Confusion in terms inspires confusion in concepts. When a relevant distinction is not clearly marked or not marked at all, it is apt to be blurred or even missed altogether in our thinking. This is true in any area of inquiry, pragmatics in particular. No one disputes that there are various ways in which what is communicated in an utterance can go beyond sentence meaning. The problem is to catalog the ways. It is generally recognized that linguistic meaning underdetermines speaker (...) meaning because of the need for disambiguation and reference assignment and because people can speak figuratively or indirectly. But philosophers and linguists are coming to recognize that these are not the only ways. The situation may be described in Gricean terms: the distinction between what is said and what is implicated is not exhaustive. Charting the middle ground between the two will require attending to specific examples, noting their distinctive features, and articulating the relevant concepts. That is what I aim to do here. The basic idea will be to distinguish not only the implied from the explicit but the implicit from the implied. (shrink)
Presenting a novel account of singular thought, a systematic application of recent work in the theory of speech acts, and a partial revival of Russell's analysis of singular terms, this book takes an original approach to the perennial problems of reference and singular terms by separating the underlying issues into different levels of analysis.
Psychological peculiarities of the training of teachers and lectures for the development of spiritual values and potential of youth -/- Definition of concepts "spiritual potential" and "spiritual values" is offered. It is noted that spiritual values have an individual-social basis. They affect the actions of people in various fields of life helping them to exercise moral choices of behavior in significant situations. Psychological peculiarities of the training of pedagogues to the development of spiritual values and the potential of student youth (...) are presented. We should take into account cognitive, emotional, motivational and volitional processes, in updating the higher mental functions of the individual and psychological mechanisms of spiritual development of the individual. Key words: spiritual potential, spiritual values, psychological peculiarities of pedagogical staff -/- . (shrink)
Grice’s distinction between what is said and what is implicated has greatly clarified our understanding of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. Although border disputes still arise and there are certain difficulties with the distinction itself (see the end of §1), it is generally understood that what is said falls on the semantic side and what is implicated on the pragmatic side. But this applies only to what is..
This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...) Knowledge Rule on Assertion 6. Testimony 7. Asserting and Thinking of Possibilities 8. Concessive Knowledge Attributions 9. “Pragmatic Encroachment” 10. Epistemic Contextualism.. (shrink)
When I examine contextualism there is much that I can doubt. I can doubt whether it is a cogent theory that I examining, and not a cleverly stated piece of whacks. I can doubt whether there is any real theory there at all. Perhaps what I took to be a theory was really some reflections; perhaps I am even the victim of some cognitive hallucination. One thing however I cannot doubt: that there exists a widely read pitch of a round (...) and somewhat bulgy shape. (shrink)
This paper defends a purely semantic notion of what is said against various recent objections. The objections each cite some sort of linguistic, psychological, or epistemological fact that is supposed to show that on any viable notion of what a speaker says in uttering a sentence, there is pragmatic intrusion into what is said. Relying on a modified version of Grice's notion, on which what is said must be a projection of the syntax of the uttered sentence, I argue that (...) a purely semantic notion is needed to account for the linguistically determined input to the hearer's inference to what, if anything, the speaker intends to be conveying in uttering the sentence. (shrink)
The traditional puzzles about belief reports puzzles rest on a certain seemingly innocuous assumption, that 'that'-clauses specify belief contents. The main theories of belief reports also rest on this "Specification Assumption", that for a belief report of the form 'A believes that p' to be true,' the proposition that p must be among the things A believes. I use Kripke's Paderewski case to call the Specification Assumption into question. Giving up that assumption offers prospects for an intuitively more plausible approach (...) to the semantics of belief reports. But this approach must confront a puzzle of its own: it turns out that every case is a Paderewski case, at least potentially. (shrink)
