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LINGUIST List 23.4985

Thu Nov 29 2012

Books: Talking About Nothing: Azzouni

Editor for this issue: Danniella Hornby <daniellalinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Nov-2012
From: Zach Borenstein <zach.borensteinoup.com>
Subject: Talking About Nothing: Azzouni
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Title: Talking About Nothing
Subtitle: Numbers, Hallucinations and Fictions
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Book URL: http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Philosophy/Language/?view=usa&ci=9780199937684

Author: Jody Azzouni

Paperback: ISBN: 9780199937684 Pages: 282 Price: U.S. $ 29.95


Ordinary language and scientific language enable us to speak about, in a
singular way (using demonstratives and names), what we recognize not to exist:
fictions, the contents of our hallucinations, abstract objects, and various
idealized but nonexistent objects that our scientific theories are often
couched in terms of. Indeed, references to such nonexistent items-especially
in the case of the application of mathematics to the sciences-are
indispensable. We cannot avoid talking about such things. Scientific and
ordinary languages thus enable us to say things about Pegasus or about
hallucinated objects that are true (or false), such as "Pegasus was believed
by the ancient Greeks to be a flying horse," or "That elf I'm now
hallucinating over there is wearing blue shoes." Standard contemporary
metaphysical views and semantic analyses of singular idioms on offer in
contemporary philosophy of language have not successfully accommodated these
routine practices of saying true and false things about the nonexistent while
simultaneously honoring the insight that such things do not exist in any way
at all (and have no properties). That is, philosophers often feel driven to
claim that such objects do exist, or they claim that all our talk isn't
genuine truth-apt talk, but only pretence. This book reconfigures metaphysics
(and the role of metaphysics in semantics) in radical ways that allow the
accommodation of our ordinary ways of speaking of what does not exist while
retaining the absolutely crucial presupposition that such objects exist in no
way at all, have no properties, and so are not the truth-makers for the truths
and falsities that are about them.

Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language

Written In: English (eng)

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