Sunday, December 24, 2006

Situation Theory and Situation Semantics 

Situation Theory and Situation Semantics (PDF file)
by Keith Devlin

from the Introduction:

"In their 1980 paper The Situation Underground, the first published work
on situation semantics, Barwise and Perry wrote of situations:

'The world consists not just of objects, or of objects, properties and
relations, but of objects having properties and standing in relations
to one another. And there are parts of the world, clearly recognized
(although not precisely individuated) in common sense and human
language. These parts of the world are called situations. Events and
episodes are situations in time, scenes are visually perceived situations,
changes are sequences of situations, and facts are situations
enriched (or polluted) by language.'

The appearence of the word 'parts' in the above quotation is significant. Situations are parts of the world and the information an agent has about a given situation at any moment will be just a part of all the information that is theoretically available. The emphasis on partiality contrasts situation semantics from what was regarded by many as its principal competitor as a semantic theory, possible worlds semantics."


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