In Context and Content Robert Stalnaker develops a philosophical picture of the nature of speech and thought and the relations between them. Two themes in particular run through these collected essays: the role that the context in which speech takes place plays in accounting for the way language is used to express thought, and the role of the external environment in determining the contents of our thoughts. Stalnaker argues against the widespread assumption of the priority of linguistic over (...) mental representation, which he suggests has had a distorting influence on our understanding. The first part of the book develops a framework for representing contexts and the way they interact with the interpretation of what is said in them. This framework is used to help to explain a range of linguistic phenomena concerning presupposition and assertion, conditional statements, the attribution of beliefs, and the use of names, descriptions, and pronouns to refer. Stalnaker then draws out the conception of thought and its content that is implicit in this framework. He defends externalism about thought--the assumption that our thoughts have the contents they have in virtue of the way we are situated in the world--and explores the role of linguistic action and linguistic structure in determining the contents of our thoughts. Context and Content offers philosophers and cognitive scientists a summation of Stalnaker's important and influential work in this area. His new introduction to the volume gives an overview of this work and offers a convenient way in for those who are new to it. The Oxford Cognitive Science series is a new forum for the best contemporary work in this flourishing field, where various disciplines--cognitive psychology, philosophy, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and computational theory--join forces in the investigation of thought, awareness, understanding, and associated workings of the mind. Each book constitutes an original contribution to its subject, but will be accessible beyond the ranks of specialists, so as to reach a broad interdisciplinary readership. The series will be carefully shaped and steered with the aim of representing the most important developments in the field and bringing together its constituent disciplines. (shrink)
Robert Stalnaker explores the contexts in which speech takes place, the ways we represent them, and the roles they play in explaining the interpretation and dynamics of speech. His central thesis is the autonomy of pragmatics: the independence of theory about structure and function of discourse from theory about mechanisms serving those functions.
Stefano Predelli comes to the defense of the traditional "formal" approach to natural-language semantics, arguing that it has been misrepresented not only by its critics, but also by its foremost defenders. In Contexts he offers a fundamental reappraisal, with particular attention to the treatment of indexicality and other forms of contextual dependence which have been the focus of much recent controversy. In the process, he presents original approaches to a number of important semantic issues, including the relationship between validity and (...) indexicality, the limits of token-reflexive systems, the significance of contextualist arguments, and the interpretation of attitude reports. Contexts will make invigorating reading for all philosophers of language and many linguists. (shrink)
This paper argues that truth values of sentences containing predicates of “personal taste” such as fun or tasty must be relativized to individuals. This relativization is of truth value only, and does not involve a relativization of semantic content: If you say roller coasters are fun, and I say they are not, I am negating the same content which you assert, and directly contradicting you. Nonetheless, both our utterances can be true (relative to their separate contexts). A formal semantic theory (...) is presented which gives this result by introducing an individual index, analogous to the world and time indices commonly used, and by treating the pragmatic context as supplying a particular value for this index. The context supplies this value in the derivation of truth values from content, not in the derivation of content from character. Predicates of personal taste therefore display a kind of contextual variation in interpretation which is unlike the familiar variation exhibited by pronouns and other indexicals. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend the thesis that alleffects of extra-linguistic context on thetruth-conditions of an assertion are traceable toelements in the actual syntactic structure of thesentence uttered. In the first section, I develop thethesis in detail, and discuss its implications for therelation between semantics and pragmatics. The nexttwo sections are devoted to apparent counterexamples.In the second section, I argue that there are noconvincing examples of true non-sentential assertions.In the third section, I argue that there are noconvincing examples of (...) what John Perry has called`unarticulated constituents''. I conclude by drawingsome consequences of my arguments for appeals tocontext-dependence in the resolution of problems inepistemology and philosophical logic. (shrink)
Natural languages are riddled with context-sensitivity. One and the same string of words can express many different meanings on occasion of use, and yet we understand one another effortlessly, on the fly. How do we do so? What fixes the meaning of context-sensitive expressions, and how are we able to recover the meaning so effortlessly? -/- This book offers a novel response: we can do so because we draw on a broad array of subtle linguistic conventions that determine (...) the interpretation of context-sensitive items. Contrary to the dominant tradition, which maintains that the meaning of context-sensitive language is underspecified by grammar and that interpretation relies on non-linguistic cues and speakers' intentions, this book argues that meaning is determined entirely by discourse conventions, rules of language that have largely been missed and the effects of which have been mistaken for extra-linguistic effects of an utterance situation on meaning. The linguistic account of context developed here sheds new light on the nature of linguistic content and the interaction between content and context. At the same time, it provides a novel model of context that should constrain and help evaluate debates across many subfields of philosophy where appeal to context has been common, often leading to surprising conclusions such as epistemology, ethics, value theory, metaphysics, metaethics, and logic. (shrink)
With mention of Ogden and Richards' The Meaning of Meaning, and drawing on Mailinowski, for an opening example, Dewey argues for the importance of the relationship of interpretation and meaning, to context and and situation of usage or utterance. In this article, Dewey expounds, among other themes, on the the prospect of interpretation of a radically alien language and what this prospect tells us about linguistic meaning.
