In this paper I will examine the relation between the theory of obligations and its use in sophismatic contexts through the lens of certain pragmatic concerns. In order to do this, I will take a sophism discussed by Peter of Mantua in his treatise on obligations as a case-study. I will first provide a brief outline of the structure of the treatise and then examine a concrete case that shows how the relationship between background assumptions (casus and context of (...) class='Hi'>utterance) and criteria of response seems to suggest a way to qualify the application of general rules (especially for irrelevant sentences) in certain limit-cases. By discussing Peter's presentation of the sophism, I will also argue for a connection between Peter of Mantua's text and Mesino de Codronchi's Questiones on the De Interpretatione. (shrink)
We distinguish, among other things, between the agent of the context, the speaker of the agent's utterance, the mechanism the agent uses to produce her utterance, and the tokening of the sentence uttered. Armed with these distinctions, we tackle the the ‘answer-machine’, ‘post-it note’ and other allegedly problematic cases, arguing that they can be handled without departing significantly from Kaplan's semantical framework for indexicals. In particular, we argue that these cases don't require adopting Stefano Predelli's intentionalism.
For many purposes in pragmatics one needs to appeal to a context of utterance conceived as a set of sentences or propositions. The context of utterance in this sense is often defined as the set of assumptions that the speaker supposes he or she shares with the hearer. I argue by stages that this is a mistake. First, if contexts must be defined in terms of shared assumptions, then it would be preferable to define the context as the (...) set of assumptionsthat the interlocutors really do share. Second, not all shared assumptions belong to the context, because not all are relevant. Third, hearers need not accept every member of the context, because some presuppositions are informative. Finally, presupposition coordination problems show that contexts may have contents that even the speaker does not accept. Contexts, we may conclude, are mind-transcendent. In one sense of the term a "presupposition" is an interlocutor's take on this mind-transcendent context. (shrink)
In this paper I defend Kaplan’s claim that the sentence “I am here now” is logically true. A number of counter-examples to the claim have been proposed, including occurrences of the sentence in answerphone messages, written notes left for later decoding, etc. These counter-examples are only convincing if they can be shown to be cases where the correct context with respect to which the utterance should be evaluated is the context in which it is decoded rather than encoded. I (...) argue that this is not the case, and draw on the distinction between force and content to suggest an alternative account of how information is communicated in these cases that is consistent with Kaplan’s semantic theory. (shrink)
In this paper I expose and criticise the distinction between pure indexicals and demonstratives, held by David Kaplan and John Perry. I oppose the context of material production of the utterance to the “intended context” (the context of interpretation, i.e. the context the speaker indicates as semantically relevant): this opposition introduces an intentional feature into the interpretation of pure indexicals. As far as the indexical I is concerned, I maintain that we must distinguish between the material producer of the (...)utterance containing I and the “intended agent of the context” - i.e. the individual designated by the material producer as the responsible for the utterance. (shrink)
During the last decades, there has been a debate on the question whether literary works are utterances, or have utterance meaning, and whether it is reasonable to approach them as such. Proponents of the utterance model in literary interpretation, whom I will refer to as ‘utterance theorists,’ such as Noël Carroll and especially Robert Stecker, suggest that because of their nature as linguistic products of intentional human action, literary works are utterances similar to those used in everyday (...) discourse. Conversely, those whom I will refer to as ‘appreciation theorists,’ such as Stein Haugom Olsen and Peter Lamarque, argue that literary works are by no means comparable to conversational utterances, and treating them in terms of utterances mistakenly dismisses their literary features. -/- The aim of this essay is twofold: to defend a central aspect of the utterance theory and to reconcile the two main positions about central issues in the debate on the meaning of literary works. On the one hand, I shall argue that it is both legitimate and reasonable to discuss the utterance meaning of a literary work on the basis of an interpretative approach interested in the author’s “message.” My aim is to show that literary works should be considered utterances in a conversational approach which aims at examining the illocutionary actions conveyed through the work. On the other hand, I attempt to show both that there are various legitimate interpretative approaches which are governed by the interpreter’s purposes and to suggest that the debate between utterance theorists and appreciation theorists is actually about merely different emphases. (shrink)
This paper explores Stanley Cavell's notion of 'passionate utterance', which acts as an extension of/departure from (we might read it as both) J. L. Austin's theory of the performative. Cavell argues that Austin having made the revolutionary discovery that truth claims in language are bound up with how words perform, then gets bogged by convention when discussing what is done 'by' words. In failing to account for the less predictable, unconventional aspects of language, the latter therefore washes his hands (...) of the expressive passionate aspects of speech. To ignore such aspects is to ignore an important moral dimension of language. Finally, I bring Cavell's approach to bear on the epistemic criterion, which Michael Hand applies in his paper 'Should We Teach Homosexuality as a Controversial Issue?'. I suggest that Hand's approach, by failing to account for the linguistic dimension of truth and the expressive quality that accompanies this dimension, presents an overly narrow conception of moral education. (shrink)
In recent years, some people have held that a radical relativist position is defensible in some philosophically interesting cases, including future contingents, predicates of personal taste, evaluative predicates in general, epistemic modals, and knowledge attributions. The position is frequently characterized as denying that utterance-truth is absolute. I argue that this characterization is inappropriate, as it requires a metaphysical substantive contention with which moderate views as such need not be committed. Before this, I also offer a more basic, admittedly less (...) exciting alternative characterization of the position, in terms of departing from the Kaplan–Lewis–Stalnaker two-dimensional framework. (shrink)
In recent years, some people have held that a radical relativist position is defensible in some philosophically interesting cases, including future contingents, predicates of personal taste, evaluative predicates in general, epistemic modals, and knowledge attributions. The position is frequently characterized as denying that utterance-truth is absolute. I argue that this characterization is inappropriate, as it requires a metaphysical substantive contention with which moderate views as such need not be committed. Before this, I also offer a more basic, admittedly less (...) exciting alternative characterization of the position, in terms of departing from the Kaplan–Lewis–Stalnaker two-dimensional framework. (shrink)
A popular approach to defining fictive utterance says that, necessarily, it is intended to produce imagining. I shall argue that this is not falsified by the fact that some fictive utterances are intended to be believed, or are non-accidentally true. That this is so becomes apparent given a proper understanding of the relation of what one imagines to one's belief set. In light of this understanding, I shall then argue that being intended to produce imagining is sufficient for fictive (...)utterance as well. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate the use of machine learning techniques to classify a wide range of non-sentential utterance types in dialogue, a necessary ﬁrst step in the interpretation of such fragments. We train different learners on a set of contextual features that can be extracted from PoS information. Our results achieve an 87% weighted f-score—a 25% improvement over a simple rule-based algorithm baseline.
