Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta: An Essay on Metarepresentation

Philosophical Review 111 (3):459-462 (2002)
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François Recanati describes a metarepresentation as a representation of linguistic and mental representations. Two levels of content are involved, that of a metarepresentation dS, and that of the object representation S. According to Recanati’s “iconicity thesis,” dS contains S semantically as well as syntactically, so that one cannot entertain dS without also entertaining S. Iconicity “suggests” the doctrine of semantic innocence, whereby an embedded object-representation has the same content it would have when uttered in isolation—its “normal” semantic value—and one of Recanati’s principal aims is to show how the opacity of oratio obliqua and oratio recta constructions can be explained without sacrificing innocence. His treatment is set firmly within the framework of Kaplan 1989 and is inspired by the account of quotation in Davidson 1968. Though devoid of technical and metaphysical encumbrance, his book is not a lean display of a single vision, since Recanati spends considerable time on proposals that he ends up rejecting or modifying. Some readers might become impatient with the detailed comparisons, but the dedicated student will welcome the learned discussion of alternatives. In all, Recanati has given us an excellent study of metarepresentation, enlivened by state-of-the-art pragmatics and at the forefront of the latest discourse on attitudinal ascriptions.



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Tomis Kapitan
Indiana University, Bloomington (PhD)

Citations of this work

Mental Files.François Récanati - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
On saying that.Donald Davidson - 1968 - Synthese 19 (1-2):130-146.

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