Zero tolerance for pragmatics

Synthese 165 (3):359–371 (2008)
The proposition expressed by a sentence is relative to a context. But what determines the content of the context? Many theorists would include among these determinants aspects of the speaker’s intention in speaking. My thesis is that, on the contrary, the determinants of the context never include the speaker’s intention. My argument for this thesis turns on a consideration of the role that the concept of proposition expressed in context is supposed to play in a theory of linguistic communication. To illustrate an alternative approach, I present an original theory of the reference of demonstratives according to which the referent of a demonstrative is the object that adequately and best satisfies certain accessibility criteria. Although I call my thesis zero tolerance for pragmatics, it is not an expression of intolerance for everything that might be called “pragmatics.”.
Keywords Semantics  Pragmatics  Speaker Intentions  Demonstratives  Normativity
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DOI 10.2307/40271121
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