Two alternatives are considered: (1) the notion of utterance meaning as constituted by the match between the communicative intention and interpretation, (2) the notion of utterance meaning as a set of the utterance's normative consequences. (1) is criticised for its being based on a notion of communicative success limited to a certain type of discourse. On the contrary, (2) allows for a variety of types of discourse governed by different principles of the determination of utterance meanings: (...) they differ in particular in the role assigned to linguistic conventions and to hypotheses about speaker's intentions. A special kind of these hypotheses which can be relevant within both accounts of utterance meaning is analysed in detail. (shrink)
The currently standard approach to fiction is to define it in terms of imagination. I have argued elsewhere (Friend 2008) that no conception of imagining is sufficient to distinguish a response appropriate to fiction as opposed to non-fiction. In her contribution Kathleen Stock seeks to refute this objection by providing a more sophisticated account of the kind of propositional imagining prescribed by so-called ‘fictive utterances’. I argue that although Stock's proposal improves on other theories, it too fails to provide an (...) adequate criterion of fictionality. I conclude by sketching an alternative account according to which fiction is a genre. (shrink)
A Gricean preamble concludes that though utterances have unintended meanings, those cannot be considered apart from their intended meanings. Intention distinguishes artworks from natural phenomena. To allocate an artwork to a genre, to accept its normal authorial boundaries and that its content is not random but chosen, is to concede intention's centrality. Wimsatt and Beardsley were right that meaning is public. But they think 'intention' is 'private' or 'unavailable'. However, it too is public, in the work. Fictions are utterances of (...) a curious kind. They may mimic, but are not meant to be taken for, veridical reports. Neither are they 'pseudo-statements' (Richards) nor 'pretended illocutionary acts' (Searle). Their logical form is actually this: 'I [author] invite you [reader] to imagine that S [content].' This prescribes no response, nor claims to describe the 'real' world, even though it may elicit a response appropriate to real-life events. One reason for imagining fictional situations may be to strengthen the perceptions necessary for (civilized) real life. (shrink)
We extend the ordinary logic of knowledge based on the operator K and the system of axioms S5 by adding a new operator U, standing for the agent utters , and certain axioms and a rule for U, forming thus a new system KU. The main advantage of KU is that we can express in it intentions of the speaker concerning the truth or falsehood of the claims he utters and analyze them logically. Specifically we can express in the new (...) language various notions of lying, as well as of telling the truth. Consequently, as long as lying or telling the truth about a fact is an intentional mode of the speaker, we can resolve the Liar paradox, or at least some of its variants, turning it into an ordinary (false or true) sentence. Also, using Kripke structures analogous to those employed by S. Kraus and D. Lehmann in  for modelling the logic of knowledge and belief, we offer a sound and complete semantics for KU. (shrink)
Kaplan says that monsters violate Principle 2 of his theory. Principle 2 is that indexicals, pure and demonstrative alike, are directly referential. In providing this explanation of there being no monsters, Kaplan feels his theory has an advantage over double-indexing theories like Kamp’s or Segerberg’s (or Stalnaker’s), which either embrace monsters or avoid them only by ad hoc stipulation, in the sharp conceptual distinction it draws between circumstances of evaluation and contexts of utterance. We shall argue that Kaplan’s prohibition (...) is also essentially stipulative, and that it is too general. The main difference between ourselves and Kaplan is that the basic carriers of a truth-value is a sentence-in-a-context; our account is utterance-based. (shrink)
Temporal externalists argue that ascriptions of thought and utterance content can legitimately reflect contingent conceptual developments that are only settled after the time of utterance. While the view has been criticized for failing to accord with our.
Temporal externalists argue that ascriptions of thought and utterance content can legitimately re?ect contingent conceptual developments that are only settled after the time of utterance. While the view has been criticized for failing to accord with our.
This paper focuses upon "bebop" as a distinctively urban movement for the purpose of contributing to the articulation of a distinctively urban aesthetics. The author examines both how the music was taken up in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago, and in turn how an urban sensibility was expressed in this particular movement.
Going back as far as the Old Kingdom (2450–2300 BCE), ancient Egyptian speculative thinkers had already developed a complex understanding of the relationship between personal agency, power, and the role of magic. What is more, these early philosophers saw that this world (individual and social) and the other (cosmological) operated according to the same principles. The rules by which one secured power were the same whether one was a peasant or a god. Through perception, the heart/mind would design an idea, (...) the mouth would speak it and, as if by magic, the task would be accomplished. Thoughtful, reasoned speech was the mechanism for reestablishing the order that was manifested in the reasoned creation of the .. (shrink)
Falk's argument takes for granted that “protolanguage” used a genetic propensity for producing word-forms. Using developmental evidence, I dispute this assumption and, instead, reframe the argument in terms of behavioral ecology. Viewed as niche-construction, putting the baby down can help clarify not only the origins of talk but also the capacity to modify what we are saying as we speak.
This paper is about pragmatic explanations of certain linguistic phenomenon based on Grice’s theory of conversational implicature. According to Grice’s theory, audiences draw inferences about what the speaker is trying to convey based on the idea that the speaker is following certain maxims governing conversation. Such explanations of the inferences audiences make about the speaker play a central role in many parts of philosophy of language and linguistics.
