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Linguistics and Philosophy - Ph.D. / Sc.D.

Mostrando recursos 1 - 20 de 454

  1. The universality of concord

    Bayırlı, İsa Kerem
    Abstract In this dissertation, we develop and defend a universal theory of concord (i.e. feature sharing between a head noun and the modifying adjectives). When adjectives in a language show concord with the noun they modify, concord morphology usually involves the full set of features of that noun (e.g. gender, number and case). However, there are also languages in which concord targets only a subset of morphosyntactic features of the head noun. We first observe that feature combinations that enter into concord in such languages are not random. We then show that this observation can be explained with a theory...

  2. Tough constructions in the context of English infinitives

    Brillman, Ruth
    The dissertation was inspired by the question of why subjects cannot undergo tough movement (1). (1) a. Jonathan Franzen is easy for Anneke to criticize b. *Anneke is easy - to criticize Jonathan Franzen. To answer this question, this dissertation proposes that a spec-to-spec anti-locality constraint (in the spirit of Erlewine 2016 and Brillman & Hirsh to appear) limits subject tough movement because the subject tough movement chain is "too short." Brillman & Hirsh's spec-to-spec anti-locality constraint is given in (2). Spec-to-spec anti-locality bans subject tough movement because subject tough movement would need to involve A movement from the embedded...

  3. Joint practical deliberation

    De Kenessey, Brendan
    Joint practical deliberation is the activity of deciding together what to do. In this dissertation, I argue that several speech acts that we can use to alter our moral obligations - promises, offers, requests, demands, commands, and agreements - are moves within joint practical deliberation. The dissertation begins by investigating joint practical deliberation. The resulting account implies that joint deliberation is more flexible than we usually recognize, in two ways. First, we can make joint decisions not only about what we will do together, but also about what you or I will do alone. Second, we can deliberate by means...

  4. An inflexible semantics for cross-categorial operators

    Hirsch, Aron, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    This thesis studies operators such as and and only, which occur in a broad range of environments. And, for instance, appears between sentences, intransitive verbs, quantifiers, and so forth. One line of analysis assigns and/only a "cross-categorial" semantics flexible enough to compose with different arguments. This thesis challenges that view, pursuing the "Semantic Inflexibility Hypothesis" (SIH). Regardless of the surface string, and and only uniformly operate on a meaning characteristic of a sentence -- a truth-value or proposition. The thesis presents four case studies testing a central prediction of the SIH: that when and/only appear to compose with an expression...

  5. The role of perceptual similarity and gradient phonotactic well-formedness in loan gemination processes/

    Magyar, Lilla
    Loan gemination is a cross-linguistically widespread phenomenon: short consonants preceded by short stressed vowels in the source language are borrowed as long in loanwords. It is generally considered to be an 'unnecessary' adaptation (Peperkamp, 2005), because it does not repair any illegal sequences in the native phonotactics of the borrowing languages. Hungarian is a particularly interesting case of a seemingly unnecessary adaptation: in the native phonology, both singletons and geminates can be found in word-final and intervocalic position (where loan gemination could potentially apply), therefore - on the face of it - there is nothing in the native phonotactics that...

  6. Know-how as the cognitive basis of skill

    Bianchi, Dylan Mila
    This thesis seeks to develop and defend conceptions of know-how that shed light on the state's theoretical role as the cognitive basis of skilled action. In Chapter 1, 1 propose an account of knowhow based on the idea of information being accessible for a purpose. I argue that an account of this form sheds new light on the explanatory relationship between knowing how to o and being able to o. In Chapter 2, I develop the core components of a cognitivist, yet rule-free, conception of know-how. I show how this conception better accommodates the phenomenology of fluent skilled action and...

  7. Multiple dominance and interface operations

    O'Brien, Chris (Chris Harris)
    This dissertation explores the consequences of multidominance in syntactic theory, with a particular focus on how multidominance interacts with interpretation at the interfaces. In particular, I explore how interpretation is sensitive to complete dominance, in which a phrase dominates every position containing another phrase. I argue that complete dominance plays a crucial role in the resolution of two puzzles: The right-edge restriction on right-node raising and selective island effects in A'-movement. I develop a linearization algorithm which is locally sensitive to complete dominance, and show how, when applied to right-node raising structures, it predicts the right-edge effect. I also explore...

