Gabriel M. A. Segal

Gabriel M.A. Segal is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London.

  • A Slim Book about Narrow Content

    A Slim Book about Narrow Content

    Gabriel M. A. Segal

    A good understanding of the nature of a property requires knowing whether that property is relational or intrinsic. Gabriel Segal's concern is whether certain psychological properties—specifically, those that make up what might be called the "cognitive content" of psychological states—are relational or intrinsic. He claims that content supervenes on microstructure, that is, if two beings are identical with respect to their microstructural properties, then they must be identical with respect to their cognitive contents.

    Segal's thesis, a version of internalism, is that being in a state with a specific cognitive content does not essentially involve standing in any real relation to anything external. He uses the fact that content locally supervenes on microstructure to argue for the intrinsicness of content. Cognitive content is fully determined by intrinsic, microstructural properties: duplicate a subject in respect to those properties and you duplicate their cognitive contents.

    The book, written in a clear, engaging style, contains four chapters. The first two argue against the two leading externalist theories. Chapter 3 rejects popular theories that endorse two kinds of content: "narrow" content, which is locally supervenient, and "broad" content, which is not. Chapter 4 defends a radical alternative version of internalism, arguing that narrow content is a variety of ordinary representation, that is, that narrow content is all there is to content. In defending internalism, Segal does not claim to defend a general philosophical theory of content. At this stage, he suggests, it should suffice to cast reasonable doubt on externalism, to motivate internalism, and to provide reasons to believe that good psychology is, or could be, internalist.

    • Hardcover $70.00 £58.00
    • Paperback $30.00 £25.00
  • Knowledge of Meaning

    Knowledge of Meaning

    An Introduction to Semantic Theory

    Richard K. Larson and Gabriel M. A. Segal

    Current textbooks in formal semantics are all versions of, or introductions to, the same paradigm in semantic theory: Montague Grammar. Knowledge of Meaning is based on different assumptions and a different history. It provides the only introduction to truth- theoretic semantics for natural languages, fully integrating semantic theory into the modern Chomskyan program in linguistic theory and connecting linguistic semantics to research elsewhere in cognitive psychology and philosophy. As such, it better fits into a modern graduate or undergraduate program in linguistics, cognitive science, or philosophy. Furthermore, since the technical tools it employs are much simpler to teach and to master, Knowledge of Meaning can be taught by someone who is not primarily a semanticist.

    Linguistic semantics cannot be studied as a stand-alone subject but only as part of cognitive psychology, the authors assert. It is the study of a particular human cognitive competence governing the meanings of words and phrases. Larson and Segal argue that speakers have unconscious knowledge of the semantic rules of their language, and they present concrete, empirically motivated proposals about a formal theory of this competence based on the work of Alfred Tarski and Donald Davidson. The theory is extended to a wide range of constructions occurring in natural language, including predicates, proper nouns, pronouns and demonstratives, quantifiers, definite descriptions, anaphoric expressions, clausal complements, and adverbs.

    Knowledge of Meaning gives equal weight to philosophical, empirical, and formal discussions. It addresses not only the empirical issues of linguistic semantics but also its fundamental conceptual questions, including the relation of truth to meaning and the methodology of semantic theorizing. Numerous exercises are included in the book.

    • Hardcover $115.00 £95.00
    • Paperback $75.00 £62.00