Can hybridism about moral claims be made to work? I argue it can if we accept the conventionalimplicature approach developed in Barker (Analysis 2000). However, this kind of hybrid expressivism is only acceptable if we can make sense of conventionalimplicature, the kind of meaning carried by operators like ‘even’, ‘but’, etc. Conventional implictures are a form of pragmatic presupposition, which involves an unsaid mode of delivery of content. I argue that we can make (...) sense of conventional implicatures, but doing so requires we embrace a form of pure, non-hybrid expressivism. This is a cognitivist expressivism I have developed elsewhere. We need cognitivist expressivism to make sense of how we evaluate—judge as correct or incorrect—implicature-bearing sentences. Once we embraced the possibility of this pure expressivism, we might as well be pure expressivists about normative discourse too. I show how we can do that. The motivations for a specifically hybrid theory are dialectically undercut. (shrink)
Are all instances of the T-schema assertable? I argue that they are not. The reason is the presence of conventionalimplicature in a language. Conventionalimplicature is meant to be a component of the rule-based content that a sentence can have, but it makes no contribution to the sentence's truth-conditions. One might think that a conventionalimplicature is like a force operator. But it is not, since it can enter into the scope of logical (...) operators. It follows that the semantic content of a sentence is not given simply by its truth-conditional content. So not all instances of the T-schema are assertable in the relevant sense. Consequently, there is a strong case to be made against truth-conditional semantics of the disquotational variety and deflationism about truth. (shrink)
Grice coined the term ‘conventionalimplicature’ in a short passage in ‘Logic and conversation’. The description is intuitive and deeply intriguing. The range of phenomena that have since been assigned this label is large and diverse. I survey the central factual motivation, arguing that it is loosely uni- fied by the idea that conventional implicatures contribute a separate dimen- sion of meaning. I provide tests for distinguishing conventional implicatures from other kinds of meaning, and I briefly (...) explore ways in which one can incorporate multiple dimensions of meaning into a single theory. (shrink)
Like Bennett's account of ‘even’, my analysis incorporates the following plausible and widespread intuitions. (a) The word ‘even’ does not make a truth-functional difference; it makes a difference only in conventionalimplicature. In particular, ‘even’ functions neither as a universal quantifier, nor a most or many quantifier. The only quantified statement that ‘Even A is F’ implies is the existential claim ‘There is an x (namely, A) that is F’, but this implication is nothing more than what the (...) Equivalence Thesis already demands. (b) ‘Even’ is epistemic in character, implying some type of unexpectedness, surprise, or unlikelihood. Moreover, despite Kay's arguments to the contrary, this implication is part of the meaning of ‘even’. (c) ‘Even’ is a scalar term, since unexpectedness comes in degrees. And, finally, (d) the felicity of an ‘even’-sentence S requires that S* be sufficiently surprising in comparison to its true neighbors. However,pace Bennett, being more surprising than just one true neighbor will not suffice. At the same time, being more surprising than all true neighbors is unnecessary. Suffice it that S* is more surprising than most true neighbors. (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 article presents evidence that individual words and phrases can contribute multiple independent pieces of meaning simultaneously. Such multidimensionality is a unifying theme of the literature on conventional implicatures and expressives. I use phenomena from discourse, semantic composition, and morphosyntax to detect and explore various dimensions of meaning. I also argue that, while the meanings involved are semantically independent, they interact pragmatically to reduce underspecification and fuel pragmatic enrichment. In this article, the central case studies are appositives like Falk, (...) the CEO, and the taboo intensive damn, though discourse particles and connectives like but, even, and still play supporting roles. The primary evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, is drawn from large interview and product-review corpora, which harbor a wealth of information about the importance of these items to discourse. (shrink)
We define a notion of projective meaning which encompasses both classical presuppositions and phenomena which are usually regarded as non-presuppositional but which also display projection behavior—Horn’s assertorically inert entailments, conventional implicatures (both Grice’s and Potts’) and some conversational implicatures. We argue that the central feature of all projective meanings is that they are not-at-issue, defined as a relation to the question under discussion. Other properties differentiate various sub-classes of projective meanings, one of them the class of presuppositions according to (...) Stalnaker. This principled taxonomy predicts differences in behavior unexpected on other models among the various conventional triggers and conversational implicatures, while holding promise for a general, explanatory account of projection which applies to all the types of meanings considered. (shrink)
We review Potts' influential book on the semantics of conventionalimplicature , offering an explication of his technical apparatus and drawing out the proposal's implications, focusing on the class of CIs he calls supplements. While we applaud many facets of this work, we argue that careful considerations of the pragmatics of CIs will be required in order to yield an empirically and explanatorily adequate account.
