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Kent Bach [137]K. Bach [7]Ken Bach [1]
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Profile: Kent Bach (San Francisco State University)
  1. Kent Bach, Consulting The Reference Book.
    The Reference Book debunks two widely held views, one about singular thought and one about singular reference. It throws cold water over the common view, stemming from Russell but usually endorsed in forms weaker than Russell’s, that thinking about an object requires some sort of acquaintance with it. And it thoroughly undermines the popular view that proper names and demonstratives, in contrast to definite and indefinite descriptions, are essentially or “paradigmatically” referring expressions. Although John Hawthorne and David Manley do not (...)
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  2. 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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  3. Kent Bach, Standardization Revisited.
    How to delimit semantics is an ongoing problem in linguistics and philosophy of language. Like syntax, semantics is concerned only with information that competent speakers can glean from linguistic items apart from particular contexts of utterance. Anything a hearer infers from collateral information about the context of a particular utterance thus counts as nonsemantic information. Even so, it is a semantic fact about certain linguistic items, notably indexicals (such as 'she', 'here', and 'then'), that contextual facts contribute to determining what (...)
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  4. Kent Bach, Self-Deception Unmasked.
    Al Mele has been as persistent as anyone in his pursuit of self-deception. He has taken it on in a series of papers over the past twenty years (notably Mele 1997) and at various places in previous books. The present book brings together his main ideas on the subject, and readers unfamiliar with its puzzles or Mele's approach to it will learn a lot. The cognoscenti will not only have their memories refreshed but will be treated to much that (...)
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  5. 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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  6. Kent Bach, Ambiguity.
    A word, phrase, or sentence is ambiguous if it has more than one meaning. The word 'light', for example, can mean not very heavy or not very dark. Words like 'light', 'note', 'bear' and 'over' are lexically ambiguous. They induce ambiguity in phrases or sentences in which they occur, such as 'light suit' and 'The duchess can't bear children'. However, phrases and sentences can be ambiguous even if none of their constituents is. The phrase 'porcelain egg container' is structurally ambiguous, (...)
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  7. Kent Bach, Accidental Truth and Would-Be Knowledge.
    Nowadays the traditional quest for certainty seems not only futile but pointless. Resisting skepticism no longer seems to require meeting the Cartesian demand for an unshakable foundation for knowledge. True beliefs can be less than maximally justified and still be justified enough to qualify as knowledge, even though some beliefs that are justified to the same extent are false. Yet a few philosophers suggest that there is a special sort of justification that only true beliefs can have. Call it 'full (...)
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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. Kent Bach, Introduction.
    Language is used to express thoughts and to represent aspects of the world. What thought a sentence expresses depends on what the sentence means, and how it represents the world also depends on what it means. Moreover, it is ultimately arbitrary, a matter of convention, that the words of a language mean what they do. So it might seem that what they mean is a matter of how they are used. However, they need not be used in accordance with their (...)
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  12. 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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  13. Kent Bach, Minimalism for Dummies: Reply to Cappelen and Lepore.
    In my commentary on Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore’s aptly titled book, Insensitive Semantics, I stake out a middle ground between their version of Semantic Minimalism and Contextualism. My kind of Semantic Minimalism does without the “minimal propositions” posited by C&L. It allows that some sentences do not express propositions, even relative to contexts. Instead, they are semantically incomplete. It is not a form of contextualism, since being semantically incomplete is not a way of being context-sensitive. In their reply to (...)
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  14. 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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  15. Kent Bach, Performatives.
    Paradoxical though it may seem, there are certain things one can do just by saying what one is doing. This is possible if one uses a verb that names the very sort of act one is performing. Thus one can thank someone by saying 'Thank you', fire someone by saying 'You're fired', and apologize by saying 'I apologize'. These are examples of 'explicit performative utterances', statements in form but not in fact. Or so thought their discoverer, J. L. Austin, who (...)
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  16. Kent Bach, Questions and Answers.
    Jonathan is known for his answers as well as his questions. In fact, he is known for giving the same answer to different questions. This illustrates his point about convergent questions: different questions can have the same answer. Jonathan relies on this point to show that if p is the answer to a certain question, knowing the answer to that question doesn’t consist merely in knowing that p. Since p is the answer to many questions, and you can know the (...)
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  17. Kent Bach, Review Article Sometimes a Great Notion: A Critical Notice of Mark Crimmins'.
    Anyone weary of endless philosophical debate on belief reports will find welcome relief in this book. Talking not just about belief talk but about belief itself, it offers much that is new, interesting, and subtle. The central thesis, though interestingly and subtly developed, is not exactly new. It is a version of the “hidden indexical theory” (HIT) of..
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  18. Kent Bach, Regressions in Pragmatics (and Semantics).
    Influenced by the Wittgensteinian slogan “Don’t look for the meaning, look for the use,” ordinary language philosophers aimed to defuse various philosophical problems by analyzing key words in terms of what they are used to do or the conditions for appropriately using them. Although Moore, Grice and Searle exposed this error – mixing pragmatics with semantics – it still gets committed, now to a different end. Nowadays the aim is to reckon with the fact that the meanings of a great (...)
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  19. Kent Bach, Refraining, Omitting, and Negative Acts.
