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  1. Behavioral Foundations for Expression Meaning.Megan Henricks Stotts - 2021 - Topoi 40 (1):27-42.
    According to a well-established tradition in the philosophy of language, we can understand what makes an arbitrary sound, gesture, or marking into a meaningful linguistic expression only by appealing to mental states, such as beliefs and intentions. In this paper, I explore the contrasting possibility of understanding the meaningfulness of linguistic expressions just in terms of observable linguistic behavior. Specifically, I explore the view that a type of sound becomes a meaningful linguistic expression within a group in virtue of the (...)
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  • Tipper is ready but he is not strong enough: minimal proposition, question under discussion, and what is said.Charlie Siu - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2577-2584.
    A standard objection to Cappelen and Lepore’s Semantic Minimalism is that minimal propositions are explanatorily idle. But Schoubye and Stokke recently proposed that minimal proposition and the question under discussion of a conversation jointly determine what is said in a systematic and explanatory way. This note argues that their account both overgenerates and undergenerates.
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  • Is that a Threat?Henry Ian Schiller - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (5):1161-1183.
    I introduce game-theoretic models for threats to the discussion of threats in speech act theory. I first distinguish three categories of verbal threats: conditional threats, categorical threats, and covert threats. I establish that all categories of threats can be characterized in terms of an underlying conditional structure. I argue that the aim—or illocutionary point—of a threat is to change the conditions under which an agent makes decisions in a game. Threats are moves in a game that instantiate a subgame in (...)
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  • Linguistic Mistakes.Indrek Reiland - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    Ever since the publication of Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, there’s been a raging debate in philosophy of language over whether meaning and thought are, in some sense, normative. Most participants in the normativity wars seem to agree that some uses of meaningful expressions are semantically correct while disagreeing over whether this entails anything normative. But what is it to say that a use of an expression is semantically correct? On the so-called orthodox construal, it is to say (...)
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  • Assertoric content, responsibility, and metasemantics.Andrew Peet - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (5):914-932.
    I argue that assertoric content functions as a means for us to track the responsibilities undertaken by communicators, and that distinctively assertoric commitments are distinguished by being generated directly in virtue of the words the speaker uses. This raises two questions: (a) Why are speakers responsible for the content thus generated? (b) Why is it important for us to distinguish between commitments in terms of their manner of generation? I answer the first question by developing a novel responsibility based metasemantics. (...)
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  • Convention before communication.Ernie Lepore & Matthew Stone - 2017 - Philosophical Perspectives 31 (1):245-265.
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  • Conceptual engineering and the implementation problem.Sigurd Jorem - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):186-211.
    Conceptual engineers seek to revise or replace the devices we use to speak and think. If this amounts to an effort to change what natural language expressions mean, conceptual engineers will have a hard time. It is largely unfeasible to change the meaning of e.g. ‘cause’ in English. Conceptual engineers may therefore seem unable to make the changes they aim to make. This is what I call ‘the implementation problem’. In this paper, I argue that the implementation problem dissolves if (...)
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  • You Hoboken! Semantics of an expressive label maker.Kate Hazel Jain - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (2):365-391.
    ‘You bastard’ is insulting because ‘bastard’ is an expletive, but what’s wrong with ‘You Hoboken’ or ‘You big wet noodle’? This paper explores the semantics of a vocative construction that is particularly efficient at coining what I call ‘expressive labels’; these are affect-transmitting expressions that present themselves as apt for identifying their discourse target via speaker affect. Building on work by Portner On information structure, meaning and form. Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2007) and Gutzmann, I show how discourse properties direct and constrain (...)
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  • Lexical innovation and the periphery of language.Luca Gasparri - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (1):39-63.
    Lexical innovations (e.g., zero-derivations coined on the fly by a speaker) seem to bear semantic content. Yet, such expressions cannot bear semantic content as a function of the conventions of meaning in force in the language, since they are not part of its lexicon. This is in tension with the commonplace view that the semantic content of lexical expressions is constituted by linguistic conventions. The conventionalist has two immediate ways out of the tension. The first is to preserve the conventionalist (...)
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  • A pluralistic theory of wordhood.Luca Gasparri - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (4):592-609.
