Terence Parsons

terenceResearch Professor of Philosophy

I work on the semantics of natural language, trying to develop theories of truth and meaning for natural language similar to those devised for artificial languages by philosophical logicians. This is based in part on work by linguists on natural language syntax. A few years ago, I completed a book investigating the hypothesis that the logical forms of sentences of English contain (unexpressed) quantification over events; the book explores the evidence for this hypothesis, and tries to develop a systematic semantics based on this idea. More recently I have been working on the question of meaning for natural language, inspired by work of Frege and Russell. My work also touches on metaphysical matters, where I have investigated the topics of nonexistent objects, and (recently) of indeterminate identity. I have also done some historical-critical work on Frege, and on the early Russell, and I remain interested in these topics, as well as in medieval theories of semantics, and the history of logic in general.  I have recently completed a book on Medieval Logic with Oxford University Press.

ACADEMIC BOOKS:

Nonexistent Objects, Yale University Press, 1980. 
Events in the Semantics of English, MIT Press, 1990. 
Indeterminate Identity, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Articulating Medieval Logic, Oxford University Press, 2014.

 

SELECTED ARTICLES:

  • "Essentialism and Quantified Modal Logic," Philosophical Review LXXVIII 1 (1969) 35-52. Reprinted in L. Linsky (ed.), Reference and Modality (Oxford University Press, 1971).
  • "An Analysis of Mass Terms and Amount Terms," Foundations of Language 6 (1970) 362-388. Reprinted in J. Pelletier (ed.), Recent Work on Mass Terms (Reidel, 1979).
  • "Some Problems Concerning the Logic of Grammatical Modifiers," Synthese 21 (1970) 320-34.
  • "Pronouns as Paraphrases" -- An unpublished paper from 1978(?)
  • "A Prolegomenon to Meinongian Semantics," Journal of Philosophy LXXI 16 (1974) 561-580. Reprinted in E. Morscher, J. Czermak and P. Weingartner (eds.) Problems in Logic and Ontology(Akademische Druck-U. Verlagsantalt, Graz, 1977).
  • "Frege's Hierarchies of Indirect Sense and the Paradox of Analysis," Midwest Studies in Philosophy VI, 1981, 37-57.
  • "Fregean Theories of Fictional Objects," Topoi 1, (1982) 81-87.

  • "What Do Quotation Marks Name? -- Frege's Theories of Quotations and That-Clauses," Philosophical Studies 42 (1982) 315-28.
  • "Assertion, Denial and the Liar Paradox," Journal of Philosophical Logic 13 (1984) 137-152.

  • "Why Frege should not have said `The Concept Horse is not a Concept'," History of Philosophy Quarterly 3 (1986) 449-65.

  • "Entities without Identity," in James Tomberlin (ed) Philosophical Perspectives, 1 Metaphysics, 1987, (Ridgeview, Atascadero CA, 1987) pp. 1-19. Reprinted in Michael Rea, Material Constitution: A Reader , Rowman & Littlefield, New York, 1997.

  • "On the Consistency of the First-Order Portion of Frege's Logical System and of his Identification of Truth-Values with Courses of Values," Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 28 (1987) 161-68. Reprinted in Demopoulos, William, Frege's Philosophy of Mathematics. Cambridge; Harvard University Press, (1995) 422-31.
  • "Russell's Early Views on Denoting," in David Austin (ed), Philosophical Analysis (Festschrift for Edmund Gettier), (Kluwer, 1988) pp. 17-44.
  • "The Progressive in English: Events, States and Processes," Linguistics and Philosophy12 (1989) 213-41.
  • "True Contradictions," The Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20 (1990) 335-54.
  • "Anaphoric Pronouns in Very Late Medieval Supposition Theory," Linguistics and Philosophy 17: 1994, 429-45.
  • "Meinongian Semantics Generalized," Grazer Philosophische Studien 50: 1995, 145-61.
  • "What is an Argument?" The Journal of Philosophy 93: 1996, 164-85.
  • "Meaning Sensitivity and Grammatical Structure," in M. L. Dalla Chiara et al. (eds.) Structures and Norms in Science. Kluwer, The Netherlands, 1997, 369-83.
  • "Supposition as Quantification or as Global Quantificational Effect?" Topoi 1997, 41-63.
  • "The Traditional Square of Opposition: A Biography," Acta Analytica 18: 1997, 23-49. 49. 
    [short version: "The Square of Opposition" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.]
  • "Missing Modes of Supposition," in Kazmi, Ali (ed.), Meaning and Reference, University of Calgary Press, Calgary: 1998, 1-24.
  • "Set Theory with Indeterminacy of Identity" (with Peter Woodruff), Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 40, 1999, 473-95.
  • "Underlying States and Time Travel," in Higgenbotham, James, Pianesi, Fabio and Varzi, Achille (eds) Speaking of Events. N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2000, 81-93. 48.
  • "The Logic of Sense and Denotation," in Anderson, C. Anthony and Zelazny, Michael, Logic, Meaning and Computation: Essays in Memory of Alonzo Church. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 2001, 507-43.
  • "Underlying Eventualities and Narrative Progression," Linguistics and Philosophy: 2002, 681-99.
  • "The Doctrine of Distribution," History and Philosophy of Logic, 2006.
  • "Supposition Theory in the Later 12th through 14th Centuries" in The Handbook of the History of Logic.
  • "Things That are Right with the Traditional Square of Opposition," Logica Universalis 2.1, 2008, 3-11.
  • With Calvin Normore. "Billingham and Buridan on the Foundations of Syllogistic Reasoning" Forthcoming in the Proceedings of the First GPMR Workshop in Logic and Semantics.
  • "Comments on Stephen Read's 'The Truth-schema and the Liar'," S. Rahman, T. Tulenheimo and E. Genot, Unity, Truth and the Liar. The Modern Relevance of Medieval Solutions to the Liar Paradoxe, Springer, Dordrecht, 2008: 129-34.
  • Fictional Characters and Indeterminate Identity,” Lihoreau, Franck (ed.) Truth in Fiction, Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt/Paris/New Brunswick, 2011: 27-42.

  • "The Expressive Power of Medieval Logic," Medieval Supposition Theory Revisited, E. P. Bos (ed), Brill, Leiden and Boston, 511-521.

SOME MEDIEVAL WORKS TO DOWNLOAD

INTRO LOGIC TEXT

SEMANTICS TEXT

In Winter 2014 I expect to do a graduate seminar together with Calvin Normore, on Medieval Logic.