Within the relevant semantics and pragmatics literature the terms “presupposition” and “conventionalimplicature” are used in a variety of different, but frequently overlapping, ways. The overlaps are perhaps not surprising, given that the two categories of conveyed meaning share the property of remaining constant in the scope of other operators—the property usefully characterize as projectivity. One of my purposes in this paper will be to try to clarify these different usages. In addition to that we will explore two (...) additional properties which are shared by some of these projective contents—strong contextual felicity , and neutralizability . The idea is to try to explain all three properties by taking into account information packaging. (shrink)
I argue for an analysis of ‘therefore’ as presupposition trigger against the more standard conventionalimplicature story originally put forward by Grice (1975). I propose that we model the relevant presupposition as “testing” the context in a way that is similar to how, according to some dynamic treatments of epistemic `must', ‘must’ tests the context. But whereas the presupposition analysis is plausible for ‘therefore’, ‘must’ is not plausibly a presupposition trigger. Moreover, whereas ‘must’ can naturally occur under a (...) supposition, the same is not true for ‘therefore’. In the light of these differences, I suggest we distinguish between different sorts of tests on the basis of the mechanisms whereby these expressions test the context (whether through a presupposition or through their core content) and on the basis of whether they can operate only on categorical contexts or on both categorical and hypothetical contexts. (shrink)
A sentence in the Resultative perfect licenses two inferences: (a) the occurrence of an event (b) the state caused by this event obtains at evaluation time. In this paper I show that this use of the perfect is subject to a large number of distributional restrictions that all serve to highlight the result inference at the expense of the event inference. Nevertheless, only the event inference determines the truth conditions of this use of the perfect, the result inference being a (...) unique type of conventionalimplicature. I argue furthermore that, since the result state is singular, the event that causes it must also be singular, whereas the Experiential perfect is purely quantificational. But in out-of-the-blue contexts the past tense is also normally interpreted as singular. This leads to a certain amount of competition between the Resultative perfect and the past tense, and it is this competition, I suggest, that maintains the conventional (non-truth conditional) result state inference. (shrink)
This paper provides a semantic analysis of English rise-fall-rise (RFR) intonation as a focus quantifier over assertable alternative propositions. I locate RFR meaning in the conventionalimplicature dimension, and propose that its effect is calculated late within a dynamic model. With a minimum of machinery, this account captures disambiguation and scalar effects, as well as interactions with other focus operators like ‘only’ and clefts. Double focus data further support the analysis, and lead to a rejection of Ward and (...) Hirschberg’s (Language 61:747–776, 1985) claim that RFR never disambiguates. Finally, I draw out connections between RFR and contrastive topic (CT) intonation (Büring, Linguist Philos 26:511–545, 2003), and show that RFR cannot simply be reduced to a sub-case of CT. (shrink)
The Japanese comparative adverb motto has two different uses. In the degree use, motto compares two individuals and denotes that there is a large gap between the target and a given standard with a norm-related presupposition. On the other hand, in the so-called ‘negative use’ it conveys the speaker’s attitude toward the utterance situation. I argue that similarly to the degree motto, the negative motto is a comparative morpheme, but unlike the degree motto it compares a current situation and an (...) expected situation at the level of conventionalimplicature /expressive. I argue that the speaker’s negative evaluation of the utterance situation in question comes from the large gap between the expected degree and the current degree. The theoretical implications of this paper are that there is a natural extension from semantic comparison to expressive comparison and that there is a type in natural language that can be called an ‘indirect expressive’, as opposed to ‘direct expressives’ like bastard and man. (shrink)
In contemporary metaethics, various versions of hybrid expressivism have been proposed according to which moral sentences express both non-cognitive attitudes and beliefs. One important advantage with such positions, its proponents argue, is that they, in contrast to pure expressivism, have a straightforward way of avoiding the Frege-Geach problem. In this paper, I provide a systematic examination of different versions of hybrid expressivism with particular regard to how they are assumed to evade this problem. The major conclusion is that none of (...) these views succeeds to provide both a fully satisfying interpretation of moral sentences and a convincing response to the Frege-Geach problem. I end by briefly considering alternative hybrid views that employ the notion of conventional or conversational implicature. (shrink)
