•  374
    De re and De se
    Dialectica 63 (3): 249-269. 2009.
    For Perry and many authors, de se thoughts are a species of de re thought. In this paper, I argue that de se thoughts come in two varieties: explicit and implicit. While explicit de se thoughts can be construed as a variety of de re thought, implicit de se thoughts cannot: their content is thetic, while the content of de re thoughts is categoric. The notion of an implicit de se thought is claimed to play a central role in accounting for the phenomenon of immunity to error through misidentificati…Read more
  •  355
    Unarticulated constituents
    Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (3): 299-345. 2002.
    In a recent paper (Linguistics and Philosophy 23, 4, June 2000), Jason Stanley argues that there are no `unarticulated constituents', contrary to what advocates of Truth-conditional pragmatics (TCP) have claimed. All truth-conditional effects of context can be traced to logical form, he says. In this paper I maintain that there are unarticulated constituents, and I defend TCP. Stanley's argument exploits the fact that the alleged unarticulated constituents can be `bound', that is, they can be ma…Read more
  •  331
    The Fodorian fallacy
    Analysis 62 (4): 285-89. 2002.
    In recent years Fodor has repeatedly argued that nothing epistemic can be essential to, or constitutive of, any concept. This holds in virtue of a constraint which Fodor dubs the Compositionality Constraint. I show that Fodor's argument is fallacious because it rests on an ambiguity.
  •  305
    This volume puts forward a distinct new theory of direct reference, blending insights from both the Fregean and the Russellian traditions, and fitting the general theory of language understanding used by those working on the pragmatics of natural language.
  •  262
    Perceptual concepts: in defence of the indexical model
    Synthese 190 (10): 1841-1855. 2013.
    Francois Recanati presents the basic features of the *indexical model* of mental files, and defends it against several interrelated objections. According to this model, mental files refer to objects in a way that is analogous to that of indexicals in language: a file refers to an object in virtue of a contextual relation between them. For instance, perception and attention provide the basis for demonstrative files. Several objections, some of them from David Papineau, concern the possibility of …Read more
  •  255
    Does linguistic communication rest on inference?
    Mind and Language 17 (1-2). 2002.
    It is often claimed that, because of semantic underdetermination, one can determine the content of an utterance only by appealing to pragmatic considerations concerning what the speaker means, what his intentions are. This supports ‘inferentialism' : the view that, in contrast to perceptual content, communicational content is accessed indirectly, via an inference. As against this view, I argue that primary pragmatic processes (the pragmatic processes that are involved in the determination of tru…Read more
  •  236
    Content, Mood, and Force
    Philosophy Compass 8 (7): 622-632. 2013.
    In this survey paper, I start from two classical theses of speech act theory: that speech act content is uniformly propositional and that sentence mood encodes illocutionary force. These theses have been questioned in recent work, both in philosophy and linguistics. The force/content distinction itself – a cornerstone of 20‐century philosophy of language – has come to be rejected by some theorists, unmoved by the famous ‘Frege–Geach’ argument. The paper reviews some of these debates.
  •  234
    How narrow is narrow content?
    Dialectica 48 (3-4): 209-29. 1994.
    SummaryIn this paper I discuss two influential views in the philosophy of mind: the two‐component picture draws a distinction between ‘narrow content’ and ‘broad content’, while radical externalism denies that there is such a thing as narrow content. I argue that ‘narrow content’ is ambiguous, and that the two views can be reconciled. Instead of considering that there is only one question and three possible answers corresponding to Cartesian internalism, the two‐component picture, and radical ex…Read more
  •  207
    Mental Files: Replies to my Critics
    Disputatio 5 (36): 207-242. 2013.
    My responses to seven critical reviews of my book *Mental Files* published in a special issue of the journal Disputatio, edited by F. Salis. The reviewers are: Keith Hall, David Papineau, Annalisa Coliva and Delia Belleri, Peter Pagin, Thea Goodsell, Krista Lawlor and Manuel Garcia-Carpintero.
  •  207
    It is raining (somewhere)
    Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (1): 123-146. 2005.
