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Conversational Exculpature

Philosophical Review 127 (2):151-196 (2018)

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  1. Interval-based Dynamics of Loose Talk.Charlie Siu - 2023 - Synthese 202 (10):1-23.
    Carter (Noûs 55(1):171–198, 2021) argued that while most simple positive numerical sentences are literally false, they can communicate true contents because relevance has a weakening effect on their literal contents. This paper presents a challenge for his account by considering entailments between the imprecise contents of numerical sentences and the imprecise contents of comparatives. I argue that while Carter's weakening mechanism can generate the imprecise contents of plain comparatives such as `A is taller than B', it cannot generate the imprecise (...)
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  • The Case for Comparability.Cian Dorr, Jacob M. Nebel & Jake Zuehl - 2023 - Noûs 57 (2):414-453.
    We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are at least as F as themselves, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns (...)
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  • What’s your Opinion? Negation and ‘Weak’ Attitude Verbs.Henry Ian Schiller - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (4):1141-1161.
    Attitude verbs like ‘believe’ and ‘want’ exhibit neg-raising: an ascription of the form a doesn’t believe that p tends to convey that a disbelieves—i.e., believes the negation of—p. In ‘Belief is Weak’, Hawthore et al. observe that neg-raising does not occur with verbs like ‘know’ or ‘need’. According to them, an ascription of the form a believes that p is true just in case a is in a belief state that makes p more likely than not, and so—excepting cases of (...)
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  • The dynamics of loose talk.Sam Carter - 2019 - Noûs 55 (1):171-198.
    In non‐literal uses of language, the content an utterance communicates differs from its literal truth conditions. Loose talk is one example of non‐literal language use (amongst many others). For example, what a loose utterance of (1) communicates differs from what it literally expresses: (1) Lena arrived at 9 o'clock. Loose talk is interesting (or so I will argue). It has certain distinctive features which raise important questions about the connection between literal and non‐literal language use. This paper aims to (i.) (...)
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  • Meaning and responsibility.Ray Buchanan & Henry Ian Schiller - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (3):809-827.
    In performing an act of assertion we are sometimes responsible for more than the content of the literal meaning of the words we have used, sometimes less. A recently popular research program seeks to explain certain of the commitments we make in speech in terms of responsiveness to the conversational subject matter. We raise some issues for this view with the aim of providing a more general account of linguistic commitment: one that is grounded in a more general action‐theoretic notion (...)
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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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  • Partial understanding.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2023 - Synthese 202 (2):1-32.
    Say that an audience understands a given utterance perfectly only if she correctly identifies which proposition (or propositions) that utterance expresses. In ideal circumstances, the participants in a conversation will understand each other’s utterances perfectly; however, even if they do not, they may still understand each other’s utterances at least in part. Although it is plausible to think that the phenomenon of partial understanding is very common, there is currently no philosophical account of it. This paper offers such an account. (...)
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  • Inferences from Utterance to Belief.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):301-322.
    If Amelia utters ‘Brad ate a salad in 2005’ assertorically, and she is speaking literally and sincerely, then I can infer that Amelia believes that Brad ate a salad in 2005. This paper discusses what makes this kind of inference truth-preserving. According to the baseline picture, my inference is truth-preserving because, if Amelia is a competent speaker, she believes that the sentence she uttered means that Brad ate a salad in 2005; thus, if Amelia believes that that sentence is true, (...)
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  • Lying by explaining: an experimental study.Grzegorz Gaszczyk & Aleksandra Krogulska - 2024 - Synthese 203 (3):1-27.
    The widely accepted view states that an intention to deceive is not necessary for lying. Proponents of this view, the so-called non-deceptionists, argue that lies are simply insincere assertions. We conducted three experimental studies with false explanations, the results of which put some pressure on non-deceptionist analyses. We present cases of explanations that one knows are false and compare them with analogical explanations that differ only in having a deceptive intention. The results show that lay people distinguish between such false (...)
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  • Nonexistence and Aboutness: The Bandersnatches of Dubuque.Stephen Yablo - 2020 - Critica 52 (154).
    Holmes exists is false. How can this be, when there is no one for the sentence to misdescribe? Part of the answer is that a sentence’s topic depends on context. The king of France is bald, normally unevaluable, is false qua description of the bald people. Likewise Holmes exists is false qua description of the things that exist; it misdescribes those things as having Holmes among them. This does not explain, though, how Holmes does not exist differs in cognitive content (...)
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  • Excluded entailments and the de se/de re partition.Tom Roeper & Hazel Pearson - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):858-886.