This paper examines implicaturist hybrid theories by examining how closely attitude expression by moral utterances fits with the varieties of implicature (conventional, particular conversational, generalized conversational) using five standard criteria for implicature: indeterminacy (§3), reinforceability (§4), non-detachability (§5), cancellability (§6), and calculability (§7). I argue (1) that conventionalimplicature is a clear non-starter as a model of attitude expression by moral utterances (2) that generalised conversational implicature yields the most plausible implicaturist hybrid but (3) (...) that a non-implicaturist, and non-hybrid, alternative might in fact be superior. (shrink)
I argue that conventional implicatures embed in logical compounds, and are non-truth-conditional contributors to sentence meaning. This, I argue has significant implications for how we understand truth, truth-conditional content, and truth-bearers.
This paper considers the meaning and use of the English particle man . It is shown that the particle does quite different things when it appears in sentence-initial and sentence-final position; the first use involves expression of an emotional attitude as well as, on a particular intonation, intensification; this use is analyzed using a semantics for degree predicates along with a separate dimension for the expressive aspect. Further restrictions on modification with the sentence-initial particle involving monotonicity and evidence are introduced (...) and analyzed. The sentence-final use can be viewed as strengthening the action performed by the sentence. A formal semantics is given by making use of dynamic techniques and, in a sense, dynamically simulating the modification of certain speech acts. Some empirical and theoretical extensions of the analyses are proposed and some consequences discussed. (shrink)
What accounts for the offensive character of pejoratives and slurs, words like ‘kike’ and ‘nigger’? Is it due to a semantic feature of the words or to a pragmatic feature of their use? Is it due to a violation of a group’s desires to not be called by certain terms? Is it due to a violation of etiquette? According to one kind of view, pejoratives and the non-pejorative terms with which they are related—the ‘neutral counterpart’ terms—have different meanings or senses, (...) and this explains the offensiveness of the pejoratives. We call theories of this kind, semantic theories of the pejoratives. Our goal is broadly speaking two-fold. First, we will undermine the arguments that are supposed to establish the distinction in meaning between words like ‘African American’ and ‘nigger’. We will show that the arguments are suspect and generalize in untoward ways. Second, we will provide a series of arguments against semantic theories. For simplicity, we focus on a semantic theory that has been proposed by Hom and Hom and May. By showing the systematic ways in which their view fails we hope to provide general lessons about why we should avoid semantic theories of the pejoratives. (shrink)
Paul Grice warned that ‘the nature of conventionalimplicature needs to be examined before any free use of it, for explanatory purposes, can be indulged in’ (1978/1989: 46). Christopher Potts heeds this warning, brilliantly and boldly. Starting with a definition drawn from Grice’s few brief remarks on the subject, he distinguishes conventionalimplicature from other phenomena with which it might be confused, identifies a variety of common but little-studied kinds of expressions that give rise to it, (...) and develops a formal, multidimensional semantic framework for systematically capturing its distinctive character. The book is a virtuosic blend of astute descriptive observations and technically sophisticated formulations. Fortunately for the technically unsophisticated reader, the descriptive observations can be appreciated on their own. (shrink)
We examine an argument for the non-context-freeness of English that has received virtually no discussion in the literature. It is based on adjuncts of the form 'X or no X', where X is a nominal. The construction has been held to exemplify unbounded syntactic reduplication. We argue that although the argument can be made in a mathematically valid form, its empirical basis is not secure. First, the claimed unbounded syntactic identity between nominals does not always hold in attested cases, and (...) second, an understanding of the semantics of the construction removes the necessity of making reference to any syntactic reduplication. (shrink)
We review Potts' influential book on the semantics of conventionalimplicature, offering an explication of his technical apparatus and drawing out the proposal's implications, focusing on the class of CIs he calls supplements. While we applaud many facets of this work, we argue that careful considerations of the pragmatics of CIs will be required in order to yield an empirically and explanatorily adequate account.
