Renewing meaning: a speech-act theoretic approach

New York: Clarendon Press (2004)
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Abstract

This book develops an alternative approach to sentence- and word-meaning, which I dub the speech-act theoretic approach, or STA. Instead of employing the syntactic and semantic forms of modern logic–principally, quantification theory–to construct semantic theories, STA employs speech-act structures. The structures it employs are those postulated by a novel theory of speech-acts. STA develops a compositional semantics in which surface grammar is integrated with semantic interpretation in a way not allowed by standard quantification-based theories. It provides a pragmatic theory of truth, a treatment of logically complex discourse as expressive cognitive states, and a background metaphysics in which the world is a totality of logically simple states of affairs. The book also puts forward an account of how intentional states provide the simple, representational foundation for a superstructure of speech-act structures–a system of thoughts–that far outruns the expressive power of the intentional foundation. In short, it provides an account of cognitive foundations of a language and a naturalistic reduction of semantics through an expressive theory of semantic norms.

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Stephen Barker
Nottingham University

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