Domain of discourse

Mind 106 (421):1-32 (1997)
The proposition expressed by an utterance of a quantified sentence depends on a domain of discourse somehow determined by the context. How does the context of utterance determine the content of the domain of discourse? Many philosophers would approach this question from the point of view of an expressive theory of linguistic communication, according to which the primary function of language is to enable speakers to convey the propositional contents of their thoughts to hearers. This paper argues that from this point of view there is no persuasive treatment of the determinants of the domain of discourse. The argument focuses on an abnormal case in which the domain the speaker has in mind is not evident to the hearer. In this way the question concerning the determinants of the domain of discourse is used to challenge the expressive theory of communication.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/106.421.1
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Alexander Bird (2004). Is Evidence Non-Inferential? Philosophical Quarterly 54 (215):252–265.
Jeff Speaks (2011). Frege's Puzzle and Descriptive Enrichment. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (2):267-282.

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