Recently, philosophers have offered compelling reasons to think that demonstratives are best represented as variables, sensitive not to the context of utterance, but to a variable assignment. Variablists typically explain familiar intuitions about demonstratives—intuitions that suggest that what is said by way of a demonstrative sentence varies systematically over contexts—by claiming that contexts initialize a particular assignment of values to variables. I argue that we do not need to link context and the assignment parameter in this way, and (...) that we would do better not to. (shrink)
The purpose of this study was to assess the relationships among ethical context, organizational commitment, and person-organization fit using a sample of 304 young working adults. Results indicated that corporate ethical values signifying different cultural aspects of an ethical context were positively related to both organizational commitment and person-organization fit. Organizational commitment was also positively related to person-organization fit. The findings suggest that the development and promotion of an ethical context might enhance employees' workplace experiences, and companies (...) should consider adopting ethical policies that support principled conduct, punish unethical actions, and increase individual perceptions of an ethical company environment. (shrink)
Some apparently valid arguments crucially rely on context change. To take a kind of example first discussed by Frege, ‘Tomorrow, it’ll be sunny’ taken on a day seems to entail ‘Today, it’s sunny’ taken on the next day, but the first sentence taken on a day sadly does not seem to entail the second sentence taken on the second next day. Mid-argument context change has not been accounted for by the tradition that has extensively studied the distinctive logical (...) properties of context-dependent languages, for that tradition has focussed on arguments whose premises and conclusions are taken at the same context. I first argue for the desiderability of having a logic that accounts for mid-argument context change and I explain how one can informally understand such context change in a standard framework in which the relation of logical consequence holds among sentences. I then propose a family of simple temporal “intercontextual” logics that adequately model the validity of certain arguments in which the context changes. In particular, such logics validate the apparently valid argument in the Fregean example. The logics lack many traditional structural properties (reflexivity, contraction, commutativity etc.) as a consequence of the logical significance acquired by the sequence structure of premises and conclusions. The logics are however strong enough to capture in the form of logical truths all the valid arguments of both classical logic and Kaplan-style “intracontextual” logic. Finally, I extend the framework by introducing new operations into the object language, such as intercontextual conjunction, disjunction and implication, which, contrary to intracontextual conjunction, disjunction and implication, perfectly match the metalinguistic, intercontextual notions of premise combination, conclusion combination and logical consequence by representing their respective two operands as taken at different contexts. (shrink)
On a traditional view, the semantics of natural language makes essential use of a context parameter, i.e. a set of coordinates that represents the situation of speech. In classical semantic frameworks, this parameter plays two key roles: first, context contributes to determining the content of utterance; second, it is crucial for defining logical consequence. I point out that recent empirical proposals about context shift in natural language (in particular, context-shifting semantics in the style of Anand and (...) Nevins 2004) are incompatible with the traditional view of context. At the same time, there is increasing cross-linguistic support for this brand of context shift. Hence I suggest that context has no place in semantic theory proper. We should revert back to so-called multiple-indexing frameworks that were developed by Montague and others, and relegate context to the postsemantic stage. (shrink)