Several authors propose that performative speech acts are self-guaranteeing due to their self-referential nature (Searle 1989; Jary 2007). The present paper offers an analysis of self-referentiality in terms of truth conditional semantics, making use of Davidsonian events. I propose that hereby can denote the ongoing act of information transfer (more mundanely, the utterance) which thereby enters the meaning of the sentence. The analysis will be extended to cover self-referential sentences without the adverb hereby. While self-referentiality can be integrated in (...) ordinary truth conditional semantic analysis without being a mystery, the resulting account shows that self-referentiality in this sense is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for performative utterances. I propose that the second ingredient of performative utterances consists in an act of the speaker defining her utterance to be an act of the respective kind. The final theory can successfully predict the performativity, or lack thereof, of a wide range of performative sentences, and leads to an explicated interface between compositional sentence meaning and speech act. (shrink)
According to an attractive account of belief, our beliefs have centered content. According to an attractive account of communication, we utter sentences to express our beliefs and share them with each other. However, the two accounts are in conflict. We have to either change our understanding of belief or modify our theory of communication. In this paper, I explore the consequences of holding on to the claim that beliefs have centered content. If we do in fact express the centered content (...) of our beliefs, the content of the belief the hearer acquires cannot in general be identical to the content the speaker expresses. I sketch an alternative account of communication, the Recentering model, that accepts this consequence and explains how the expressed and the acquired content are related. (shrink)
Formal pragmatics plays an important, though secondary, role in modern analytical philosophy of language: its aim is to explain how context can affect the meaning of certain special kinds of utterances. During recent years, the adequacy of formal tools has come under attack, often leading to one or another form of relativism or antirealism.1 Our aim will be to extend the critique to formal pragmatics while showing that sceptical conclusions can be avoided by developing a different approach to the issues. (...) In particular, we will show that formal pragmatics cannot provide a complete account of how context affects the meaning of utterances, both on its own terms and when faced with evidence of important aspects of natural languages. The focal issue is the relevant kind of context in which pragmatics should examine utterances. Our contention will be that the relevant context of an utterance is determined by the function of that utterance, this function being dependent upon the primary function of language – to convey information. We will argue that the functions of utterances and of language are too broad to be caught by the tools of formal pragmatics of the sort advocated by Montague (1968, 1974), which are an extension the methods of traditional model-theoretic semantics.2 The particular formal approach we will use as the main example is David Kaplan’s position (1979, 1989),3 an extension of Montague’s program. (shrink)
We use the interpretation of vague scalar predicates like small as an illustration of how systematic semantic models of dialogue context enable the derivation of useful, ﬁne-grained utterance interpretations from radically underspeci- ﬁed semantic forms. Because dialogue context sufﬁces to determine salient alternative scales and relevant distinctions along these scales, we can infer implicit standards of comparison for vague scalar predicates through completely general pragmatics, yet closely constrain the intended meaning to within a natural range.
Formal pragmatics plays an important, though secondary, role in modern analytical philosophy of language: its aim is to explain how context can affect the meaning of certain special kinds of utterances. During recent years, the adequacy of formal tools has come under attack, often leading to one or another form of relativism or antirealism. Our aim will be to extend the critique to formal pragmatics while showing that sceptical conclusions can be avoided by developing a different approach to the issues. (...) In particular, we will show that formal pragmatics cannot provide a complete account of how context affects the meaning of utterances, both on its own terms and when faced with evidence of important aspects of natural languages. The focal issue is the relevant kind of context in which pragmatics should examine utterances. Our contention will be that the relevant context of an utterance is determined by the function of that utterance, this function being dependent upon the primary function of language – to convey information. We will argue that the functions of utterances and of language are too broad to be caught by the tools of formal pragmatics of the sort advocated by Montague (1968, 1974), which are an extension the methods of traditional model-theoretic semantics. The particular formal approach we will use as the main example is David Kaplan’s position (1979, 1989), an extension of Montague’s program. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims at providing an account of an indirect mechanism responsible for establishing one's power to issue biding directive acts; second, it is intended as a case for an externalist account of illocutionary interaction. The mechanism in question is akin to what David Lewis calls presupposition accommodation: a rule-governed process whereby the context of an utterance is adjusted to make the utterance acceptable; the main idea behind the proposed account is (...) that the indirect power-establishing mechanism involves the use of imperative sentences that function as presupposition triggers and as such can trigger off the accommodating change of the context of their utterance. According to the externalist account of illocutionary interaction, in turn, at least in some cases the illocutionary force of an act is determined by the audience's uptake rather than by what the speaker intends or believes; in particular, at least in some cases it is the speaker, not her audience, who is invited to accommodate the presupposition of her act. The paper has three parts. The first one defines a few terms — i.e., an “illocution”, a “biding act”, the “audience's uptake” and an “Austinian presupposition” — thereby setting the stage for the subsequent discussion. The second part formulates and discusses the main problem of the present paper: what is the source of the agent's power to perform binding directive acts? The third part offers an account of the indirect power-establishing mechanism and discusses its externalist implications. (shrink)
Utterances in situated activity are about the world. Theories and systems normally capture this by assuming references must be resolved to real-world entities in utterance understanding. We describe a number of puzzles and problems for this approach, and propose an alternative semantic representation using discourse relations that link utterances to the nonlinguistic context to capture the context-dependent interpretation of situated utterances. Our approach promises better empirical coverage and more straightforward system building. Substantiating these advantages is work in progress.
Relevance Theory is the influential theory of linguistic interpretation first championed by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson. Relevance theorists have made important contributions to our understanding of a wide range of constructions, especially constructions that tend to receive less attention in semantics and philosophy of language. But advocates of Relevance Theory also have had a tendency to form a rather closed community, with an unwillingness to translate their own special vocabulary and distinctions into more neutral vernacular. Since Robyn Carston has (...) long been the advocate of Relevance Theory most able to communicate with a broader philosophical and linguistic audience, it is with particular interest that the emergence of her long-awaited volume, Thoughts and Utterances has been greeted. The volume exhibits many of the strengths, but also some of the weaknesses, of this well-known program. (shrink)
Semantic Minimalists make a proprietary claim to explaining the possibility of utterances sharing content across contexts. Further, they claim that an inability to explain shared content dooms varieties of Contextualism. In what follows, I argue that there are a series of barriers to explaining shared content for the Minimalist, only some of which the Contextualist also faces, including: (i) how the type-identity of utterances is established, (ii) what counts as repetition of type-identical utterances, (iii) how it can be determined whether (...) semantically minimal content has been repeated, and (iv) what the nature of such content is. (shrink)