Moral assertions express attitudes, but it is unclear how. This paper examines proposals by David Copp, Stephen Barker, and myself that moral attitudes are expressed as implicature (Grice), and Copp's and Barker's claim that this supports expressivism about moral speech acts. I reject this claim on the ground that implicatures of attitude are more plausibly conversational than conventional. I argue that Copp's and my own relational theory of moral assertions is superior to the indexical theory offered by Barker (...) and Jamie Dreier, and that since the relational theory supports conversational implicatures of attitude, expressive conventions would be redundant. Furthermore, moral expressions of attitude behave like conversational and not conventional implicatures, and there are reasons for doubting that conventions of the suggested kind could exist. (shrink)
The idea is that, in a wide range of contexts, utterances of the sentences in (a) in each case will communicate the assumption in (b) in each case (or something closely akin to it, there being a certain amount of contextually governed variation in the speaker's propositional attitude and so the scope of the negation). These scalar inferences are taken to be one kind of (generalized) conversational implicature. As is the case with pragmatic inference quite generally, these inferences are (...) defeasible (cancellable), which distinguishes them from entailments, and they are nondetachable, which distinguishes them from conventional implicatures. The core idea is that the choice of a weaker element from a scale of elements ordered in terms of semantic strength (that is, numbers of entailments) tends to implicate that, as far as the speaker knows, none of the stronger elements in the scale holds in this instance. The pattern is quite clear in (1) and (2), where the weak/strong alternatives are some/all and five/six respectively. In the case of (3), the stronger expression must be intelligent and good-hearted which entails intelligent; what Y's utterance implicates is that Mary does not have the two properties: intelligence and good-heartedness, so that, given the proposition expressed (Mary is intelligent) it follows, deductively, that she is not good-hearted, in Y's opinion. The example in (4) involves a scale inversion due to the negation, so that the weak/strong alternatives are not necessarily/not possibly; the negation which the scalar inference generates creates a double negation, which is eliminated giving possibly. (shrink)
Paul Grice’s theory of Conversational Implicature is, by all accounts, one of the great achievements of the past fifty years -- both of analytic philosophy and of the empirical study of language. Its guiding idea is that constraints on the use of sentences, and information conveyed by utterances of them, arise not only from their conventional meanings (the information they semantically encode) but also from the communicative uses to which they are put. In his view, the overriding goal (...) of most forms of communication is the cooperative exchange of information -- the pursuit of which generates norms for its rational and efficient achievement. Among them are Grice’s conversational maxims. (shrink)
This study examined the ability to comprehend conventional and non-conventional implicatures, and the effect of proficiency and learning context (foreign language learners vs. heritage learners) on comprehension of implicature in L2 Chinese. Participants were three groups of college students of Chinese: elementary-level foreign language learners ( n =21), advanced-level foreign language learners ( n =25), and advanced-level heritage learners ( n =25). They completed a 36-item computer-delivered listening test measuring their ability to comprehend three types of (...) class='Hi'>implicature: conventional indirect refusals, conventional indirect opinions, and non-conventional indirect opinions. Comprehension was analyzed for accuracy (scores on a multiple-choice measure) and comprehension speed (average time taken to answer items correctly). There was a significant effect of implicature type on accuracy, but not on comprehension speed. A significant effect of participant group was observed on accuracy, but the effect was mixed on comprehension speed. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend against a number of criticisms an account of slurs, according to which the same semantic content is expressed in the use of a slur as is expressed in the use of its neutral counterpart, while in addition the use of a slur conventionally implicates a negative, derogatory attitude. Along the way, I criticise competing accounts of the semantics and pragmatics of slurs, namely, Hom's 'combinatorial externalism' and Anderson and Lepore's 'prohibitionism'.
