Compositionality, Relevance, and Peirce’s Logic of Existential Graphs

Axiomathes 15 (4):513-540 (2005)

Charles S. Peirce’s pragmatist theory of logic teaches us to take the context of utterances as an indispensable logical notion without which there is no meaning. This is not a spat against compositionality per se , since it is possible to posit extra arguments to the meaning function that composes complex meaning. However, that method would be inappropriate for a realistic notion of the meaning of assertions. To accomplish a realistic notion of meaning (as opposed e.g. to algebraic meaning), Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory (RT) may be applied in the spirit of Peirce’s Pragmatic Maxim (PM): the weighing of information depends on (i) the practical consequences of accommodating the chosen piece of information introduced in communication, and (ii) what will ensue in actually using that piece in further cycles of discourse. Peirce’s unpublished papers suggest a relevance-like approach to meaning. Contextual features influenced his logic of Existential Graphs (EG). Arguments are presented pro and con the view in which EGs endorse non-compositionality of meaning.
Keywords compositionality  existential graphs  Peirce’s pragmaticism  relevance
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-004-7683-4
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce.Charles S. Peirce - 1931 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic.David K. Lewis - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (5):113-126.
Compositional Semantics for a Language of Imperfect Information.W. Hodges - 1997 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 5 (4):539-563.
The Principles of Mathematics Revisited.Jaakko Hintikka - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.

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