Richard Montague, at UCLA, c. 1967.
September 20, 1930|
March 7, 1971 (aged 40)|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
|Institutions||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Doctoral advisor||Alfred Tarski|
|Mathematics, philosophical logic|
|Formal semantics, Montague grammar|
At the University of California, Berkeley, Montague earned a B.A. in Philosophy in 1950, an M.A. in Mathematics in 1953, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy 1957, the latter under the direction of the mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski. Montague, one of Tarski's most accomplished American students, spent his entire career teaching in the UCLA Department of Philosophy, where he supervised the dissertations of Nino Cocchiarella and Hans Kamp.
Montague wrote on the foundations of logic and set theory, as would befit a student of Tarski. His Ph.D. dissertation, titled Contributions to the Axiomatic Foundations of Set Theory, contained the first proof that all possible axiomatizations of the standard axiomatic set theory ZFC must contain infinitely many axioms. In other words, ZFC cannot be finitely axiomatized.
He pioneered a logical approach to natural language semantics which became known as Montague grammar. This approach to language has been especially influential among certain computational linguists—perhaps more so than among more traditional philosophers of language. In particular, Montague's influence lives on in grammar approaches like categorial grammar (such as Unification Categorial Grammar, Left-Associate Grammar, or Combinatory Categorial Grammar), which attempt a derivation of syntactic and semantic representation in tandem and the semantics of quantifiers, scope and discourse (Hans Kamp, a student of Montague, co-developed Discourse Representation Theory).
Montague was an accomplished organist and a successful real estate investor. He died violently in his own home; the crime is unsolved to this day. Anita Feferman and Solomon Feferman argue that he usually went to bars "cruising" and bringing people home with him. On the day that he was murdered, he brought home several people "for some kind of soirée", but they instead robbed his house and strangled him.
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