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Pragmatics

Edited by Christopher Gauker (University of Cincinnati)
About this topic
Summary Topics in the philosophy of language tend to fall into two main branches, pragmatics and semantics.  Roughly, semantics deals with conventional meaning.  Theories in formal semantics for natural language attempt to pair meanings with sentence-context pairs in some systematic way.  A primary test of correctness for a semantic theory is whether it allows us to define the logical properties of sentences (such as whether one sentence logically implies another).  The term “pragmatics” covers both a part of formal semantics, so defined, and also the study of the ways in which utterances effect communication.  The first kind of pragmatic theory deals with the way in which the extensions of terms and the truth values of sentences depend on features of the situation in which the sentence is spoken.  The second kind of pragmatic theory studies the nature of speech acts, such as asserting or asking, and also the ways in which speakers manage to convey more than the conventional meaning of the sentence uttered.  It is not always clear where in this taxonomy a given phenomenon should fall.  The topic of presupposition, for instance, has been located under all of these headings.
Key works The classics of pragmatics include Austin 1975, Searle 1969, Grice 1989, Kaplan 1977, Stalnaker 1973, and Lewis 1979.  More recent contributions that have drawn considerable attention include Bach 1994, Recanati 2004, Lepore & Cappelen 2005, and Stanley & Szabó 2000
Introductions

An excellent but now somewhat dated collection of classics is Stephen Davis, ed., Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press, 1991.  For a short overview of some current issues, see Gauker 2012.

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  1. Kent Bach (1995). Standardization Vs. Conventionalization. Linguistics and Philosophy 18 (6):677 - 686.
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  2. Memo Bergmann (1986). How Many Feminists Does It Take To Make A Joke? Sexist Humor and What's Wrong With It. Hypatia 1 (1):63-82.
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  3. Peter Bornedal (1997). Speech and System. Museum Tusculanum Press.
    2.2.4) Differance as Supplement 246 2.3) Anti-logics 248 2.3.1) Argumentative Incompatibility 249 2.3.2) Counter-Finality 250 2.3.3) Performative ...
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  4. Karl Britton (1939/1970). Communication. College Park, Md.,Mcgrath Pub. Co..
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  5. Gerald L. Bruns (1974/2001). Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language: A Critical and Historical Study. Dalkey Archive Press.
    Bruns lucidly depicts the distinctions and convergences between these two lines of thought by examining the works of Mallarme, Flaubert, Joyce, Beckett, and ...
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  6. Jose E. Chaves, Explicature, What is Said and Gricean Factorization Criteria.
    Since Grice introduced the distinction between what is said and implicature, the literature shows a widespread interest in the delimitation of these notions. In this paper, I will identify and specify the criteria with which Grice distinctly determines the factors of the speaker’s meaning and I will use these criteria to compare the Gricean minimalist notion of what is said with the Relevance theoretic notion of explicature. In drawing this comparison, I aim to make it clear that the two approaches (...)
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  7. Jose E. Chaves, Of Course, I Don't Say That!
    Grice’s notion of what is said has been challenged in many directions and, since then, there are a lot of new proposals to understand it. One of these new proposals claims that what a speaker said is not part of the speaker meaning. In that sense, the content said by uttering a sentence is not intentioned by the speaker but a purely semantic and syntactic matter. Kent Bach argues for this proposal and is the main exponent of it. My aim (...)
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  8. Elżbieta Chrzanowska-Kluczewska (2000). Language-Games, Pro and Against. Universitas.
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  9. Lenny Clapp (2009). The Problem of Negative Existentials Does Not Exist: A Case for Dynamic Semantics. Journal of Pragmatics 41 (7):1422-1434.
    The problem of negative existentials arises because utterances of such sentences have the paradoxical feature of denying what they presuppose, thus undermining their own truth. There are only two general strategies for solving the problem within the constraints traditional static semantics, and both strategies attempt to explain away this paradoxical feature. I argue that both strategies are fundamentally flawed, and that an adequate account of negative existentials must countenance, and not explain away, this paradoxical feature. Moreover, I argue that a (...)