  8. Implicatures in the DP domain

    Marty, Paul P
    In this thesis, I investigate a set of apparently disparate phenomena that relate, more or less closely, to the interpretation of Determiner Phrases (DPs): the restrictiveness effects associated with NP modification, the proper partitivity effects associated with the use of partitive of, the disjoint reference 'i-within-i' effects and finally anti-presuppositions. In the previous literature, these interpretative effects have been subsumed under different generalizations and accounted for by means of different primitive principles (e.g., Minimize Restrictors!, The 'i-within-i' Condition, Maximize Presupposition!). The claim that I put forward in this thesis is twofold. First of all, I show that, upon closer examination,...

  9. Grounding pluralism

    Richardson, Kevin Andrew
    My dissertation consists of a series of papers on grounding pluralism, the broad view that there are multiple kinds of metaphysical grounding relations. Specifically, I argue that there are three species of grounding: why-grounding (which tells us why things are the case), how-grounding (which tells us how things are the case), and what-grounding (which tells us what it is for things to be the case). I call the resulting view wh-pluralism. I show how wh-pluralism can resolve various debates within metaphysics.

  10. Darwinian humility : epistemological applications of evolutionary science

    Saillant, Said
    I use evolutionary science - its tenets and theory, as well as the evidence for it - to investigate the extent and nature of human knowledge by exploring the relation between human cognition, epistemic luck, and biological and cultural fitness. In "The Epistemic Upshot of Adaptationist Explanation," I argue that knowledge of the evolution by natural selection of human cognition might either defeat, bolster, or preclude the epistemic justification of our current beliefs. In "The Evolutionary Challenge and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality," I argue that we lack the evidence to know whether human moral knowledge evolved or exists. In...

  11. Perceptual sources for closed-syllable vowel laxing and derived environment effects

    Storme, Benjamin
    This dissertation claims that allowing perceptual factors to play a role in phonology helps make some progress on the understanding of two challenging phenomena: closed-syllable vowel laxing (CSVL), i.e. the tendency for vowels to be lowered and centralized before word-final and preobstruent consonants, and phonologically-derived environment effects (PDEEs), i.e. patterns where a phonological process is blocked unless accompanied by another phonological process. CSVL is challenging because the mechanism that relates vowel quality and the postvocalic context is not obvious. In particular, CSVL cannot be analyzed as a coarticulatory effect driven by vowel shortening. PDEEs are challenging because they imply that...

  12. The morphosemantics and morphosyntax of the Malayalam verb

    Swenson, Amanda, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    The questions posed and addressed in this dissertation are broadly questions regarding the nature cross-linguistic variation and why languages differ from one another in these particular ways. This thesis focuses on four known points of cross-linguistic variation in the verbal domain: tense, aspect, finiteness and the perfect. It uses data primarily from the Dravidian language Malayalam to explore these questions. Past work on tense and aspect in Dravidian languages (Amritavalli & Jayaseelan 2005) has claimed that Malayalam, along with the other Dravidian languages, is tenseless. This dissertation, however, shows that Malayalam is empirically different from other tenseless languages and that...

  13. Evidence and choice

    Wells, Ian (Ian T.)
    This dissertation defends causal decision theory and argues against its main rival, evidential decision theory. In Chapter 1, I introduce a decision problem in which evidentialists end up predictably worse off, on average, than causalists. This result is surprising since comparisons of average welfare have traditionally been taken to support evidential decision theory and undermine causal decision theory. In Chapter 2, Jack- Spencer and I give a new argument for one of causal decision theory's distinctive recommendations: two-boxing in Newcomb's problem. Unlike arguments based on causal dominance, our argument relies on a more basic principle connecting rational choice to guidance...

