Full text: Semantics of ownership

numbers of subjects and to remote subjects. Miller (1978) 
has reviewed some of the theoretical concerns of 
psycho-semantics. Perhaps the major task in a 
psycho-semantic analysis is to get an understanding of the 
intension of a term: 
For psychological purposes the intension of a term 
can be thought of as a criterion or procedure whereby 
the extension of a term can be determined. The 
intension of TABLE is whatever properties, images, 
formulas, processes, procedures, devices, methods, or 
criteria a person who knows TABLE uses to determine 
whether some particular object can be referred to as a 
table. Logically, an intensional system need merely 
assume that such devices exist --- it is not a 
logician's task to explain how they work. For the 
purposes of formal analysis a more general 
characterization of an intension would be that it is 
that part of what a person knows about a term that 
enables him to determine whether well-formed 
declarative sentences in which that term occurs are 
true or false. And that part is, of course, the 
knowledge that determines the word's extension. 
Although the present study was not concerned with 
intensional mechanisms per se, it was seeking to develop a 
description of the intensional criteria for ownership. This 
entailed a search for criteria by which people know that a 
statement of the form 'Person P owns object E' is true or 
Miller (1978) presented several other semantic notions 
that were useful to the present study. The first was that 
the meanings of words should not be thought of solely as a 
fixed data base that is accessed as a passive memory store.

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