Ambiguity, generality, and indeterminacy: Tests and definitions

  title={Ambiguity, generality, and indeterminacy: Tests and definitions},
  author={Brendan S. Gillon},
  • B. Gillon
  • Published 1 December 1990
  • Philosophy
  • Synthese
The problem addressed is that of finding a sound characterization of ambiguity. Two kinds of characterizations are distinguished: tests and definitions. Various definitions of ambiguity are critically examined and contrasted with definitions of generality and indeterminacy, concepts with which ambiguity is sometimes confused. One definition of ambiguity is defended as being more theoretically adequate than others which have been suggested by both philosophers and linguists. It is also shown how… 
Ambiguity and explanation
This paper presents evidence that ‘because’ is importantly ambiguous between two closely related senses covering what are usually called causal explanations, on the one hand, and grounding or
The ambiguity of sapere
This paper discusses occurrences of Italian sapere ‘know’ in mental state attributions (sa). Following the proposal of Tsohatzidis (2012) for ‘knows’, the hypothesis put forward is that sa, when used
Studies on Factivity, Complementation, and Propositional Attitudes
This dissertation is a collection of seven papers in which a number of questions are investigated regarding verbs that take a sentential complement as their direct object. These verbs are considered
Inferentialism on Meaning, Content, and Context
In this paper, I show how normative inferentialism could be used to explain several phenomena related to natural languages. First, I show how the distinction between the inferential potential and the
Groups versus covers revisited: Structured pluralities and symmetric readings
New data is presented showing that structured pluralities are sometimes but not always available, depending on the form of the plural noun phrase used, and it is shown that these results challenge two longstanding theories of plurality.
L'ambiguïté : du fait de langue aux stratégies interlocutives
In this paper, ambiguity is defined as a particular kind of non-biunivocal form-meaning relationship, namely a 'split univocity', which imposes a necessary but impossible choice on the hearer/reader.
Does every sentence like this exhibit a scope ambiguity
It is argued that (1) is truth-conditionally unambiguous, and that (5) Ralph believes that the richest man is happy has no reading in which 'the richest man' has scope over 'believes'.
Plural semantics for natural language understanding — a computational proof-theoretic approach
This thesis investigates problems of representing, disambiguating and reasoning with plurals from a computational perspective, defines a computationally suitable representation for important plural constructions, proposes a tractable resolution algorithm for semantic plural ambiguities, and integrates an automatic reasoning component for plurals.
The Meaning of ‘Actually’
The paper is an investigation into the concept of actuality from the standpoint of the philosophy of language. It is argued that expressions such as ‘actually’ and ‘in fact’ are not indexicals like
Arguments as Abstract Objects
In recent discussions concerning the definition of argument, it has been maintained that the word ‘argument’ exhibits the process-product ambiguity, or an act/object ambigu-ity. Drawing on literature


Ambiguity and the Truth Definition
Some years ago, Strawson argued that the presence of ambiguous terms in a language made some of Quine's claims about the adequacy of the theory of reference quite untenable ([8]). In this paper, I
Ambiguity Tests and How to Fail Them
A number of tests used by linguists to distinguish a.mbtffiitf from lack of specification are described and illustrated, wi 1 brief critical commentary. The tests appeal to semantic, syntactic, and
Truth and meaning
It is conceded by most philosophers of language, and recently even by some linguists, that a satisfactory theory of meaning must give an account of how the meanings of sentences depend upon the
Ambiguity vs. Generality: Removal of a Logical Confusion
  • L. Roberts
  • Philosophy
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • 1984
Ambiguous terms (e.g., ‘bank,’ ‘pen’) are applicable to different kinds of things, but so are general terms, since a general kind (e.g., ‘animal’) may include various species. Thus a bank may be the
Logical form in Natural Language
In this book, a well-known and highly respected philosopher details the complicated anatomy of linguistic meaning, showing how its elements fit together; he explores the interface between "languages"
A Non-test for Ambiguity
In a recent article in this journal, Roberts (1984) suggests a semantic method for distinguishing ambiguity and generality, a method which is intended to avoid the problems that others such as Zwicky
Propositional Structure and Illocutionary Force: A Study of the Contribution of Sentence Meaning to Speech Acts
This book offers a new theory of the structure of propositions, which provides a uniform treatment of constative and performative sentences, and shows that performatives can enter into logically valid arguments, even though they can't be true or false.
New directions in semantics
  • E. Lepore
  • Philosophy
    Cognitive science series : Collections
  • 1987
This collection of thirteen papers aims to present a variety of approaches to the semantics of natural language, though the book falls short of giving a comprehensive survey of current trends in this
Semantics of natural language
This paper discusses the role of Inductive Reasoning in the Interpretation of Metaphor, and some problems Concerning the Logic of Grammatical Modifiers.
Semantical Essays: Possible Worlds and their Rivals
I Possible Worlds: Introduction.- 1 Possible Worlds.- 2 Semantic Competence.- 3 Semantics and Logic.- 4 Physical Theories and Possible Worlds.- II Situations and Attitudes: Introduction.- 5 The World