FellowDr. Fredrik Haraldsen
Project NameThe Scope of Formal Semantics
Host organisationInstitute of Philosophy
Duration of the project01.07.2015 - 30.06.2018

Abstract
My work is concerned with the application of formal models to questions about linguistic meaning and communication. The main research question is whether, and to what extent, recent developments in formal semantics can provide new perspectives on problems that have long been central to philosophy – philosophy of language in particular, but also other branches of philosophy. The work will also address the question of what, precisely, it is that we are modeling when we provide formal models of discourse – speaker intentions, generalizations of common practice, or more abstract rules for “scorekeeping” in linguistic interactions. The goal is twofold; on the one hand, I aim to contribute to cutting-edge research in the philosophy of language; on the other I wish to build bridges between two traditions for investigating questions concerning linguistic meaning and say something about how results in either tradition can and should inform research in the other.

Project Summary with Interim Results

My work is concerned with the application of formal semantic models to questions about linguistic meaning and communication. The main research question is whether, and to what extent, recent developments in formal semantics can provide new perspectives on problems that have long been central to philosophy in general and philosophy of language in particular. My work also addresses the question of what, precisely, we are modeling when we give formal models of discourse – speaker intentions, generalizations of common practices, or more abstract rules for scorekeeping in linguistic interactions. The goal of my project is twofold; on the one hand, I aim to contribute to cutting-edge research in the philosophy of language; on the other I aim to build bridges between two traditions for investigating questions concerning linguistic meaning and say something about how results in either tradition can and should inform research in the other. The project is intended to result in a series of articles on various special topics that will, eventually, serve as the basis for a book-length treatment. The research will be presented at conferences and invited talks for feedback, and subsequently submitted for publication in internationally ranked general journals and specialist journals in semantics, philosophy of language, and philosophy and linguistics. The conferences/talks will also serve as arenas for initiating and/or strengthening existing connections between me, the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovak Academy of Sciences and research centers and institutions abroad, and thereby enhance the international profile of the institute as well as myself.

As of June 30, 2016 – after completing one year of the fellowship – several of the objectives have been met, in particular the objectives pertaining to Year 1 in the original project description. Moreover, the groundwork has been laid for fulfilling the remaining objectives over the next two years with few deviations from the original plan. I have completed five articles that have been presented at conferences or talks and submitted to journals. One article has already been published; the others are currently under review. In addition, I have secured a book contract with Springer for their highly regarded Synthese Library Series – Studies in Epistemology, Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (Contract no. 52897) with the working title “Proper Names In Philosophy of Language: A Defense of Pluralism”. In accordance with requests of the editors the topic is somewhat more concise compared to the initial formulation of the TSFS project, but it covers the central elements of the project as originally described. In the original plan project description, the book project was primarily planned for year 3. However, given the status and reputation of the Synthese Library Series in my field it is clearly beneficial for the international profile of my project to accept this opportunity at this point.

In addition, the Institute of Philosophy has successfully applied for a grant for the project “Fictionalism in Philosophy and in Science” (VEGA, grant no. 2/0049/16) of which I am part. As part of the project I am involved in arranging the conference Philosophy of Language (1): Semantics of Fictional Discourse in October 2016. Moreover I have, together with two other SASPRO fellows, made plans to initiate a speaker series at the Institute of Philosophy, to commence in September 2016.

For the next two years the primary objective will be to complete the book, and I aim to present material relevant to the book at conferences or talks abroad. In addition, I will work on articles related to the topics of the book and, as stated in the project description, I aim to arrange a conference on a relevant topic (to be further specified) in 2017, perhaps jointly with other members of the Institute and SASPRO fellows who work on topics relatively closely related to mine.