In Defense of Non-Sentential Assertions

In Zoltán Gendler Szabó (ed.), Semantics Versus Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. 383--458 (2005)
In what follows, I introduce a pragmatics-oriented approach to non-sentential speech, and defend it against two recent attacks. Among other things, I will rehearse and elaborate a defense against the idea that much, or even all, of such speech is actually syntactically elliptical—and hence should be treated semantically, rather than pragmatically. The chapter is structured as follows. In Section 1 I introduce the phenomenon, contrast semantic versus pragmatic approaches to it, and explain some of what hinges on which approach is taken. In Section 2 I present Jason Stanley’s objections to the pragmatics-oriented approach, and his counterproposal that all truth-conditional effects of context on what is asserted can be traced to elements of underlying structure. In Section 3 I canvass numerous varieties of ellipsis. The focus in Section 3 will be on what kind of “ellipsis” is required if the pragmatics-oriented approach is actually to be rejected rather than being recast in other terms. In Section 4 I respond to..
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