Pragmatics

Edited by Christopher Gauker (University of Salzburg)
About this topic
Summary Topics in the philosophy of language tend to fall into two main branches, pragmatics and semantics.  Roughly, semantics deals with conventional meaning.  Theories in formal semantics for natural language attempt to pair meanings with sentence-context pairs in some systematic way.  A primary test of correctness for a semantic theory is whether it allows us to define the logical properties of sentences (such as whether one sentence logically implies another).  The term “pragmatics” covers both a part of formal semantics, so defined, and also the study of the ways in which utterances effect communication.  The first kind of pragmatic theory deals with the way in which the extensions of terms and the truth values of sentences depend on features of the situation in which the sentence is spoken.  The second kind of pragmatic theory studies the nature of speech acts, such as asserting or asking, and also the ways in which speakers manage to convey more than the conventional meaning of the sentence uttered.  It is not always clear where in this taxonomy a given phenomenon should fall.  The topic of presupposition, for instance, has been located under all of these headings.
Key works The classics of pragmatics include Austin 1962, Searle 1969, Grice 1989, Kaplan 1989, Stalnaker 1973, and Lewis 1979.  More recent contributions that have drawn considerable attention include Bach 1994, Récanati 2002, Cappelen & Lepore 2005, and Stanley & Szabó 2000
Introductions

An excellent but now somewhat dated collection of classics is Stephen Davis, ed., Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press, 1991.  For a short overview of some current issues, see Gauker 2012.

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  1. [Review] Retomar lo ordinario desde la filosofía del lenguaje. [REVIEW]Pablo Vera Vega - 2023 - Análisis: Revista de Filosofía 10 (2):369-372.
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  2. The semantics of deadnames.Taylor Koles - 2024 - Philosophical Studies 181 (4):715-739.
    Longstanding philosophical debate over the semantics of proper names has yet to examine the distinctive behavior of deadnames, names that have been rejected by their former bearers. The use of these names to deadname individuals is derogatory, but deadnaming derogates differently than other kinds of derogatory speech. This paper examines different accounts of this behavior, illustrates what going views of names will have to say to account for it, and articulates a novel version of predicativism that can give a semantic (...)
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  3. Processing adjunct control: Evidence on the use of structural information and prediction in reference resolution.Jeffrey J. Green, Michael McCourt, Ellen Lau & Alexander Williams - 2020 - Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 5 (1):1-33.
    The comprehension of anaphoric relations may be guided not only by discourse, but also syntactic information. In the literature on online processing, however, the focus has been on audible pronouns and descriptions whose reference is resolved mainly on the former. This paper examines one relation that both lacks overt exponence, and relies almost exclusively on syntax for its resolution: adjunct control, or the dependency between the null subject of a non-finite adjunct and its antecedent in sentences such as Mickey talked (...)
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  4. Combinatoriality and Compositionality in Everyday Primate Skills.Nathalie Gontier - forthcoming - International Journal of Primatology.
    Human language, hominin tool production modes, and multimodal communications systems of primates and other animals are currently well-studied for how they display compositionality or combinatoriality. In all cases, the former is defined as a kind of hierarchical nesting and the latter as a lack thereof. In this article, I extend research on combinatoriality and compositionality further to investigations of everyday primate skills. Daily locomotion modes as well as behaviors associated with subsistence practices, hygiene, or body modification rely on the hierarchical (...)
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  5. Bald-faced bullshit and authoritarian political speech : making sense of Johnson and Trump.Tim Kenyon & Jennifer Saul - 2022 - In Laurence R. Horn (ed.), From lying to perjury: linguistic and legal perspective on lies and other falsehoods. Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
    Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are notoriously uninterested in truth-telling. They also often appear uninterested even in constructing plausible falsehoods. What stands out above all is the brazenness and frequency with which they repeat known falsehoods. In spite of this, they are not always greeted with incredulity. Indeed, Republicans continue to express trust Donald Trump in remarkable numbers. The only way to properly make sense of what Trump and Johnson are doing, we argue, is to give a greater role to (...)
