Linguistics and Philosophy 4 (3):359 - 391 (1980)

Abstract
The strongest objection to (15) is that speaker's meaning is defined in terms of commitment, a notion which is itself something of a challenge and for which no definition has been given. This would be a strong reason to prefer a definition in terms of some more tractable concept, all things being equal; but it does not lessen the probability that commitment or some similar notion is indispensable to the definition of speaker's meaning.The philosophical writings discussed in this paper all proceed something like this: Particular cases are discussed and a description is given of the mechanisms by which communication takes place. An attempt is made to say something that applies to all instances of speaker's meaning. Words like ‘analysis’, ‘account’ ‘explanation’, ‘explication’, and ‘theory’ are used here, the suggestion being that the objective is to provide for all cases at once what has already been provided for particular cases-an explanation of how meaning works. What is produced, however, looks like adefinition of speaker's meaning, a statement of necessary and sufficient conditions. This definition is then evaluated largely in terms of what counterexamples it does or does not allow.It seems that there is some tendency to conflate two quite distinct objectives: (i) a theory of speaker's meaning-a general description of how it is that speakers are able to communicate; and (ii) a statement of necessary and sufficient conditions for speaker's meaning. Objective (i) might plausibly be regarded as the goal of the study of communication. Objective (ii) is the definition of a certain intuitive, pretheoretical concept of meaning, which might or might not prove to be an important concept with respect to objective (i). The Gricean mechanism and the notion of conventional meaning, on the other hand, are indispensable to (i)-few instances of speaker's meaning could be adequately described without recourse to at least one of these notions. Thus nothing in this paper should be construed as trying to downgrade the importance of the Gricean mechanism for the theory of communication. If objective (ii) and the Gricean mechanism are not as closely associated as has been claimed, this is, if anything, a reason to doubt the importance of (ii) for the theory of communication
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DOI 10.1007/BF00304401
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References found in this work BETA

Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Linguistic Behaviour.Jonathan Bennett - 1976 - Cambridge University Press.
Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions.H. Paul Grice - 1969 - Philosophical Review 78 (2):147-177.

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Citations of this work BETA

Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language.Stephen Neale - 1992 - Linguistics and Philosophy 15 (5):509 - 559.
Beyond Speaker’s Meaning.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2015 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):117-149.

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