences du langage et linguistique

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université de Stockholm (Suède)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Switcher Semantics for Singular and General Terms

This project aims at providing an alternative semantic theory for two important and heavily debated phenomena of natural language: The meaningful use of empty proper names such as ‘Vulcan’ or ‘Odysseus’, and the name-like behavior of certain general terms such as ‘water’ or ‘tiger’. More precisely, the aim is to extend the “evaluation switcher semantics” (ESS) suggested in “Proper Names and Relational Modality” to these phenomena. ESS is a version of possible worlds semantics, but it uses more than one semantic evaluation function. Modal operators, such as ‘it might have been the case’, work as “evaluation switchers”. ESS allows proper names to have descriptive contents while accounting for their seemingly rigid modal behavior, thus combining the advantages of traditional descriptivism with those of non-descriptive semantic theories. So far, ESS has only been worked out for non-empty names and modal operators, but its basic mechanism appears very versatile; ESS thus promises a systematic, unifying explanation for a wide range of seemingly incompatible semantic phenomena. Extending ESS to empty names and natural kind terms is the natural first step towards such unification and might contribute to breaking the long-standing deadlock between descriptivism and non-descriptivism in natural language semantics. This would not only bring philosophical semantics and linguistics closer together, but also be of significance for metaphysics and epistemology.


My main interest is in the philosophy of mind and language. I am also interested in aspects of epistemology and action theory, especially where these intersect with the theory of content. My dissertation "Sprache und Regeln. Zur Normativität von Bedeutung" is an attack on the idea of semantic normativity. It presents and assesses the contemporary debate around this idea and defends the conclusion that meaning is not intrinsically normative, not essentially determined by norms, rules or conventions. The positions discussed include those of Dummett, Davidson, Kripke, McDowell, and Putnam as well as more or less orthodox Wittgensteinian positions. I have also challenged the alleged normativity of mental content as well as that of belief. I am developing and defending a position that I call 'phenomenal intentionalism'. It construes perceptual experiences as a kind of belief with a rather particular form of content: content involving phenomenal qualities.