This paper considers four lines of objection to the efficacy or worth of Grice's cancellability test for conversational implicatures – the coherence objection, the entailment objection, the sarcasm objection, and the ambiguity objection. I argue that the test survives these objections relatively unscathed; and hence conclude that the cancellability test is still a significant, useful, reliable indicator at the semantics/pragmatics interface.
In this paper I argue that questions about the semantics of rigid designation are commonly and illicitly run together with distinct issues, such as questions about the metaphysics of essence and questions about the theoretical legitimacy of the possible-worlds framework. I discuss in depth two case studies of this phenomenon – the first concerns the relation between rigid designation and reference, the second concerns the application of the notion of rigidity to general terms. I end by drawing out some conclusions (...) about the relations between rigid designation, semantic frameworks, reference, and essence. (shrink)
Two distinctions within the category of designators -- Further defining the central theses -- Structure and rigidity -- Structure and naming -- Interlude: interim review and a look ahead -- Referential uses of denoting expressions -- Complex referring expressions -- Summary, overview, and general morals.
A ‘multiple-proposition phenomenon’ is a putative counterexample to the widespread implicit assumption that a simple indicative sentence semantically expresses at most one proposition. Several philosophers and linguists have recently developed hypotheses concerning this notion. The guiding questions motivating this research are: Is there an interesting and homogenous semantic category of MP phenomena? If so, what is the import? Do MP theories have any relevance to important current questions in the study of language? I motivate an affirmative answer to, and then (...) argue that MP theorizing is quite relevant to debates at the semantics/ pragmatics interface. (shrink)
Could there be an implicature whose content is not propositional? Grice's canon is somewhat ambivalent on this question, but such figures as Sperber & Wilson, Davis, and Lepore & Stone presume that there cannot be, and argue that this causes glaring failures within the Gricean programme. Building on work by McDowell and Buchanan, I argue that, on the contrary, the notion of non-propositional implicature is very much worth investigating. I show how the notion has promise to illuminate the content of (...) many sorts of complex utterance—from the cases of verbal irony, metaphorical usage, slurring, insinuation, and (some kinds of) humour, to various others which involve expressive or evaluative content. (shrink)
In recent work on a priori justification, one thing about which there is considerable agreement is that the notion of truth in virtue of meaning is bankrupt and infertile. (For the sake of more readable prose, I will use ‘TVM’ as an abbreviation for ‘the notion of truth in virtue of meaning’.) Arguments against the worth of TVM can be found across the entire spectrum of views on the a priori, in the work of uncompromising rationalists (such as BonJour (1998)), (...) of centrist moderates (such as Boghossian (1997)), and of uncompromising empiricists (such as Devitt (2004)). My aim is to dispute this widespread opinion. The outline is as follows: First, §§2-3 consist of preliminary stage-setting. Then, in §4 I will argue that some of the most prevalent arguments against the worth of TVM – in particular, one which is given clear expression by Quine (1970), and is recently reinforced by Boghossian (1997) – do not engage with the core idea motivating TVM. After deflecting this charge of incoherence, the aim of §§5-8 is to work toward developing a useful conception of TVM. (shrink)
Following Neale, I call the notion that there can be no such thing as a structured referring expression ‘structure skepticism’. The specific aim of this paper is to defuse some putative counterexamples to structure skepticism. The general aim is to bolster the case in favor of the thesis that lack of structure—in a sense to be made precise—is essential to reference.