    The basic question of action theory, what it is to do something, invites the complementary question of what it is to fail to do something (and not merely not do it). At every moment there are zillions of things that you’re not doing but few if any that you’re failing to do. There seem to be four (partly overlapping) ways of failing to do something.
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  20. Kent Bach, Relatively Speaking.
    Puzzles about sentences containing expressions of certain sorts, such as predicates of personal taste, epistemic modals, and ‘know’, have spawned families of views that go by the names of Contextualism and Relativism. In the case of predicates of personal taste, which I will be focusing on, contextualist views say that the contents of sentences like “Uni is delicious” and “The Aristocrats is hilarious” vary somehow with the context of utterance. Such a sentence semantically expresses different propositions in different contexts, depending (...)
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  21. 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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  22. Kent Bach, Statements and Beliefs Without Truth-Aptitude.
    Minimalism about truth-aptitude, if correct, would undercut expressivism about moral discourse. Indeed, it would undercut nonfactualism about any area of discourse. But it cannot be correct, for there are areas, about which people hold beliefs and make statements, to which nonfactualism uncontroversially applies. Or so I will argue. I will be thereby challenging John Divers and Alexander Miller’s [3] appeal to minimalism about truth-aptitude in defending a certain argument against expressivism about value. But I will not be defending expressivism. For (...)
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  23. Kent Bach, Ten More Misconceptions About Implicature.
    1. Sentences have implicatures. (11, 14, 19)** 2. Implicatures are inferences. (12. 14) 3. Implicatures can’t be entailments. 4. Gricean maxims apply only to implicatures. (16, 17) 5. For what is implicated to be figured out, what is said must be determined first. (12, 13) 6. All pragmatic implications are implicatures. 7. Implicatures are not part of the truth-conditional contents of utterances. (20) 8. If something is meant but unsaid, it must be implicated. (20) 9. Scalar “implicatures” are implicatures. (11) (...)
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  24. 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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  25. Kent Bach, Why Speaker Intentions Aren't Part of Context.
    It is widely though not universally accepted what speakers refer to in using demonstratives or “discretionary” (as opposed to “automatic”) indexicals depends on their intentions. Even so, people tend not to appreciate the consequences of this claim for the view that demonstratives and most indexicals refer as a function of context: these expressions suffer from a “character deficiency.” No wonder I am asked from time to time why I resist the temptation to include speaker intentions as a parameter of context. (...)
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  26. Kent Bach, Why Talk About Wine?
    There is a problem when these people list all these flavours and aromas they think they have detected. It then gets on to the label of the bottle and what you are looking at appears to be a recipe for fruit salad. – Hugh Johnson..
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  27. K. Bach (forthcoming). You Don't Say', Forthcoming In. Synthese.
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  28. Kent Bach (2013). Burnham, Douglas and Ole Martin Skilleås. The Aesthetics of Wine. Malden, MA: Wiley‐Blackwell, 2012, Ix + 227 Pp., $119.95 Cloth. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):388-389.
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  29. Kent Bach (2013). L3. Conversational Impliciture. In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. 284.
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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. Kent Bach (2012). Subject and Name Index. In Rita Finkbeiner, Jörg Meibauer & Petra Schumacher (eds.), What is a Context?: Linguistic Approaches and Challenges. John Benjamins Pub. Co.. 196--251.
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  33. Kent Bach (2012). Saying, Meaning, and Implicating. In Keith Allan & Kasia Jaszczolt (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics. Cambridge University Press.
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  34. 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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  35. 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.
  36. 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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  37. Kent Bach (2009). Self-Deception. In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oup Oxford.
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  38. K. Bach (2008). Review: Robert J. Stainton: Words and Thoughts: Subsentences, Ellipsis, and the Philosophy of Language. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (467):739-742.
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  39. 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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  40. Kent Bach (2008). Talk About Wine. In Fritz Allhoff (ed.), Wine and Philosophy. Blackwell. 95--110.
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  41. Kent Bach (2008). The Semantics and Pragmatics of Reference. In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oup Oxford.
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  42. K. Bach (2007). Minimal Semantics. Philosophical Review 116 (2):303-306.
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  43. Kent Bach (2007). Knowledge, Wine, and Taste: What Good is Knowledge (in Enjoying Wine). In Barry C. Smith (ed.), Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine. Oxford University Press. 21--40.
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  44. Kent Bach (2007). Review of Francois Recanati, Literal Meaning. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487–492.
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  45. Kent Bach (2007). Literal Meaning. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
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  46. 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.
  47. Kent Bach (2007). Review of Robert Fiengo, Asking Questions: Using Meaningful Structures to Imply Ignorance. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (11).
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  48. Kent Bach (2007). Referentially Used Descriptions: A Reply to Devitt. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (2):33-48.
  49. Kent Bach (2007). Searle Against the World : How Can Experiences Find Their Objects? In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (ed.), John Searle's Philosophy of Language: Force, Meaning, and Mind. Cambridge University Press.
    Here's an old question in the philosophy of perception: here I am, looking at this pen [I hold up a pen in my hand]. Presumably I really am seeing this pen. Even so, I could be having an experience just like the one I am having without anything being there. So how can the experience I am having really involve direct awareness of the pen? It seems as though the presence of the pen is inessential to the way the experience (...)
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