Once upon a time it was assumed that speaking literally and directly is the norm and that speaking nonliterally or indirectly is the exception. The assumption was that normally what a speaker means can be read off of the meaning of the sentence he utters, and that departures from this, if not uncommon, are at least easily distinguished from normal utterances and explainable along Gricean lines. The departures were thought to be limited to obvious cases like figurative speech and conversational (...) implicature. However, people have come to appreciate that the meaning of a typical sentence, at least one we are at all likely to use, is impoverished, at least relative to what we are likely to mean in uttering it. In other words, what a speaker normally means in uttering a sentence, even without speaking figuratively or obliquely, is an enriched version of what could be predicted from the meaning of the sentence alone. This can be because the sentence expresses a “minimal” (or “skeletal”) proposition or even because it fails to express a complete proposition at all.1 Indeed, it is now a platitude that linguistic meaning generally underdetermines speaker meaning. That is, generally what a speaker means in uttering a sentence, even if the sentence is devoid of ambiguity, vagueness, or indexicality, goes beyond what the sentence means. The question is what to make of this Contextualist Platitude, as I’ll call it. It may be a truism, but does it require a radical revision of the older conception of the relation between what sentences mean and what speakers mean in uttering them? Does it lead to a major modification, or perhaps even outright rejection, of the semantic-pragmatic distinction? I think.. (shrink)
There is a simple view of motivation on which desires are like pain-killers; they come in different strengths, and their strength determines their efficacy. That is, the stronger a desire the greater its motivational force and, when two desires conflict, the stronger one “wins out” over the weaker. This view makes it puzzling how anyone could ever exhibit “strength of will” and act on the weaker desire, even when it is a desire for something more highly valued than what is (...) more strongly desired. When the will, as the agent of reason, enters the fray, an explanation of what a person is motivated enough to do must reckon not only with competing desires and their motivational forces, but also with the will’s capacity to be affected by different ones in ways not proportional to their force. However, this complication sheds little light, for if the will must bestow its stamp of approval on a desire before the desire leads to action, then, it would seem, motivational force should be measured by strength of effect on the will. And if that’s the way to measure motivational force, then, since by that measure one always acts on the desire that affects one’s will most, there is no problem of strength of will after all. But the problem seems real, however inapt the label. (shrink)
Proper names seem simple on the surface. Indeed, anyone unfamiliar with philosophical debates about them might wonder what the fuss could possibly be about. It seems obvious why we need them and what we do with them, and that is to talk about particular persons, places, and things. You don't have to be as smart as Mill to think that proper names are simply tags attached to individuals. But sometimes appearances are deceiving.
The distinction between semantics and pragmatics is easier to apply than to explain. Explaining it is complicated by the fact that many conflicting formulations have been proposed over the past sixty years. This might suggest that there is no one way of drawing the distinction and that how to draw it is merely a terminological question, a matter of arbitrary stipulation. In my view, though, these diverse formulations, despite their conflicts, all shed light on the distinction as it is commonly (...) applied, in both linguistics and philosophy. Although it is generally clear what is at issue when people apply the distinction to specific linguistic phenomena, what is less clear, in some cases anyway, is whether a given phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic, or both. Fortunately, there are other phenomena that are uncontroversially semantic or, as the case may be, uncontroversially pragmatic. Their example will help us get clear on what the semantics-pragmatics distinction is. (shrink)
We hardly ever mean exactly what we say. I don’t mean that we generally speak figuratively or that we’re generally insincere. Rather, I mean that we generally speak loosely, omitting words that could have made what we meant more explicit and letting our audience fill in the gaps. Language works far more efficiently when we do that. Literalism can have its virtues, as when we’re drawing up a contract, programming a computer, or writing a philosophy paper, but we generally opt (...) for efficiency over explicitness. In.. (shrink)
What bothers people about reliabilism as a theory of justified belief? It has yet to be formulated adequately, but most philosophical theories have that problem. People seem to be bothered by the very idea of reliabilism, with its apparent disregard for believers’ rationality and responsibility. Yet its supporters can’t seem to understand its opponents complaints. I believe that the conflict can be clarified, if not resolved, by drawing certain important distinctions.
