Utterances within the context of telling fictional tales that appear to be assertions are nevertheless not to be taken at face value. The present paper attempts to explain exactly what such 'pseudo-assertions' are, and how they behave. Many pseudo-assertions can take on multiple roles, both within fictions and in what I call 'participatory criticism' of a fiction, especially when they occur discourse-initially. This fact, taken together with problems for replacement accounts of pseudo-assertion based on the implicit prefixing of an 'in (...) the fiction' operator, suggest that pseudo-assertion is best understood as a kind of make-believe. This proposal is elaborated and defended, and some applications to fictionalism are tentatively explored. (shrink)
An approach is offered to the prediction and explanation of quantity implicata (implicata whose calculation depends upon adversion to Grices maxim of Quantity) that, unlike the majority of approaches available, does not construe Quantity as requiring speakers to make the strongest claim that their evidence permits. Central to the treatment offered is an elaboration of the notion of what a conversation requires as appealed to in the Cooperative Principle and in the Quantity maxim. What conversations require is construed as depending, (...) at any given point, upon (i) the aim(s) of the conversation taking place, (ii) the conversational record, which includes such features as common ground and salience relations among objects, and (iii) any proffered illocution calling for a reply. In accounting for this third dimension a partial characterization is provided of the speech acts of assertion and interrogation in terms of their role in constraining the progress of the conversation in which they occur. (shrink)
This articles gives an overview of the main themes and arguments of _Self-Expression_ (OUP,2007; paper, 2011), and responds to some recent publications in which that book is discussed. In the process of these responses, the article provides refinements and elaborations on some of the book's central claims.
This essay offers a constructive criticism of Part I of Davis’ Meaning, Expression and Thought. After a brief exposition, in Sect. 2, of the main points of the theory that will concern us, I raise a challenge in Sect. 3 for the characterization of expression that is so central to his program. I argue first of all that a sincere expression of a thought, feeling, or mood shows it. Yet attention to this fact reveals that it does not go without (...) saying how it is possible to show such things as thoughts, feelings or moods; we need an account of how this is possible, and I offer a partial such account in Sect. 4. Second, much of the attraction of Davis’ program depends on its ability to explain how linguistic meaning can be arrived at without covertly presupposing linguistic conventions. This in turn depends, in Davis’ hands, upon the claim that it is possible to express any of a wide range of ideas in the absence of conventions. I argue in Sect. 5 that the account of showing at which we will by then have arrived makes clear that Davis needs, and lacks, an explanation of how it is possible to do this. (shrink)
The syntax of Frege's scientific language iscommonly taken to be characterized by two oddities:the representation of the intended illocutionary roleof sentences by a special sign, the judgement-stroke,and the treatment of sentences as a species ofsingular terms. In this paper, an alternative view isdefended. The main theses are: (i) the syntax ofFrege's scientific language aims at an explication ofthe logical form of judgements; (ii) thejudgement-stroke is, therefore, a truth-operator, nota pragmatic operator; (iii) in Frege's first system,` ' expresses that the circumstance (...) is a fact, and in his second system that thetruth-value - is the True; (iv) in bothsystems, the judgement-stroke is construed as a signsui generis, not as a genuine predicate; (v) itscounterpart in natural language is the syntactic ``formof assertoric sentences'', not the (redundant)truth-predicate; (vi) neither in Frege's first nor inhis second system sentences are treated as singular terms. (shrink)
Previous assurance-theoretic treatments of testimony have not adequately explained how the transmission of warrant depends specifically on the speaker’s mode of address – making it natural to suspect that the interpersonal element is not epistemic but merely psychological or action-theoretic. I aim to fill that explanatory gap: to specify exactly how a testifier’s assurance can create genuine epistemic warrant. In doing so I explain (a) how the illocutionary norm governing the speech act proscribes not lies but a species of bullshit, (...) in an extension of Harry Frankfurt’s sense, (b) how that norm makes testimony fully second-personal, in Stephen Darwall’s sense, or bipolar, in Michael Thompson’s sense, and (c) how that species of second-personality or bipolarity is more fundamental than the practical species that Darwall and Thompson discuss. One attraction of this new Assurance View of testimony is that it allows us to reconceptualize the natures of normativity and responsibility more generally, viewing the assurance as implicating us in normative relations of recognition, and therefore of justice, that are not yet moralized with reactive attitudes. (shrink)
I critically discuss some aspects of Recanati's Perspectival Thought, while offering a detailed overview of the book. I suggest that the main aim Recanati proposes to achieve —that a moderate relativist should adopt a Kaplanian framework with three levels of content, rather than a Lewisian framework with only two— seems nonetheless insufficiently motivated, and the arguments offered do not settle the issue. I suggest furthermore that the claim that subjects’ mental states and cognitive situations can determine parameters or indices in (...) circumstances of evaluation is an original and very interesting contribution in the book. It is also an important one, since it sets further apart the radical from the moderate relativist, and it is relevant in the current relativism debate, where truth is deemed to be relative to parameters other than worlds, times, places and individuals. I also offer a few objections to some of the reasons Recanati puts forward in support of this latter claim; I object in particular to those that depend on some considerations about psychological modes. (shrink)
This paper presents a theory of mood which ties together its pragmatic and semantic significance. In the first two sections the subject matter and background assumptions of the study are specified. Section 3 outlines the syntactic distribution and conversational force of the indicative and subjective (in English and Italian), infinitives, and ‘mood-indicating’ modal may. Then section 4 gives a formal theory which predicts the operators under which each mood may be embedded. Finally, section 5 shows how the ideas developed thus (...) far yield an improved understanding of non-assertive sentences. (shrink)
In this survey paper, I start from two classical theses of speech act theory: that speech act content is uniformly propositional and that sentence mood encodes illocutionary force. These theses have been questioned in recent work, both in philosophy and linguistics. The force/content distinction itself – a cornerstone of 20-century philosophy of language – has come to be rejected by some theorists, unmoved by the famous ‘Frege–Geach’ argument. The paper reviews some of these debates.