Wittgenstein demystified the notion of 'observational self-knowledge'. He dislodged the long-standing conception that we have privileged access to our impressions, sensations and feelings through introspection, and more precisely eliminated knowing as the kind of awareness that normally characterizes our first-person present-tense psychological statements. He was not thereby questioning our awareness of our emotions or sensations, but debunking the notion that we come to that awareness via any epistemic route. This makes the spontaneous linguistic articulation of our sensations and impressions nondescriptive. (...) Not descriptions, but expressions that seem more akin to behaviour than to language. I suggest that Wittgenstein uncovered a new species of speech acts. Far from the prearranged consecration of words into performatives, utterances are deeds through their very spontaneity. This gives language a new aura: the aura of the reflex action. I argue, against Peter Hacker, that spontaneous utterances have the categorial status of deeds. This has no reductive consequences in that I do not suggest that one category is reduced to another, but that the boundary between them is porous. This explodes the myth of an explanatory gap between the traditionally distinct categories of saying (or thinking) and doing, or of mind and body. (shrink)
Grice’s ideas of what it is to mean something by doing something, conceptually condensed in various analyses of ‘utterer’s (or speaker’s) meaning’, are today mostly disputed in the context of the question of how niucheif any—semantics can be based on that concept. In this paper, I shall say nothing about this topic, but rather discuss some aspects of the analysis of ‘utterer’s meaning” itself. Since Schiffer’s book Meaning, its details seem to be regarded as more or less settled, further scrutiny (...) being disdained as sheer fussing over trifles and philo-. (shrink)
What mechanisms underlie children’s language production? Structural priming—the repetition of sentence structure across utterances—is an important measure of the developing production system. We propose its mechanism in children is the same as may underlie analogical reasoning: structure-mapping. Under this view, structural priming is the result of making an analogy between utterances, such that children map semantic and syntactic structure from previous to future utterances. Because the ability to map relationally complex structures develops with age, younger children are less successful than (...) older children at mapping both semantic and syntactic relations. Consistent with this account, 4-year-old children showed priming only of semantic relations when surface similarity across utterances was limited, whereas 5-year-olds showed priming of both semantic and syntactic structure regardless of shared surface similarity. The priming of semantic structure without syntactic structure is uniquely predicted by the structure-mapping account because others have interpreted structural priming as a reflection of developing syntactic knowledge. (shrink)
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 meaning because of the need for disambiguation and reference assignment and because people can speak figuratively or indirectly. But philosophers and linguists are coming to recognize that these are not the only ways. The situation may be described in Gricean terms: the distinction between what is said and what is implicated is not exhaustive. Charting the middle ground between the two will require attending to specific examples, noting their distinctive features, and articulating the relevant concepts. That is what I aim to do here. The basic idea will be to distinguish not only the implied from the explicit but the implicit from the implied. (shrink)
i> “There’s no disputing about taste.” That’s got a nice ring to it, but it’s not quite the ring of truth. While there’s definitely something right about the aphorism – there’s a reason why it is, after all, an aphorism, and why its utterance tends to produce so much nodding of heads and muttering of “just so” and “yes, quite” – it’s surprisingly difficult to put one’s finger on just what the truth in the neighborhood is, exactly. One thing (...) that’s pretty clear is that what’s right about the aphorism, that there’s no disputing about taste, isn’t that there’s no disputing about taste. There’s heaps of disputing about taste. People engage in disputes about which movies, music, paintings, literature, meals, furniture, architectural styles, etc. are good, beautiful, tasty, fun, elegant, ugly, disgusting, etc. all the time. This is obvious to anyone who has watched dueling-movie-critics shows, read theater reviews, or negotiated with a group or partner about which movie or restaurant to go to, or which sofa or painting to put in the living room. It takes great care and good aim to fling a brick without hitting somebody who’s engaged in a dispute about taste. (shrink)
Fictional names present unique challenges for semantic theories of proper names, challenges strong enough to warrant an account of names different from the standard treatment. The theory developed in this paper is motivated by a puzzle that depends on four assumptions: our intuitive assessment of the truth values of certain sentences, the most straightforward treatment of their syntactic structure, semantic compositionality, and metaphysical scruples strong enough to rule out fictional entities, at least. It is shown that these four assumptions, taken (...) together, are inconsistent with referentialism, the common view that names are uniformly associated with ordinary individuals as their semantic value. Instead, the view presented here interprets names as context-sensitive expressions, associated in a context of utterance with a particular act of introduction, or dubbing, which is then used to determine their semantic value. Some dubbings are referential, which associate names with ordinary individuals as their semantic values; others are fictional, which associate names, instead, with sets of properties. Since the semantic values of names can be of different sorts, the semantic rule interpreting predication must be complex as well. In the body of the paper, I show how this new treatment of names allows us to solve our original puzzle. I defend the complexity of the semantic predication rule, and address additional worries about ontological commitment. (shrink)
What I am calling New Age Relativism is usually proposed as a thesis about the truth-conditions of utterances, where an utterance is an actual historic voicing or inscription of a sentence of a certain type. Roughly, it is the view that, for certain discourses, whether an utterance is true depends not just on the context of its making—when, where, to whom, by whom, in what language, and so on—and the “circumstances of evaluation”—the state of the world in relevant (...) respects—but also on an additional parameter: a context of assessment. Vary the latter and the truth-value of the utterance can vary, even though the context of its making and the associated state of the world remain fixed. (shrink)
Many different enterprises go under the title of semantics or semantic theory. For each of these, there must be a correspondingly different conception of pragmatics, at least in those cases where such a distinction is admitted. On the relevance-theoretic view, which is the primary focus of this paper, the distinction between semantics and pragmatics is a distinction between two types of cognitive process employed in understanding utterances: decoding and inference. The decoding process is performed by an autonomous linguistic system, the (...) parser or language perception module. Having identified a particular acoustic stimulus as linguistic, this system executes a series of deterministic grammatical computations, or mappings, resulting in an output representation, which is the semantic representation, or logical form, of the sentence or phrase employed in the utterance. It is a structured string of concepts, which has both logical and causal properties. The second type of cognitive process, the pragmatic inferential process, integrates the linguistic contribution with other readily accessible information in order to reach a confirmed interpretive hypothesis concerning the speaker's informative intention. This inferential phase of interpretation is constrained and guided by the communicative principle of relevance, which licences a hearer to look for an interpretation which interacts fruitfully with his cognitive system and does not put him to any unjustifiable processing effort. (shrink)
It is often observed in metaethics that moral language displays a certain duality in as much as it seems to concern both objective facts in the world and subjective attitudes that move to action. In this paper, I defend The Dual Aspect Account which is intended to capture this duality: A person’s utterance of a sentence according to which φing has a moral characteristic, such as “φing is wrong,” conveys two things: The sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional (...) meaning, the belief that φing has a moral property, and the utterance of the sentence carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that the person in question has an action-guiding attitude in relation to φing. This account has significant advantages over competing views: (i) As it is purely cognitivist, it does not have the difficulties of expressivism and various ecumenical positions. (ii) Yet, in spite of this, it can explain the close, “meaning-like,” connection between moral language and attitudes. (iii) In contrast to other pragmatic accounts, it is compatible with any relevant cognitivist view. (iv) It does not rest on a contentious pragmatic notion, such as conventional implicature. (v) It does not imply that utterances of complex moral sentences, such as conditionals, convey attitudes. In addition, the generalized implicature in question is fully calculable and cancellable. (shrink)
