•  655
    This paper defends the view that the Faculty of Language is compositional, i.e., that it computes the meaning of complex expressions from the meanings of their immediate constituents and their structure. I fargue that compositionality and other competing constraints on the way in which the Faculty of Language computes the meanings of complex expressions should be understood as hypotheses about innate constraints of the Faculty of Language. I then argue that, unlike compositionality, most of the…Read more
  •  416
    There and Up Again: On the Uses and Misuses of Neuroimaging in Psychology
    Cognitive Neuropsychology 30 (4): 233-252. 2013.
    The aim of this article is to discuss the conditions under which functional neuroimaging can contribute to the study of higher cognition. We begin by presenting two case studies—on moral and economic decision making—which will help us identify and examine one of the main ways in which neuroimaging can help advance the study of higher cognition. We agree with critics that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies seldom “refine” or “confirm” particular psychological hypotheses, or even…Read more
  •  321
    Dual Content Semantics, privative adjectives and dynamic compositionality
    Semantics and Pragmatics 8 (7): 1-53. 2015.
    This paper defends the view that common nouns have a dual semantic structure that includes extension-determining and non-extension-determining components. I argue that the non-extension-determining components are part of linguistic meaning because they play a key compositional role in certain constructions, especially in privative noun phrases such as "fake gun" and "counterfeit document". Furthermore, I show that if we modify the compositional interpretation rules in certain simple ways, this d…Read more
  •  260
    Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors claim that neuroscientific data can be employed to advance theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called ‘autonomy’ of psychology. Settling this significant issue…Read more
  •  256
    The aim of this paper is to reconcile two claims that have long been thought to be incompatible: that we compositionally determine the meaning of complex expressions from the meaning of their parts, and that prototypes are components of the meaning of lexical terms such as fish, red, and gun. Hypotheses and are independently plausible, but most researchers think that reconciling them is a difficult, if not hopeless task. In particular, most linguists and philosophers agree that is not negotiable…Read more
  •  220
    The concepts expressed by social role terms such as artist and scientist are unique in that they seem to allow two independent criteria for categorization, one of which is inherently normative. This study presents and tests an account of the content and structure of the normative dimension of these “dual character concepts.” Experiment 1 suggests that the normative dimension of a social role concept represents the commitment to fulfill the idealized basic function associated with the role. Backg…Read more
  •  84
    The meaning that expressions take on particular occasions often depends on the context in ways which seem to transcend its direct effect on context-sensitive parameters. ‘Truth-conditional pragmatics’ is the project of trying to model such semantic flexibility within a compositional truth-conditional framework. Most proposals proceed by radically ‘freeing up’ the compositional operations of language. I argue, however, that the resulting theories are too unconstrained, and predict flexibility in …Read more
  •  83
    Modals under epistemic tension
    with Brandon Waldon
    Natural Language Semantics 27 (2): 135-188. 2019.
    According to Kratzer’s influential account of epistemic 'must' and 'might', these operators involve quantification over domains of possibilities determined by a modal base and an ordering source. Recently, this account has been challenged by invoking contexts of ‘epistemic tension’: i.e., cases in which an assertion that 'must p' is conjoined with the possibility that 'not p', and cases in which speakers try to downplay a previous assertion that 'must p', after finding out that 'not p'. Epistemi…Read more
  •  62
    Recent work in formal semantics suggests that the language system includes not only a structure building device, as standardly assumed, but also a natural deductive system which can determine when expressions have trivial truth‐conditions (e.g., are logically true/false) and mark them as unacceptable. This hypothesis, called the ‘logicality of language’, accounts for many acceptability patterns, including systematic restrictions on the distribution of quantifiers. To deal with apparent counter‐e…Read more
  •  38
    This article presents and discusses one of the most prominent inferential strategies currently employed in cognitive neuropsychology, namely, reverse inference. Simply put, this is the practice of inferring, in the context of experimental tasks, the engagement of cognitive processes from locations or patterns of neural activation. This technique is notoriously controversial because, critics argue, it presupposes the problematic assumption that neural areas are functionally selective. We proceed …Read more
  •  26
    Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors now claim that neuroscientific data can be used to advance our theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called `autonomy' of psychology. Settling this significant q…Read more