Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

Research Programmes

Logic and Language (LoLa)


Project leaders:
Robert van Rooij, Paul Dekker (deputy).
Researchers:
Maria Aloni, Franz Berto, Arianna Betti, Elsbeth Brouwer, Raquel Fernández Rovira, Nina Gierasimczuk, Jeroen Groenendijk (emeritus), Luca Incurvati, Theo Janssen (emeritus), Julian Kiverstein, Michiel van Lambalgen, Jaap Maat, Floris Roelofsen, Joshua Sack, Katrin Schulz, Sonja Smets, Martin Stokhof, Frank Veltman (emeritus).
PhD students:
Theodora Achourioti, Jort Bergfeld, Elbert Booij, Thomas Brochhagen, Jelle Bruineberg, Cian Chartier, Zoé Christoff, Ivano Ciardelli, Inés Crespo, Paolo Galeazzi, Jordy Jouby, Mathias Madsen, Johannes Marti, Riccardo Pinosio, Stefan Pliquett, Angelika Port, Julian Schlöder, Matthijs Westera, Dilek Yamali.
Guest researchers:
Anna Szabolcsi.
Homepage:
http://www.illc.uva.nl/LoLa/

The programme Logic and Language encompasses a broad range of topics in philosophy, crossing the boundaries of empirical linguistics and cognitive science. Major themes are human reasoning and interpretation of natural language, and the methods we use for investigation are mostly based on logical and philosophical analysis. Empirical ratification of analytical work is our main ambition and touchstone for success. Our research strategy is non-monolithic, allowing for different approaches, but demanding philosophical reflection and internal and external debate.

In our investigations on interpretation we follow several intertwined research lines, using different instruments from a logical toolbox, of which intensional logic, epistemic logic, non-monotonic logic, dynamic logic, game theory, and decision theory are prominent parts. Binding force is the conviction that interpretation should be studied as a dynamic cognitive process that is embedded both in social practices and the external environment. This view differs markedly from the more traditional one, according to which a theory of interpretation assigns `static' semantic contents to linguistic structures independently of their use. Hence, the integration of semantics and pragmatics is a dominant longer term research aim.

This view on how logic and language connect, has obvious historical roots, e.g., the writings of Aristotle, Leibniz, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Montague. Systematic and historical study of the works of these intellectual forebears forms a substantial part of the programme, also to stimulate critical reflection on current systematic research and inspire debate on our current positions.

The various systematic investigations concentrate on empirical phenomena that are intrinsically related to the way in which information is structured in the context of conversations. Prominent examples are the interplay between mood and modality, questions and imperatives, implicatures and presuppositions.

In our investigations on reasoning we want to show that logical languages can be fruitfully used as high-level specifications of cognitive functions, and that contrary to current opinions in cognitive science mathematical logic can be used in explaining human reasoning behaviour. To achieve these aims logical and computational models are paired with methods from empirical psychology and neuro-science in an innovative way. In addition to the research on reasoning, other issues in the domain between cognitive science and philosophy, such as know-how and everyday expertise, are investigated.

Our basic outlook on interpretation as a cognitive process embedded in social practices, makes a strong bond between interpretation and reason(ing). Ultimately, we want to explain the procedures of the production and interpretation of speech as a natural evolution of rational human behaviour.