The pragmatics of empty names

Dialogue 46 (4):663-681 (2007)
Abstract
Fred Adams and collaborators advocate a view on which empty-name sentences semantically encode incomplete propositions, but which can be used to conversationally implicate descriptive propositions. This account has come under criticism recently from Marga Reimer and Anthony Everett. Reimer correctly observes that their account does not pass a natural test for conversational implicatures, namely, that an explanation of our intuitions in terms of implicature should be such that we upon hearing it recognize it to be roughly correct. Everett argues that the implicature view provides an explanation of only some our intuitions, and is in fact incompatible with others, especially those concerning the modal profile of sentences containing empty names. I offer a pragmatist treatment of empty names based upon the recognition that the Gricean distinction between what is said and what is implicated is not exhaustive, and argue that such a solution avoids both Everett’s and Reimer’s criticisms.Selon Fred Adams et ses collaborateurs, les phrases comportant des noms propres vides codent sémantiquement des propositions incomplètes, bien qu’elles puissent être utilisées pour impliquer des propositions descriptives dans le contexte d’une conversation. Marga Reimer et Anthony Everett ont récemment critiqué cette théorie. Reimer note judicieusement que leur théorie ne résiste pas à l’examen naturel des implications conversationnelles; une explication de nos intuitions concernant l’implication doit être telle que lorsque nous l’entendons, elle nous apparaît globalement correcte. Everett soutient que la théorie de l’implication ne parvient à expliquer qu’un certain nombre de nos intuitions et reste incompatible avec d’autres, notamment celles qui concernent la dimension modale des phrases contenant des noms propres vides. Je propose ici un traitement pragmatiste des noms propres vides fondé sur l’observation que la distinction Gricéenne entre ce qui est dit et ce qui est impliqué n’est pas exhaustive; je soutiens que cette solution échappe aux critiques d’Everett et de Reimer
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References found in this work BETA
Fred Adams & Laura A. Dietrich (2004). What's in a (N Empty) Name? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (2):125-148.
Kent Bach (1994). Conversational Impliciture. Mind and Language 9 (2):124-162.

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