Metaphor and what is said: A defense of a direct expression view of metaphor

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):156–186 (2001)
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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.



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Anne Louise Bezuidenhout
University of South Carolina

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