2006-06-21

David Kaplan's 2004 Howison Lecture (Berkeley)

I just came across the video of David Kaplan’s extremely stimulating 2004 Howison Lecture at Berkeley titled “The Meaning of ‘Ouch’ and ‘Oops’” available via Google Video. Kaplan’s primary topic is the semantics of expressive terms, but (as is typical of him) he makes numerous insightful connections to other topics along the way, including the relative priority of intuitions about truth and valid inference in logic, methodology in semantics and the philosophy of logic, why philosophers have not given expressives logical semantic treatment, and that the descriptive–expressive distinction and the cognitive–emotive distinction are orthogonal to one another (ethical emotivists/expressivist take note!). I have yet to digest it (and it make take another viewing to do so), but I foresee this having significant impact on my thinking. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone interested in semantics. (It was also entertaining to see how very Californian Kaplan is in his speech and mannerisms!)

The 2005 Howison Lecture is also available: Judith Jarvis Thomson, “Normativity”. I haven’t viewed it yet.

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