In everyday conversations we often convey information that goes above and beyond what we strictly speaking say: exaggeration and irony are obvious examples. H.P. Grice introduced the technical notion of a conversational implicature in systematizing the phenomenon of meaning one thing by saying something else. In introducing the notion, Grice drew a line between what is said, which he understood as being closely related to the conventional meaning of the words uttered, and what is conversationally implicated, which can (...) be inferred from the fact that an utterance has been made in context. Since Grice’s seminal work, conversational implicatures have become one of the major research areas in pragmatics. This article introduces the notion of a conversational implicature, discusses some of the key issues that lie at the heart of the recent debate, and explicates tests that allow us to reliably distinguish between semantic entailments and conventional implicatures on the one hand and conversational implicatures on the other. (shrink)
One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which (...) there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument. (shrink)
Implicating, as it is conceived in recent pragmatics, amounts to conveying a (propositional) content without saying it – a content providing no contribution to the truth-conditions of the proposition expressed by the sentence uttered. In this sense, implicating is a notion closely related to the work of Paul Grice (1913-1988) and of his precursors, followers and critics. Hence, the task of this article is to introduce and critically examine the explicit/implicit distinction, the Gricean notion of implicature (conventional and (...) conversational) and its recent developments and connections with the speaker's intentions, communicative responsibility and rationality. (shrink)
1. Sentences have implicatures. (11, 14, 19)** 2. Implicatures are inferences. (12. 14) 3. Implicatures can’t be entailments. 4. Gricean maxims apply only to implicatures. (16, 17) 5. For what is implicated to be figured out, what is said must be determined first. (12, 13) 6. All pragmatic implications are implicatures. 7. Implicatures are not part of the truth-conditional contents of utterances. (20) 8. If something is meant but unsaid, it must be implicated. (20) 9. Scalar “implicatures” are implicatures. (11) (...) 10. Conventional “implicatures” are implicatures. (shrink)
Additive particles or adverbs like too or again are sometimes obligatory. This does not follow from the meaning commonly ascribed to them. I argue that the text without the additive is incoherent because the context contradicts a contrast implicature stemming from the additive's associate, and that the text with the additive is coherent because the presupposed alternative is added to the associate, so that the implicature does not concern that alternative. I show that this analysis is better than (...) the account offered by Krifka (1999, Proceedings of SALT 8) and that, contra Zeevat (2003, Optimality Theory and Pragmatics, 91–111), the notion of a presupposition is essential. (shrink)
Lepore and Stone seek to replace the rationality-based Gricean picture of coordination between speaker and hearer with one leaning more strongly on the roles of convention and speaker knowledge while doing away with conversational implicature. Focusing on the phenomena of indirect speech acts, asymmetric conjunction, and scalar inferencing, I argue that the case for abandoning implicature as an analytical tool is not ultimately compelling. I seek further to demonstrate the utility of the classical Gricean distinction between what is (...) said and what is implicated in the construction of an intuitively appealing approach to the perennial question of how to distinguish lying from misleading inside and outside the legal domain. (shrink)
Most philosophers seem to be under a misleading impression about the difference between ‘and’ and ‘but’. They hold that they are truth-functional equivalents but that ‘but’ adds a Gricean ‘conventionalimplicature’ to ‘and’. Frege thought that the implicature attached to ‘but’ was that the second clause is unlikely given the first; others have simply said they express a contrast between the two. Though the second formulation may seem more general, in practice writers seem to agree with Frege's (...) idea. The present note will argue against this conventional view. Indeed, ‘and’ and ‘but’ may both convey conflicting implicatures; and the traditional characterization of the implicature of ‘but’ is outright mistaken, or at least misleading. (shrink)
