Using Words: Pragmatic Implicatures and Semantic Contents

Dissertation, Princeton University (2002)

Abstract
Sometimes what a sentence says varies from context to context, in the sense that different utterances of that sentence semantically encode different information. Such sentences are context-sensitive. Sometimes, however, different utterances of the same sentence convey different pieces of information even though both utterances semantically encode the same information. In such cases the speaker means more with her utterance than, or something all together different from, what the sentence she utters says. It is uncontroversial, even if sometimes controverted, that these are two distinct and genuine ways in which different utterances of the same sentence might convey different pieces of information. However, one need only ask what marks off this distinction, and what is the nature of context-sensitive semantics and the distinction between speaker meaning and sentence meaning, to be waist deep in controversy. ;Suppose that we find different utterances of the same sentence conveying different pieces of information. Should we say that it is because the sentence uttered is context-sensitive or should we say that it is because one or both of the speakers meant more than what was said? This is the main question I take up in this dissertation. ;I propose a stark conception of context-sensitivity. In my view, context-sensitive expressions are few and far between. I propose a variety of ways in which a speaker might use a sentence to mean more than is said. In my view the most important, and philosophically interesting, ways do not require minimally competent speakers to realize that they are saying something different from what they mean. This is the subject of part 1. ;In part 2 I turn to a particular issue where this more general problem---the problem of distinguishing context-sensitivity from cases in which there is a difference between speaker meaning and sentence meaning---plays a role: Namely, propositional attitude ascriptions. I argue for a certain conception of propositional attitude ascriptions---what I call Naive Russellianism ---and defend that view by employing some of the pragmatic mechanisms developed in part 1
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