In this paper, we are interested in the effects of institutional context on public attitudes towards climate policies, where institutions are defined as the conventions, norms and formally sanctioned rules of any given society. Building on a 2014 survey experiment, we conducted thirty qualitative interviews with car-owners in Oslo, Norway, to investigate the ways in which institutional context and political-value orientation affect public attitudes towards emissions policies. One context highlighted individual rationality, emphasising the ways in which local (...) pollution impacts the individual citizen; the other highlighted social rationality, emphasising the wider significance of carbon emissions and global responsibility for climate change. We analysed the effects of these contexts on attitudes, finding that institutional context influenced individuals' perspectives as well as their attitudes towards climate policies. Groups with different value orientations differed in terms of their evaluations but not their interpretations of these contexts. (shrink)
_Contexts of Justice,_ highly acclaimed when it was published in Germany, provides a significant new intervention into the important debate between communitarianism and liberalism. Rainer Forst argues for a theory of "contexts of justice" that leads beyond the narrow confines of this debate as it has been understood until now and posits the possibility of a new conception of social and political justice. This book brings refreshing clarity to a complex topic as it provides a synthesis of traditions and theories (...) that leads to a truly original approach. Forst makes a four-part distinction to decipher the debate between communitarianism and liberalism. These four parts concern the constitution of the self, the neutrality of law, the ethos of democracy, and the opposition between universalism and contextualism. He shows that a comprehensive theory of justice needs to take these different contexts adequately into account. He discusses recent debates about discursive democracy and feminist critiques of liberalism, and addresses such topics as multiculturalism and civil society. (shrink)
This paper argues against relativism, focusing on relativism based on the semantics of predicates of personal taste. It presents and defends a contextualist semantics for these predicates, derived from current work on gradable adjectives. It then considers metasemantic questions about the kinds of contextual parameters this semantics requires. It argues they are not metasemantically different from those in other gradable adjectives, and that contextual parameters of this sort are widespread in natural language. Furthermore, this paper shows that if such parameters (...) are rejected, it leads to an unacceptably rampant form of relativism, that relativizes truth to an open-ended list of parameters. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that standards, which are typically social in nature, play a role in determining whether a subject has knowledge. While the argument focuses on standards that pertain to reasoning, I also consider whether there are similar standards for memory and perception.Ultimately, I argue that the standards are context sensitive and, as such, we must view attributions of knowledge as indexical. I exploit similarities between this view and a version of the relevant alternatives reply to skepticism (...) in order to defend this reply against the objection that it is ad hoc. (shrink)
In his seminal paper 'Assertion', Robert Stalnaker distinguishes between the semantic content of a sentence on an occasion of use and the content asserted by an utterance of that sentence on that occasion. While in general the assertoric content of an utterance is simply its semantic content, the mechanisms of conversation sometimes force the two apart. Of special interest in this connection is one of the principles governing assertoric content in the framework, one according to which the asserted content ought (...) to be identical at each world in the context set. In this paper, we present a problem for Stalnaker's meta-semantic framework, by challenging the plausibility of the Uniformity principle. We argue that the interaction of the framework with facts about epistemic accessibility - in particular, failures of epistemic transparency - cause problems for the Uniformity principle and thus for Stalnaker's framework more generally. (shrink)
Color adjectives have played a central role in work on language typology and variation, but there has been relatively little investigation of their meanings by researchers in formal semantics. This is surprising given the fact that color terms have been at the center of debates in the philosophy of language over foundational questions, in particular whether the idea of a compositional, truth-conditional theory of natural language semantics is even coherent. The challenge presented by color terms is articulated in detail in (...) the work of Charles Travis. Travis argues that structurally isomorphic sentences containing color adjectives can shift truth value from context to context depending on how they are used and in the absence of effects of vagueness or ambiguity/polysemy, and concludes that a deterministic mapping from structures to truth conditions is impossible. The goal of this paper is to provide a linguistic perspective on this issue, which we believe defuses Travis’ challenge. We provide empirical arguments that color adjectives are in fact ambiguous between gradable and nongradable interpretations, and that this simple ambiguity, together with independently motivated options concerning scalar dimension within the gradable reading accounts for the Travis facts in a simpler, more constrained, and thus ultimately more successful fashion than recent contextualist analyses such as those in Szabó (Perspectives on semantics, pragmatics and discourse: A festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer, 2001) or Rothschild and Segal (Mind Lang, 2009). (shrink)
Contemporary semantics assumes two influential notions of context: one coming from Kaplan (1989), on which contexts are sets of predetermined parameters, and another originating in Stalnaker (1978), on which contexts are sets of propositions that are “common ground”. The latter is deservedly more popular, given its flexibility in accounting for context-dependent aspects of language beyond manifest indexicals, such as epistemic modals, predicates of taste, and so on and so forth; in fact, properly dealing with demonstratives (perhaps ultimately all (...) indexicals) requires that further flexibility. Even if we acknowledge Lewis (1980)’s point that, in a sense, Kaplanian contexts already include common ground contexts, it is better to be clear and explicit about what contexts constitutively are. Now, Stalnaker (1978, 2002, 2014) defines context-as-common-ground as a set of propositions, but recent work shows that this is not an accurate conception. The paper explains why, and provides an alternative. The main reason is that several phenomena (presuppositional treatments of pejoratives and predicates of taste, forces other than assertion) require that the common ground includes non-doxastic attitudes such as appraisals, emotions, etc. Hence the common ground should not be taken to include merely contents (propositions), but those together with attitudes concerning them: shared commitments, as I will defend. (shrink)
‘In Context’ is aimed at giving contextualization its rightful place in the study of argumentation. First, Frans H. van Eemeren explains the crucial role of context in a reconstructive analysis of argumentative discourse. He distinguishes four levels of contextualization. Second, he situates his approach to context in the field of argumentation studies by comparing it with Walton’s approach. He emphasizes the importance of distinguishing clearly between a normatively motivated theoretical ideal model and empirically-based communicative activity types. Third, (...) van Eemeren concentrates on the ‘macro-level’ of contextualization: contextualization in institutionalized communicative activity types. He makes clear that the macro-context of a communicative activity type can be characterized argumentatively by describing the disctinctive features of the empirical counterparts of the four stages of a critical discussion in the activity type concerned. Fourth, he points out what the consequences of the macrocontextualization of argumentative discourse in a certain communicative activity type are for the strategic maneuvering that may takes place and the identification of fallacies as derailments of strategic maneuvering. Fifth, van Eemeren draws some general conclusions regarding the role of contextualization in the analysis and evaluation of argumentative discourse. (shrink)
This paper revisits some foundational questions concerning the abstract representation of a discourse context. The context of a conversation is represented by a body of information that is presumed to be shared by the participants in the conversation – the information that the speaker presupposes a point at which a speech act is interpreted. This notion is designed to represent both the information on which context-dependent speech acts depend, and the situation that speech acts are designed to (...) affect, and so to be a representation of context that is appropriate for explaining the interaction of context and the contents expressed in them. After reviewing the motivating ideas and the outlines of the apparatus, the paper responds to a criticism of the framework, and considers the way it can help to clarify some phenomena concerning pronouns with indefinite antecedents. (shrink)
We investigate a basic probabilistic dynamic semantics for a fragment containing conditionals, probability operators, modals, and attitude verbs, with the aim of shedding light on the prospects for adding probabilistic structure to models of the conversational common ground.
