Saying a Bundle: Meaning, Intention, and Underdetermination

Synthese (forthcoming)
Mark Bowker
University College Dublin
People often speak loosely, uttering sentences that are plainly false on their most strict interpretation. In understanding such speakers, we face a problem of under- determination: there is often no unique interpretation that captures what they meant. Focusing on the case of incomplete definite descriptions, this paper suggests that speakers often mean bundles of propositions. When a speaker means a bundle, their audience can know what they mean by deriving any one of its members. Rather than posing a problem for the interpretation of loose talk, the underdetermination of a uniquely correct interpretation allows for various ways in which the audience can grasp the speaker’s meaning.
Keywords Underdetermination  Definite descriptions
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