|Abstract||My interest in this essay is an advance in the use of pragmatics to explain what were considered to be syntactical or semantical phenomena. The case in question is the explanation of the licensing of Negative Polarity Items. The data are not sentence-types but rather utterance-types and utterance-tokens. The explanatory concepts are the distinctions between assertions and non-assertions, between sentence-meanings and speaker’s meanings. I shall examine the most ingenious example of such a pragmatic theory that I know and ask whether the arguments that have so far been used in its support are adequate to their task. The doubts that I raise do not show that the pragmatic theory cannot succeed, but they suggest that other theoretical constructions will be necessary for the proper defense of a pragmatic theory.|
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