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Kent Bach [145]K. Bach [7]Kent Preston Bach [1]Ken Bach [1]
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Profile: Kent Bach (San Francisco State University)
  1. Kent Bach (1994). Conversational Impliciture. Mind and Language 9 (2):124-162.
    Confusion in terms inspires confusion in concepts. When a relevant distinction is not clearly marked or not marked at all, it is apt to be blurred or even missed altogether in our thinking. This is true in any area of inquiry, pragmatics in particular. No one disputes that there are various ways in which what is communicated in an utterance can go beyond sentence meaning. The problem is to catalog the ways. It is generally recognized that linguistic meaning underdetermines speaker (...)
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  2.  32
    Kent Bach (1987). Thought and Reference. Oxford University Press.
    Presenting a novel account of singular thought, a systematic application of recent work in the theory of speech acts, and a partial revival of Russell's analysis of singular terms, this book takes an original approach to the perennial problems of reference and singular terms by separating the underlying issues into different levels of analysis.
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  3. K. Bach & R. Harnish (1979). Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts. MIT Press.
  4. Kent Bach (1999). The Myth of Conventional Implicature. Linguistics and Philosophy 22 (4):327-366.
    Grice’s distinction between what is said and what is implicated has greatly clarified our understanding of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. Although border disputes still arise and there are certain difficulties with the distinction itself (see the end of §1), it is generally understood that what is said falls on the semantic side and what is implicated on the pragmatic side. But this applies only to what is..
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  5. Kent Bach (2008). Applying Pragmatics to Epistemology. Philosophical Issues 18 (1):68-88.
    This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...)
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  6. Kent Bach (1999). The Semantics Pragmatics Distinction: What It is and Why It Matters. In K. Turner (ed.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Interface From Different Points of View. Elsevier 65--84.
    The distinction between semantics and pragmatics is easier to apply than to explain. Explaining it is complicated by the fact that many conflicting formulations have been proposed over the past sixty years. This might suggest that there is no one way of drawing the distinction and that how to draw it is merely a terminological question, a matter of arbitrary stipulation. In my view, though, these diverse formulations, despite their conflicts, all shed light on the distinction as it is commonly (...)
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  7. Kent Bach (1997). Do Belief Reports Report Beliefs? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (3):215-241.
    The traditional puzzles about belief reports puzzles rest on a certain seemingly innocuous assumption, that 'that'-clauses specify belief contents. The main theories of belief reports also rest on this "Specification Assumption", that for a belief report of the form 'A believes that p' to be true,' the proposition that p must be among the things A believes. I use Kripke's Paderewski case to call the Specification Assumption into question. Giving up that assumption offers prospects for an intuitively more plausible approach (...)
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  8. Kent Bach (2001). You Don't Say? Synthese 128 (1-2):15--44.
    This paper defends a purely semantic notionof what is said against various recent objections. Theobjections each cite some sort of linguistic,psychological, or epistemological fact that issupposed to show that on any viable notion of what aspeaker says in uttering a sentence, there ispragmatic intrusion into what is said. Relying on amodified version of Grice's notion, on which what issaid must be a projection of the syntax of the utteredsentence, I argue that a purely semantic notion isneeded to account for the (...)
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  9. Kent Bach (2005). Context Ex Machina. In Zoltán Gendler Szabó (ed.), Semantics Versus Pragmatics. Oxford University Press 15--44.
    Once upon a time it was assumed that speaking literally and directly is the norm and that speaking nonliterally or indirectly is the exception. The assumption was that normally what a speaker means can be read off of the meaning of the sentence he utters, and that departures from this, if not uncommon, are at least easily distinguished from normal utterances and explainable along Gricean lines. The departures were thought to be limited to obvious cases like figurative speech and conversational (...)
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  10.  53
    Kent Bach (2005). The Emperor's New 'Knows'. In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford University Press 51--89.
    When I examine contextualism there is much that I can doubt. I can doubt whether it is a cogent theory that I examining, and not a cleverly stated piece of whacks. I can doubt whether there is any real theory there at all. Perhaps what I took to be a theory was really some reflections; perhaps I am even the victim of some cognitive hallucination. One thing however I cannot doubt: that there exists a widely read pitch of a round (...)
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  11.  27
    Kent Bach (2015). The Predicate View of Proper Names. Philosophy Compass 10 (11):772-784.
    The Millian view that the meaning of a proper name is simply its referent has long been popular among philosophers of language. It might even be deemed the orthodox view, despite its well-known difficulties. Fregean and Russellian alternatives, though widely discussed, are much less popular. The Predicate View has not even been taken seriously, at least until fairly recently, but finally, it is receiving the attention it deserves. It says that a name expresses the property of bearing that name. Despite (...)
