Nonindexical Context-Dependence and the Interpretation as Abduction Approach

Lodz Papers in Pragmatics 7 (2):259-279 (2011)
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Nonindexical Context-Dependence and the Interpretation as Abduction Approach Inclusive nonindexical context-dependence occurs when the preferred interpretation of an utterance implies its lexically-derived meaning. It is argued that the corresponding processes of free or lexically mandated enrichment can be modeled as abductive inference. A form of abduction is implemented in Simple Type Theory on the basis of a notion of plausibility, which is in turn regarded a preference relation over possible worlds. Since a preordering of doxastic alternatives taken for itself only amounts to a relatively vacuous ad hoc model, it needs to be combined with a rational way of learning from new evidence. Lexicographic upgrade is implemented as an example of how an agent might revise his plausibility ordering in light of new evidence. Various examples are given how this apparatus may be used to model the contextual resolution of context-dependent or semantically incomplete utterances. The described form of abduction is limited and merely serves as a proof of concept, but the idea in general has good potential as one among many ways to build a bridge between semantics and pragmatics since inclusive context-dependence is ubiquitous.

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Erich Rast
New University of Lisbon


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