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  6. Intention and the Basis of Meaning.Ray Buchanan - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
    I argue that if intentions are what Grice, and most contemporary action theorists, take them to be, they are inessential for acts of speaker meaning. More specifically, my primary aim is to show that the consensus view of speaker meaning is in deep tension with certain plausible, and widely accepted, cognitive constraints on rational intention pertaining to an agent’s assessment of her prospects of achieving her goal. My secondary aim is to offer an initial case for thinking that the best (...)
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  7. Nietzsche’s Pragmatic Genealogy of Justice.Matthieu Queloz - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4):727-749.
    This paper analyses the connection between Nietzsche’s early employment of the genealogical method and contemporary neo-pragmatism. The paper has two goals. On the one hand, by viewing Nietzsche’s writings in the light of neo-pragmatist ideas and reconstructing his approach to justice as a pragmatic genealogy, it seeks to bring out an under-appreciated aspect of his genealogical method which illustrates how genealogy can be used to vindicate rather than to subvert, and accounts for Nietzsche’s lack of historical references. On the other (...)
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  8. Why To Distinguish Performative And Constative Utterances?R. Pandey - 2001 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 28 (3):353-362.
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  9. Editor's Introduction.Marcelo Dascal - 1996 - Pragmatics and Cognition 4 (1):vii-viii.
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  10. Contextual and Universal Pragmatics: Mutual Criticism of Praxeological and Transcendental Pragmatics.Gunnar Skirbekk - 1991 - Thesis Eleven 28 (1):35-51.
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  11. A corpus-based deconstructive strategy for critically engaging with arguments.Kieran O'Halloran - 2013 - Argument and Computation 4 (2):128-150.
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  12. Persuasive Definitions: Values, Meanings and Implicit Disagreements.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2008 - Informal Logic 28 (3):203-228.
    The purpose of this paper is to inquire into the relationship between persuasive definition and common knowledge (propositions generally accepted and not subject to dispute in a discussion). We interpret the gap between common knowledge and persuasive definition (PD) in terms of potential disagreements: PDs are conceived as implicit arguments to win a potential conflict. Persuasive definitions are analyzed as arguments instantiating two argumentation schemes, argument from classification and argument from values, and presupposing a potential disagreement. The argumentative structure of (...)
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  13. Dialectical Relevance and Dialogical Context in Walton’s Pragmatic Theory.Fabrizio Macagno - 2008 - Informal Logic 28 (2):102-128.
    The notions of types of dialogue and dialectical relevance are central themes in Walton’s work and the grounds for a dialectical approach to many fallacies. After outlining the dialogue models constituting the background of Walton’s account, this article presents the concepts of dialectical relevance and dialogue shifts in their application to biased argumentation, fallacious moves, and illicit argumentative strategies. Showing the different dialectical proposals Walton advanced in several studies on argumentation as a development of a dialogical system, it has proved (...)
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  14. Meaning and Intention: Black Versus Grice.A. P. Martinich - 1990 - Dialectica 44 (1‐2):79-98.
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  15. To maximize or not to maximize ….Stephen José Hanson - 1981 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (3):391-392.
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  16. Reasoning from Classifications and Definitions.Douglas Walton & Fabrizio Macagno - 2009 - Argumentation 23 (1):81-107.
    In this paper we analyze the uses and misuses of argumentation schemes from verbal classification, and show how argument from definition supports argumentation based on argument from verbal classification. The inquiry has inevitably included the broader study of the concept of definition. The paper presents the schemes for argument from classification and for argument from definition, and shows how the latter type of argument so typically supports the former. The problem of analyzing arguments based on classification is framed in a (...)
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  17. Conversation, Individuals and Concepts: Some Key Concepts in Gordon Pask's Interaction of Actors and Conversation Theories.B. Scott - 2009 - Constructivist Foundations 4 (3):151 - 158.
    Purpose: Gordon Pask has left behind a voluminous scientific oeuvre in which he frequently uses technical language and a detail of argument that makes his work difficult to access except by the most dedicated of students. His ideas have also evolved over a long period. This paper provides introductions to three of Pask's key concepts: "conversations," "individuals," and "concepts." Method: Based on the author's close knowledge of Pask's work, as his collaborator for ten years and as someone who has had (...)
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  18. Conversation: Possibilities of its Repair and Descent into Discourse and Computation.K. Krippendorff - 2009 - Constructivist Foundations 4 (3):138-150.
