Structured Meanings and the Dynamic Role of Variables: A Dilemma for Pickel and Rabern
In a recent paper, Pickel and Rabern (2016) argue that a dynamic Tarskian semantics resolves Fine’s antinomy of the variable without the radical consequences for semantics proposed by Fine (2003, 2007). While Pickel and Rabern’s basic insight—a parameter of discourse context that tracks occurrences of variable-binding expressions—is important, I will argue that their own Tarskian theory faces a destructive dilemma: either their theory does not resolve Fine’s antinomy as they propose, or their theory does not reflect the intuitive motivation for what they call structured meanings. I suggest that in response to this dilemma we should reject one of the principles that generates Pickel and Rabern’s version of the antinomy. Here Pickel and Rabern’s insight has surprising, but salutary, foundational consequences for semantics.
August 19, 2022 at 06:07PM
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