Abstract In this paper, we show that Greek distinguishes empirically ability as a precondition for action, and ability as initiating and sustaining force for action. In this latter case, the ability verb behaves like an action verb, and the sentence has the logical form of a causative structure φ CAUSE [BECOME ψ] (Dowty 1979). The distinction between ability as potential for action and ability as action itself has a venerable tradition that goes back to Aristotle, and is recently implied in (...) a number of analyses (Mari and Martin 2007, 2009, Thomason 2005). We show first that the phenomenon is not just aspectual ( pace Bhatt 1999, Hacquard 2006, 2009, Pinon 2003): actualized ability emerges with the ability verb also with imperfective aspect and present tense. They key, we argue is causation, which triggers a shift from pure ability, to ability as force (in the sense of Copley and Harley 2010, i.e. as action initiating energy). In Greek, the action reading of the ability modal comes about in an apparent co-ordinate causative structure, where the two clauses are connected with conjunction ke ‘and’— a pattern that we find also in other languages, including English, at least with some action verbs such as try, allow . Our analysis implies a meaning of ability richer than mere possibility ( pace Hacquard); and, by capitalizing on the causative meaning and the presence of force in causative structures, our analysis enables a principled explanation of the shift to action-ability without positing ambiguity for the ability verb ( pace Bhatt 1999). (shrink)
There is a rich canon of work on the meaning of imperative sentences, e.g. "Dance!", in philosophy and much recent research in linguistics has made its own exciting advances. However, in this paper I argue that three observations about English imperatives are problematic for approaches from both traditions. In response, I offer a new analysis according to which the meaning of an imperative is identified with the characteristic effect its uses have on the agents’ attitudes. More specifically: an imperative’s meaning (...) consists in its potential to change what the agents’ mutually take to be preferred for the purposes of the conversation. Preferences already have a well-established theoretical role in decision theory and artificial intelligence where they are central to understanding how rational agents decide what to do. Connecting them with the semantics of imperatives and formal models of language use therefore achieves a welcome theoretical unity. This unity pays dividends in bridging the gap between a semantics for imperatives and an explanation of how imperatives can (and can’t) be used to guide what we do. In particular, it provides a new and more precise articulation of Grice’s insight that language use can be illuminated by viewing it as an interaction between cooperative, rational agents. I will conclude with some brief remarks about how this approach can relate imperatives and modals, and how it can capture the diverse uses to which imperatives are put. (shrink)
Foundations of Speech Act Theory investigates the importance of speech act theory to the problem of meaning in linguistics and philosophy. The papers in this volume, written by respected philosophers and linguists, significantly advance standards of debate in this area.
The paper reconstructs and discusses three different approaches to the study of speech acts: (i) the intentionalist approach, according to which most illocutionary acts are to be analysed as utterances made with the Gricean communicative intentions, (ii) the institutionalist approach, which is based on the idea of illocutions as institutional acts constituted by systems of collectively accepted rules, and (iii) the interactionalist approach the main tenet of which is to perform illocutionary acts by making conventional moves in accordance with patterns (...) of social interaction. It is claimed that, first, each of the discussed approaches presupposes a different account of the nature and structure of illocutionary acts, and, second, all those approaches result from one-sided interpretations of Austin’s conception of verbal action. The first part of the paper reconstructs Austin's views on the functions and effects of felicitous illocutionary acts. Thesecond part reconstructs and considers three different research developments in the post-Austinian speech act theory—the intentionalist approach, the institutionalist approach, and the interactionalist approach. (shrink)