Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Disputed term/author/ism Author
Actions Gärdenfors I 15/16
Action/Meaning/Language/Gärdenfors: Thesis: Actions, especially exercised forces have an influence on meanings of our linguistic expressions. See Johnson (1987)(1), Clark (1997)(2), Mandler (2004, especially pp. 118-119)(3). ---
I 91
Action/Gärdenfors: Speaking and listening are traditionally understood as autonomous actions. H. Clark (1996, p.19)(4) Thesis: one should understand both as participatory actions. Gärdenfors: It is about bringing the spirit of the participants together. (>Meeting of Minds). Predecessor of this view: G. H. Mead (1934)(5).
I 145
Acts/Linguistics/Gärdenfors: many of our cognitive representations affect dynamic properties (as opposed to properties denoted by most nouns and adjectives). (See van Gelder, 1995, Port & van Gelder, 1995)(6). Conceptual Space/Action/Gärdenfors: Thesis: the action space can be treated as the colour space or the shape space.
Action/Gärdenfors: Thesis: Actions can be described as force patterns. (See Space/Lakoff).
I 146
Actions/Language/Gärdenfors: many of our everyday concepts come from acts and events, many words for artefacts - such as chairs, clocks, etc. - are categorized according to their functional properties. (See Nelson, 1996, Mandler, 2004).(7) (8) ---
I 148
Action/Representation/Gärdenfors: Thesis: an action is represented by the force pattern, which produces it. N.B.: a consequence of this thesis is that the actors are not part of the representation.
Conceptual space: the conceptual space for actions is therefore a configurational space that includes the movements e.g. of body parts. It is based on the force space. As in the case of forms, there is also a meronomic (part-whole) structure in forces. (See Westera, 2008, > Robot Control). (9)
I 153
Action/Categories/Function/Gärdenfors: Thesis on concepts of action: a concept of action is represented as a convex region of the space of action. Convex: one can interpret that here in the way that a linear "morph" (e.g. hiking, running, marching) between two actions within a region of a concept of action will fall under the same concept.
I 198
Actions/Gärdenfors: Conclusion: 1. The models of action and the models for property changes make it possible to predict the similarities of verbs and their superordinate and subordinate hierarchies.
2. The distinction between course of action/result is directly derived from the assumption of a single area.
3. The role of intentionality in the verb meaning is underlined. Many verbs, which seem to contravene the assumption of a single space, have a dual lexical potential.
Verbs: can be analyzed similarly to the pointing and similar to nouns and adjectives. Therefore, I do not divide verbs into classes.
I 199
Pro verbs/Gärdenfors: Verbs like "is", "go", "make" are often placeholders for verbs of the course of action or property change. I call them "pro verbs" analog to pronouns.

1. Johnson, M. (1987). The body in the mind: The bodily basis of cognition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2. Clark, A. (1997). Being there: Putting brain, body, and world together again. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
3. Mandler, J. M. (2004). The foundations of mind: Origins of conceptual thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
4. Clark, H. (1996). Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
6. Port, R. F., & van Gelder, T. (Eds.). (1995). Mind as motion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
7. Nelson, K. (1996). Language in cognitive development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
8. Mandler, J. M. (2004). The foundations of mind: Origins of conceptual thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
9. Westera, M. (2008). Action representations and the semantics of verbs. Bachelor’s thesis. Cognitive Artificial Intelligence, Utrecht University.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014

Fixed Points Gärdenfors I 97
Fixed point/communication/Gärdenfors: a fixed point in a communication is reached when, for example, a person sees that the other person looks in the direction of the object they are referring to. ---
I 99
There should also be a consistency between the mental representations for the consistency of word meanings. Communication is also possible without this: e.g. children often have fewer domains in the representation of their terms or the domains are differently weighted. Equilibrium: Communication can work restrictedly before the equilibrium of the partners (the same level of information) is reached.
I 100
Signal game/Jäger/Rooij/Gärdenfors: (Jäger & van Rooij, 2007)(1): randomly selected color samples are ordered by a second person. The goal of the game is to achieve an equal division of the color space in regions. (Nash-equilibrium or fixed point). Gärdenfors: thesis: this is achieved if the conceptual spaces are convex and compact.
I 101
Equilibrium/Fixed point/Gärdenfors: further experiments have shown that repeated interactions lead to a stable communication system. (E.g. Hurford, 1999,(2) Kirby, 1999,(3) Steels, 1999,(4) Kaplan, 2000,(5) Steels & Belpaeme, 2005(6)). ---
I 102
Meanings: do not necessarily have to change when the composition of the communicators involved changes or new parties join or disappear. Fixed point/Dewey/Gärdenfors: (Dewey 1929, p. 178) (7): in order for V to understand A's moves, he must react to the thing from A's standpoint of view. So not I-centered and vice versa. Thus, something is literally made into a common.
I 104
Fixed point theorem/Gärdenfors: in order to achieve fixed points, it is not necessary for the conceptual spaces of the participants to be identical, nor that they divide the spaces equally. ----
I 105
We assume that the rooms are convex and compact. The following theorem from Warglien & Gärdenfors (2013)(8) is a consequence of Brouwer's fixed point theorem (Brouwer 1910)(9): Theorem: every semantic reaction function, which is a continuous mapping of a convex compact set on itself, has at least one fixed point.
That is, there will always be a fixed point representing a Meeting of Minds.
Conceptual spaces: that they are assumed to be convex makes the communication flowing and memory performance efficient.
I 106
Gärdenfors: I do not mean that convex spaces are a reliable representation of our world, but that, because they are effective, they will be widespread. Fixed points: the fixed point approach allows to consider a variety of types of communication such as color determinations and negotiations. The fixed-point theorem guarantees that the consciousness of the participants together (> Meeting of Minds) but it does not show how the semantic reaction function emerges from the communicative interaction.
I 109
Fixed Point/Communication/Gärdenfors: how do we know if a fixed point (balance, agreement) has been reached? ---
I 110
If the listener believes to understand, this is not a guarantee for a meeting of minds.

