Communicating in contextual ignorance

Synthese 199 (5-6):12385-12405 (2021)
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Abstract

When A utters a declarative sentence in a context to B, typically A can mean a proposition by the sentence, the sentence in context literally expresses a proposition, there are propositions A and B can agree the sentence literally expressed, and B can acquire knowledge from this testimonial exchange. In recent work on linguistic communication, each of these four platitudes has been challenged, and on the same basis: viz. on the ground that exactly which proposition the sentence expressed in context is not discernible given the information provided by the context. I argue that, even if this is true, there will be propositional parts of the proposition expressed by the sentence in context which can be identified and that, consequently, the partial understanding afforded by the existence of such identifiable parts undermines the soundness of the arguments against the platitudes.

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Alex Davies
University of Tartu

Citations of this work

Sharing Content Online: the Effects of Likes and Comments on Linguistic Interpretation.Alex Davies - forthcoming - In Patrick Connolly, Sandy Goldberg & Jennifer Saul (eds.), Conversations Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collective Communicative Intentions in Context.Andrew Peet - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10:211-236.
Partial understanding.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2023 - Synthese 202 (2):1-32.

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References found in this work

Truthmaker Semantics.Kit Fine - 2017 - In Bob Hale, Crispin Wright & Alexander Miller (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Chichester, UK: Wiley. pp. 556–577.
A Theory of Truthmaker Content I: Conjunction, Disjunction and Negation.Kit Fine - 2017 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 46 (6):625-674.
The Metasemantics of Contextual Sensitivity.Jeffrey C. King - 2014 - In Brett Sherman & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Metasemantics: New Essays on the Foundations of Meaning. Oxford University Press. pp. 97-118.
'Might' Made Right.Kai von Fintel & Anthony S. Gillies - 2011 - In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 108–130.

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