Natural Language Ontology

Language and Logic Courses

Advanced Course

Natural Language Ontology,
Friederike Moltmann (The French National Center for Scientific Research and New York University)

Metaphysics in the past was considered mainly a pursuit of philosophers, asking questions about being in most general terms. While some philosophers made appeal to natural language, others have rejected such an appeal arguing that the ontology reflected in language diverges significantly from what there really is. What is certain is that with the development of natural language semantics (and syntax), the ontology reflected in natural language has become an important object of study in itself, as the subject matter of natural language ontology. This course gives an overview of the sorts of the ways natural language reflects ontological notions and structures, of cases of discrepancies between the ontology implicit in natural language and the reflective ontology of philosophers or non-philosophers, and of the ways natural language ontology can be conceived with respect to other projects in metaphysics. It also addresses the Chomskyan skepticism as regards reference (and ontology) and the importance of recent developments in (generative) syntax for natural language ontology.