Could there be a semantics of maps—a theory which would stand in the same relation to maps as (ordinary) semantics stands in to (ordinary) languages? And what would such a theory look like? This paper addresses these questions from the standpoint of the doctrine that a semantics for a language is a theory which gives the truth-conditions for expressions in that language. We show how a semantics for certain simple sorts of maps can be constructed by analogy with minimal model semantics for the predicate calculus under default reasoning. We go on to show, however, that other sorts of maps challenge a fundamental assumption about truth-conditional approaches to semantics. In particular, we see how the figure/ground ambiguity inherent in some maps forces us to re-think the role played by the syntactical organisation underlying an account of truth-conditions.


Syntactic Structure Predicate Calculus Formal Semantic Artificial Language Default Representation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Pratt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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