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  12.  58
    Kent Bach (1984). Default Reasoning: Jumping to Conclusions and Knowing When to Think Twice. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 65 (1):37.
    Look before you leap. - Proverb. He who hesitates is lost. - Another proverb.
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  13.  82
    Kent Bach (2000). Quantification, Qualification and Context a Reply to Stanley and Szabó. Mind and Language 15 (2&3):262–283.
    We hardly ever mean exactly what we say. I don’t mean that we generally speak figuratively or that we’re generally insincere. Rather, I mean that we generally speak loosely, omitting words that could have made what we meant more explicit and letting our audience fill in the gaps. Language works far more efficiently when we do that. Literalism can have its virtues, as when we’re drawing up a contract, programming a computer, or writing a philosophy paper, but we generally opt (...)
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  14. Kent Bach (1981). An Analysis of Self-Deception. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 41 (March):351-370.
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  15.  84
    Kent Bach (2002). Giorgione Was so-Called Because of His Name. Philosophical Perspectives 16 (s16):73-103.
    Proper names seem simple on the surface. Indeed, anyone unfamiliar with philosophical debates about them might wonder what the fuss could possibly be about. It seems obvious why we need them and what we do with them, and that is to talk about particular persons, places, and things. You don't have to be as smart as Mill to think that proper names are simply tags attached to individuals. But sometimes appearances are deceiving.
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  16. Kent Bach, Comparing Frege and Russell.
    Frege's and Russell's views are obviously different, but because of certain superficial similarities in how they handle certain famous puzzles about proper names, they are often assimilated. Where proper names are concerned, both Frege and Russell are often described together as "descriptivists." But their views are fundamentally different. To see that, let's look at the puzzle of names without bearers, as it arises in the context of Mill's purely referential theory of proper names, aka the 'Fido'-Fido theory.
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  17. Kent Bach (2010). Knowledge in and Out of Context. In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O.’Rourke & Harry S. Silverstein (eds.), Knowledge and Skepticism. MIT Press 105--36.
  18.  76
    Kent Bach (2004). Descriptions: Points of Reference. In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Clarendon Press 189-229.
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  19. Kent Bach (2006). The Excluded Middle: Semantic Minimalism Without Minimal Propositions. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (2):435–442.
    Insensitive Semantics is mainly a protracted assault on semantic Contextualism, both moderate and radical. Cappelen and Lepore argue that Moderate Contextualism leads inevitably, like marijuana to heroin or masturbation to blindness, to Radical Contextualism and in turn that Radical Contextualism is misguided. Assuming that the only alternative to Contextualism is their Semantic Minimalism, they think they’ve given an indirect argument for it. But they overlook a third view, one that splits the difference between the other two. Like Contextualism it rejects (...)
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  20.  71
    Kent Bach (1985). A Rationale for Reliabilism. The Monist 68 (2):246-263.
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  21. Kent Bach (1992). Intentions and Demonstrations. Analysis 52 (3):140--146.
    MARGA REIMER has forcefully challenged David Kaplan's recent claim ([3], pp. 582-4) that demonstrative gestures, in connnection with uses of demonstrative expressions, are without semantic significance and function merely as 'aids to communication', and that speaker intentions are what determine the demonstratum. Against this Reimer argues that demonstrations can and do play an essential semantic role and that the role of intentions is marginal at best. That is, together with the linguistic meaning of the demonstrative phrase being used, an act (...)
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  22. Kent Bach (2009). Perspectives on Possibilities: Contextualism, Relativism, or What? In Andy Egan & B. Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press
    Epistemic possibilities are relative to bodies of information, or perspectives. To claim that something is epistemically possible is typically to claim that it is possible relative one’s own current perspective. We generally do this by using bare, unqualified epistemic possibility (EP) sentences, ones that don’t mention our perspective. The fact that epistemic possibilities are relative to perspectives suggests that these bare EP sentences fall short of fully expressing propositions, contrary to what both contextualists and relativists take for granted. Although they (...)
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  23.  85
    Kent Bach (2010). Getting a Thing Into a Thought. In Robin Jeshion (ed.), New Essays on Singular Thought. Oxford University Press 39.
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  24.  53
    Kent Bach, Loaded Words: On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Slurs.
    There are many mean and nasty things to say about mean and nasty talk, but I don't plan on saying any of them. There's a specific problem about slurring words that I want to address. This is a semantic problem. It's not very important compared to the real-world problems presented by bigotry, racism, discrimination, and worse. It's important only to linguistics and the philosophy of language.