    What are words and how should we individuate them? There are two main answers on the philosophical market. For some, words are bundles of structural-functional features defining a unique performance profile. For others, words are non-eternal continuants individuated by their causal-historical ancestry. These conceptions offer competing views of the nature of words, and it seems natural to assume that at most one of them can capture the essence of wordhood. This paper makes a case for pluralism about wordhood: the view (...)
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  • The variation problem.Ashley Feinsinger - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (1):317-338.
    It is often assumed that two linguistic agents can come to understand one another in part because they use the same words. That is, many philosophical theories of communication posit an intersubjective same-word relation. However, giving an account of this relation is complicated by what I call “The Variation Problem”—a problem resulting from the fact that the same word can be pronounced differently. In this paper, I first argue that previous models of the same-word relation, including Kaplanian and Chomskyan models, (...)
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  • Davidson on communication and languages: A reexamination.Felipe Cuervo - 2018 - Manuscrito 41 (3):51-84.
    In order to evaluate the validity and implications of Donald Davidson’s arguments against the need for conventions in order for linguistic communication, the theoretical considerations behind his conclusions are traced through several of his essays. Once Davidson’s ideas on communication, radical interpretation, and the lack of strict nomological connections between physical and mental events have been pointed out as necessary for his argument, it will be seen that these imply the need for something very close to linguistic conventions. The article (...)
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  • Contested Slurs.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2020 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1):11-30.
    Sometimes speakers within a linguistic community use a term that they do not conceptualize as a slur, but which other members of that community do. Sometimes these speakers are ignorant or naïve, but not always. This article explores a puzzle raised when some speakers stubbornly maintain that a contested term t is not derogatory. Because the semantic content of a term depends on the language, to say that their use of t is semantically derogatory despite their claims and intentions, we (...)
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  • Truth and Imprecision.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Our ordinary assertions are often imprecise, insofar as the way we represent things as being only approximates how things are in the actual world. The phenomenon of assertoric imprecision raises a challenge to standard accounts of both the norm of assertion and the connection between semantics and the objects of assertion. After clarifying these problems in detail, I develop a framework for resolving them. Specifically, I argue that the phenomenon of assertoric imprecision motivates a rejection of the widely held belief (...)
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  • Provincialism in Pragmatics.Josh Armstrong - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):5-40.
    The central claim of my paper is that pragmatics has a wider scope of application than has been generally appreciated. In particular, I will argue that many discussions of pragmatics are guilty of a problematic form of provincialism. The provincialism at issue restricts the class of target systems of study to those involving groups of developmentally typical humans (or slightly idealized versions thereof), either explicitly as a matter of principle or implicitly as consequence of how it construes the underlying pragmatic (...)
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  • Coordination, Triangulation, and Language Use.Josh Armstrong - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):80-112.
    In this paper, I explore two contrasting conceptions of the social character of language. The first takes language to be grounded in social convention. The second, famously developed by Donald Davidson, takes language to be grounded in a social relation called triangulation. I aim both to clarify and to evaluate these two conceptions of language. First, I propose that Davidson’s triangulation-based story can be understood as the result of relaxing core features of conventionalism pertaining to both common-interest and diachronic stability—specifically, (...)
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  • Conceptual Exploration.Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Conceptual engineering involves revising our concepts. It can be pursued as a specific philosophical methodology, but is also common in ordinary, non-philosophical, contexts. How does our capacity for conceptual engineering fit into human cognitive life more broadly? I hold that conceptual engineering is best understood alongside practices of conceptual exploration, examples of which include conceptual supposition (i.e., suppositional reasoning about alternative concepts), and conceptual comparison (i.e., comparisons between possible concept choices). Whereas in conceptual engineering we aim to change the concepts (...)
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  • Conventions of Viewpoint Coherence in Film.Samuel Cumming, Gabriel Greenberg & Rory Kelly - 2017 - Philosophers' Imprint 17.
    This paper examines the interplay of semantics and pragmatics within the domain of film. Films are made up of individual shots strung together in sequences over time. Though each shot is disconnected from the next, combinations of shots still convey coherent stories that take place in continuous space and time. How is this possible? The semantic view of film holds that film coherence is achieved in part through a kind of film language, a set of conventions which govern the relationships (...)
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