Saying a Bundle: Meaning, Intention, and Underdetermination

Synthese (forthcoming)
Authors
Mark Bowker
University College Dublin
Abstract
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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