Intensionality, Reference and Games of Partial Information I. Intensional Transitive Verbs

Mihai Hîncu


In this paper I focus on the linguistic constructions in which intensional transitive verbs (ITVs) occur. In order to present the complex semantic profile of the ITVs, I contrast them with the extensional transitive verbs and I inspect the semantic differences of their inferential behaviour with respect to the existential entailment, to the substitution salva veritate of the coreferential terms and to the semantic specificity. Insofar as the sentences containing ITVs are structurally ambiguous between an intensional, de dicto interpretation, and an extensional, de re interpretation, they threaten the coordination between agents. For this reason, if the speaker uses an ITV in one way and the hearer’s reading of it diverges from the speaker’s intended meaning, both agents have a coordination problem. In this regard, using the mathematical framework of games of partial information, I show what conditions have to be satisfied in order for a rational speaker and a rational hearer to efficiently communicate with a sentence in which an ITV occurs and to converge on the right interpretation of the intensional verb construction, when the sentence’s surface syntax is probabilistically silent about which of the de re or de dicto meaning the hearer has to choose in order to coordinate with the speaker. This is the first part of a two-part study. 


Existential entailment; substitution salva veritate; interpretation de dicto; Nash equilibrium; Pareto efficiency; intensionality;

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