Questioning to Resolve Decision Problems

Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (6):727 - 763 (2003)
Abstract
Why do we ask questions? Because we want to have some information. But why this particular kind of information? Because only information of this particular kind is helpful to resolve the decision problem that the agent faces. In this paper I argue that questions are asked because their answers help to resolve the questioner's decision problem, and that this assumption helps us to interpret interrogative sentences. Interrogative sentences are claimed to have a semantically underspecified meaning and this underspecification is resolved by means of the decision problem.
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