In this, the second of two articles outlining a theory of communicative competence, the author questions the ability of Chomsky's account of linguistic competence to fulfil the requirements of such a theory. ?Linguistic competence? for Chomsky means the mastery of an abstract system of rules, based on an innate language apparatus. The model by which communication is understood on this account contains three implicit assumptions, here called ?monologism?, ?a priorism?, and ?elementarism?. The author offers an outline of a theory of (...) communicative competence that is based on the negations of these assumptions. In opposing the first two assumptions he introduces distinctions, respectively, between semantic universals which process experiences and those that make such processing possible, and between semantic universals which precede all socialization and those that are linked to the conditions of potential socialization. Against elementarism, he argues that the semantic content of all possible natural languages does not consist of combinations of a finite number of meaning components. Differences in systems of classification preclude this, and such differences can be seen to infect all respects of intercultural comparison. Using the notion of ?performative utterance?, the author elucidates the role of dialogue?constitutive universals as part of the formal apparatus required of a?; speaker's capacity to communicate. He then notes what would be required of a general semantics based on a theory of communicative competence; and finally points out how this theory might be used for social analysis. (shrink)
This paper explores the trade-off between cognitive effort and cognitive effects during immediate metaphor comprehension. We specifically evaluate the fundamental claim of relevance theory that metaphor understanding, like all utterance interpretation, is constrained by the presumption of optimal relevance (Sperber and Wilson, 1995, p. 270): the ostensive stimulus is relevant enough for it to be worth the addressee's effort to process it, and the ostensive stimulus is the most relevant one compatible with the communicator's abilities and preferences. One important (...) implication of optimal relevance is that listeners follow a path of least effort and stop processing at the first interpretation that satisfies their expectation of relevance. They do this by trying to minimize cognitive effort while maximizing cognitive effects. Some relevance theory scholars suggest that metaphors should require additional cognitive effort to be understood, and that in return they yield more cognitive effects than does literal speech. Others claim that metaphors may be understood quickly, as soon as people infer enough effects for the speaker's utterance to meet their expectation of optimal relevance. Our analysis of the experimental evidence suggests that there is no systematic relationship between cognitive effort and cognitive effects in metaphor comprehension. We conclude that relevance theory need not make any general predictions about the effort needed to comprehend metaphors. Nevertheless, relevance theory is consistent with many of the findings in psycholinguistics on metaphor understanding, and can account for aspects of metaphor understanding that no other theory can explain. (shrink)
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 (...) rightly reject propositional invariantism, the implausible view that a bare EP sentence expresses the same classical (absolutely true or absolutely false) proposition in any context, they maintain that a change in perspective shifts either the sentence’s propositional content (to a proposition involving a different perspective) or its truth-value (the same perspectivally neutral proposition now evaluated from a different perspective). I deny that the semantic contents of bare EP sentences shift at all. But I also deny that these contents have truth-values. Rather, according to the radical invariantism I defend, these contents are not full-fledged propositions but merely propositional radicals. Only explicitly relativized EP sentences manage fully to express propositions, and these perspective-involving propositions are the only EP propositions there are. Nevertheless, bare EP sentences are perfectly capable of being used to assert EP propositions, because utterances of them implicitly allude to the relevant perspective. Various problem cases challenge radical invariantism to explain pragmatically which perspective is read into the utterance of a given bare EP sentence. Unlike contextualism and relativism, it can do this without having to resort to any semantic bells and whistles.. (shrink)
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 it be straightened out and cleaned up. Even when this sentence is used literally and directly, say to describe a certain area of a barnyard, the content of its utterance is not fully determined by its linguistic meaning--in particular, the meaning of the word 'this' does not determine which area is being referred to. A major task for the theory of speech acts is to account for how speakers can succeed in what they do despite the various ways in which linguistic meaning underdetermines use. (shrink)
Saul Kripke pointed out that whether or not an utterance gives rise to a liar-like paradox cannot always be determined by checking just its form or content.1 Whether or not Jones’s utterance of ‘Everything Nixon said is true’ is paradoxical depends in part on what Nixon said. Something similar may be said about the sorites paradox. For example, whether or not the predicate ‘are enough grains of coffee for Smith’s purposes’ gives rise to a sorites paradox depends at (...) least in part on what Smith’s purposes are. If Smith’s purpose is to make some coffee to drink, so that he can wake up and start his day, then we would be inclined to accept, and would ﬁnd it strange to deny the following sorites sentence. (shrink)
Metaphor appears to be a paradigmatically pragmatic phenomenon. It involves a gap between the conventional meaning of words and their occasion-specific use, of precisely the kind that motivates distinguishing pragmatics from semantics. This assumption is so widespread that it has received little explicit justification, but at least two obvious considerations can be offered in its support. First, metaphorical interpretation is importantly parasitic on literal meaning. If a hearer doesn’t know the literal meanings of the relevant expressions, she will only accidentally (...) succeed in interpreting an utterance metaphorically. In children, the general ability to comprehend and to knowingly produce metaphors (especially those based on abstract similarities) develops later than the capacity for literal speech (Vosniadou 1987). Moreover, various cognitive and brain disorders, such as autism (Happé 1995), schizophrenia (Langdon et al. 2002), and lesions in the right hemisphere (Brownell et al. 1990) significantly impair metaphorical comprehension, while there are no converse cases of impairment in literal comprehension with preserved capacity to interpret metaphors. Second, metaphorical interpretation depends not just on knowledge of the conventional meanings of the words uttered and their mode of combination, but also on substantive and wide-ranging presuppositions (real or mutually pretended) about the referents of the relevant expressions. As a result, the same sentence can receive dramatically different metaphorical interpretations in distinct contexts. For instance, sentence (1). (shrink)
The publication of Kripke (2009), originally delivered as a lecture at Princeton University in 1990, was long in coming. Widely circulated since then, some aspects of the original manuscript are now well known by many working on presupposition. The published paper differs from the manuscript in clarifying certain points, tying up loose ends, answering some previously open questions, and incorporating a modest revision or two. That would be reason enough to review it here. More important is an assessment of what (...) is truly groundbreaking in the discussion, and what is not. It is not, I will argue, Kripke’s attempted demonstrations that propositions previously said to be presupposed by various utterance types really aren’t presupposed, though there is something correct about those critical remarks. Nor is it his identification of new propositions presupposed by the utterances in question. Although there are new presuppositions, in certain cases his characterization of them requires revision or supplementation. However, these are not the most important aspects of his paper. Rather, I will argue, his most significant insights concern the mechanisms that give rise to presuppositions, which involve the formulation of presuppositional requirements of a kind different from those of the theories on which he comments. These in turn have far-reaching consequences for the notion of conversational contexts incorporating shared background information that utterances are used to update, and against which they are evaluated. Ironically, it is these, most important, aspects of Kripke’s view that (to my knowledge) have been least understood, and most incompletely assimilated into ongoing work. For this reason, I will concentrate on them. (shrink)