  14. Indo-European reduplication : synchrony, diachrony, and theory

    Zukoff, Sam, 1987-
    The reduplicative systems of the ancient Indo-European languages are characterized by an unusual alternation in the shape of the reduplicant. The related languages Ancient Greek, Gothic, and Sanskrit share the property that root-initial consonant clusters exhibit different reduplicant shapes, depending on their featural composition. Moreover, even though the core featural distinction largely overlaps across the languages, the actual patterns which instantiate that distinction are themselves distinct across the languages. For roots beginning in stop-sonorant clusters (TRVX- roots), each of these languages agrees in displaying a prefixal CV reduplicant, where the consonant corresponds to the root-initial stop: TV-TRVX-. These three languages...

  15. Taming the impossible

    Jenny, Matthias (Matthias Christian)
    The semantic paradoxes and other statements about impossibilities have proved to be obstacles to a satisfactory theory of conditionals. In my dissertation, which consists of two parts, I propose a new approach to the impossible that yields an improved theory of conditionals. A prominent response to the semantic paradoxes is glut theory. Glut theorists avoid paradox by giving up material modus ponens. But they argue that they can help themselves to this rule in areas where no paradoxes loom. In chapter 1, I argue that this does not work and that giving up modus ponens in paradoxical domains leaves glut...

  16. Coordination in conversation

    Mandelkern, Matthew
    I give an account of the meaning of epistemic modals-words like 'might' and 'must', on a broadly epistemic interpretation-and how speakers use them to coordinate on their information. I begin by exploring what epistemic modals mean. Motivated by embedding data which are problematic for almost all existing accounts, I develop a new semantics for epistemic modals which I call the bounded theory. The bounded theory comprises a standard relational semantics together with a constraint which entails that local information is always taken into account in the evaluation of epistemic modals. I argue that the bounded theory makes sense of the...

  17. Constraints on the distribution of nasal-stop sequences : an argument for contrast

    Stanton, Juliet
    It has been argued that certain typological generalizations regarding the distribution of nasal-stop sequences can be explained by explicitly referencing contrast (e.g. Herbert 1977, 1986; Jones 2000). This thesis explores the hypothesis that all generalizations regarding the distribution of nasal-stop sequences can be explained by explicitly referencing contrast, and presents the results of multiple cross-linguistic studies designed to test that hypothesis. I show first that taking into consideration cues to the contrasts between nasal-stop sequences and their component parts (nasals and stops) allows us to accurately predict generalizations regarding the distribution of phonemic nasal-stop sequences (i.e. those that are phonemically...

  18. Issues in objectivity and mind-dependence

    Botchkina, Ekaterin
    Reality and objectivity are often characterized in terms of independence from the mind: the first-pass idea is that what it takes for any particular subject matter to be real and objective is for facts about it to obtain independently of beliefs, linguistic practices, conceptual schemes, and so on. But if we take seriously the possibility that significant realms of reality, including social kinds, judgment-dependent properties, and mental phenomena themselves, stand in various dependence relations to the mental, then this first-pass characterization needs to be significantly revised. In this set of papers, I consider the special questions that metaphysically mind-dependent entities...

  19. Acting from character : how virtue and vice explain praise and blame

    Ali, Arden
    This dissertation offers a theory of praise and blame: praiseworthy acts manifest virtue and blameworthy acts are incompatible with virtue. Despite its simplicity, proposals like mine have been largely ignored. After all, don't good people sometimes deserve blame, and bad people sometimes deserve praise? I believe the significance of this thought has been exaggerated. The chapters of this dissertation argue that we should understand praiseworthiness and blameworthiness by appeal to the concept of virtue, even granting the possibility of uncharacteristic behaviour. Chapter One argues against the popular view of praiseworthiness, according to which acting well requires only that the agent...

  20. Acting from character : how virtue and vice explain praise and blame

    Ali, Arden
    This dissertation offers a theory of praise and blame: praiseworthy acts manifest virtue and blameworthy acts are incompatible with virtue. Despite its simplicity, proposals like mine have been largely ignored. After all, don't good people sometimes deserve blame, and bad people sometimes deserve praise? I believe the significance of this thought has been exaggerated. The chapters of this dissertation argue that we should understand praiseworthiness and blameworthiness by appeal to the concept of virtue, even granting the possibility of uncharacteristic behaviour. Chapter One argues against the popular view of praiseworthiness, according to which acting well requires only that the agent...

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