Situations, constraints and channels (update of chapter 4)

Edwin Mares*, Jeremy Seligman, Greg Restall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Central to the project of situation semantics was the goal of a "relational" theory of meaning, which would explain meaning in terms of the relationship between situations containing meaningful entities or actions such as utterances and situations they are about. The contrast is primarily with the once dominant view of Davidson, Montague, and many others following Tarski's seminal ideas about semantics, according to which the meaning of a declarative statement (at least) is to be understood in terms of the conditions under which it is true. There are some difficulties in making this contrast clear. After all, truth-conditional theories of meaning typically also involve a theory of reference, which is concerned specifically with the relationship between words and things, and the relation of reference is present in all attempts to produce a situation-based semantics. Dressing up a truth-conditional account of meaning in the notation of situations and infons is a futile exercise. Constraints, such as "involvement," are relations between infons and possibly other parts of the situation theoretic universe that make explicit the regularities on which the flow of information depends. The replacement of truth by "support" as the fundamental theoretical concept of situation theory succeeds in localizing information, but at the expense of opening an explanatory gap.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Logic and Language
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780444537263
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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