Grice made a distinction between what is said by a speaker of a verbal utterance and what is implicated. What is implicated might be either conven- tional (that is, largely generated by the standing meaning of certain linguistic expressions, such as ‘but’ and ‘moreover’) or conversational (that is, dependent on the assumption that the speaker is following certain rational principles of conversational exchange). What appears to have bound these rather disparate aspects of utterance meaning together, and so motivated (...) the common label of implicature, was that they did not contribute to the truthconditional content of the utterance, that is, the proposition it expressed, or what the speaker of the utterance said. (shrink)
A Russellian theory of (definite) descriptions takes an utterance of the form ‘The F is G’ to express a purely general proposition that affirms the existence of a (contextually) unique F: there is exactly one F [which is C] and it is G. Strawson, by contrast, takes the utterer to presuppose in some sense that there is exactly one salient F, but this is not part of what is asserted; rather, when the presupposition is not met, the utterance (...) simply fails to express a (true or false) proposition. A defender of Strawson’s approach, however, must square up to what appear to be straightforward counterexamples to the presupposition thesis, and must also provide an account of certain linguistic phenomena that supposedly demand treating descriptions as quantifiers, as the Russellian theory does. In this paper I propose fresh considerations in favour of Strawson’s approach. I shift attention from what the utterer presupposes to preconditions for the use of descriptions, and distinguish between referring and predicative uses of descriptions (not to be confused with referential and attributive uses); importantly, the referring and predicative uses have different preconditions, I argue, and these provide some satisfactory responses to the aforementioned challenges facing the Strawsonian. (shrink)
In his seminal paper 'Assertion', Robert Stalnaker distinguishes between the semantic content of a sentence on an occasion of use and the content asserted by an utterance of that sentence on that occasion. While in general the assertoric content of an utterance is simply its semantic content, the mechanisms of conversation sometimes force the two apart. Of special interest in this connection is one of the principles governing assertoric content in the framework, one according to which the asserted (...) content ought to be identical at each world in the context set (the Uniformity principle). In this paper, we present a problem for Stalnaker's meta-semantic framework, by challenging the plausibility of the Uniformity principle. We argue that the interaction of the framework with facts about epistemic accessibility--in particular, failures of epistemic transparency--cause problems for the Uniformity principle and thus for Stalnaker's framework more generally. (shrink)
The distinction between the semantic content of a sentence or utterance and its use is widely employed in formal semantics. Semantic minimalism in particular understands this distinction as a sharp dichotomy. I argue that if we accept such a dichotomy, there would be no reason to posit the existence of semantic contents at all. I examine and reject several arguments raised in the literature that might provide a rationale for assuming semantic contents, in this sense, exist, and conclude that (...) Ockham’s razor should be applied to these postulated entities. Since the notion of “semantic content” doubles both as what a semantic theory is a priori supposed to account for and as the product of that same theory, it is methodologically unsound to appeal to this notion to fend off criticisms of and counterexamples to semantic theories. (shrink)
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...) we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals. (shrink)
I propose that an account of metaphor understanding which covers the full range of cases has to allow for two routes or modes of processing. One is a process of rapid, local, on-line concept construction that applies quite generally to the recovery of word meaning in utterance comprehension. The other requires a greater focus on the literal meaning of sentences or texts, which is metarepresented as a whole and subjected to more global, reflective pragmatic inference. The questions whether metaphors (...) convey a propositional content and what role imagistic representation plays receive somewhat different answers depending on the processing route. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that there is a distinction to be made between the explicit content and the implicit import of an utterance. There is much less agreement about the precise nature of this distinction, how it is to be drawn, and whether any such two-way distinction can do justice to the levels and kinds of meaning involved in utterance interpretation. Grice’s distinction between what is said by an utterance and what is implicated is probably the best (...) known instantiation of the explicit/implicit distinction. His distinction, along with many of its post-Gricean heirs, is closely entwined with another distinction: that between semantics and pragmatics. Indeed, on some construals they are seen as essentially one and the same; “what is said” is equated with the truthconditional content of the utterance which in turn is equated with (context-relative) sentence meaning, leaving implicatures (conventional and conversational) as the sole domain of pragmatics. (shrink)
Why do speakers of all languages use different grammatical structures under different communicative circumstances to express the same idea? In this comprehensive study, Professor Lambrecht explores the relationship between the structure of sentences and the linguistic and extra-linguistic contexts in which they are used. His analysis is based on the observation that the structure of a sentence reflects a speaker's assumptions about the hearer's state of knowledge and consciousness at the time of the utterance. This relationship between speaker assumptions (...) and formal sentence structure is governed by rules and conventions of grammar, in a component called 'information structure'. Four independent but interrelated categories are analysed: presupposition and assertion, identifiability and activation, topic, and focus. (shrink)
Because names from fiction, names like ‘Sherlock Holmes’, fail to refer, and because it has been supposed that all simple predicative sentences including a sentence like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’ will be true if and only if the referent of the name has the property encoded by the predicate, many philosophers have denied that an utterance of the sentence ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’ could be true. Despite this, natural language speakers appear to engage in sensible conversations using these kinds of sentences, (...) and appear to convey information to one another in doing so. These facts have led non-literalists about fictional discourse to maintain that the utterances of the sentences by speakers engaged in such conversations are literally false, but that those utterances should be interpreted as pragmatically conveying information about what is true according to the story. I argue, however, that these story operator accounts cannot capture all of the true readings of an utterance of a sentence like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’. There are other true readings that arise both in some of the ordinary natural paths fictional discourse might take, as well as in modal discourse about fiction. What’s more, I offer arguments that not only are there other true readings, but those readings should be taken as what is literally said by speakers in uttering sentences like ‘Sherlock Holmes smokes’. (shrink)
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk (...) on the day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
What are the prospects for a cognitive science of meaning? As stated, we think this question is ill posed, for it invites the conflation of several importantly different semantic concepts. In this paper, we want to distinguish the sort of meaning that is an explanandum for cognitive science—something we are going to call meaning—from the sort of meaning that is an explanans in cognitive science—something we are not going to call meaning at all, but rather content. What we are going (...) to call meaning is paradigmatically a property of linguistic expressions or acts: what one’s utterance or sentence means, and what one means by it. What we are going to call content is a property of, among other things, mental representations and indicator signals. We will argue that it is a mistake to identify meaning with content, and that, once this is appreciated, some serious problems emerge for grounding meaning in the sorts of content that cognitive science is likely to provide. (shrink)