1. Jäger, G., & van Rooij, R. (2007). Language structure: Psychological and social constraints. Synthese, 159, 99–130.
2. Hurford, J. (1999). The evolution of language and languages. In R. Dunbar, C. Knight, & C. Power (Eds.), The evolution of culture (pp. 173–193). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
3. Kirby, S. (1999). Function, selection, and innateness: The emergence of language universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4. Steels, L. (1999). The talking heads experiment. Antwerp: Laboratorium.
5. Kaplan, F. (2000). L’émergence d’un lexique dans une population d’agents autonomes. Paris: Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6.
6. Steels, L., & Belpaeme, T. (2005). Coordinating perceptually grounded categories through language: A case study for colour. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 469–489.
7. Dewey, J. (1929). Experience and nature. New York: Dover.
8. Gärdenfors, P., & Warglien, M. (2013). The development of semantic space for pointing and verbal communication. In J. Hudson, U. Magnusson, & C. Paradis (Eds.), Conceptual spaces and the construal of spatial meaning: Empirical evidence from human communication (pp. 29–42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
9. Brouwer, L. E. J. (1910). Über ein eindeutige, stetige Transformation von Flächen in sich. Mathematische Annalen, 69, 176–180.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014

Language Evolution Gärdenfors I 71
Language Evolution/Evolution/Language/Gärdenfors: Thesis: in early forms of communication the communicative act itself was more important than its expressive form. (See H. Clark, 1992(1), Winter, 1998(2), Gärdenfors, 2010(3)). Therefore, the pragmatics of natural language is evolutionary seen the fundamental. Later, when the communication acts become more diverse and independent of the immediate context, the semantics is brought to the fore. Syntax is needed when the communication becomes even more conventional later: markers are used to establish uniqueness. Then syntax is used only for the most subtle aspects of communication. VsGärdenfors: this is in contrast to most contemporary authors in linguistics.
ChomskyVsGärdenfors: for Chomsky's school syntax is at the beginning of the investigation, semantic features are added only when grammar is not enough.
I 72
Pragmatics/GärdenforsVsChomsky/Gärdenfors: For Chomsky, the pragmatics is only the waste basket for the remains: context, deixis, etc.). Gärdenfors: for a theory of the evolution of language, we must proceed differently: pragmatics before semantics before syntax. ---
I 73
Language formation/Gärdenfors: just as the money was later added to the exchange economy and made it more efficient, the language was added to the existing communication among humans. Analogy/linguistic communication/monetary economy/Gärdenfors: one can extend the analogy: just as the money allows a stable price system, a relatively stable system of meanings is formed by language.
Game theoretical explanation/analogy: just as prices, linguistic meanings are also equilibrium points in a system. (> Meeting of minds).
I 78
Langauge Formation/Communication/Gärdenfors: Thesis: growing semantic complexity is achieved by extending the domains in the shared conceptual space. One can understand the linking of different domains as the creation of product spaces. ((s) Product space: Cartesian coordinate system, where one axis corresponds to a conceptual dimension.) This is how domains are combined.

1. Clark, H. (1992). Arenas of language use. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2. Winter, S. (1998). Expectations and linguistic meaning. Lund University Cognitive Studies 71. Lund: Lund University.
3. Gärdenfors, P. (2010). Evolution and semantics. In P.C. Horgan (ed.) Cambridge encyclopedia of the language sciences (pp. 748-750). Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014

Meaning Gärdenfors I 18
Meaning/Gärdenfors: Thesis: Semantics, understood as a "meeting of minds", implies that the meanings of expressions do not reside in the external world and also not exclusively in the speakers' image schemas, but are from the communicative interactions of the language users. Therefore, meanings are in the mind of the speakers. Gärdenfors (1993)(1), Warglien & Gärdenfors (2013)(2)
GärdenforsVsPutnam: meanings are in the head.
Gärdenfors: I do not assume that speakers have the same image schemas or the same representations.
>Meaning/Putnam, >"not in the head", >Twin earth.