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  10. Billy Clark (1993). Relevance and “Pseudo-Imperatives”. Linguistics and Philosophy 16 (1):79 - 121.
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  11. Alice Davison (1983). Linguistic or Pragmatic Description in the Context of the Performadox. Linguistics and Philosophy 6 (4):499 - 526.
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  12. Géraud de Cordemoy (1972). A Philosophical Discourse Concerning Speech (1668) and a Discourse Written to a Learned Friar (1670). Delmar, N.Y.,Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints.
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  13. Géraud de Cordemoy (1668/1973). A Philosophical Discourse Concerning Speech, Together with a Discourse Written by a Learned Friar. New York,Ams Press.
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  14. Paul Dimmock & Torfinn Thomesen Huvenes (forthcoming). Knowledge, Conservatism, and Pragmatics. Synthese:1-31.
    The apparent contextual variability exhibited by ‘knows’ and its cognates—brought to attention in examples like Keith DeRose’s Bank Case—poses familiar problems for conservative forms of invariantism about ‘knows’. The paper examines and criticises a popular response to those problems, one that involves appeal to so-called ‘pragmatic’ features of language. It is first argued, contrary to what seems to have been generally assumed, that any pragmatic defence faces serious problems with regard to our judgments about retraction. Second, the familiar objection that (...)
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  15. Igor Douven (2010). The Pragmatics of Belief. Journal of Pragmatics 42 (1):35-47.
    This paper argues that pragmatic considerations similar to the ones that Grice has shown pertain to assertability pertain to acceptability. It further shows how this should affect some widely held epistemic principles. The idea of a pragmatics of belief is defended against some seemingly obvious objections.
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  16. Umberto Eco (1999). Serendipities: Language & Lunacy. Harcourt Brace.
    Serendipities is a careful unraveling of the fabulous and the false, a brilliant exposition of how unanticipated truths often spring from false ideas. From Leibniz's belief that the I Ching illustrated the principles of calculus to Marco Polo's mistaking a rhinoceros for a unicorn, Umberto Eco offers a dazzling tour of intellectual history, illuminating the ways in which we project the familiar onto the strange to make sense of the world. Uncovering layers of mistakes that have shaped human history, Eco (...)
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  17. Peter D. Fenves (2001). Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin. Stanford University Press.
    Speech act theory has taught us 'how to do things with words'. Arresting Language turns its attention in the opposite direction - toward the surprising things that language can undo and leave undone. In the eight essays of this volume, arresting language is seen as language at rest, words no longer in service to the project of establishing conventions or instituting legal regimes. Concentrating on both widely-known and seldom-read texts from a variety of philosophers, writers, and critics - from Leibniz (...)
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  18. M. Fludernik & R. D. Sell (1995). The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction: The Linguistic Representation of Speech and Consciousness. Journal of Pragmatics 24.
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  19. Michel Foucault (1977). Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. Cornell University Press.
    Language and the birth of "literature." A preface to transgression. Language to infinity. The father's "no." Fantasia of the library.--Counter-memory: the philosophy of difference. What is an author? Nietzsche, genealogy, history. Theatrum philosophicum.--Practice: knowledge and power. History of systems of thought. Intellectuals and power. Revolutionary action: "until now.".
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  20. Russell A. Fraser (1977). The Language of Adam: On the Limits and Systems of Discourse. Columbia University Press.
    This collection of short stories focuses on the Scottish civil war of 1644-45, in which the Marquis of Montrose led his royalist forces in a series of stunning victories against the odds before his final defeat at Philiphaugh.
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  21. A. J. B. Fugard, Niki Pfeifer & B. Mayerhofer (2011). Probabilistic Theories of Reasoning Need Pragmatics Too: Modulating Relevance in Uncertain Conditionals. Journal of Pragmatics 43:2034–2042.
    According to probabilistic theories of reasoning in psychology, people's degree of belief in an indicative conditional `if A, then B' is given by the conditional probability, P(B|A). The role of language pragmatics is relatively unexplored in the new probabilistic paradigm. We investigated how consequent relevance a ects participants' degrees of belief in conditionals about a randomly chosen card. The set of events referred to by the consequent was either a strict superset or a strict subset of the set of events referred (...)