This paper presents problems for Stalnaker’s common ground theory of presupposition. Stalnaker (Linguist and Philos 25:701–721, 2002) proposes a 2-stage process of utterance interpretation: presupposed content is added to the common ground prior to acceptance/rejection of the utterance as a whole. But this revision makes presupposition difficult to distinguish from assertion. A more fundamental problem is that the common ground theory rests on a faulty theory of assertion—that the essence of assertion is to present the content of an (...)utterance as new information. Many examples are presented of utterances which are felicitous but not informative in this way. (shrink)
Frege held that referring expressions in general, and demonstratives and indexicals in particular, contribute more than just their reference to what is expressed by utterances of sentences containing them. Heck first attempts to get clear about what the essence of the Fregean view is, arguing that it rests upon a certain conception of linguistic communication that is ultimately indefensible. On the other hand, however, he argues that understanding a demonstrative (or indexical) utterance requires one to think of the object (...) denoted in an appropriate way. This fact makes it difficult to reconcile the view that referring expressions are "directly referential" with any view that seeks (as Grice's does) to ground meaning in facts about communication. (shrink)
When you use the word “I” it designates you; when I use the same word, it designates me. If you use “you” talking to me, it designates me; when I use it talking to you, it designates you. “I” and “you” are indexicals. The designation of an indexical shifts from speaker to speaker, time to time, place to place. Different utterances of the same indexical designate different things, because what is designated depends not only on the meaning associated with the (...) expression, but also on facts about the utterance. An utterance of “I” designates the person who utters it; an utterance of “you” designates the person to whom it is addressed, an utterance of “here” designates the place at which the utterance is made, and so forth. Because indexicals shift their designation in this way, sentences containing indexicals can be used to say different things on different occasions. Suppose you say to me, “You are wrong and I am right about reference,” and I reply with the same sentence. We have used the same sentence, with the same meaning, but said quite different and incompatible things. (shrink)
According to one widely held view of metaphor, metaphors are cases in which the speaker (literally) says one thing but means something else instead. I wish to challenge this idea. I will argue that when one utters a sentence in some context intending it to be understood metaphorically, one directly expresses a proposition, which can potentially be evaluated as either true or false. This proposition is what is said by the utterance of the sentence in that context. We don’t (...) convey metaphorical meanings indirectly by directly saying something else. One consequence is that, contrary to what Searle (1993: 110) suggests, we do not arrive at the metaphorical meaning that the speaker intended via a literal interpretation of the sentence the speaker utters. The defense of this view depends on articulating a conception of what is said that is more generous than that allowed for by Searle (1993) and others such as Bach (2001). I hope to motivate this broadened conception of what is said (what I call a contextualist conception of what is said), and to show some of the benefits of adopting a direct expression view of metaphor. (shrink)
It's a presupposition of a very common way of thinking about contextsensitivity in language that the semantic contribution made by a bit of context-sensitive vocabulary is sensitive only to features of the speaker's situation at the time of utterance. I argue that this is false, and that we need a theory of context-dependence that allows for content to depend not just on the features of the utterance's origin, but also on features of its destination. There are cases in (...) which a single utterance semantically conveys different propositions to different members of its audience, which force us to say that what a sentence conveys depends not just on the context in which it is uttered, but also on the context in which it is received. (shrink)
In uttering a sentence we are often taken to assert more than its literal meaning — though we sometimes assert less. Robyn Carston and others take this phenomenon to show that what is said or asserted by a speaker on an occasion of utterance is usually a contextuallyenriched version of the semantic content of the sentence. I shall argue that we can resist this conclusion if we recognize that what we think we are asserting, or take others to be (...) asserting, involves selective attention to one of the ways a sentence could be true and neglects others. Most of the time people converge in their selective attention and so communication is not impaired. Though in the case of sentences involving predicates of taste, people’s attention to different aspect of the truth conditions leads to seemingly intractable disputes. I will propose a treatment of such cases on which speakers mean the same by a sentence, assert no more than its semantic content, hold conflicting opinions about its truth-value, and are both right. (shrink)
1.Competition between philosophical theories of linguistic meaning is sometimes specious. For example, suppose Ned believes that an utterance’s meaning is its truth-condition, while Ted insists that the utterance’s meaning is constituted by the speaker’s communicative intentions à la Grice.Here one wants to distinguish explananda:What Ned is after is really the utterance’s (“timeless”) sentence-meaning; Ted is focusing on speaker-meaning, which is not the same, and the two theories are perfectly compatible, indeed mutually complementary, accounts of distinct phenomena.
Words like you, here, and tomorrow are different from other expressions in two ways. First, and by definition, they have different kinds of meanings, which are context-dependent in ways that the meanings of names and descriptions are not. Second, their meanings play a different kind of role in the interpretations of the utterances that contain them. For example, the meaning of you can be paraphrased by a description like "the addressee of the utterance." But an utterance of (1) (...) doesn't say the same thing as an utterance of (2). (shrink)
In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...) criticize Rae Langton's claim that works of pornography can be understood as illocutionary acts – in particular acts of subordinating women or acts of silencing women. Saul argues that it does not make sense to understand works of pornography as speech acts, because only utterances in contexts can be speech acts. More precisely, works of pornography such as a film may be seen as recordings that can be used in many different contexts – exactly like a written note or an answering machine message. According to Saul, bringing contexts into the picture undermines Langton's radical thesis – which must be reformulated in much weaker terms. In this paper, I accept Saul's claim that only utterances in contexts can be speech acts, and that therefore only works of pornography in contexts may be seen as illocutionary acts of silencing women. I will, nonetheless, show that Saul's reformulation doesn't undermine Langton's thesis. To this aim, I will use the distinction Predelli proposes in order to account for the semantic behaviour of indexical expressions in recorded messages – namely the distinction between context of utterance and context of interpretation. (shrink)
in Robin Le Poidevin (ed.) Being: Developments in Contemporary Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Peter van Inwagen claims that there are no tables or chairs. He also claims that sentences such as ‘There are chairs here’, which seem to imply their existence, are often true. This combination of views opens van Inwagen to a charge of self-contradiction. I explain the charge, and van Inwagen’s response to it, which involves the claim that sentences like ‘There are tables’ shift their truth-conditions between (...) different contexts of utterance. I present an alternative response which involves the negation of that claim, and argue that it is preferable to van Inwagen’s. (shrink)
In this paper a dispositional account of meaning is offered. Words might dispose towards a particular or ‘literal’ meaning, but whether this meaning is actually conveyed when expressed will depend on a number of factors, such as speaker’s intentions, the context of the utterance and the background knowledge of the hearer. It is thus argued that no meaning is guaranteed or necessitated by the words used.
