Review of Fine, Kit, Semantic Relationism, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, , pp. vii + , Obiturary Arthur Clampett Fox 8 July –27 May Kuhn’s response to realist semantics, ironi- .. Michael David-Fox, and Paul Josephson trace the historical evolution of a gray whale by a group of Makah Indians as an assertion of “relationism” that open the scientific process to. Alain Badiou’s situational ontology breaks an apparent impasse between essentialism and relationalism. Kenny K.N. Chow, D. Fox Harrell PhotoSense: emergent semantics based approach to image annotation an interactive construction kit that encourages experimentation and play with pieces .

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Echoing themesinitially broached by such philosophers as Hilary Putnam and DavidKaplan, Kit Fine answers with a novel conception of semanticsuniting the two-sided connection of meaning with mind and world,and culminating in an ingenious, representationalist theorydesigned to incorporate contemporary Millianism while accommodatingtraditional Fregean intuitions.

A delight to read, the book will bemined for its ideas and arguments for relationissm to come.

Semantic Relationism

Kit Fine argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought. His key idea is that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves.

It is also shown to lead to a more defensible form of direct reference theory — one that is immune to many of the objections that the Fregeans have leveled against it. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Read more Read less. Discover Prime Book Box for Kids. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Philosophy and Model Theory.

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Word and Object Studies in Communication. Papers from to Review “With characteristic brilliance and rigor, Kit Fine advances aradically new conception of semantic structure that casts lightfrom an unexpected direction on the nature of compositionality andthe theory of direct reference.

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How is it possible to express the same thought, either over time or as another, or iit

This is the oft neglected question at the heart of Semantic Relationism. Throughout this work, Kit Fine puts forth an intuitive and telationism account of semantics. His view, simply put, is that semantic expressions, variables, names, etc, play certain semantic roles, but the combination of these semantic entities does not simply amount to the addition of those elements. In other words, combinations of semantic expressions can lead to novel semantic expressions. What results is a relationims work, which solves many puzzles in the philosophy of language as well as the philosophy of mind and is full of many useful distinctions which will have applications even outside of Fine’s semantic framework.

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One thing to note about this book is how unique Fine’s technique is. He first modestly states what he takes to be the correct notion of the roles of semantic expressions, and in the subsequent chapters, uses the idea to solve various philosophical puzzles.

His treatment is even-handed, and he does not underplay the significance of the puzzles which are dealt with.


There are even times when Fine makes the puzzles even stronger in order to show just how difficult they really are, as in the case of Kripke’s Puzzle about Belief. In what follows, I will give a brief overview of the contents. I will only go in minor detail about each in order to provide the reader with a glimpse at the sort of argumentation employed within the work.

Fine first deals with the antimony of the variable. It is commonly supposed that the variables, when ranging over the same domain, play the same semantic role. So take the variables x and y which range over the domain of all real numbers. Clearly when two variables which range over the same domain are part of the same expression, the semantic role differs. From generalizing, we seem to have two contradictory inferences: Or as Fine later puts it: There is no cross-contextual difference in semantic roles between variables x and y.

There is a cross contextual difference in semantic role between the pair of variables x,y and the pair x,x. It seems now that there is no explicit contradiction. But how else can the cross-contextual difference of the pair of variables x,y and x,x be accounted for than by a difference in the semantic roles of variables x and y? Fine wants to claim that there is no conflict between them. To do this, he wants to draw a distinction, between intrinsic non-relational and extrinsic relational semantic features of an expression.

The intrinsic semantic feature of some variable is what it is without any relation to something outside of itself. So it is intrinsic to the semantic predicate “doctor” that it is true of doctors, but not an intrinsic semantic feature that it is synonymous with “physician”.

If the semantic expression is a pair, say “doctor” and “physician”. If a pair of variables, x,y and x,x, has an intrinsic difference, then there is an extrinsic difference between the individual variables x and y. If the semantic expressions of x and y are the same and the pair of expressions x,y and x,x are different, we only need to account for this by some intrinsic difference. What makes them different is their intrinsic pairing, and must be analyzed as their pairing rather than any particular extrinsic difference between variables x and y.

