Philosophy 61 (236):229 - 243 (1986)

Hintikka has said this about questions: ‘The questioner asks his listener to supply a certain item of information, to make him know a certain thing’. 1 Now this certainly seems to capture our intuitions about one kind of enquiry, a kind which I call market-place enquiry . That is, it seems to capture the speaker's aims when, in typical situations, he addresses a question to another person. But there are many uses of interrogative sentences, even some questioning uses, which Hintikka's account will not fit. It will not fit so-called rhetorical questions nor, in a perfectly straight way, the questions with which quizzing schoolteachers seek to discover what their pupils know and do not know. Above all, it will not fit those questions with which philosophers and others are wont to preface their solitary enquiries. I call these Cartesian enquiries after their most devoted practitioner; but it should be noted that Cartesian enquiries, as I understand them, may be quite mundane. I shall be engaged in one if, alone in my house, I wonder whether the post has come and go and look. Because there is no one to ask I have to find out on my own. Contrariwise, market-place enquiries, although they are often mundane may be momentous
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819100021082
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