Synthese 197 (1):185–208 (2020)

Megan Henricks Stotts
McMaster University
The semantics/pragmatics distinction was once considered central to the philosophy of language, but recently the distinction’s viability and importance have been challenged. In opposition to the growing movement away from the distinction, I argue that we really do need it, and that we can draw the distinction sharply if we draw it in terms of the distinction between non-mental and mental phenomena. On my view, semantic facts arise from context-independent meaning, compositional rules, and non-mental elements of context, whereas pragmatic facts are a matter of speakers’ mental states and hearers’ inferences about them. I argue for this treatment of the distinction by comparing it to some other extant treatments (in terms of “what is said,” and in terms of the involvement of context) and then defending it against several challenges. Two of the challenges relate to possible intrusion of mental phenomena into semantics, and the third has to do with possible over-restriction of the domain of pragmatics.
Keywords semantics/pragmatics distinction  semantics  pragmatics  demonstratives  context-sensitivity  pragmatic intrusion
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1733-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,066
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

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.
Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

View all 51 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What is Said.Patrick Hawley - 2002 - Journal of Pragmatics 34 (8):969-991.
The Distinction Between Semantics and Pragmatics.Zoltan Gendler Szabo - 2006 - In Ernest Lepore & Barry C. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 361--389.


Added to PP index

Total views
79 ( #144,945 of 2,498,784 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #118,323 of 2,498,784 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes