Implicature

Edited by Brian Robinson (Texas A&M University - Kingsville)
About this topic
Summary Paul Grice coined the term 'implicature' and its two sub-categories: conventional implicature and conversational implicature. Implicatures are what a speaker meant in addition to or instead of what was literally said. Grice originally intended implicature to serve as a gap between what a speaker said and what a speaker meant, since speakers regularly do mean more than (or something contrary to) what they literally said. While many except that implicatures fit in that gap, it is debated that they do not completely fill it. Since Grice, neo-Griceans have made various emendations to the notion of implicature. Others, have sought to account for roughly the same phenomena by different theoretical means, chiefly Relevance theorists, such as Sperber and Wilson. 
Key works The first, and most important key work is Grice's "Logic and Conversation" in Grice 1989, in which Grice lays out the initial account of implicature. Neale 1992 provides a lengthy, but thorough summary of that theory. Bach has two seminal articles on conversational implicature (Bach 1994) and conventional implicature (Bach 1999). Davis offers his arguments for the failure of the Gricean theory of implicature in Davis 1998.
Introductions Grice 1989  Grandy 1989  Neale 1992
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  1. Analizzare l’argomentazione sui social media. Il caso dei tweet di Salvini.Fabrizio Macagno - 2019 - Sistemi Intelligenti 3 (31):601-632.
    Twitter is an instrument used not only for sharing public or personal information, but also for persuading the audience. While specific platforms and software have been developed for analyzing macro-analytical data, and specific studies have focused on the linguistic dimension of the tweets, the argumentative dimension of the latter is unexplored to this date. This paper intends to propose a method grounded on the tools advanced in argumentation theory for capturing, coding, and assessing the different argumentative dimensions of the messages (...)
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  2. Probabilistic Semantics for Epistemic Modals: Normality Assumptions, Conditional Epistemic Spaces, and the Strength of `Must' and `Might'.Guillermo Del Pinal - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-42.
    The epistemic modal auxiliaries 'must' and 'might' are vehicles for expressing the force with which a proposition follows from some body of evidence or information. Standard approaches model these operators using quantificational modal logic, but probabilistic approaches are becoming increasingly influential. According to a traditional view, 'must' is a maximally strong epistemic operator and 'might' is a bare possibility one. A competing account---popular amongst proponents of a probabilisitic turn---says that, given a body of evidence, 'must p' entails that Pr(p) is (...)
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  3. Literal Meaning, Minimal Propositions, and Pragmatic Processing.Anne Louise Bezuidenhout & J. Cooper Cutting - 2002 - Journal of Pragmatics 34 (4):433-456.
  4. On Three Theories of Implicature: Default Theory, Relevance and Minimalism.Emma Borg - unknown
    Grice's distinction between what is said by a sentence and what is implicated by an utterance of it is both extremely familiar and almost universally accepted. However, in recent literature, the precise account he offered of implicature recovery has been questioned and alternative accounts have emerged. In this paper, I examine three such alternative accounts. My main aim is to show that the two most popular accounts in the current literature still face signifi cant problems. I will then conclude by (...)
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  5. On Grice on Language.Richard E. Grandy - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (10):514-525.
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  6. Gricean Communication and Transmission of Thoughts.Friedrich Christoph Doerge & Mark Siebel - 2008 - Erkenntnis 69 (1):55-67.
    Gricean communication is communication between utterers and their audiences, where the utterer means something and the audience understands what is meant. The weak transmission idea is that, whenever such communication takes place, there is something which is transmitted from utterer to audience; the strong transmission idea adds that what is transmitted is nothing else than what is communicated. We try to salvage these ideas from a seemingly forceful attack by Wayne Davis. Davis attaches too much significance to the surface structure (...)
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  7. Paul Grice, Philosopher and Linguist. [REVIEW]L. Villamil García - 2007 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 26 (2).
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  8. Grice’s Razor and Epistemic Invariantism.Wayne A. Davis - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:147-176.
    Grice’s Razor is a methodological principle that many philosophers and linguists have used to help justify pragmatic explanations of linguistic phenomena over semantic explanations. A number of authors in the debate over contextualism argue that an invariant semantics together with Grice’s (1975) conversational principles can account for the contextual variability of knowledge claims. I show here that the defense of Grice’s Razor found in these “Gricean invariantists,” and its use against epistemic contextualism, display all the problems pointed out earlier in (...)
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  9. Pragmatics of Speech Actions, Handbooks of Pragmatics (HoPs) Vol. 2.Claudia Bianchi - 2013
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  10. Literal Meaning.Kent Bach - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
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  11. Ten More Misconceptions About Implicature.Kent Bach - unknown
    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) (...)
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  12. Logic and Conversation.Herbert Paul Grice - 1967 - In Paul Grice (ed.), Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. pp. 41-58.
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  13. Utterer's Meaning Revisited.Andreas Kemmerling - 1986 - In Richard E. Grandy & Richard Warner (eds.), Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends. Oxford University Press. pp. 131--55.
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  14. Impliciture Vs. Explicature: What's the Difference?Kent Bach - manuscript
    I am often asked to explain the difference between my notion of impliciture (Bach 1994) and the relevance theorists’ notion of explicature (Sperber and Wilson 1986; Carston 2002). Despite the differences between the theoretical frameworks within which they operate, the two notions seem very similar. Relevance theorists describe explicatures as “developments of logical forms,” whereas I think of implicitures as “expansions” or “completions” of semantic contents (depending on whether or not the sentence’s semantic content amounts to a proposition). That is (...)
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  15. Implicature.Wayne Davis - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  16. Grice's Razor.Allan Hazlett - 2007 - Metaphilosophy 38 (5):669-690.
    Grice’s Razor is a principle of parsimony which states a preference for linguistic explanations in terms of conversational implicature, to explanations in terms of semantic context-dependence. Here I propose a Gricean theory of knowledge attributions, and contend on the basis of Grice’s Razor that it is superior to contextualism about ‘knows’.
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  17. Implicature.Larry Horn - manuscript
    1. Implicature: some basic oppositions IMPLICATURE is a component of speaker meaning that constitutes an aspect of what is meant in a speaker’s utterance without being part of what is said. What a speaker intends to communicate is characteristically far richer than what she directly expresses; linguistic meaning radically underdetermines the message conveyed and understood. Speaker S tacitly exploits pragmatic principles to bridge this gap and counts on hearer H to invoke the same principles for the purposes of utterance interpretation. (...)
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  18. The Pragmatic Circle.Kepa Korta & John Perry - 2008 - Synthese 165 (3):347 - 357.
    Classical Gricean pragmatics is usually conceived as dealing with far-side pragmatics, aimed at computing implicatures. It involves reasoning about why what was said, was said. Near-side pragmatics, on the other hand, is pragmatics in the service of determining, together with the semantical properties of the words used, what was said. But this raises the specter of ‘the pragmatic circle.’ If Gricean pragmatics seeks explanations for why someone said what they did, how can there be Gricean pragmatics on the near-side? Gricean (...)
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  19. Grice's Intentions.L. B. Lombard & G. C. Stine - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 25 (3):207 - 212.
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  20. Professor Grice's Theory of Meaning.Alfred F. MacKay - 1972 - Mind 81 (321):57-66.
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  21. Linguistic-Pragmatic Factors in Interpreting Disjunctions.Ira A. Noveck, Gennaro Chierchia, Florelle Chevaux, Raphaelle Guelminger & Emmanuel Sylvestre - 2002 - Thinking and Reasoning 8 (4):297 – 326.
    The connective or can be treated as an inclusive disjunction or else as an exclusive disjunction. Although researchers are aware of this distinction, few have examined the conditions under which each interpretation should be anticipated. Based on linguistic-pragmatic analyses, we assume that interpretations are initially inclusive before either (a) remaining so, or (b) becoming exclusive by way of an implicature ( but not both ). We point to a class of situations that ought to predispose disjunctions to inclusive interpretations and (...)
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  22. Book Review. [REVIEW]Anna Papafragou - manuscript
    To those who have not followed recent advances in pragmatics, the sub-title of Robyn Carston’s book may seem surprising, even paradoxical. Indeed, until recently, the dominant view among most linguists and philosophers was that pragmatics dealt with implicit aspects of communication, mainly implicatures, while explicit, literal meaning was delivered by decoding the linguistic (semantic) content of utterances. Grice clearly held that view: even though he recognized that pragmatic processes of disambiguation or reference assignment have to contribute to ‘what is said’, (...)
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  23. Paul Grice: Philosopher and Linguist, by Siobhan Chapman. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. VII + 247. H/B £45. [REVIEW]Christopher Potts - unknown
    Paul Grice seems to have led a quintessentially academic life — a life spent jotting notes, giving lectures, reading, talking, and arguing with his past self and with others. In virtue of his age and station, he remained largely at the fringes of the great battles of his day — World War II and the clash of the positivists with the ordinary language group. There are no grand family tensions `a la Russell, nor any deep psychoses `a la Wittgenstein. Just (...)
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  24. Optimality-Theoretic and Game-Theoretic Approaches to Implicature.Robert van Rooij - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  25. Grice on Meaning: The Ultimate Counter-Example.N. L. Wilson - 1970 - Noûs 4 (3):295-302.
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Conversational Implicature
  1. Implicatures as Forms of Argument.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2013 - In Alessandro Capone (ed.), Perspectives on Pragmatics and Philosophy. Berlin, Germany: pp. 203-224.
    In this paper, we use concepts, structure and tools from argumentation theory to show how conversational implicatures are triggered by conflicts of presumptions. Presumptive implicatures are shown to be based on defeasible forms of inference used in conditions of lack of knowledge, including analogical reasoning, inference to the best explanation, practical reasoning, appeal to pity, and argument from cause. Such inferences are modelled as communicative strategies to knowledge gaps that shift the burden of providing the missing contrary evidence to the (...)
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  2. Meaning and Responsibility.Ray Buchanan & Henry Ian Schiller - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    In performing an act of assertion we are sometimes responsible for more than the content of the literal meaning of the words we have used, sometimes less. A recently popular research program seeks to explain certain of the commitments we make in speech in terms of responsiveness to the conversational subject matter (Hoek 2018, Stokke 2016, Yablo 2014). We raise some issues for this view with the aim of providing a more general account of linguistic commitment: one that is grounded (...)
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  3. The Myth of Epistemic Implicata.Thorsten Sander - 2021 - Theoria 87 (6):1527-1547.
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  4. A Hole in the Box and a Pain in the Mouth.Laurenz C. Casser & Henry Ian Schiller - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):pqaa091.
    The following argument is widely assumed to be invalid: there is a pain in my finger; my finger is in my mouth; therefore, there is a pain in my mouth. The apparent invalidity of this argument has recently been used to motivate the conclusion that pains are not spatial entities. We argue that this is a mistake. We do so by drawing attention to the metaphysics of pains and holes and provide a framework for their location which both vindicates the (...)
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  5. Presuppositional Exhaustification.Itai Bassi, Guillermo Del Pinal & Uli Sauerland - 2021 - Semantics and Pragmatics 14:1-42.
    Grammatical theories of Scalar Implicatures make use of an exhaustivity operator exh, which asserts the conjunction of the prejacent with the negation of excludable alternatives. We present a new Grammatical theory of Scalar Implicatures according to which exh is replaced with pex, an operator that contributes its prejacent as asserted content, but the negation of scalar alternatives at a non-at-issue level of meaning. We show that by treating this non-at-issue level as a presupposition, this theory resolves a number of empirical (...)
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  6. The Lying-Misleading Distinction: A Commitment-Based Approach.Emanuel Viebahn - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (6):289-319.
    The distinction between lying and mere misleading is commonly tied to the distinction between saying and conversationally implicating. Many definitions of lying are based on the idea that liars say something they believe to be false, while misleaders put forward a believed-false conversational implicature. The aim of this paper is to motivate, spell out, and defend an alternative approach, on which lying and misleading differ in terms of commitment: liars, but not misleaders, commit themselves to something they believe to be (...)
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  7. Conversational Eliciture.Jonathan Cohen & Andrew Kehler - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (12).
    The sentence "The boss fired the employee who is always late" invites the defeasible inference that the speaker is attempting to convey that the lateness caused the firing. We argue that such inferences cannot be understood in terms of familiar approaches to extrasemantic enrichment such as implicature, impliciture, explicature, or species of local enrichment already in the literature. Rather, we propose that they arise from more basic cognitive strategies, grounded in processes of coherence establishment, that thinkers use to make sense (...)
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  8. Oddness, Modularity, and Exhaustification.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2021 - Natural Language Semantics 29 (1):115-158.
    According to the `grammatical account', scalar implicatures are triggered by a covert exhaustification operator present in logical form. This account covers considerable empirical ground, but there is a peculiar pattern that resists treatment given its usual implementation. The pattern centers on odd assertions like #"Most lions are mammals" and #"Some Italians come from a beautiful country", which seem to trigger implicatures in contexts where the enriched readings conflict with information in the common ground. Magri (2009, 2011) argues that, to account (...)
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  9. How to Have a Metalinguistic Dispute.Poppy Mankowitz - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5603-5622.
    There has been recent interest in the idea that speakers who appear to be having a verbal dispute may in fact be engaged in a metalinguistic negotiation: they are communicating information about how they believe an expression should be used. For example, individuals involved in a dispute about whether a racehorse is an athlete might be communicating their diverging views about how ‘athlete’ should be used. While many have argued that metalinguistic negotiation is a pervasive feature of philosophical and everyday (...)
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  10. Pragmatics.Yan Huang - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    Pragmatics is one of the rapidly growing fields in contemporary linguistics. Huang provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the central topics in pragmatics - implicature, presupposition, speech acts, and deixis.
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  11. Pragmatics.Stephen C. Levinson - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
    Those aspects of language use that are crucial to an understanding of language as a system, and especially to an understanding of meaning, are the acknowledged concern of linguistic pragmatics. Yet until now much of the work in this field has not been easily accessible to the student, and was often written at an intimidating level of technicality. In this textbook, however, Dr Levinson has provided a lucid and integrative analysis of the central topics in pragmatics - deixis, implicature, presupposition, (...)
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  12. Assertion, Implicature, and Iterated Knowledge.Eliran Haziza - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    The present paper argues that there is a knowledge norm for conversational implicature: one may conversationally implicate p only if one knows p. Linguistic data about the cancellation behavior of implicatures and the ways they are challenged and criticized by speakers is presented to support the thesis. The knowledge norm for implicature is then used to present a new consideration in favor of the KK thesis. It is argued that if implicature and assertion have knowledge norms, then assertion requires not (...)
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  13. What Might but Must Not Be.Stephen Finlay & Benjamin Lennertz - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):647-656.
    We examine an objection to analysing the epistemic ‘might’ and ‘may’ as existential quantifiers over possibilities. Some claims that a proposition “might” be the case appear felicitous although, according to the quantifier analysis, they are necessarily false, since there are no possibilities in which the proposition is true. We explain such cases pragmatically, relying on the fact that ‘might’-sentences are standardly used to convey that the speaker takes a proposition as a serious option in reasoning. Our account explains why it (...)
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  14. Logic and Conversation.H. P. Grice - 1975 - In Donald Davidson & Gilbert Harman (eds.), The Logic of Grammar. Encino, CA: pp. 64-75.
  15. The Varieties of Verbal Irony.Arthur Sullivan - 2019 - Lingua 232.
    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 (...)
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  16. Evaluating the Cancellability Test.Arthur Sullivan - 2017 - Journal of Pragmatics 121:162-174.
    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.
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  17. Expressions in Focus.Poppy Mankowitz - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 13 (13).
    It is commonly claimed that, when a constituent is the focus of an occurrence of a sentence, certain alternatives to that constituent are relevant to our understanding of the sentence. Normally these are alternatives to the denotation of the focused constituent. However, Krifka (2007) briefly discusses the notion of expression focus, where the alternatives are linguistic items. Yet an adequate account of expression focus has not been given within the literature. This is despite the fact that it holds the potential (...)
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  18. Efficient Communication and Indexicality.Toru Suzuki - forthcoming - Mathematical Social Sciences.
    Since sending explicit messages can be costly, people often utilize “what is not said,” i.e., informative silence, to economize communication. This paper studies the efficient communication rule, which is fully informative while minimizing the use of explicit messages, in cooperative environments. It is shown that when the notion of context is defined as the finest mutually self-evident event that contains the current state, the efficient use of informative silence exhibits the defining property of indexicals in natural languages. While the efficient (...)
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  19. Generics in Context: The Robustness and the Explanatory Implicatures.Martina Rosola - 2019 - In Gábor Bella & Paolo Bouquet (eds.), CONTEXT 2019: Modeling and Using Context. pp. 223-237.
    Generics are sentences that express generalizations about a category or about its members. They display a characteristic context-sensitivity: the same generic can express a statistical regularity, a principled connection, or a norm. Sally Haslanger (2014) argues that this phenomenon depends on the implicit content that generics carry in different contexts. -/- I elaborate on Haslanger’s proposal, arguing that the implicit content of generics is complex and constituted by two different propositions. A first proposition, that I here call the robustness proposition, (...)
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  20. Commitment and Communication: Are We Committed to What We Mean, or What We Say?Francesca Bonalumi, Thom Scott-Phillips, Julius Tacha & Christophe Heintz - 2020 - Language and Cognition 12 (2):360-384.
    Are communicators perceived as committed to what they actually say (what is explicit), or to what they mean (including what is implicit)? Some research claims that explicit communication leads to a higher attribution of commitment and more accountability than implicit communication. Here we present theoretical arguments and experimental data to the contrary. We present three studies exploring whether the saying–meaning distinction affects commitment attribution in promises, and, crucially, whether commitment attribution is further modulated by the degree to which the hearer (...)
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  21. An Inferential Impasse in the Theory of Implicatures.Savas L. Tsohatzidis - manuscript
  22. Knowledge and Cancelability.Tammo Lossau - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):397-405.
    Keith DeRose and Stewart Cohen object to the fallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism regarding knowledge ascriptions that it is committed to non-cancelable pragmatic implications. I show that this objection points us to an asymmetry about which aspects of the conveyed content of knowledge ascriptions can be canceled: we can cancel those aspects that ascribe a lesser epistemic standing to the subject but not those that ascribe a better or perfect epistemic standing. This situation supports the infallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism (...)
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  23. Rejection, Denial and the Democratic Primaries.Luca Incurvati - forthcoming - Think.
    Starting from the case of insurance claims, I investigate the dynamics of acceptance, rejection and denial. I show that disagreement can be more varied than one might think. I illustrate this by looking at the Warren/Sanders controversy in the 2020 democratic primaries and at religious agnosticism.
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  24. Faultless Disagreement.Julia Zakkou - 2019 - Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland: Klostermann.
    People disagree frequently, about both objective and subjective matters. But while at least one party must be wrong in a disagreement about objective matters, it seems that both parties can be right when it comes to subjective ones: it seems that there can be faultless disagreements. But how is this possible? How can people disagree with one another if they are both right? And why should they? In recent years, a number of philosophers and linguists have argued that we must (...)
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  25. Rethinking Implicatures.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    This paper advances the following criticisms against the received view of implicatures: (1) implicatures are relations of pragmatic implication and not attempts to convey particular speaker meanings; (2) conversational implicatures are non-cancellable; (3) generalised conversational implicatures and conventional implicatures are necessary to preserve the cooperative assumption by means of a conversational maxim of conveyability; (4) implicatures should be divided in utterance implicatures and assumption implicatures, not speaker implicatures and sentence implicatures; (5) trivial implicatures are genuine implicatures; (6) Grice’s theory of (...)
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