According to what I will call a contextualist solution to the sorites paradox, vague terms are context-sensitive, and one can give a convincing dissolution of the sorites paradox in terms of this context-dependency. The reason, according to the contextualist, that precise boundaries for expressions like “heap” or “tall for a basketball player” are so difficult to detect is that when two entities are sufficiently similar (or saliently similar), we tend to shift the interpretation of the vague expression so (...) that if one counts as falling in the extension of the property expressed by that expression, so does the other. As a consequence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a vague expression in its penumbra, our very looking has the effect of changing the interpretation of the vague expression so that the boundary is not where we are looking. This accounts for the persuasive force of sorites arguments. (shrink)
It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are (...) defined not in terms of features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play. (shrink)
Linguistic expressions frequently make reference to the situation in which they are uttered. In fact, there are expressions whose whole point of use is to relate to their context of utterance. It is such expressions that this article is primarily about. However, rather than presenting the richness of pertinent phenomena (cf. Anderson & Keenan 1985), it concentrates on the theoretical tools provided by the (standard) two-dimensional analysis of context dependence, essentially originating with Kaplan (1989)--with a little help from (...) Stalnaker (1978) and Lewis (1979a, 1980), and various predecessors including Kamp (1971) and Vlach (1973). The current article overlaps in content with the account in Zimmermann (1991), which is however much broader (and at times deeper). . (shrink)
Based on the analysis of narrations in Free Indirect Discourse and the Historical Present, we argue that the grammatical notion of context of speech should be ramified into a Context of Thought and a Context of Utterance. Tense and person depend on the Context of Utterance, while all other indexicals are evaluated with respect to the Context of Thought. Free Indirect Discourse and the Historical Present are analyzed as special combinatorial possibilities that arise when the (...) two contexts are distinct, and exactly one of them is presented as identical to the physical point at which the sentence is articulated. (shrink)
0. Abstract In this paper, I argue that although the behavior of adjectives in context poses a serious challenge to the principle of compositionality of content, in the end such considerations do not defeat the principle. The first two sections are devoted to the precise statement of the challenge; the rest of the paper presents a semantic analysis of a large class of adjectives that provides a satisfactory answer to it. In section 1, I formulate the context thesis, (...) according to which the content of a complex expression depends on the context of its utterance only insofar as the contents of its constituents do. If the context thesis is false, the content of some complex expression is not compositionally determined. In section 2, using an example due to Charles Travis, I construct an objection to the context thesis based on the behavior of the adjective ‘green’. In section 3 and 4, I look at some of the difficulties surrounding the semantics of ‘good’, which provide the motivation for the thesis that most adjectives are contextually incomplete one-place predicates. In section 5, I discuss how ‘green’ and other color adjectives can be treated within such a semantic theory. Since this theory is compatible with the context thesis, the objection against the compositionality of content looses its force. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Contextualist theories of semantics are not undermined by their purported failure to explain the practice of indirect reporting. I adoptCappelen & Lepore's test for context sensitivity to show that the scope of context sensitivity is much broader than Semantic Minimalists are willing to accept. Thefailure of their arguments turns on their insistence that the content of indirect reports is semantically minimal.
This paper compares the moral reasoning of 363 auditors from Canada and the United States. We investigate whether national institutional context is associated with differences in auditors'' moral reasoning by examining three components of auditors'' moral decision process: (1) moral development, which describes cognitive moral capability, (2) prescriptive reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma ought to be resolved and, (3) deliberative reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma will be resolved. Not surprisingly, it appears that institutional factors are (...) more likely to be associated with auditors'' deliberative reasoning than their prescriptive reasoning in both countries. Additionally, our findings suggest that the national institutional context found in the United States, which has a tougher regulatory and more litigious environment, appears to better encourage auditors to deliberate according to what they perceive is "the ideal" judgment as compared to the Canadian context. We then discuss the implications of these findings for regulators and for ethics research. (shrink)
