The Semantics of Implicit Content

Dissertation, University of Barcelona (2011)

Dan Zeman
University of Vienna
The main aim of the thesis is to give a semantic account of implicit content – the kind of content that plays a crucial role in implicit communication. Implicit communication is a species of communication in which a speaker communicates certain contents that go over and above the contents retrievable from the linguistic meaning of the words used. The focus of the thesis is a certain kind of implicit communication involving locations (when sentences such as “It is raining” are used to communicate that it is raining at a certain location) and judges (when sentences such as “Avocado is tasty” are used to communicate that avocado is tasty for a certain person, called “the judge”). The way the topic of implicit content is approached is via the notion, widespread in contemporary philosophy of language, of “unarticulated constituents”. The thesis contains an investigation of this notion, with the specific aim of disentangling the many senses it has been used and of providing a general definition of the notion. A direct product of this investigation is a partitioning of the logical space; three positions are then selected, which correspond to the main contenders in the current debate involving unarticulated constituents: truth-conditional semantics, truth-conditional pragmatics and relativism. The biggest part of the thesis is dedicated to investigating certain arguments that have surfaced in the debate between these positions, with the ultimate goal of proposing a relativist account of implicit content. The particular version of relativism offered consists in the combination of the claim that locations and judges are part of the circumstances of evaluation, rather than the content of utterances, with “the variadic functions approach” to certain natural language expressions. Also, several arguments against a truth-conditional semantic approach to predicates of personal taste are provided
Keywords communication  implicit content  predicates of taste  relativism  truth-conditional semantics  truth-conditional pragmatics  unarticulated constituents
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References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Nonindexical Contextualism.John MacFarlane - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):231-250.
Relativism and Disagreement.John MacFarlane - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):17-31.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Use of the Binding Argument in the Debate About Location.Dan Zeman - 2017 - In Sarah-Jane Conrad & Klaus Petrus (eds.), Meaning, Context and Methodology. Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 191-212.

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