•  398
    The coherence of contextualism
    Mind and Language 21 (1). 2006.
    Cappelen and Lepore (2005) begin their critique of contextualism with an anecdote about an exercise they do with their undergraduate students (who I take it are meant to be naïve subjects whose linguistic intuitions have not been contaminated by mistaken philosophical theories). The test is to ask students to categorize types of expressions. Students quickly get the hang of the idea that referring expressions (like indexicals and pronouns) belong to a single category. They’re then asked whether …Read more
  •  266
  •  251
    Indexicals and perspectivals
    Facta Philosophica 7 (1): 3-18. 2005.
    (1) Jenny is coming to visit me tonight. (2) I’m going to visit Jenny tonight. In these examples, it is where I am (my home, let us suppose) that is the center of the coming and going. This may suggest that the perspective point is always the perspective of the speaker, and that comings are always towards the speaker and that goings are away from the location of the speaker. But this isn’t necessarily so. For example, suppose that a colleague from work calls me at home to find out why I’m late f…Read more
  •  226
    Truth-Conditional Pragmatics
    Philosophical Perspectives 16 105-134. 2002.
    Introduction The mainstream view in philosophy of language is that sentence meaning determines truth-conditions. A corollary is that the truth or falsity of an utterance depends only on what words mean and how the world is arranged. Although several prominent philosophers (Searle, Travis, Recanati, Moravcsik) have challenged this view, it has proven hard to dislodge. The alternative view holds that meaning underdetermines truth-conditions. What is expressed by the utterance of a sentence in a co…Read more
  •  212
    According to one widely held view of metaphor, metaphors are cases in which the speaker (literally) says one thing but means something else instead. I wish to challenge this idea. I will argue that when one utters a sentence in some context intending it to be understood metaphorically, one directly expresses a proposition, which can potentially be evaluated as either true or false. This proposition is what is said by the utterance of the sentence in that context. We don’t convey metaphorical mea…Read more
  •  169
    It has long ben recognised that there are referential uses of definite descriptions. It is not as widely recognised that there are atttributives uses of idexicals and other such paradigmatically singular terms. I offer an account of the referential/attributive distinction which is intended to give a unified treatment of both sorts of cases. I argue that the best way to account for the referential/attributive distinction is to treat is as semantically underdetermined which sort of propositions is…Read more
  •  130
    The Gricean distinction between saying and implicating suggests a clear division of labour between semantics and pragmatics. The standard view that a semantic theory delivers truth-conditions for every well-formed sentence of a language has been grafted onto a Gricean view of the semantics-pragmatics divide. Consequently, many believe that truth-conditions can be specified in a way that is essentially free from pragmatic considerations. This view has been challenged, by those who argue for pragm…Read more
  •  109
    Descriptions and Beyond (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2004.
    In 1905, Bertrand Russell published 'On Denoting' in which he proposed and defended a quantificational account of definite descriptions. Forty-five years later, in 'On Referring', Peter Strawson claimed that Russell was mistaken: definite descriptions do not function as quantifiers but (paradigmatically) as referring expressions. Ever since, scores of theorists have attempted to adjudicate this debate. Others have gone beyond the question of the proper analysis of definite descriptions, focusing…Read more
  •  109
    The Philosophy of P. F. Strawson
    with L. E. Hahn and P. F. Strawson
    Philosophical Review 110 (3): 460. 2001.
    This is the twenty-sixth volume in the Library of Living Philosophers, a series founded by Paul A. Schilpp in 1939 and edited by him until 1981, when the editorship was taken over by Lewis E. Hahn. This volume follows the design of previous volumes. As Schilpp conceived this series, every volume would have the following elements: an intellectual autobiography of the philosopher, a series of expository and critical articles written by exponents and opponents of the philosopher's thought, replies …Read more
  •  76
    Metaphorical Singular Reference. The Role of Enriched Composition in Reference Resolution
    The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 3. 2007.
    It is widely accepted that, in the course of interpreting a metaphorical utterance, both literal and metaphorical interpretations of the utterance are available to the interpreter, although there may be disagreement about the order in which these interpretations are accessed. I call this the dual availability assumption. I argue that it does not apply in cases of metaphorical singular reference. These are cases in which proper names, complex demonstratives or definite descriptions are used metap…Read more
  •  68
    I outline a discourse-based account of presuppositions that relies on insights from the writings of Peter Strawson, as well as on insights from more recent work by Robert Stalnaker and Barbara Abbott. One of the key elements of my account is the idea that presuppositions are “assertorically inert”, in the sense that they are background propositions, rather than being part of the “at issue” or asserted content. Strawson is often assumed to have defended the view that the falsity of a presuppositi…Read more
  •  64
    Is verbal communication a purely preservative process?
