Action-Directed Pragmatics Secures Semantically Autonomous Knowledge


In the past couple of decades, there were a few major attempts to establish the thesis of pragmatic infringement – that a significant pragmatic ingredient figures significantly in the truth-conditions for knowledge-ascriptions. As candidates, epistemic contextualism and Relativism flaunted conversational standards, and Stanley's SSI promoted stakes. These conceptions were propelled first and foremost by obviously pragmatic examples of knowledge ascriptions that seem to require a pragmatic component in the truth-conditions of knowledge ascriptions in order to be accounted for. However, if such examples can be adequately explained purely pragmatically, the need that such examples seem to invoke in such a pragmatic component is undermined. Here I lay out a new pragmatic account – of action-directed pragmatics, offering a different account of such examples and their pragmatic flavor. If adequate, it obviates the above need for pragmatic enrichment. Specifically, I develop and I argue for a well-entrenched pragmatic feature – that of a steering role. The assertions of knowledge ascriptions and their denials as well as of simple assertions (that don't invoke knowledge) play a pragmatic role of steering audiences in joint deliberational setups toward, or away from, the speaker's preferred action (as well as in assertions of 'I am sure', of epistemic modals, taste assertions, causal assertions, and more.) Various features and consequences of this account are drawn. Specifically, I explain why in the bank example (and related ones) the husband, in denying the knowledge ascription, neither lies nor misleads.

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Igal Kvart
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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