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  25.  73
    Kent Bach (1970). Part of What a Picture Is. British Journal of Aesthetics 10 (2):119-137.
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  26.  48
    Kent Bach (2014). Consulting The Reference Book. Mind and Language 29 (4):455-474.
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  27. Kent Bach (2012). Context Dependence. In Manuel García-Carpintero & Max Kölbel (eds.), The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Continuum International Pub.
    All sorts of things are context-dependent in one way or another. What it is appropriate to wear, to give, or to reveal depends on the context. Whether or not it is all right to lie, harm, or even kill depends on the context. If you google the phrase ‘depends on the context’, you’ll get several hundred million results. This chapter aims to narrow that down. In this context the topic is context dependence in language and its use. It is commonly (...)
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  28. Kent Bach (2012). Review, Jason Stanley, Know How. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    Stanley’s insightful new book refines his earlier formulation of intellectualism. Indeed, it does a whole lot more, but leaves open some tough questions. He makes a powerful case for the view that knowing how to do something is to know, of a certain way, that one could do that thing in that way. But he says surprisingly little about what ways are, and how they might differ, depending on the kind of case. And he doesn't exclude the possibility that in (...)
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  29. Kent Bach, What is (Semantic) Contextualism?
    Sentences whose semantic contents seem to differ in different contexts, in virtue of containing expressions of such sorts as the following (there may be others).
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  30. Kent Bach, Speech Acts.
    The theory of speech acts is partly taxonomic and partly explanatory. It must systematically classify types of speech acts and the ways in which they can succeed or fail. It must reckon with the fact that the relationship between the words being used and the force of their utterance is often oblique. For example, the sentence 'This is a pig sty' might be used nonliterally to state that a certain room is messy and filthy and, further, to demand indirectly that (...)
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  31.  79
    Kent Bach (2007). Referentially Used Descriptions: A Reply to Devitt. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (2):33-48.
  32. Kent Bach & Robert M. Harnish (1992). How Performatives Really Work: A Reply to Searle. [REVIEW] Linguistics and Philosophy 15 (1):93 - 110.
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  33.  52
    Kent Bach (2001). Speaking Loosely: Sentence Nonliterality. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):249–263.
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  34. Kent Bach (2002). Seemingly Semantic Intuitions. In Joseph K. Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & David Shier (eds.), Meaning and Truth - Investigations in Philosophical Semantics. Seven Bridges Press 21--33.
    From ethics to epistemology to metaphysics, it is common for philosophers to appeal to “intuitions” about cases to identify counterexamples to one view and to find support for another. It would be interesting to examine the evidential status of such intuitions, snap judgments, gut reactions, or whatever you want to call them, but in this paper I will not be talking about moral, epistemological, or metaphysical intuitions. I’ll be focusing on semantic ones. In fact, I’ll be focusing on semantic intuitions (...)
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  35.  73
    Kent Bach (1981). What's in a Name. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):371 – 386.
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  36.  97
    Kent Bach, On Referring and Not Referring.
    Even though it’s based on a bad argument, there’s something to Strawson’s dictum. He might have likened ‘referring expression’ to phrases like ‘eating utensil’ and ‘dining room’: just as utensils don’t eat and dining rooms don’t dine, so, he might have argued, expressions don’t refer. Actually, that wasn’t his argument, though it does make you wonder. Rather, Strawson exploited the fact that almost any referring expression, whether an indexical, demonstrative, proper name, or definite description, can be used to refer to (...)
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  37.  95
    Kent Bach, Mean and Nasty Talk: On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Slurs.
    Group slurs are applied to a whole category of people. Whereas slurs like jerk, creep, and hag are generally directed at individuals because of the personal traits (behavior, personality, looks, etc.), group slurs, like spic, commie, and infidel, are applied across the board to members of a category. Even when directed at a particular individual, ethnic, religious, and political slurs are applied on the basis of group membership rather than anything about the person in particular. Before asking about the meanings (...)
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  38. Kent Bach, The Lure of Linguistification.
    Think of linguistification by analogy with personification: attributing linguistic properties to nonlinguistic phenomena. For my purposes, it also includes attributing nonlinguistic properties to linguistic items, i.e., treating nonlinguistic properties as linguistic. Linguistification is widespread. It has reached epidemic proportions. It needs to be eradicated. That’s important because the process of communication is not simply a matter of one person putting a thought into words and another decoding them back into the same thought. Much of what a speaker means cannot be (...)
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  39. Kent Bach (2012). Saying, Meaning, and Implicating. In Keith Allan & Kasia Jaszczolt (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press
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  40. Kent Bach, Meaning and Communication.
