Book of Abstracts
- John Kulvicki (Dartmouth): “Individuals as the contents of pictures”
- Solveig Aasen (Oslo): “Pictorial intentionality and the use of models”
- Eliot Michaelson (KCL): “Reference and definite depiction”
John Kulvicki (Dartmouth): “Individuals as the contents of pictures”
Pictorial content is purely descriptive, in that pictures represent patterns of qualities. Sometimes, however, we treat pictures as though their contents include particular individuals, like people, events, and even abstracta. How should we understand this? I suggest that pictures, like linguistic expressions, can fruitfully be understood as having what David Kaplan called characters and contents. He offered a model -- dthat -- for how definite descriptions might wind up having particular individuals as their contents, and developed some helpful tests for whether he was right. Dthat is understood as an operation defined over character and content. I suggest that pictures act in much the same way, and work through some examples of this. In addition, iconographic conventions can be understood as a different kind of operation defined over character and content, and they show how pictures might wind up representing otherwise imperceptible things like Justice. As it turns out, something like this iconographic process can also help understand some linguistic phenomena, even though the phenomenon is less pronounced in the linguistic case.
Solveig Aasen (Oslo): “Pictorial intentionality and the use of models”
Suppose that pictures have a content that we see in them, and that this content, like linguistic content, differs from what the picture is about or, equivalently, what it depicts. Suppose in addition that pictures depict in a way that essentially exploits only the visual capacities we also use to see things face to face in our immediate environment. Given this, the following question about pictorial intentionality can be raised: What is it about the content of a picture that makes the picture depict what it does? In this paper, I approach some answers to this question by considering pictures of general or unspecific things (like a man of no particular age), as well as pictures of specific things (like the Oval Office). In both cases, models or sitters that differ from what the picture depicts can be used in the production of the picture. What must the content be like in order that the possibility of both types of cases can be explained?
Eliot Michaelson (KCL): “Reference and definite depiction”
We often manipulate pictures, particularly photographs, to look "more like" the things that we are trying to depict---even where the result looks nothing like what a more straightforward picture of that things would look like. What should we make of pictures like these? Sometimes, we can think of these changes as falling within certain stylistic conventions. But just as often, this won't look very plausible. At one extreme, photographs may actually be made with something other than what they purport to represent. Yet they may still seem to be of that latter thing. I will argue that consideration of cases like these might push us towards a particular sort of pluralism about semantic content, on which answers to questions like "What does this photograph represent?" may shift depending on the explanatory project we are pursuing. I will argue, further, that similar lessons hold in the case of language.