Weak speech reports

Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2139-2166 (2019)
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Indirect speech reports can be true even if they attribute to the speaker the saying of something weaker than what she in fact expressed, yet not all weakenings of what the speaker expressed yield true reports. For example, if Anna utters ‘Bob and Carla passed the exam’, we can accurately report her as having said that Carla passed the exam, but we can not accurately report her as having said that either it rains or it does not, or that either Carla passed the exam or pandas are cute. This paper offers an analysis of speech reports that distinguishes weakenings of what the speaker expressed that yield true reports from weakenings that do not. According to this analysis, speech reports are not only sensitive to the informational content of what the speaker expressed, but also to the possibilities a speaker raises in making an utterance. As I argue, this analysis has significant advantages over its most promising competitors, including views based on work by Barwise and Perry : 668–691, 1981), views appealing to recent work on the notion of content parthood by Fine :199–226, 2016) and Yablo, and Richard’s : 605–616, 1998) proposal appealing to structured propositions.
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