sorry for the recent lack of posting, but we're getting ready to head back to school...
and because of that, a lot of my recent laptop and linguistics time has been spent on mmy Semantics final from last semester, so i thought i'd share some puzzles from that.
Bertrand Russell posed this simple and now-famous problem to truth-conditional semantics: what is the truth value of the sentence "The King of France is bald"? is it false in the same way as "the Queen of England is bald"?
Russell argues that the use of definite descriptions such as 'the king of france' actually asserts the existence of the king, so that someone who says "the king of france is bald" is actually saying "there is a king of france, there is only one king of france, and that individual is bald," and if any of these three assertions is false, the entire sentence is false.
people have proposed three-place truth conditions to handle sentences like this, with T, F, and N (not determine, or something), but their truth tables got more complicated...
then Strawson came along and answered Russell on his own king-of-france turf, arguing that the existence of the king of france is presupposed by the sentence, and that the sentence itself cannot be evaluated as true or false - only statements made with contexts to go with them can be true or false.
anyway, i don't know if any conclusions have been reached on this, but it's an interesting puzzle, and my grade depends on it.