    ABSTRACT We show that some PRO-sentences appear to receive de re interpretations when they occur in suitable discourse contexts or linguistic environments. This finding is surprising given the received view that such sentences are unambiguously de se [Morgan. 1970. “On the Criterion of Identity for Noun Phrase Deletion.” Papers from the Sixth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society, Chicago, IL, 380–389; Chierchia. 1990. “Anaphora and Attitudes de se.” In Semantics and Contextual Expression, edited by R. Bartsch, J. van Benthem, (...)
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  • Fictional, Metafictional, Parafictional.François Recanati - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (1):25-54.
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  • Fictionalism about Chatbots.Fintan Mallory - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10.
    According to widely accepted views in metasemantics, the outputs of chatbots and other artificial text generators should be meaningless. They aren’t produced with communicative intentions and the systems producing them are not following linguistic conventions. Nevertheless, chatbots have assumed roles in customer service and healthcare, they are spreading information and disinformation and, in some cases, it may be more rational to trust the outputs of bots than those of our fellow human beings. To account for the epistemic role of chatbots (...)
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  • Knowledge and acceptance.Roman Heil - 2023 - Asian Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):1-17.
    In a recent paper, Jie Gao (Synthese 194:1901–17, 2017) has argued that there are acceptance-based counterexamples to the knowledge norm for practical reasoning (KPR). KPR tells us that we may only rely on known propositions in practical reasoning, yet there are cases of practical reasoning in which we seem to permissibly rely on merely accepted propositions, which fail to constitute knowledge. In this paper, I will argue that such cases pose no threat to a more broadly conceived knowledge-based view of (...)
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  • Singular Reference in Fictional Discourse?Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (54):143-177.
    Singular terms used in fictions for fictional characters raise well-known philosophical issues, explored in depth in the literature. But philosophers typically assume that names already in use to refer to “moderatesized specimens of dry goods” cause no special problem when occurring in fictions, behaving there as they ordinarily do in straightforward assertions. In this paper I continue a debate with Stacie Friend, arguing against this for the exceptionalist view that names of real entities in fictional discourse don’t work there as (...)
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  • Co‐Identification and Fictional Names.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):3-34.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • Putting Oughts Together.David Boylan - 2023 - Semantics and Pragmatics 16.
    Consistent Agglomeration says that, when φ and ψ are consistent, ⌜ought φ ⌝ and ⌜ought ψ⌝ entail ⌜ought (φ ∧ ψ)⌝; I argue this principle is valid for deontic, but not epistemic oughts. I argue no existing theory predicts these data and give a new semantics and pragmatics for ought: ought is an existential quantifier over the best partial answers to some background question; and presupposes that those best partial answers are pairwise consistent. In conjunction with a plausible assumption about (...)
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  • Sociolinguistic variation, slurs, and speech acts.Ethan Nowak - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, I argue that the ‘social meanings’ associated with sociolinguistic variation put pressure on the standard philosophical conception of language, according to which the foremost thing we do with words is exchange information. Drawing on parallels with the explanatory challenge posed by slurs and pejoratives, I argue that the best way to understand social meanings is to think of them in speech act theoretic terms. I develop a distinctive form of pluralism about the performances realized by means of (...)
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  • Loose Talk, Scale Presuppositions and QUD.Daniel Hoek - 2019 - In Julian J. Schlöder, Dean McHugh & Floris Roelofsen (eds.), Proceedings of the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium. pp. 171-180.
    I present a new pragmatic theory of loose talk, focussing on the loose use of numbers and measurement expressions. The account explains loose readings as arising from a pragmatic mechanism aimed at restoring relevance to the question under discussion (QUD), appealing to Krifka's notion of a measurement scale. The core motivating observation is that the loose reading of a claim need not be weaker than its literal content, as almost all pragmatic treatments of loose talk have assumed (e.g. Lasersohn). The (...)
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  • Semantics of fictional terms.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):73-100.
    The paper provides an opinionated survey of recent contributions – roughly, in the last decade – to our understanding of how names and other referring expressions work in fictional discourse and addresses well-known philosophical worries that they raise. Views about the semantics of referring expressions in fictional discourse are usually accompanied by metaphysical views on the ontology of fictional characters, so this will also come under our focus.
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  • Knowledge and loose talk.Alexander Dinges - 2021 - In Christos Kyriacou & Kevin Wallbridge (eds.), Skeptical Invariantism Reconsidered. London: Routledge. pp. 272-297.
    Skeptical invariantists maintain that the expression “knows” invariably expresses an epistemically extremely demanding relation. This leads to an immediate challenge. The knowledge relation will hardly if ever be satisfied. Consequently, we can rarely if ever apply “knows” truly. The present paper assesses a prominent strategy for skeptical invariantists to respond to this challenge, which appeals to loose talk. Based on recent developments in the theory of loose talk, I argue that such appeals to loose talk fail. I go on to (...)
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