Gricean Rational Reconstructions And The Semantics/pragmatics Distinction

Synthese 128 (1-2):93-131 (2001)
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This paper discusses the proper taxonomy of the semantics-pragmatics divide. Debates about taxonomy are not always pointless. In interesting cases taxonomic proposals involve theoretical assumptions about the studied field, which might be judged correct or incorrect. Here I want to contrast an approach to the semantics-pragmatics dichotomy, motivated by a broadly Gricean perspective I take to be correct, with a contemporary version of an opposing “Wittgensteinian” view. I will focus mostly on a well-known example: the treatment of referential uses of descriptions and descriptive uses of indexicals. The paper is structured as follows. I will start by characterizing in the first section the version of the Gricean approach I favor; in the second section, I will illustrate the differences between the two views by focussing on the example, and in the third section I will object to what I take to be the main Wittgensteinian consideration.

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Manuel García-Carpintero
Universitat de Barcelona


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