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  22. Newton Garver (1994). Derrida & Wittgenstein. Temple University Press.
  23. Matthias Gerner (2010). The Fuzzy Logic of Socialised Attitudes in Liangshan Nuosu. Journal of Pragmatics 42 (11):3031-3046.
    Liangshan Nuosu (Tibeto-Burman: P.R. China) exhibits two cross-linguistically rare attitude particles which ascribe wishes and fears to an impersonal socialised agent serving as a speaker-hedge. Linguistic properties of these particles not covered by (Potts, 2007a) and (Potts, 2007b) features of expressive content are elaborated upon. It is proposed to analyse the Nuosu attitude operators as illocutionary force indicating devices (IFIDs, see Searle and Vanderveken, 1985) and the utterances which host them as speech acts of the expressive type. Success conditions for (...)
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  24. L. I. Grishaeva, M. K. Popova & V. T. Titov (eds.) (2004). Fenomen Pret͡sedentnosti I Preemstvennostʹ Kulʹtur: [Monografii͡a. Voronezhskiĭ Gos. Universitet.
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  25. Petra Hendriks, Coherent Discourse Solves the Pronoun Interpretation Problem.
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  26. Maria Rodica Iacobescu (2008). Non-Discursiveness and Language. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:71-77.
    Discursive knowledge is expressed in a conceptual, specialized language, which offers the standardization and rigor necessary to a rational reasoning. For the non discursive knowledge, language, as a means of communication, is inadequate and insufficient.
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  27. Ludger Jansen & Niko Strobach (2003). The so-Called Materially Valid Inferences and the Logic of Concepts. In Foundations of the Formal Sciences II. Applications of Mathematical Logic in Philosophy and Linguistics. Kluwer. 113-118.
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  28. Asa Kasher (1977). What Is A Theory Of Use? Journal of Pragmatics 1 (June):105-120.
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  29. Leon Koj (1974). Leon Koj, Semantyka a Pragmatyka. Stosunek Językoznawstwa I Psychologii Do Semantyki (Semantics and Pragmatics. The Relation of Linguistics and Psychology to Semantics). Dialectics and Humanism 1 (2):180-181.
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  30. Ivona Kučerová (2012). Grammatical Marking of Givenness. Natural Language Semantics 20 (1):1-30.
    Schwarzschild (Nat Lang Semant 7:141–177, 1999)’s account of givenness elaborates a notion of complementarity of givenness and focus in an intricate way: while givenness is semantically interpreted, focus is grammatically marked. It has been noticed, however, that under certain circumstances givenness in English is grammatically marked as well. Movement plays a role in this process. This paper provides further evidence for givenness marking. I present a case study of three Slavic languages (Czech, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian) in which givenness is always (...)
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  31. John-Michael Kuczynski (2010). Boguslawski's Analysis of Quantification in Natural Language. Journal of Pragmatics 42 (10):2836-2844.
    The semantic rules governing natural language quantifiers (e.g. "all," "some," "most") neither coincide with nor resemble the semantic rules governing the analogues of those expressions that occur in the artificial languages used by semanticists. Some semanticists, e.g. Peter Strawson, have put forth data-consistent hypotheses as to the identities of the semantic rules governing some natural-language quantifiers. But, despite their obvious merits, those hypotheses have been universally rejected. In this paper, it is shown that those hypotheses are indeed correct. Moreover, data-consistent (...)
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  32. John-Michael Kuczynski (2010). Intensionality, Modality, Rationality: Some Presemantic Considerations. Journal of Pragmatics 42 (8):2314-2346.
    On the basis of arguments put forth by (Kripke, 1977a) and (Kripke, 1980), it is widely held that one can sometimes rationally accept propositions of the form "P and not-P" and also that there are necessary a posteriori truths. We will find that Kripke's arguments for these views appear probative only so long as one fails to distinguish between semantics and presemantics—between the literal meanings of sentences, on the one hand, and the information on the basis of which one identifies (...)
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  33. John-Michael Kuczynski (2007). Does Possible World Semantics Turn All Propositions Into Necessary Ones? Journal of Pragmatics 39 (5):972-916.