It is often observed in metaethics that moral language displays a certain duality in as much as it seems to concern both objective facts in the world and subjective attitudes that move to action. In this paper, I defend The Dual Aspect Account which is intended to capture this duality: A person’s utterance of a sentence according to which φing has a moral characteristic, such as “φing is wrong,” conveys two things: The sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional (...) meaning, the belief that φing has a moral property, and the utterance of the sentence carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that the person in question has an action-guiding attitude in relation to φing. This account has significant advantages over competing views: (i) As it is purely cognitivist, it does not have the difficulties of expressivism and various ecumenical positions. (ii) Yet, in spite of this, it can explain the close, “meaning-like,” connection between moral language and attitudes. (iii) In contrast to other pragmatic accounts, it is compatible with any relevant cognitivist view. (iv) It does not rest on a contentious pragmatic notion, such as conventionalimplicature. (v) It does not imply that utterances of complex moral sentences, such as conditionals, convey attitudes. In addition, the generalized implicature in question is fully calculable and cancellable. (shrink)
The words we call slurs are just plain vanilla descriptions like ‘cowboy’ and ‘coat hanger’. They don't semantically convey any disparagement of their referents, whether as content, conventionalimplicature, presupposition, “coloring” or mode of presentation. What distinguishes 'kraut' and 'German' is metadata rather than meaning: the former is the conventional description for Germans among Germanophobes when they are speaking in that capacity, in the same way 'mad' is the conventional expression that some teenagers use as an (...) intensifier when they’re emphasizing that social identity. That is, racists don’t use slurs because they’re derogatory; slurs are derogatory because they’re the words that racists use. To use a slur is to exploit the Maxim of Manner (or Levinson’s M-Principle) to signal one’s affiliation with a group that has a disparaging attitude towards the slur’s referent. This account is sufficient to explain all the familiar properties of slurs, such as their speaker orientation and “nondetachability,” with no need of additional linguistic mechanisms. It also explains some features of slurs that are rarely if ever explored; for example the variation in tone and strength among the different slurs for a particular group, the existence of words we count as slurs, such as 'redskin', which almost all of their users consider to be respectful, and the curious absence in Standard English of any commonly used slurs—by which I mean words used to express a negative attitude toward an entire group—for Muslims and women. (shrink)
I defend the view that the truth conditions of the ordinary indicative conditional are those of the material conditional. This is done via a discussion of assertability and by appeal to conventionalimplicature rather than conversational implicature.
The main aim of this paper is that of providing a unified analysis for some interesting uses of quotation marks, including so-called scare quotes. The phenomena exemplified by the cases I discuss have remained relatively unexplored, notwithstanding a growing interest in the behavior of quotation marks. They are, however, of no lesser interest than other, more widely studied effectsachieved with the help of quotationmarks. In particular, as I argue in whatfollows, scare quotes and other similar instances bear interesting relations with (...) someimportant themes in the study of natural languages, such as questions regarding alleged devicesof conventionalimplicature, cases of so-called metalinguistic negation, and, moregenerally, problems pertaining to the distinction between semantic and pragmatic fieldsof inquiry.In Section 1, I begin with a description of some examples involvingthe uses of quotation marks I intend to discuss, and I hint at some desiderata fortheir analysis. In Section 2, I temporarily abandon quotation marks, and, inspired by therecent work of Stephen Neale and Kent Bach on alleged devices of conventionalimplicature,I present what I call the theory of message and attachment. In Sections 3 and 4,I return to my initial examples, I employ the theory of message and attachment in theiranalysis, and I discuss certain features regarding the behavior of negation in some related cases. (shrink)