1. Gärdenfors, P. (1993). The emergence of meaning. Linguistics and Philosophy, 16, 285–309.
2. Gärdenfors, P., & Warglien, M. (2013). The development of semantic space for pointing and verbal communication. In J. Hudson, U. Magnusson, & C. Paradis (Eds.), Conceptual spaces and the construal of spatial meaning: Empirical evidence from human communication (pp. 29–42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014

Objects of Thought Gärdenfors I 110
Object of thought/intentional identity/Gärdenfors: example by Peter Geach (1967)(1): the three farmers Cob, Hob and Nob believe that a witch is bothering them, and they wonder if she is the same witch who has done different things. Problem: since there is no witch, there is only one object of thought. Question: is it the same object that the three farmers think of? See also Edelberg (2006) (2) and Jacot (2012)(3). Prototype/Jacot/Gärdenfors: "a witch" is under-determined. Solution: Prototypes.
I 111
Fixed point/Gärdenfors: is reached, if e.g. one refers to the with with index words and pronomina. However, this fixed point is fragile, which becomes apparent when additional properties are added that are possibly incompatible. Solution: if there is a "meeting of minds", the same conclusions should be drawn.
I 112
Gärdenfors: such a theory can be called sociocognitive.

1. Geach, P. (1967). Intentional identity. Journal of Philosophy, 64, 627–632.
2. Edelberg, W. (2006). Intrasubjective intentional identity. Journal of Philosophy, 103, 481–502.
3. Jacot, J. (2012). Do we speak of the same witch? How minds can meet on intentional identity. Lund: Department of Philosophy, Lund University.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014

Ostension Gärdenfors I 62
Showing/Ostension/Gärdenfors: (Hurford 2007(1), p.224): pointing communicates only the localization of an object and says nothing about its properties. Gärdenfors: that means that pointing can work without an established and divided object category. Language acquisition/learning/child/Gärdenfors: before children use words alone, they combine the uttering and pointing at them. (Goldin-Meadow, 2007(2)).
Triangulation/Gärdenfors: the communicators meet in two respects: the spatial-visual domain and the space of the object categories.
I 77
Pointing/Ostension/Gärdenfors: Thesis: the processing of meaning in pointing is essentially the same as in linguistic communication. The development of communicative skills can be understood as a transfer from the spatial-visual domain to "pointing" in other domains. This concerns the domains of feelings, the subject space, and the target domain. Meaning/Pointing/Gärdenfors: thesis: I understand communication as a "meeting of minds", whereby the meanings are not only in the world, but they also develop in communicative interaction (see Brinck, 2001(3), 2004b(4)).
I 78
Pointing/Gärdenfors: a) imperative pointing is seen as the basic form, following Bates et al. (Bates 1975(5), 1976(6), Brinck 2004a(7)). It is not necessarily intentional. It can be used purely reinforcing. ---
I 79
b) Declarative pointing: involves the attention of another person being directed to an object (Bates et al., 1975(6), Brinck 2004a(7), Tomasello et al., 2007(8)). ---
I 80
Decisive: it is not about a desire of the object, but about common attention. c) emotive, declarative pointing: requires no understanding of the intentions or beliefs (Brinck, 2008)(9).
I 81
D) Information-requesting pointing: combines the spatial-visual domain with the category space for objects. e.g. "What is it?" ---
L 81/82
Proto speech act/Searle: this kind of pointing can be understood as a proto speech act. (Searle, 1969)(10). e) Targeted pointing: e.g. a child points to the relocated glasses. (Liszkowski et al., 2007)(11). The intention of the other is recorded as well as a deviation in the target. This can be understood as proto-declarative. Intersubjectivity must only encompass the understanding of the goals, not the beliefs. (Brinck, 2001, 2004a).

1. Hurford, J. R. ( 2007). The origins of meaning: Language in the light of evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2. Goldin-Meadow, S. (2007). Pointing sets the stage für learning language - and creating language, Child Development 78, 741-754.
3. Brinck, I. (2001) Attention and the evolution of intentional communication. Pragmatics and Cognition, 9, 255-272
4. Brinck, I. (2004b) Joint attention, triangulation and radical interpretation: A üroblemn and its solution. Dialectica, 58(2), 179-205
5. Bates, E., Camaioni, L., & Volterra, V. (1975). The acquisition of performatives prior to speech. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 21, 205-224.
6. Bates, E. /ed) (1976). Language and context: The acquisition of pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.
7. Brinck, I. (2004a). The pragmatics of imperative and declarative pointing. Cognitive Science Quarterly, 3, 429-446.
8. Tomasello, M. Carpenter, M., & Liszkowski, U. (2007). A new look at infant pointing. child Development, 78, 705-722.
9. Brinck, I. (2008) The role of intersubjectivity for the development of intentional communication. In J. Zlatev, T. Racine, C. Sinha, & E. Itkonen (Eds.) The shared mind: Perspectives on intersubjectivity (pp. 115-140). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
10. Searle, J. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
11. Liszkowski, U., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. (2007). Reference and attitude in infant pointing. Journal of Child Language, 34, 1-20.

Gä I
P. Gärdenfors
The Geometry of Meaning Cambridge 2014