Contextualism is relativism tamed. Relativism about truth is usually motivated by the idea of no-fault disagreement. Imagine two parties: one (she) says ‘P’; the other (he) says ‘Not P’.1 Apparently, if P then ‘P’ is true and ‘Not P’ false, so she is right and he is wrong; if not P then ‘P’ is false and ‘Not P’ true, so he is right and she is wrong. In both cases, there is an asymmetry between the two parties. Since P or (...) not P (by the law of excluded middle), there is indeed an asymmetry between them, one way or the other. Yet the two parties may strike a neutral observer as on a par, equally intelligent, informed, perceptive and alert. Relativists about truth strive to dissolve the unpleasant asymmetry: ‘”P” is true for her; “Not P” is true for him’. Trouble starts when we ask what the relativists mean by ‘for’ in the construction ‘true for X’. If to call something true ‘for’ X is just to say that X believes that it is true, then the attempted dissolution amounts to this: ‘She believes that “P” is true; he believes that “Not P” is true’. But that is to add no more than that both parties believe that they are right; it does nothing to undermine the argument for an asymmetry between them. Relativists had better mean something else by ‘true for X’. When asked to explain what else they mean, wild relativists bluster incoherently. Contextualists, by contrast, have a clear answer. A sentence is true for X if and only if it is true as uttered by X, true relative to a context in which X is the speaker. Such relativism is tame because the relativity to context in the truth-value of a sentence allows for absoluteness in the truth-value of what the sentence is used to say in a given context. When she says ‘P’, she speaks truly: not just truly for her, but absolutely truly. When he says ‘Not P’, he too speaks truly: not just truly for him, but absolutely truly. The argument for asymmetry 1 assumes that, when she says ‘P’, she speaks truly if and only if P, and when he says ‘Not P’, he speaks truly if and only if not P.. (shrink)
Context Shifting Arguments (CSA) ask us to consider two utterances of an unambiguous, non-vague, non-elliptic sentence S. If the consensus intuition is that what’s said, or expressed or the truth-conditions, and so possibly the truthvalues, of these utterances differ, then CSA concludes S is context sensitive. Consider, for example, simultaneous utterances of ‘I am wearing a hat’, one by Stephen, one by Jason. Intuitively, these utterances can vary in truth-value contingent upon who is speaking the sentence, while holding (...) hat-wearing constant, and so they express distinct propositions and differ in their truth conditions. Since these differences are not the result of ambiguity (lexical or structural), vagueness, conversational implicature, or syntactic ellipsis, we have pretty strong evidence that ‘I am wearing a hat’ is context sensitive. (shrink)
Modus ponens is the argument from premises of the form If A, then B and A to the conclusion B. Nearly all participants agree that the modus ponens conclusion logically follows when the argument appears in this Basic form. However, adding a further premise can lower participants’ rate of agreement—an effect called suppression. We propose a theory of suppression that draws on contemporary ideas about conditional sentences in linguistics and philosophy. Semantically, the theory assumes that people interpret an indicative conditional (...) as a context-sensitive strict conditional: true if and only if its consequent is true in each of a contextually determined set of situations in which its antecedent is true. Pragmatically, the theory claims that context changes in response to new assertions, including new conditional premises. Thus, the conclusion of a modus ponens argument may no longer be accepted in the changed context. Psychologically, the theory describes people as capable of reasoning about broad classes of possible situations, ordered by typicality, without having to reason about individual possible worlds. The theory accounts for the main suppression phenomena, and it generates some novel predictions that new experiments confirm. (shrink)
Philosophers and logicians use the term “indexical” for words such as “I”, “you” and “tomorrow”. Demonstratives such as “this” and “that” and demonstratives phrases such as “this man” and “that computer” are usually reckoned as a subcategory of indexicals. (Following [Kaplan, 1989a].) The “context-dependence” of indexicals is often taken as a defining feature: what an indexical designates shifts from context to context. But there are many kinds of shiftiness, with corresponding conceptions of context. Until we clarify (...) what we mean by “context”, this defining feature remains unclear. In sections 1–3, which are largely drawn from [Perry, forthcoming(a)], I try to clarify the sense in which indexicals are context-dependent and make some distinctions among the ways indexicals depend on context. In sections 3–6, I contrast indexicality with another phenomenon that I call “unarticulated constituents.”. (shrink)
Once upon a time it was assumed that speaking literally and directly is the norm and that speaking nonliterally or indirectly is the exception. The assumption was that normally what a speaker means can be read off of the meaning of the sentence he utters, and that departures from this, if not uncommon, are at least easily distinguished from normal utterances and explainable along Gricean lines. The departures were thought to be limited to obvious cases like figurative speech and conversational (...) implicature. However, people have come to appreciate that the meaning of a typical sentence, at least one we are at all likely to use, is impoverished, at least relative to what we are likely to mean in uttering it. In other words, what a speaker normally means in uttering a sentence, even without speaking figuratively or obliquely, is an enriched version of what could be predicted from the meaning of the sentence alone. This can be because the sentence expresses a “minimal” (or “skeletal”) proposition or even because it fails to express a complete proposition at all.1 Indeed, it is now a platitude that linguistic meaning generally underdetermines speaker meaning. That is, generally what a speaker means in uttering a sentence, even if the sentence is devoid of ambiguity, vagueness, or indexicality, goes beyond what the sentence means. The question is what to make of this Contextualist Platitude, as I’ll call it. It may be a truism, but does it require a radical revision of the older conception of the relation between what sentences mean and what speakers mean in uttering them? Does it lead to a major modification, or perhaps even outright rejection, of the semantic-pragmatic distinction? I think.. (shrink)
