meaning sciences club

We are a discussion group at Berkeley focused on semantics and related topics in syntax, pragmatics, logic, cognitive science, and the philosophy of language. The group is organized by Seth Yalcin (philosophy), Amy Rose Deal (linguistics), Peter Jenks (linguistics), John MacFarlane (philosophy), and Line Mikkelsen (linguistics).

The group mailing list is Berkeley affiliates can subscribe through CalMail. Others can join the list by going here. For further information contact Seth Yalcin

upcoming talks

Friday, April 13, 2018:
Amy Rose Deal (Berkeley) 
Compositional Paths to De Re
1303 Dwinelle Hall, 3-4:30pm

In this talk I argue that de re attitude reports arise from multiple distinct LFs, both within and across languages. One type of de re LF features the res argument composing in situ, as advocated in much recent work (Percus and Sauerland 2003, Anand 2006, Ninan 2012, Charlow and Sharvit 2014, Pearson 2015). Another features a res element which is semantically an argument of the attitude verb at LF, potentially having obtained that position by covert res movement.

Friday, April 20, 2017:
Ethan Jerzak (Berkeley)
Two Ways to Want
1303 Dwinelle Hall, 3-4:30pm

I present hitherto unexplored and unaccounted for uses of `wants'. I call them advisory uses, on which information inaccessible to the desirer herself helps determine what it's true to say she wants. I show that extant theories by Stalnaker, Heim, and Levinson fail to predict it. I also show that they fail to predict true indicative conditionals with `wants' in the consequent. These problems are related: intuitively valid reasoning with modus ponens on the basis of the conditionals in question results in unembedded advisory uses.   I consider two fixes, and end up endorsing a relativist semantics, according to which desire attributions express information-neutral propositions. The truth of a desire attribution depends on the state of information at the context of assessment. On this view, `wants' functions as a precisification of `ought', which exhibits similar unembedded and compositional behavior. I conclude by sketching a pragmatic account of the purpose of desire attributions, one that explains why it made sense for them to evolve in this way. 



previous talks

Thursday, August 24, 2017:
Daniel Rothschild (University College London)
Probabilistic Context Updates
234 Moses Hall, 12:00pm-1:30pm

Friday, April 14, 2017:
Cian Dorr (NYU)
Conditionals, Closeness, and Probability
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm-2pm

Saturday, May 6, 2017:
Barbara Partee (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
The Intertwining Influences of Logic, Philosophy, and Linguistics in the Development of Formal Semantics and Pragmatics
105 Northgate Hall, 11am-12:20pm

November 3, 2016
David Plunkett (Dartmouth)
Clinic: Metalinguistic Negotiation
234 Moses Hall, 4:30pm-6pm

Weekend March 12-13, 2016: 
Meaning Sciences Workshop 2

March 11, 2016: 
William Starr (Cornell)
Force and Conversational States
234 Moses Hall, 5pm

December 22, 2015: 
Ezra Keshet (Michigan)
Imperatives Under and Over Conjunction 
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm-4pm

November 19, 2015: 
Jessica Rett (UCLA)
Attitude Markers and Sincerity Conditions in an Update Semantics 
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

April 24, 2015: 
Zoltan Gendler Szabo (Yale)
Semantic Explanations
234 Moses Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

Dec 2, 2014: 
Richard Lawrence (Berkeley)
Three Analyses of Specificational Sentences
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Oct 14, 2014:
Yael Sharvit (UCLA) 
Sequence of Tense: Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Sept 30, 2104:
Melissa Fusco (Berkeley)
Deontic Disjunction
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Apr 28, 2014:
Daniel Rothschild (UCL) 
Epistemic Contradictions
1229 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Mar 8-9, 2014:
Conference: Metasemantics (joint with CSMN) 
Howison Library, Moses Hall

Feb 24, 2014: 
Ryan Bochnak (Berkeley) 
Degree achievements in a degree-less language
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Dec 3, 2013:
Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford)
The Ingredients of Anankasticity
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Nov 5, 2013: 
Donka Farkas (Santa Cruz)
Assertions, Polar Questions, and the Land In Between
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Oct 1, 2013:
Chris Potts (Stanford) 
Conversational implicature: interacting with grammar
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

April 8, 2013: 
Seth Yalcin (Berkeley)
Epistemic Modality De Re
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

March 18, 2013: 
Ethan Nowak (Berkeley)
Non-Deictic Complex Demonstratives
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 25, 2013: 
Peter Jenks (Berkeley) 
Clinic: Quantifier Raising
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 11, 2013: 
Herman Cappelen (St. Andrews)
The Philosophical (in)Significance of Indexicality and the First Person
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Nov 13, 2012:
Thomas Icard (Stanford) 
Wesley Holliday (Berkeley)
Logic, Probability, and Epistemic Modality
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Oct 16, 2012: 
Line Mikkelsen (Berkeley)
Some Observations about Sameness, Identity and Comparison
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Sept 11, 2012:
Michael Rieppel (Berkeley)
Shifty Definites
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm