Gricean communication and transmission of thoughts

Erkenntnis 69 (1):55 - 67 (2008)
Abstract
Gricean communication is communication between utterers and their audiences, where the utterer means something and the audience understands what is meant. The weak transmission idea is that, whenever such communication takes place, there is something which is transmitted from utterer to audience; the strong transmission idea adds that what is transmitted is nothing else than what is communicated. We try to salvage these ideas from a seemingly forceful attack by Wayne Davis. Davis attaches too much significance to the surface structure of sentences of the type ‘S communicates the belief (desire …) that p to A’ by assuming that the communicated entity is denoted by the grammatical object following ‘communicates’. On our proposal, what is communicated in all Gricean cases is a thought. And since S communicates the thought that p to A only if S means that p and A understands what S means, the thought that p will be transmitted from S to A.
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References found in this work BETA
Wayne A. Davis (1984). A Causal Theory of Intending. American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1):43-54.
Wayne A. Davis (1988). Expression of Emotion. American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (October):279-291.
H. P. Grice (1957). Meaning. Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.

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