I wish first to motivate very briefly two points about the kind of context sensitive semantics needed for attitude reports, namely that reports are about referents and about mental representations; then I will compare two proposals for treating the attitudes, both of which capture the two points in question.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between organizational ethical context and the individual ethical decision-making process. In addition, a new statistical approach combining cluster and discriminant analyses was developed to overcome violations of regression assumptions, which are commonly not identified and/or ignored in behavioral and psychological research. Using regressions and this new alternative method, the findings indicated that ethical context does indeed influence the various components of ethical reasoning. However, social desirability was the strongest (...) predictor of ethical decision making, which raises new concerns about how this bias can confound business ethics research. Finally, the findings showed that the alternative method provided more useful and interpretive results, indicating that it has the capacity to influence future empirical work in the field of business ethics, particularly when dealing with data that do not satisfy regression assumptions. The implications and limitations of the study are discussed, and several noteworthy suggestions for future research are provided. (shrink)
I address two related questions: first, what is the best theory of how objects have de re modal properties? Second, what is the best defence of essentialism given the variability of our modal intuitions? I critically discuss several theories of how objects have their de re modal properties and address the most threatening antiessentialist objection to essentialism: the variability of our modal intuitions. Drawing on linguistic treatments of vagueness and ambiguity, I show how essentialists can accommodate the variability of modal (...) intuitions while holding that objects have their modal properties independently of contexts. (shrink)
The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is (...) the characteristic dynamic effect they have on the context. I argue that pessimism about truth-conditions arises from an overly simplistic picture of content, context and their interaction. While I agree with the critics that an important aspect of modal meaning is the dynamic effect modals have on the context, I argue that they have mischaracterized the nature and the complexity of this effect. A more nuanced account of the interaction between modals and context shows that far from being incompatible with propositional meaning, the dynamic aspect of meaning is precisely what allows us to predict the correct propositional content of an utterance. (shrink)
Many contexts shape and limit moral thinking in philosophy and life. Human conditions of vulnerability and interdependency, of limited awareness and control, of imperfect insight into ourselves and others are inevitable contexts that neither moral thought nor theory should forget. To be truly reflective, moral thinking and moral philosophy must become aware of the contexts that bind our thinking about how to live. This collection of essays by Margaret Urban Walker seek to show how to do this, and why it (...) makes a difference. Contingent and changeable contexts that shape moral thinking include our individual histories, our social positions, and institutional roles, relationships, cultural settings, and social arrangements, and the specific moral idioms we pick up along the way. The paradigms and specialized language of ethical theory are contexts, too; they shape how moral theory looks and what or whom it looks at. Ethical theory and practice are meaningless without these Moral Contexts. (shrink)
Jennifer Saul has argued that the speech acts approach to pornography, where pornography has the illocutionary force of subordinating women, is undermined by that very approach: if pornographic works are speech acts, they must be utterances in contexts; and if we take contexts seriously, it follows that only some pornographic viewings subordinate women. In an effort to defend the speech acts approach, Claudia Bianchi argues that Saul focuses on the wrong context to fix pornography’s illocutionary force. In response, I (...) defend Saul arguing that Bianchi doesn’t show Saul has focused on the wrong context. (shrink)
According to contextualist accounts, the truth value of a given knowledge ascription may vary with features of the ascriber's context. As a result, the following may be true: "X doesn't know that P but Y says something true in asserting 'X knows that P'". The contextualist must defend his theory in the light of this unpleasant but inevitable consequence. The best way of doing this is to construe the context sensitivity of knowledge ascriptions not as deriving from an (...) alleged indexicality of the word "know" nor from its vagueness or ambiguity, but rather from a distinct semantic feature of the word "know", namely its unspecificity. (shrink)