    Context: This essay contends that radical constructivism makes a mistake in focusing on cognition at the expense of where cognitive phenomena surface: in the interactive use of language. Goal: It grounds radically social constructivism by exploring the conversational nature of being human. It also urges abandoning the celebration of observation, inherited from the enlightenment 's preoccupation with description, in favor of participation, the recognition that speaking and writing are acts of continuously reconstructing reality, which is only partly conceivable yet is (...)
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  19. Language and philosophical anthropology in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and the Bakhtin Circle.Sergeiy Sandler - 2013 - Rivista Italiana di Filosofia Del Linguiaggio 7 (2):152-165.
    The Bakhtin Circle’s conception of language is very much still alive, still productive, in the language sciences today. My claim in this paper is that to understand the Bakhtin Circle’s continuing relevance to the language sciences, we have to look beyond the linguistic theory itself, to the philosophical groundwork laid for this project by Bakhtin in what he himself referred to as his philosophical anthropology. This philosophical anthropology, at the center of which stands an architectonics of self—other relations, opens the (...)
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  20. Reflexion und Sinnkritik.Boris Rähme - 2000 - Handlung, Kultur, Interpretation 9 (1):147-168.
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  21. Poetiche del sensibile: le parole e i fenomeni tra esperienza estetica e figurazione: Merleau-Ponty, Ricoeur, Dufrenne, Maldiney.Rita Messori - 2013 - Macerata: Quodlibet.
  22. Fenomen pret︠s︡edentnosti i preemstvennostʹ kulʹtur: [monografii︠a︡.L. I. Grishaeva, M. K. Popova & V. T. Titov (eds.) - 2004 - Voronezh: Voronezhskiĭ gos. universitet.
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  23. Non-discursiveness and Language.Maria Rodica Iacobescu - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 39:71-77.
    Discursive knowledge is expressed in a conceptual, specialized language, which offers the standardization and rigor necessary to a rational reasoning. For the non discursive knowledge, language, as a means of communication, is inadequate and insufficient.
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  24. Il ritmo della scrittura: tempo, alterità e comunicazione.Julia Ponzio - 2005 - Fasano (Brindisi): Schena.
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  25. Yu yan: ren lei zui hou de jia yuan: ren lei ji ben sheng cun zhuang tai de zhe xue yu yu yong xue yan jiu = Language: the last homestead of human beings: philosophical & pragmatic probe into the basic survival ways of man.Guanlian Qian - 2005 - Beijing: Shang wu yin shu guan.
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  26. Genealogía del giro linguístico.Carlos Rojas Osorio - 2006 - Medellín, Colombia: Editorial Universidad de Antioquia.
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  27. Hermeneutik der langue: Weisgerber, Heidegger und die Sprachphilosophie nach Humboldt.Bernhard Sylla - 2009 - Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
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  28. Meaning, force and explicit performatives.Eduardo A. Rabossi - 1977 - Philosophica 19.
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  29. Towards an empirical Pragmatics.Teun A. van Dijk - 1981 - Philosophica 27 (1):127-138.
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  30. The pragmatics of reading: a new theory of language and literature.Michel Meyer - 1981 - Philosophica 28 (2):47-106.
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  31. Pragmatics - An empirical Science?Ivar J. Tonissen - 1981 - Philosophica 27 (1):95-106.
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  32. Pragmatics and adequacy.Fernand Vandamme - 1981 - Philosophica 28 (2):107-118.
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  33. The problem of philosophical fundamental-grounding in light of a transcendental pragmatic of language.Karl -Otto Apel - 1975 - Man and World 8 (3):239-275.
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  34. Handbook of Pragmatics: 22nd Annual Installment.Jan-Ola Östman & Jef Verschueren (eds.) - 2011 - John Benjamins.
    This encyclopaedia of one of the major fields of language studies is a continuously updated source of state-of-the-art information for anyone interested in language use. The IPrA Handbook of Pragmatics provides easy access - for scholars with widely divergent backgrounds but with convergent interests in the use and functioning of language - to the different topics, traditions and methods which together make up the field of pragmatics, broadly conceived as the cognitive, social and cultural study of language and communication, i.e. (...)