A common starting point for ‘going hybrid’ is the thought that moral discourse somehow combines belief and desire-like aspects, or is both descriptive and expressive. Hybrid meta-ethical theories aim to give an account of moral discourse that is sufficiently sensitive to both its cognitive and its affective, or descriptive and expressive, dimensions. They hold at least one of the following: moral thought: moral judgements have belief and desire-like aspects or elements; moral language: moral utterances both ascribe properties and express desire-like (...) attitudes. This entry concerns hybrid theories of moral language. The main division within such theories is between those treating the expression of desire-like attitudes as semantic and those treating it as pragmatic. This entry exclusively focuses on pragmatic forms of and examines the prospects for treating moral attitude expression as working via certain standard pragmatic mechanisms. I explain these mechanisms, outline the properties that standardly define them, and test to see whether moral attitude expression matches them. At the end, I briefly explain a more minimal pragmatic alternative. The main conclusions are that we should disregard presupposition and conventionalimplicature views and that the most plausible options for a pragmatic hybrid view are a generalised conversational implicature view and a more minimal pragmatic view. (shrink)
Mark Richard in his book offers a new and challenging expressivist theory of the use and semantics of slurs (pejoratives). The paper argues that in contrast, the central and standard uses of slurs are cognitive. It does so from the role of stereotypes in slurring, from fi gurative slurs and from the need for cognitive effort (or simple of knowledge of relevant presumed properties of the target). Since cognition has to do with truth and falsity, and since the cognitive task (...) is a good indicator of semantic structure, it seems that the ascription of negative properties etc. indicates that they belong to the meaning of the slur, and that this meaning therefore confers truth-aptness. The (nasty) richness of meaning might vary with pejoratives: all of them involve “contemptible because G” at the very least. The most typical once carry more information. Some of it is given in the form of conceptual links roughly delineating the core stereotype associated with the pejorative, some in the form of fi gurative transfer of properties from some vehicle to the target member of G. So, slurs are not purely performative and expressive, but semantic in thetraditional, truth-directed sense. The truth-gap that might characterize the resulting sentences does not point to pejoratives not having ambition to say true and nasty things, but only to their failure in the attempt. The ambition defi nes the true-directed meanings of the assumptions, the failure just records that these assumptions are false about their targets. The paper leaves it open how central the truth-directed meanings are. The argument suggests that they are pretty central, either part of the core meaning, or of conventionalimplicature. (shrink)
I argue that many of the pragmatic notions that are commonly attributed to 1-1. P. Grice, or are reported to be inspired by his work on pragmatics, such as assertion, conventionalimplicature, cooperation, common ground, common knowledge, presuppositions and conversational strategies, have their origins in C. S. Peirce's theory of signs and his pragmatic logic and philosophy. Both Grice and Peirce rooted their theories in normative rationality, anti-psychologism and the relevance of assertions. With respect to the post-Gricean era (...) of pragmatics, theories of relevance may be seen to have been geared, albeit unconsciously, upon Peirce's pragmatic agenda. (shrink)
Some presuppositions seem to be weaker than others in the sense that they can be more easily neutralized in some contexts. For example some factive verbs, most notably epistemic factives like know, be aware, and discover, are known to shed their factivity fairly easily in contexts such as are found in (1). (1) a. …if anyone discovers that the method is also wombat-proof, I’d really like to know! b. Mrs. London is not aware that there have ever been signs erected (...) to stop use of the route… c. Perhaps God knows that we will never reach the stars…. (The examples in (1) are all naturally occurring ones, discovered by David Beaver with the aid of Google; cf. Beaver 2002, exx. 32, 43, and 51, respectively.) On the other hand some other factives, e.g. regret, matter, and be surprised, do not exhibit the same type of behavior: (2) a. If any of the students regrets behaving badly, they’ll let us know. b. It doesn’t matter that the chimpanzees escaped. c. Was Bill surprised that spinach was included? Unlike the examples in (1), those in (2) could not be used appropriately in contexts where the speaker was not assuming that the complement clause was true. Our main concern will be trying to find the cause of this difference. However, before we get to that, we will look more closely at the concept “presupposition” itself, as well as its close neighbor in the linguistic literature, “conventionalimplicature” (section 2), and also at various ways of getting rid of presuppositions (section 3). In section 4 we will investigate two possible explanations for differences in presupposition triggering – the “lexical alternative” approach of Abusch (2002, 2005), and a suggestion of Ladusaw’s involving detachability of presuppositions. The final section contains concluding remarks. (shrink)
