David Lewis and his place in the history of formal semantics
Angelika Kratzer
June 2021

The chapter looks at an aspect of David Lewis’s work on language that has been important for the foundation and history of formal semantics as a discipline practiced by both linguists and philosophers of language: a referential semantics over possible worlds that is connected to linguistically plausible syntactic structures. Lewis’s original contributions are placed within their historical context: Church’s typed lambda calculus, Carnapian intensions, the categorial grammars of Ajdukiewicz, and Chomsky’s theories of the relation between syntax and semantics. Relying on Lewis’s letters, the chapter identifies the works of Stenius, Davidson, and Katz as triggering Lewis’s interest in formal theories of natural language semantics and clarifies the relation between his and Montague’s contributions to the foundation of the discipline.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006063
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Beebe, Helen & Anthony R. J. Fisher (eds.): Perspectives on the Philosophy of David K. Lewis. Oxford University Press. Contracted.
keywords: history of formal semantics, foundation of formal semantics, syntax-semantics relation
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