John Kulvicki’s book Modeling the Meanings of Pictures offers a bold and original theory of pictorial meaning. The discussion sidesteps well-worn debates about the role of resemblance and perception in depiction, instead offering a philosophical account of pictorial expression’s basic components and how they compare with language. The book makes a welcome contribution to the semantics of pictures at a time when linguists themselves have begun to reckon with the world of nonlinguistic signs (Schlenker 2019).

For Kulvicki, there are a variety of communicative uses for pictures, each with its own semantic mechanisms and types of meaning. In their central attributive use, the subject of chapters 1 and 2, pictures express pictorial content. For the most part, pictorial content consists of a purely descriptive collection of attributes, without singular content. So if A is a drawing of a chair, and A is an indistinguishable drawing of a...

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