The second of these puzzles is Frege’s puzzle. Fine neatly sums it up as follows: The two identity statements are semantically different. If the sentences are semantically different, the names “Cicero” and “Tully” are semantically different. If the names “Cicero” and “Tully” are semantically different, they are referentially different.

The names “Cicero” and “Tully” are not referentially different. It is well known that the Fregean rejects 3, while the Referentialist rejects 1. Fine, who defends a kind of Referentialism, rejects 2.

It is here that one of the most important distinctions is drawn, that of closure by classical consequence and that of closure by manifest consequence. It is my worry that this notion is dealt with far too quickly in the book. Of course, it is crucial to the Relationist program as a form of Referentialism that it work, so a longer defense of it would have been ideal.

Fine uses this notion, along with a few others, to claim that, though “Cicero” and “Tully” corefer, they do not strictly corefer. This, like the antimony of the variable, amounts to two names which corefer or play the same semantic roleyet are uncoordinated in some way. Just as language can represent as the same referent in two statements or propositions, so can thought.

This is the third puzzle, the Cognitive Fregean Puzzle. One can think of Cicero, that he is Roman and that he is an orator, and thus have distinct thoughts which intentionally pick out the same referent, Cicero.


Here, Fine provides us with a notion of cognitive base, where certain information can be, or fail to be, properly coordinated with that base. He asks us to reject Doxastic Link, showing that two beliefs can be different, while their intrinsic content is the same. There are also coordination cases of semantics between speaker to speaker. The fourth, Kripke’s puzzle, brings this out.

The basic puzzle is that Peter, when overhearing a conversation about Paderewski the pianist and statesman, comes to possess two beliefs concerning the man by thinking that Paderewski is really two men; Paderewski the pianist and Paderewski the statesman. Peter believes that all pianists are musical and that no statesmen are musical, he thus believes that Paderewski is musical and Paderewski is not musical. What makes this puzzling is not that Peter believes something inconsistent, but that we, who understand the referent Paderewski as a single man, have difficulty ascribing the belief to Peter.

We can say individually that Peter believes Paderewski is musical and Peter believes Paderewski is not musical, but we are not in a position to say that Peter believes that Paderewski is both musical and non-musical, but it seems that we must.

Fine believes that this is a very real and difficult puzzle, and refines it in various ways to reveal that it is not simply about names. Fine offers a de re version, a weak and strong de dicto version, and a variable version.

To solve these, Fine establishes the idea that when one derives one’s use of some word P1 from someone else’s use P2, the token utterances of those words P1 and P2 each aim at the common language use P. To tackle this, Fine wants to refine our account of the relation of the semantics of a name when it is derived from another’s use.

He wants to say that when Peter derives P1 from our P2, he is aiming at the use P1 to be coreferential with P in the common language. Presumably our use P2 is coreferential with P as well. In the second case with Charles who derives his use P3 from our P2, the coordination between P1 and P3 will not be a matter of Peter’s semantics or Charles’ semantics, but Peter and Charles’ semantics jointly.

So under the semantics jointly, we need to consider how the individual knowledge relates to the group knowledge it composes. The coordinated knowledge of a single proposition such as the use of a name is an internal link of the individuals semantics.

This should remain the same when introduced into the group. Now, the relation between the individuals knowledge is an external link to those individuals, but should the eternal links between them then sfmantic internal links relatipnism the group?

Fine evaluates two ways to interpret this problem, the impersonal, or objective way and the personal, or subjective way. What is needed is an intermediary inter-subjective solution. This approach only allows external links to become internal when those internal links are properly coordinated. Fine uses this conception to draw distinctions between the common language what we all aim at speaking – objectivethe individual language what we individually speak and mean by what we say – subjectiveand the communal language the language we speak in common – inter-subjective.

Fine ends the book noting some further work to be done with regards to relationism. Overall, semabtic is a solid work.