Contextualism concerning vagueness (hereafter ‘CV’) is a popular response to the puzzle of vagueness. The goal in this paper is to uncover in what ways vagueness may be a particular species of context-sensitivity. The most promising form of CV turns out to be a version of socalled ‘Non-Indexical Contextualism’. In §2, we sketch a generic form of CV (hereafter ‘GCV’). In §3, we distinguish between Truth CV and Content CV. A non-indexical form of CV is a form of Truth CV, (...) while an indexical form of CV is a form of Content CV. In §4, we argue that the theory of vagueness given in Fara (2000) is crucially incomplete but is best seen as a non-indexical form of CV. In §5, we set forth four kinds of error-theory to which CV might be committed. It turns out that Non-Indexical CV is committed to a weaker, and more plausible, error-theory than Indexical CV. In §6, we address a challenge posed by Keefe (2007) to the effect that CV entails that any speech report of what has been said by a particular vague utterance, where the context of utterance and the reporting context are relevantly different, will almost always be inaccurate. While this challenge is prima facie effective against Indexical CV it proves to be less effective against Non-Indexical CV. In §7, we look at two tests for context-sensitivity and assess whether they can be employed against CV. These tests, if cogent, reveal that the only workable form of CV is Non-Indexical CV. (shrink)
I want to discuss a puzzle about the semantics of epistemic modals, like “It might be the case that” as it occurs in “It might be the case that Goldbach’s conjecture is false.”1 I’ll argue that the puzzle cannot be adequately explained on standard accounts of the semantics of epistemic modals, and that a proper solution requires relativizing utterance truth to a context of assessment, a semantic device whose utility and coherence I have defended elsewhere for future contingents (MacFarlane..
If it is not now determined whether there will be a sea battle tomorrow, can an assertion that there will be one be true? The problem has persisted because there are compelling arguments on both sides. If there are objectively possible futures which would make the prediction true and others which would make it false, symmetry considerations seem to forbid counting it either true or false. Yet if we think about how we would assess the prediction tomorrow, when a sea (...) battle is raging (or not), it seems we must assign the utterance a deﬁnite truth-value. I argue that both arguments must be given their due, and that this requires relativizing utterance-truth to a context of assessment. I show how this relativization can be handled in a rigorous formal semantics, and I argue that we can make coherent sense of assertion without assuming that utterances have their truth-values absolutely. (shrink)
One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which (...) there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument. (shrink)
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 ‘‘coreference’’ and the ‘‘no-reference’’ problems. He sees these as genuine problems for referentialism and does not share Howard Wettstein’s (1986) view that semantics has ‘‘rested on a mistake,’’ the mistake of thinking that semantics is obliged to come to grips with ‘‘cognitive significance’’ and, in particular, to explain the fact that coreferring terms can differ in cognitive significance and that terms lacking in reference can still have cognitive significance. Perry points out that ‘‘there is nothing in [the arguments for referentialism] to show that the official content, rather than the reflexive content, is the key to understanding the cognitive motivation and impact of utterances’’ (Perry 2001, 193).1 In other words, ‘‘a theory of direct reference provides no argument for ignoring reflexive content, and, properly understood, has no motivation for searching for such an argument.’’ Thus Perry uses the notion of reflexive content to complement referentialism with a theory of cognitive significance. Frege drew a fundamental distinction between the reference of a term and the means by which its reference is determined. In his view, however, it is not the references themselves but the means by which they are determined that enter into propositions (‘‘Thoughts’’) expressed by sentences in which the terms occur. So we might call Frege an ‘indirect reference’ theorist. Echoing the introduction to Kaplan’s ‘‘Afterthoughts’’ (1989a), Perry stresses that ‘direct’, as it occurs in ‘direct reference’, does not imply that ‘‘the mechanism of reference is unmediated by the relation of fitting identifying conditions’’ (188).. (shrink)
A notion of truth as applicable to events of assertoric use ( utterances ) of a sentence token is arguably presupposed and required by our evaluative practices of the use of language. The truth of an utterance seems clearly to depend on what the utterance says . This fundamental dependence seems in turn to be captured by the schema that, if an utterance u says that P , then u is true iff P . Such a schema (...) may thus be thought to constitute a suitable basis for an adequate theory of utterance truth, so much so that it seems straightforwardly to avoid the problems arising from context dependence and the semantic paradoxes which notoriously beset theories of utterance truth based on a simple disquotational schema. The paper argues that appearances are deceptive in both cases. On the one hand, the schema cannot allow for plausible if not uncontroversial non-indexical forms of context dependence, arising from the possibility that what an utterance says can be the case or not relative to different situations and that the truth of an utterance u of a sentence φ arguably depends on the truth of φ at the situation "associated" with u . On the other hand, a quantified utterance-truth variation on the liar paradox shows that the schema entails some consequence φ and at the same time the untruth of any utterance of φ; moreover, a resilient quantified propositional variation on the contingent liar paradox is offered, which only relies on resources usually employed by theories of utterance truth based on the schema. (shrink)
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 (...) simplify matters, let us pretend that an utterance is always of a sentence (and, for mnemonic purposes, let our imagined s peaker be a s he and h earer be a h e). (shrink)
Now suppose that Joey responds by uttering the exact same words back to Natasha: “I am right and you are wrong”. He has said the same words, with the same meaning, but he has not said the same thing. Joey’s utterance of “I” designates Joey and his utterance of “you” designates Natasha. The truthconditions of his statement are that Joey is right and Natasha is wrong. Joey has directly disagreed with Natasha.
Davidson’s error theory about metaphorical meaning has rightly commanded a lot of critical attention over the last twenty five or so years. Each component of that theory – the case for antirealism about metaphorical meanings, the diagnosis of the mistakes that led theorists to falsely ascribe such semantic properties to words and sentences, the suggested functional replacement of such talk in terms of the effects that metaphorical utterances bring about – has been examined, reformulated and criticised. The evaluation of the (...) theory has been far from uniformly negative. It is widely recognized, even by realists about metaphorical meaning, that the ‘conventional wisdom’ about ‘discerning two senses of the predicate term’ that Beardsley had adverted to three years earlier, was shown to be misguided by the considerations that Davidson’s paper brought to bear. Contemporary recognition of the importance of elucidating the dependence of metaphorical language upon its literal base, and upon its context of utterance, can also be seen to have resulted from sustained critical engagement with Davidson’s article. (shrink)