    Philosophical Review 107 (2): 261-288. 1998.
    In a recent paper titled “Content Preservation”, Tyler Burge argues that certain psychological processes play a purely preservative role, and not a justificatory role. Burge’s claim is that the justificatory force of the beliefs sustained by these processes is independent of features of these processes, such as their reliability. The function of these psychological processes is merely to preserve the beliefs in order to “assure the proper working of other cognitive capacities over time”. In part…Read more
  •  59
    The Impossibility of Punctate Mental Representations
    Grazer Philosophische Studien 46 (1): 197-212. 1993.
    In Holism: A Shopper's Guide Fodor and LePore contend that there could be punctate minds; minds capable of being in only a single type of representational state. The Kantian idea that the construction of perceptual representations requires the synthesizing activity of the mind is invoked to argue against the possibility of punctate minds. Fodor's commitment to an inferential theory of perception is shown to share crucial assumptions with the Kantian view and hence to lead to the same conclusion.…Read more
  •  58
    An Essay on Belief and Acceptance (review)
    Review of Metaphysics 50 (2): 392-394. 1996.
    As the title suggests, this book is centered around a distinction between belief and acceptance. A parallel distinction is drawn between desire and intention. Cohen argues that acceptance and intention are voluntary states, whereas belief and desire are involuntary dispositions. Acceptance is active, whereas belief is passive. Acceptance is subjectively closed under deducibility, whereas belief is not. Acceptance is an all-or-nothing affair, whereas belief comes in degrees, ranging from having a…Read more
  •  56
  •  51
    I distinguish between the classical Gricean approach to conversational implicatures , which I call the action-theoretic approach, and the approach to CIs taken in contemporary cognitive science. Once we free ourselves from the AT account, and see implicating as a form of what I call “conversational tailoring”, we can more easily see the many different ways that CIs arise in conversation. I will show that they arise not only on the basis of a speaker’s utterance of complete sentences but also on …Read more
  •  50
    Children's use of contextual cues to resolve referential ambiguity: An application of Relevance Theory
    with Mary Sue Sroda
    Pragmatics and Cognition 6 (1-2): 265-299. 1998.
    Researchers interested in children's understanding of mind have claimed that the ability to ascribe beliefs and intentions is a late development, occurring well after children have learned to speak and comprehend the speech of others. On the other hand, there are convincing arguments to show that verbal communication requires the ability to attribute beliefs and intentions. Hence if one accepts the findings from research into children's understanding of mind, one should predict that young childr…Read more
  •  49
    Resisting the step toward naturalism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (4): 743-770. 1996.
  •  45
    Minimal semantics - by Emma Borg (review)
    Philosophical Books 49 (1): 59-63. 2008.
  •  43
    Language as internal
    In Barry C. Smith (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford University Press. pp. 127--139. 2006.
    According to internalist conceptions of language, languages are properties of the mind/brains of individuals and supervene entirely on the internal states of these mind/brains. Hence, languages are primarily to be studied by the mind and/or brain sciences — psychology, neuroscience, and the cognitive sciences more generally. This is not to deny that other sciences may contribute to our understanding too. The internalist conception of language is most associated with Chomsky, who has argued for i…Read more
  •  40
  •  39
    The debate between representationalists and anti-representationalists as I construe it in this chapter is a debate about whether truth-conditions are or should be assigned directly to natural language sentences (NLSs) – the anti-representationalist view – or whether they are or should be assigned instead to mental representations (MRs) that are related in some appropriate way to these NLSs. On the representationalist view, these MRs are related to NLSs in virtue of the fact that the MRs are the …Read more
  •  37
    What properly belongs to grammar? A response to Lepore and Stone
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (2): 175-194. 2016.
    Lepore and Stone devote Part I of their book to setting out a number of views that act as foils for their own positive ‘disambiguation’ view of interpretation developed in Part II. They divide their opposition into three camps: The Gricean rationalists, the neo-Gricean lexicalists, and the empirical psychologists. I try to show why a ‘disambiguation’ view of such phenomena is unappealing and why Relevance Theory provides a better account of these phenomena. I end with some brief remarks about wh…Read more
  •  29
    Contemporary Materialism: A Reader (review)
    Teaching Philosophy 19 (4): 421-424. 1996.
  •  25
  •  24
    Contextualism and the role of contextual frames
    Manuscrito 32 (1): 59-84. 2009.
    Some part of the debate between minimalists and contextualists can be construed as merely terminological and can be resolved by agreeing to a certain division of labor. Minimalist claims are to be understood as claims about what is needed for adequate formal compositional semantic models of language understood in abstraction from real conversational contexts. Contextualist claims are ones about how language users produce and understand utterances by manipulating features of the psychological and…Read more
  •  23
    Demonstrative modes of presentation
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal. forthcoming.