In the 1960’s, both Montague (e.g. 1970, 222) and Grice (1975, 24) famously declared that natural languages were not so different from the formal languages of logic as people had thought. Montague sought to comprehend the grammars of both within a single theory, and Grice sought to explain away apparent divergences as due to the fact that the former, but not the latter, were used for conversation. But, if we confine our concept of logic to first order predicate logic (or (...) FOPL) with identity (that is, omitting everything which is not required for the pursuit of mathematical truth), then there are of course many other aspects, in addition to its use in conversation, which distinguish natural language from logic. Conventionalimplicature, information structure (including presupposition), tense and time reference, and the expression of causation and inference are several of these, which combine as well with syntactic complexities which are unnecessary in first order predicate logic. In this paper I will argue that such distinguishing aspects should be more fully exploited to explain the differences between the material conditional of logic and the indicative conditional of one natural language (English). (shrink)
In Chapter 12 of the thirteenth-century Oxford logician William of Sherwood's Treatise on Syncategorematic Words (Syncategoremata), Sherwood discusses the word only (tantum), which in the example Only Socrates is running indicates, according to Sherwood, ‘how much of the subject is under the predicate—viz. that the subject Socrates and no more is under it. In that case it is an exclusive word’ (Sherwood 1968: 8I). In Chapter 7 of the twentieth-century English logician Peter Geach's (1962/1980) Reference and Generality, Geach discusses the (...) words only and alone, remarking that medieval logicians ‘were greatly interested in exclusive propositions, but their treatment of them was on the whole superficial. This comes out in their having generally accepted the idea that exclusive propositions were exponible as conjunctions “Socrates alone is wise”, say, as “Socrates is wise and nobody besides (other than) Socrates is wise”… If the force of the exclusive proposition is to exclude everything other than what is named in or by the subject–term from “sharing in the predicate”, that is no reason for reading in an implication that something named by the subject–term does “share in the predicate”’ (Geach 1962/ 208–9). This dispute between English logicians across seven centuries has been echoed in recent and influential work by the Anglo-American philosopher H. Paul Grice and by linguists, notably Laurence Horn in his (1969) ‘A Presuppositional Analysis of ONLY and EVEN’, in his (1989) treatise A Natural History of Negation, Lauri Karttunen and Stanley Peters in their (1979) ‘ConventionalImplicature’, and Josef Taglicht in his (1984) book Message and Emphasis: On Focus and Scope in English.In this paper I shall argue that neither Sherwood, with his conjunction analysis of Only x is F, nor Geach, with his non–conjunctive analysis, nor Horn, with his presuppositional analysis, nor Taglicht, with his conjunction analysis of only and his conventionalimplicature analysis of also and even, have accounted for the semantic and pragmatic facts, for their analyses have failed to integrate linguistic facts about topic and focus, about entailments, and about Gricean (1975, 1989) ‘implicatures’. By reconsidering their views I hope to show how a more coherent account can be achieved. In the course of this paper I will offer my own analysis, building on what I have learned from theirs and, I hope, improving on them. (shrink)
I argue that many of the pragmatic notions that are commonly attributed to H. P. Grice, or are reported to be inspired by his work on pragmatics, such as assertion, conventionalimplicature, cooperation, common ground, common knowledge, presuppositions and conversational strategies, have their origins in C. S. Peirce's theory of signs and his pragmatic logic and philosophy. Both Grice and Peirce rooted their theories in normative rationality, anti-psychologism and the relevance of assertions. With respect to the post-Gricean era (...) of pragmatics, theories of relevance may be seen to have been geared, albeit unconsciously, upon Peirce's pragmatic agenda. (shrink)