Intensionality, Reference and Games of Partial Information II. Semantic Verbs

Mihai Hîncu


In this paper, I look at the semantic behaviour of the most emblematic verb of our semantic lexicon, „refer (to)”, through the prism of the semantic features considered definitory for the extensional verbs and I show that there are strong theoretical reasons for considering that it belongs to the class of ITVs and that, in consequence, it generates structural ambiguity at each level of language in which it is involved. In this regard, I show how the conceptual framework of the games of partial information can successfully accommodate the semantic verb’s inherent ambiguity. In order to accomplish this task, I present a scenario of strategic communication involving semantic verbs and I model it as a two-agent coordination game. The cognitive dynamics peculiar to the agents’ interaction will be presented on the background of some reasonable assumptions introduced to guarantee the finding of a solution concept corresponding to the game. In this regard, after I compute the expected utilities of the strategic profiles, I determine a set of Nash equilibria and I show that the game’s unique solution can be equated with that set’s member which passes the test of Paretian efficiency. In the end, I present the picture of the interplay between the speaker’s reference and the semantic reference which emerges from the game-theoretical framework adopted here and I show some of its methodological consequences related to the way in which the key concept of reference has to be theoretically framed. This is the second part of a two-part study. 


Exportation; monotonicity; speaker’s reference; interpretation de dicto; Nash equilibrium; Pareto efficiency; intensionality;

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