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  35. Pragmatics, Truth, and Language. By Richard M. Martin. [REVIEW]Paul Trainor - 1982 - Modern Schoolman 59 (3):229-229.
  36. Practical Inferences. [REVIEW]Edna Ullmann-Margalit - 1989 - International Studies in Philosophy 21 (3):103-105.
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  37. Pragmatics and Empiricism. [REVIEW]Avrum Stroll - 1988 - International Studies in Philosophy 20 (1):111-113.
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  38. The Moral Presumption against Lying.Joseph Kupfer - 1982 - Review of Metaphysics 36 (1):103 - 126.
    MOST of us feel an aversion to lying and believe that it always stands in need of justification. One expression of this is to say that there is a prima facie duty not to lie. Another is Sissela Bok's "Principle of Veracity" which holds that lying has an "initial negative weight" so that there is always a presumption against telling a particular lie. Still a third variation can be found in Arnold Isenberg's "constancy principle" which holds that what is inherently (...)
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  39. Meaninglessness and Conventional Use.Morris Lazerowitz - 1938 - Analysis 5 (3-4):33 - 42.
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  40. The Argumentative Uses of Emotive Language.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2010 - Revista Iberoamericana de Argumentación 1:1-37.
    This paper analyzes selected examples of uses of argumentation tactics that exploit emotive language, many of them criticized as deceptive and even fallacious by classical and recent sources, including current informal logic textbooks. The analysis is based on six argumentation schemes, and an account of the dialectical setting in which these schemes are used. The three conclusions are (1) that such uses of emotive language are often reasonable and necessary in argumentation based on values, (2) but that they are defeasible, (...)
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  41. General Philosophical Pragmatics. [REVIEW]Veit Pittioni - 1991 - Philosophy and History 24 (1-2):49-50.
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  42. Symbols, Referents, and Communication in the Human Use of Language.P. S. Schievella - 1969 - Journal of Critical Analysis 1 (2):75-91.
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  43. Reductionism and Discourse Relativity.D. S. Clarke - 2009 - Philo 12 (1):61-72.
    This paper is an interpretation and defense of Putnam’s claim that reductionist sentences identifying experiences with physical events or processes are meaningless. Discourses are formulated within frameworks that are characterized by their methods of justification, types of term introduction, and vocabularies. Examples of both meaningful intra-framework and meaningless cross-framework identities are considered, along with examples of theoretical identities across sub-frameworks. In agreement with Putnam, mental/physical identities are classified as cross-framework. But I qualify Putnam’s thesis by arguing that they can be (...)
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  44. What Is A Theory Of Use?Asa Kasher - 1977 - Journal of Pragmatics 1 (June):105-120.
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  45. Pragmatic Approximations.Tom Wachtel - 1980 - Journal of Pragmatics 4 (June):201-211.
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  46. Persuasive Communication As Metaphorical Discourse Under The Guidance Of Conversational Maxims.Leo Apostel - 1979 - Logique Et Analyse 22 (September):265-320.
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  47. Indefinite Noun Phrases in Legal Texts: Use, Function and Construction of Mental Spaces.Lita Lundquist - 1995 - Journal of Pragmatics 23 (1):7-29.
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  48. From Adjudication to Mediation: Third Party Discourse in Conflict Resolution.Yon Maley - 1995 - Journal of Pragmatics 23 (1):93-110.
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  49. A study in the pragmatics of persuasion: a game theoretical approach.Jacob Glazer & Ariel Rubinstein - unknown
    A speaker wishes to persuade a listener to take a certain action. The conditions under which the request is justified, from the listener’s point of view, depend on the state of the world, which is known only to the speaker. Each state is characterized by a set of statements from which the speaker chooses. A persuasion rule specifies which statements the listener finds persuasive. We study persuasion rules that maximize the probability that the listener accepts the request if and only (...)
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  50. Specifications and Assertions.Jan van Eijck - unknown
    As a start, we give further examples of Alloy specifications. Next we turn to specification of imperative programs. Assertions about programs are specifications of how the program is supposed to behave. Assertions can be used for correctness reasoning and for testing. We illustrate the important notions of preconditions and postconditions. We demonstrate how the state transitions of imperative programming can be modelled as relations in Alloy. Correctness reasoning can be linked to testing and debugging by means of executable assertions, and (...)
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