Here's an old question in the philosophy of perception: here I am, looking at this pen [I hold up a pen in my hand]. Presumably I really am seeing this pen. Even so, I could be having an experience just like the one I am having without anything being there. So how can the experience I am having really involve direct awareness of the pen? It seems as though the presence of the pen is inessential to the way the experience (...) is. (shrink)
In this chapter, the author offers another explanation of the variation in contents, which is explained by contextualism as being related to a variation in standards. The author’s explanation posits that the contents of knowledge attributions are invariant. The variation lies in what knowledge attributions we are willing to make or accept. Although not easy to acknowledge, what contextualism counts as knowledge varies with the context in which it is attributed. A new rival to contextualism, known as Subject-Sensitive Invariantism, goes (...) so far as to suggest that practical importance to the subject can affect the truth-value of a knowledge attribution. John MacFarlane puts forth another view in which the truth-value of a knowledge attribution is not absolute but relative. These two views raise interesting questions in their own right, but it is only contextualism which implies that the content of a knowledge attribution can vary with facts about the context in which it is made. (shrink)
As the dust jacket proclaims, “this is surely Fodor’s most irritating book in years …. It should exasperate philosophers, linguists, cognitive psychologists, and cognitive neuroscientists alike.” Yes, Fodor is an equal-opportunity annoyer. He sees no job for conceptual analysts, no hope for lexical semanticists, and no need for prototype theorists. When it comes to shedding light on concepts, these luminaries have delivered nothing but moonshine. Fodor aims to remedy things, and not just with snake oil. He serves up plenty of (...) clever barbs, potshots, and one-liners, not to mention arguments, to promote his “informational atomism.” It states that there is a large class of concepts, namely lexical concepts, that are ontologically and semantically primitive: each such concept has no internal structure and has its content not in virtue of any relation it bears to other concepts but in virtue of a nomic relation it bears to some property. The property it is thus “locked to” is its content. (shrink)
From ethics to epistemology to metaphysics, it is common for philosophers to appeal to “intuitions” about cases to identify counterexamples to one view and to find support for another. It would be interesting to examine the evidential status of such intuitions, snap judgments, gut reactions, or whatever you want to call them, but in this paper I will not be talking about moral, epistemological, or metaphysical intuitions. I’ll be focusing on semantic ones. In fact, I’ll be focusing on semantic intuitions (...) about sentences, not individual words (although the contributions of individual words may ultimately be at issue in some of these cases), and on closely related intuitions about what is said in utterances of those sentences. Such intuitions play an important role in philosophy of language.. (shrink)
MARGA REIMER has forcefully challenged David Kaplan's recent claim (, pp. 582-4) that demonstrative gestures, in connnection with uses of demonstrative expressions, are without semantic significance and function merely as 'aids to communication', and that speaker intentions are what determine the demonstratum. Against this Reimer argues that demonstrations can and do play an essential semantic role and that the role of intentions is marginal at best. That is, together with the linguistic meaning of the demonstrative phrase being used, an act (...) of demonstration determines what is said. I will argue that Kaplan's view is borne out if we consider the referential intentions specific to communication. Reimer may be correct about such intentions as she considers, but she overlooks specifically referential ones. When these are taken into account, we find that aalthough demonstrations contribute in a way to what is said, this does not make them semantically significant. (shrink)
Insensitive Semantics is mainly a protracted assault on semantic Contextualism, both moderate and radical. Cappelen and Lepore argue that Moderate Contextualism leads inevitably, like marijuana to heroin or masturbation to blindness, to Radical Contextualism and in turn that Radical Contextualism is misguided. Assuming that the only alternative to Contextualism is their Semantic Minimalism, they think they’ve given an indirect argument for it. But they overlook a third view, one that splits the difference between the other two. Like Contextualism it rejects (...) Propositionalism, the conservative dogma that every indexicalfree declarative sentence expresses a proposition. Unlike Contextualism, it does not invoke context to fill semantic gaps and, indeed, denies that filling those gaps is a semantic matter. In rejecting Propositionalism, it is more radical, indeed, more minimalist than Cappelen and Lepore’s brand of Semantic Minimalism. It does not imagine that sentences that intuitively seem not to express propositions at least express “minimal propositions.” Radical Semantic Minimalism, or simply Radicalism, says that the sentences in question are semantically incomplete – their semantic contents are not propositions but merely “propositional radicals.”. (shrink)
Epistemic possibilities are relative to bodies of information, or perspectives. To claim that something is epistemically possible is typically to claim that it is possible relative one’s own current perspective. We generally do this by using bare, unqualified epistemic possibility (EP) sentences, ones that don’t mention our perspective. The fact that epistemic possibilities are relative to perspectives suggests that these bare EP sentences fall short of fully expressing propositions, contrary to what both contextualists and relativists take for granted. Although they (...) rightly reject propositional invariantism, the implausible view that a bare EP sentence expresses the same classical (absolutely true or absolutely false) proposition in any context, they maintain that a change in perspective shifts either the sentence’s propositional content (to a proposition involving a different perspective) or its truth-value (the same perspectivally neutral proposition now evaluated from a different perspective). I deny that the semantic contents of bare EP sentences shift at all. But I also deny that these contents have truth-values. Rather, according to the radical invariantism I defend, these contents are not full-fledged propositions but merely propositional radicals. Only explicitly relativized EP sentences manage fully to express propositions, and these perspective-involving propositions are the only EP propositions there are. Nevertheless, bare EP sentences are perfectly capable of being used to assert EP propositions, because utterances of them implicitly allude to the relevant perspective. Various problem cases challenge radical invariantism to explain pragmatically which perspective is read into the utterance of a given bare EP sentence. Unlike contextualism and relativism, it can do this without having to resort to any semantic bells and whistles.. (shrink)
There are many mean and nasty things to say about mean and nasty talk, but I don't plan on saying any of them. There's a specific problem about slurring words that I want to address. This is a semantic problem. It's not very important compared to the real-world problems presented by bigotry, racism, discrimination, and worse. It's important only to linguistics and the philosophy of language.