    The received view about meteorological predicates like ‘rain’ is that they carry an argument slot for a location which can be filled explicitly or implicitly. The view assumes that ‘rain’, in the absence of an explicit location, demands that the context provide a specific location. In an earlier article in this journal, I provided a counter-example, viz. a context in which ‘it is raining’ receives a location-indefinite interpretation. On the basis of that example, I argued that when there is tac…Read more
  •  195
    ‘That’-clauses as existential quantifiers
    Analysis 64 (3): 229-235. 2004.
    Following Panaccio, 'John believes that p' is analysed as 'For some x such that x is true if and only if p, John believes x'. On this view the complement clause 'that p' acts as a restricted existential quantifier and it contributes a higher-order property.
  •  188
    Contextual Dependence and Definite Descriptions
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 87 57-73. 1987.
  •  177
    Mental Files
    Oxford University Press. 2012.
    Over the past fifty years the philosophy of language and mind has been dominated by a nondescriptivist approach to content and reference. This book attempts to recast and systematize that approach by offering an indexical model in terms of mental files. According to Recanati, we refer through mental files, the function of which is to store information derived through certain types of contextual relation the subject bears to objects in his or her environment. The reference of a file is determined…Read more
  •  170
    Literal Meaning
    Cambridge University Press. 2002.
    According to the dominant position among philosophers of language today, we can legitimately ascribe determinate contents to natural language sentences, independently of what the speaker actually means. This view contrasts with that held by ordinary language philosophers fifty years ago: according to them, speech acts, not sentences, are the primary bearers of content. François Recanati argues for the relevance of this controversy to the current debate about semantics and pragmatics. Is 'what is…Read more
  •  168
    Domains of discourse
    Linguistics and Philosophy 19 (5). 1996.
    In the first part of this paper I present a defence of the Austinian semantic approach to incomplete quantifiers and similar phenomena (section 2-4). It is part of my defence of Austinian semantics that it incorporates a cognitive dimension (section 4). This cognitive dimension makes it possible to connect Austinian semantics to various cognitive theories of discourse interpretation. In the second part of the paper (sections 5-7), I establish connections between Austinian semantics and four part…Read more
  •  153
    Open quotation
    Mind 110 (439): 637-687. 2001.
    The issues addressed in philosophical papers on quotation generally concern only a particular type of quotation, which I call ‘closed quotation’. The other main type, ‘open quotation’, is ignored, and this neglect leads to bad theorizing. Not only is a general theory of quotation out of reach: the specific phenomenon of closed quotation itself cannot be properly understood if it is not appropriately situated within the kind to which it belongs. Once the distinction between open and closed quotat…Read more
  •  152
    Can we believe what we do not understand?
    Mind and Language 12 (1): 84-100. 1997.
    In a series of papers, Sperber provides the following analysis of the phenomenon of ill-understood belief (or 'quasi-belief', as I call it): (i) the quasi-believer has a validating meta-belief, to the effect that a certain representation is true; yet (ii) that representation does not give rise to a plain belief, because it is 'semi-propositional'. In this paper I discuss several aspects of this treatment. In particular, I deny that the representation accepted by the quasi-believer is semanticall…Read more
  •  150
    Truth-Conditional Pragmatics
    Oxford University Press. 2010.
    This book argues against the traditional understanding of the semantics/pragmatics divide and puts forward a radical alternative. Through half a dozen case studies, it shows that what an utterance says cannot be neatly separated from what the speaker means. In particular, the speaker's meaning endows words with senses that are tailored to the situation of utterance and depart from the conventional meanings carried by the words in isolation. This phenomenon of ‘pragmatic modulation’ must be taken…Read more
  •  145
    Our thought and talk are situated. They do not take place in a vacuum but always in a context, and they always concern an external situation relative to which they are to be evaluated. Since that is so, François Recanati argues, our linguistic and mental representations alike must be assigned two layers of content: the explicit content, or lekton, is relative and perspectival, while the complete content, which is absolute, involves contextual factors in addition to what is explicitly represented…Read more