Overhearing a Sentence: Recanati and the Cognitive View of Language

Pragmatics and Cognition 12 (219):251 (2005)
Many pragmaticians have distinguished three levels of meaning involved in the comprehension of utterances, and there is an ongoing debate about how to characterize the intermediate level. Recanati has called it the level of ‘what is said’ and has opposed the idea that it can be determined semantically — a position that he labels ‘pragmatic minimalism’. To this end he has offered two chief arguments: semantic underdeterminacy and the Availability Principle. This paper exposes a tension between both arguments, relating this discussion with Carruthers’s cognitive view of language, according to which some thoughts are, literally, sentences of our natural language. First we explain how this view entails minimalism, and we construct an argument based on semantic underdeterminacy that shows that natural language sentences do not have the compositional properties required to constitute thoughts. Then we analyze the example of a subject’s overhearing a sentence without an interpretive context, arguing that in the light of the Availability Principle the corresponding thought can be regarded as a natural language sentence. Thus, semantic underdeterminacy and availability pull in different directions, and we claim that there is no characterization of the latter that can relieve this tension. We contend that Recanati’s availability shares with Carruthers’s introspectivism an overreliance on intuitions about what appears consciously in one’s mind. We conclude, therefore, that the Availability Principle ought to be abandoned.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1075/pc.12.2.04mar
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

17 ( #160,237 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #147,227 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.