    "Jim would still be alive if he hadn't jumped" means that Jim's death was a consequence of his jumping. "x wouldn't be a triangle if it didn't have three sides" means that x's having a three sides is a consequence its being a triangle. Lewis takes the first sentence to mean that Jim is still alive in some alternative universe where he didn't jump, and he takes the second to mean that x is a non-triangle in every alternative universe where (...)
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  34. Michiel Leezenberg (2009). Part I. Gricean Themes: Gricean and Confucian Pragmatics: A Contrastive Analysis. In Dingfang Shu & Ken Turner (eds.), Contrasting Meanings in Languages of the East and West. Peter Lang.
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  35. Joseph Levine (1989). Breaking Out of the Gricean Circle. Philosophical Studies 57 (2):207 - 216.
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  36. Eduardo Coutinho Lourenço de Lima (2010). Identifying Knowledge and Communication. Principia 10 (2):125-141.
    In this paper, I discuss how the principle of identifying knowledge which Strawson advances in ‘Singular Terms and Predication’ (1961), and in ‘Identifying Reference and Truth-Values’ (1964) turns out to constrain communication. The principle states that a speaker’s use of a referring expression should invoke identifying knowledge on the part of the hearer, if the hearer is to understand what the speaker is saying, and also that, in so referring, speakers are attentive to hearers’ epistemic states. In contrasting it with (...)
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  37. Joseph Margolis (1984). The Locus of Coherence. Linguistics and Philosophy 7 (1):3 - 30.
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  38. R. M. Martin (1959/1974). Toward a Systematic Pragmatics. Westport, Conn.,Greenwood Press.
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  39. Aloysius Martinich (1984). Communication and Reference. W. De Gruyter.
    Chapter One: Introduction /. Why Study Philosophy of Language? Why should philosophers (or human beings in their leisurely reflective moments) be interested ...
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  40. W. Mays (1961). Pragmatics and Intension. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):1 – 12.
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  41. Marco Mazzone (2011). Schemata and Associative Processes in Pragmatics. Journal of Pragmatics 43 (8):2148-2159.
    The notion of schema has been given a major role by Recanati within his conception of primary pragmatic processes, conceived as a type of associative process. I intend to show that Recanati’s considerations on schemata may challenge the relevance theorist’s argument against associative explanations in pragmatics, and support an argument in favor of associative (versus inferential) explanations. More generally, associative relations can be shown to be schematic, that is, they have enough structure to license inferential effects without any appeal to (...)
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  42. Betty McLellan (2010). Unspeakable: A Feminist Ethic of Speech. Otherwise Publications.
  43. Robin Melrose (1996). The Margins of Meaning: Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language and Text. Rodopi.
    INTRODUCTION The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and the title of one of his works, The Margins of Philosophy. This work introduced me to ...
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  44. Rita Messori (2013). Poetiche Del Sensibile: Le Parole E I Fenomeni Tra Esperienza Estetica E Figurazione: Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, Dufrenne, Maldiney. Quodlibet.
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  45. Stephen Mulhall (2007). The Conversation of Humanity. University of Virginia Press.
    Introduction: discursive conditions -- Language, philosophy, and sophistry -- Contributions to a conversation about the conversation of humanity: Heidegger and Gadamer, Oakeshott and Rorty -- Lectures and letters as conversation: Cavell as educator in Cities of words -- Conclusion: redeeming words.
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  46. D. E. Over (1985). Constructivity and the Referential/Attributive Distinction. Linguistics and Philosophy 8 (4):415 - 429.
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  47. Herman Parret (1971). Language and Discourse. The Hague,Mouton.
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  48. Barbara H. Partee (1985). Situations, Worlds and Contexts. Linguistics and Philosophy 8 (1):53--58.
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  49. Julia Ponzio (2005). Il Ritmo Della Scrittura: Tempo, Alterità E Comunicazione. Schena.
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  50. Paul Portner & Katsuhiko Yabushita (1998). The Semantics and Pragmatics of Topic Phrases. Linguistics and Philosophy 21 (2):117-157.
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