I’ve known about conversational implicature a lot longer than I’ve known Larry. In 1967 I read Grice’s “Logical and Conversation” in mimeograph, shortly after his William James lectures, and I read its precursor “(Implication),” section III of “The Causal Theory of Perception”, well before that. And I’ve thought, read, and written about implicature off and on ever since. Nevertheless, I know a lot less about it than Larry does, and that’s not even taking into account everything he has uncovered about (...) what was said on the subject long before Grice, even centuries before. So, now that I’ve betrayed my ignorance, I’ll display my insolence. I’m going to identify the most pervasive and pernicious misconceptions about implicature that I’ve noticed over the years. (shrink)
Even though it’s based on a bad argument, there’s something to Strawson’s dictum. He might have likened ‘referring expression’ to phrases like ‘eating utensil’ and ‘dining room’: just as utensils don’t eat and dining rooms don’t dine, so, he might have argued, expressions don’t refer. Actually, that wasn’t his argument, though it does make you wonder. Rather, Strawson exploited the fact that almost any referring expression, whether an indexical, demonstrative, proper name, or definite description, can be used to refer to (...) different things in different contexts. This fact, he argued, is enough to show that what refers are speakers, not expressions. Here he didn’t take seriously the perfectly coherent view that an expression’s reference can vary with context. So, he concluded, what varies from context to context is not what a given expression refers to but what a speaker uses it to refer to. Strawson went on to suggest that there are several dimensions of difference between various sorts of referring expressions: degree of dependence on context, degree of “descriptive meaning,” and being governed by a general convention vs. an expressionspecific one. But despite these differences, he insisted that regardless of kind, referring expressions don’t themselves refer — speakers use them to refer. (shrink)
This article makes a number of points about reference, both speaker reference and linguistic reference. The bottom line is simple: reference ain't easy — at least not nearly as easy as commonly supposed. Much of what speakers do that passes for reference is really something else, and much of what passes for linguistic reference is really nothing more than speaker reference. Referring is one of the basic things we do with words, and it would be a good idea to understand (...) what that involves and requires before worrying about the linguistic means by which this is done. (shrink)
Influenced by the Wittgensteinian slogan “Don’t look for the meaning, look for the use,” ordinary language philosophers aimed to defuse various philosophical problems by analyzing key words in terms of what they are used to do or the conditions for appropriately using them. Although Moore, Grice and Searle exposed this error – mixing pragmatics with semantics – it still gets committed, now to a different end. Nowadays the aim is to reckon with the fact that the meanings of a great (...) many sentences underdetermine what we would normally mean in using them – even if the sentence is free of indexicality, ambiguity, and vagueness. This can be so because the sentence expresses a “minimal” proposition or even because it doesn’t fully express any proposition. Many theorists are led to defend “truth-conditional pragmatics” (or linguistic “contextualism”), to find a hidden indexical in every syntactic nook or semantic cranny, or otherwise to pay undue respect to seemingly semantic intuitions and intentions. This paper identifies various such moves and explains what’s regressive about them. (shrink)
All sorts of things are context-dependent in one way or another. What it is appropriate to wear, to give, or to reveal depends on the context. Whether or not it is all right to lie, harm, or even kill depends on the context. If you google the phrase ‘depends on the context’, you’ll get several hundred million results. This chapter aims to narrow that down. In this context the topic is context dependence in language and its use. It is commonly (...) observed that the same sentence can be used to convey different things in different contexts. That is why people complain when something they say is ‘taken out of context’ and insist that it be ‘put into context’, because ‘context makes it clear’ what they meant. Indeed, it is practically a platitude that what a speaker means in uttering a certain sentence, as well as how her audience understands her, ‘depends on the context’. But just what does that amount to, and to what extent is it true? (shrink)
The basic question of action theory, what it is to do something, invites the complementary question of what it is to fail to do something (and not merely not do it). At every moment there are zillions of things that you’re not doing but few if any that you’re failing to do. There seem to be four (partly overlapping) ways of failing to do something.