Wolfgang Schwarz

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Two papers on counterpart semantics

I've thought a bit about counterpart-theoretic semantics last year, both for natural language and for quantified modal logic. Here's a paper in which I present my preferred version of this framework as applied to natural language: Counterpart Theory and the Paradox of Occasional Identity. Apart from the semantics itself, my main claim is that the advantages of counterpart semantics do not require the metaphysics of "counterpart theory".

Online Papers Feed and Source

I've just replaced the Online Papers in Philosophy Feed by a newer version. Let me know if you run into any problems with that. (You may also consider switching to a feed from PhilPapers.)

Coarse-grained meanings and impossible worlds

To some extent, one can account for semantic phenomena without assigning meanings to words or sentences or thoughts. For instance, we might say that beliefs and other attitudes are relations to sentences, i.e. to strings of symbols. Roughly, to believe a sentence S is to be disposed to utter (or assent to) S (or some translation of S) under certain conditions. When people talk to each other, such dispositions may be transferred: after hearing me utter the sounds "it is raining", you acquire the disposition to utter those sounds yourself. Apart from communication, we can also account for things like synonymy and analyticity. Roughly, two sentences are synonymous if necessarily, anyone who stands in the belief relation to one of them also stands in the belief relation to the other. There is no compositional semantics in this picture, because there is no semantics at all. But there might be recursive rules for translating from one language to another.

Lewis on updating and self-location

A lot has been written in the last 10 years or so on updating self-locating beliefs, mostly in the context of the Sleeping Beauty problem. One thing almost all of these papers have in common is that they quote Lewis's remark in "Attitudes de dicto and de se" (1979, p.534), where he says:

Rational procrastination

Professor Procrastinate has to make an important phone call. The call is long overdue because Procrastinate has been playing Farmville all week. The problem is that Procrastinate values current pleasure higher than future pleasure. So when he applies his decision theory, he finds that it is better to play some more Farmville now and make the phone call later instead of making the call now: it doesn't matter much whether the call is delayed by a few more hours, and this way the immediate future will be much more pleasant.

Quantum physics and relative truth

There has been some discussion recently about whether propositions are true or false absolutely, or only relative to a possible world, or relative to a world and a time. What hasn't been considered, to my knowledge, is whether propositions are true or false only relative to a branch of the wave function of the universe.

I'm a Humean, and I like necessary connections

In metaphysics, "Humeans" are people who believe that truths about laws of nature, counterfactuals, dispositions and the like (truths about what must or would be the case) are in some sense reducible to non-modal truths (about what is the case).

Frequentism and the end of time

This paper (recently featured on the physics arXiv blog) argues that if the universe never comes to an end, then the universe will probably come to an end within the next 5 billion years. The reasoning, as far as I can tell, goes roughly like this.


OK. We're back in Canberra. I've also finished the completeness proof that I've been working on for the last few months. More on that soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures from this year's bike trip through the Alps.


Quick logic question

Suppose you add to the language of first-order logic a sentence operator L for which you stipulate that all instances of

(L(p -> q) & Lp) -> Lq

are valid and that validity is closed under prefixing L's:

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