    Words mean things, speakers mean things in using words, and these need not be the same. For example, if you say to someone who has just finished eating a super giant burrito at the Taqueria Guadalajara, “You are what you eat,” you probably do not mean that the person is a super giant burrito. So we need to distinguish the meaning of a linguistic expression – a word, phrase, or sentence – from what a person means in using it. To (...)
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  41. Kent Bach (2005). The Top 10 Minconceptions About Implicature. In Festchrift for Larry Horn. John Benjamins
    I’ve known about conversational implicature a lot longer than I’ve known Larry. In 1967 I read Grice’s “Logical and Conversation” in mimeograph, shortly after his William James lectures, and I read its precursor “(Implication),” section III of “The Causal Theory of Perception”, well before that. And I’ve thought, read, and written about implicature off and on ever since. Nevertheless, I know a lot less about it than Larry does, and that’s not even taking into account everything he has uncovered about (...)
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  42.  96
    Kent Bach (1980). Actions Are Not Events. Mind 89 (353):114-120.
  43. Kent Bach (2000). A Puzzle About Belief Reports. In K. Jaszczolt (ed.), The Pragmatics of Propositional Attitude Reports. Elsevier
    I'd like to present a puzzle about belief reports that's been nagging at me for several years. I've subjected many friends and audiences to various abortive attempts at solving it. Now it's time to get it off my chest and let others try their hand at it.<1>.
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  44. Kent Bach (2007). Reflections on Reference and Reflexivity. In Michael O'Rourke Corey Washington (ed.), Situating Semantics: Essays on the Philosophy of John Perry. 395--424.
    In Reference and Reflexivity, John Perry tries to reconcile referentialism with a Fregean concern for cognitive significance. His trick is to supplement referential content with what he calls ‘‘reflexive’’ content. Actually, there are several levels of reflexive content, all to be distinguished from the ‘‘official,’’ referential content of an utterance. Perry is convinced by two arguments for referentialism, the ‘‘counterfactual truth-conditions’’ and the ‘‘same-saying’’ arguments, but he also acknowledges the force of two Fregean arguments against it, arguments that pose the (...)
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  45. Kent Bach, Impliciture Vs. Explicature: What's the Difference?
    I am often asked to explain the difference between my notion of impliciture (Bach 1994) and the relevance theorists’ notion of explicature (Sperber and Wilson 1986; Carston 2002). Despite the differences between the theoretical frameworks within which they operate, the two notions seem very similar. Relevance theorists describe explicatures as “developments of logical forms,” whereas I think of implicitures as “expansions” or “completions” of semantic contents (depending on whether or not the sentence’s semantic content amounts to a proposition). That is (...)
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  46. Kent Bach (1997). Engineering the Mind (Review of Dretske 1995, Naturalizing the Mind). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (2):459-468.
    No contemporary philosopher has tried harder to demystify the mind than Fred Dretske. But how to demystify it without eviscerating it? Can consciousness be explained? Many philosophers think that no matter how detailed and systematic our knowledge becomes of how the brain works and how it subserves mental functions, there will always remain an "explanatory gap." Call it a brute fact or call it a mystery, trying to explain consciousness, they think, is as futile as trying to explain why there (...)
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  47.  46
    Kent Bach (2006). What Does It Take To Refer? In Ernest Lepore & Barry Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press 516--554.
    This article makes a number of points about reference, both speaker reference and linguistic (or semantic) reference. The bottom line is simple: reference ain't easy — at least not nearly as easy as commonly supposed. Much of what speakers do that passes for reference is really something else, and much of what passes for linguistic reference is really nothing more than speaker reference. Referring is one of the basic things we do with words, and it would be a good idea (...)
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  48.  42
    Kent Bach (1992). Paving the Road to Reference. Philosophical Studies 67 (3):295--300.
  49. Kent Bach, Grice, H. Paul.
    GRICE, H. PAUL (1913-1988), English philosopher, is best known for his contributions to the theory of meaning and communication. This work (collected in Grice 1989) has had lasting importance for philosophy and linguistics, with implications for cognitive science generally. His three most influential contributions concern the nature of communication, the distinction betwen speaker's meaning and linguistic meaning, and the phenomenon of conversational implicature.
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  50. Kent Bach, From the Strange to the Bizarre: Another Reply to Cappelen and Lepore.
    If you think that semantic minimalism is the only alternative to contextualism but you’d rather do without Cappelen and Lepore’s mysteriously minimal “propositions,” you can. You just have to recognize that being semantically incomplete does not make a sentence context-sensitive. You don’t have to go through the ritual of repeatedly incanting things like this: “John is ready” expresses the proposition that John is ready. Instead, you can opt for Radical Minimalism and suppose that “John is ready” and its ilk fall (...)
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