There is a considerable sub-literature, stretching back over 35 years, addressed to the question: Precisely which general terms ought to be classified as rigid designators? More fundamentally: What should we take the criterion for rigidity to be, for general terms? The aim of this paper is to give new grounds for the old view that if a general term designates the same kind in all possible worlds, then it should be classified as a rigid designator. The new grounds in question (...) have to do with excavating the connection between rigid designation and semantic structure. Other original contributions of the present work consist in developing responses to some objections to this approach to rigid designation. (shrink)
In several works, Frege argues that content is objective (i.e., thethoughts we entertain and communicate, and the senses of which theyare composed, are public, not private, property). There are, however,some remarks in the Fregean corpus that are in tension with this view.This paper is centered on an investigation of the most notorious andextreme such passage: the `Dr. Lauben example, from Frege (1918). Aprincipal aim is to attain more clarity on the evident tension withinFreges views on content, between this dominant objectivism (...) and someelements that seem to run counter to it, via developing an understandingof the `Dr. Lauben example. Then I will argue that this interpretation goes some way toward undermining some prevalent contemporary viewsabout language. Based on the advice of Dr. Lauben, I will argue againsta certain understanding of the causal-historical theory of reference –more specifically, of the phenomenon of deferential uses of linguisticexpressions – upon which these views are premised, and I will drawout some morals that pertain to individualism and competence. (shrink)
I plot accounts of slurs on a [semanticist – non-semanticist] spectrum, and then I give some original arguments in favor of semanticist approaches. Two core, related pro-semanticist considerations which animate this work are: first, that the pejorative dimension of a slur is non-cancellable; and, second, that ignorance of the pejorative dimension should be counted as ignorance of literal, linguistic meaning, as opposed to a mistake about conditions for appropriate usage. I bolster these considerations via cases in which slurs are embedded (...) within complex constructions, in which cases the pejorative dimension of a slur gets ensnared within the compositional semantic machinery. (shrink)
What I will call “the deviant logician objection” [DLO] is one line of attack against the common and compelling tenet that our justification for logical truths is grounded in our understanding of their constituent concepts. This objection seeks to undermine the possibility of any deep constitutive connection, in the epistemology of logic, between understanding and justification. I will consider varieties of the deviant logician objection developed by Horwich and by Williamson. My thesis is that while the deviant logician objection falls (...) short of proving that this traditional tenet must be rejected, nonetheless it serves to bolster some important refinements. (shrink)
Brian Loar was an eminent and highly respected philosopher of mind and language. He was at the forefront of several different field-defining debates between the 1970s and the 2000s--from his earliest work on reducing semantics to psychology, through debates about reference, functionalism, externalism, and the nature of intentionality, to his most enduringly influential work on the explanatory gap between consciousness and neurons. Loar is widely credited with having developed the most comprehensive functionalist account of certain aspects of the mind, and (...) his 'phenomenal content strategy' is arguably one of the most significant developments on the ancient mind/body problem. This volume of essays honours the entirety of Loar's wide-ranging philosophical career. It features sixteen original essays from influential figures in the fields of philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, including those who worked with and were taught by Loar. The essays are divided into three thematic sections covering Loar's work in philosophy of language, especially the relations between semantics and psychology, on content in the philosophy of mind, and on the metaphysics of intentionality and consciousness. Taken together, this book is a fitting tribute to one of the leading minds of the latter-20thcentury, and a timely reflection on Loar's enduring influence on the philosophy of mind and language. hree thematic sections covering Loar's work in philosophy of language, especially the relations between semantics and psychology, on content in the philosophy of mind, and on the metaphysics of intentionality and consciousness. Taken together, this book is a fitting tribute to one of the leading minds of the latter-20thcentury, and a timely reflection on Loar's enduring influence on the philosophy of mind and language. (shrink)
This book shows that the notion of the constitutive a priori provides a compelling way to understand some of the most significant lessons learned in twentieth-century philosophy. It demonstrates how the constitutive a priori orientation integrates and consolidates certain epochal insights of Wittgenstein, Carnap, Quine, Kripke, and Kaplan.
This paper has two interconnected goals – one defensive and fairly conservative, the other more novel and enterprising. The first goal is to defend a broadly Gricean approach to verbal irony from the post-Gricean criticisms which have emerged in the intervening literature – i.e., all things considered, verbal irony is best viewed as one among many species of particularized conversational implicature. The subsequent goal is to work toward developing a significantly original theory of verbal irony, within this Gricean orientation, which (...) aims to take into account and rectify some omissions in and shortcomings of Grice’s very brief published remarks on the topic. (shrink)
This paper has two interconnected goals -- one defensive and fairly conservative, the other more novel and enterprising. The first goal is to defend a broadly Gricean approach to verbal irony from the post-Gricean criticisms which have emerged in the intervening literature --i.e., all things considered, verbal irony is best viewed as one among many species of particularized conversational implicature. The subsequent goal is to work toward developing a significantly original theory of verbal irony, within this Gricean orientation, which aims (...) to take into account and rectify some omissions in and shortcomings of Grice’s very brief published remarks on the topic. (shrink)
Section I gives an overview of the contents of “Words and Contents”, and lays out the plan for this Critical Notice. Section II expounds Vallée’s Perry-inspired Pluri-Propositional semantic framework, and Section III is an in-depth case study, focused on complex demonstratives. In Sections IV-V we develop some criticisms, and in Section VI we suggest a solution to these difficulties, which builds on Vallée’s innovative work.
Logicism and the Philosophy of Language brings together the core works by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell on logic and language. In their separate efforts to clarify mathematics through the use of logic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Frege and Russell both recognized the need for rigorous and systematic semantic analysis of language. It was their turn to this style of analysis that would establish the philosophy of language as an autonomous area of inquiry. This anthology gathers (...) together these foundational writings, and frames them with an extensive historical introduction. This is a collection for anyone interested in questions about truth, meaning, reference, and logic, and in the application of formal analysis to these concepts. (shrink)