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Profile: Elmar Unnsteinsson (University College Dublin, University of Iceland)
  1.  58
    Saying Without Knowing What or How.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2017 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 17 (3):351-382.
    In response to Stephen Neale (2016), I argue that aphonic expressions, such as PRO, are intentionally uttered by normal speakers of natural language, either by acts of omitting to say something explicitly, or by acts of giving phonetic realization to aphonics. I argue, also, that Gricean intention-based semantics should seek divorce from Cartesian assumptions of transparent access to propositional attitudes and, consequently, that Stephen Schiffer's so-called meaning-intention problem is not powerful enough to banish alleged cases of over-intellectualization in contemporary philosophy (...)
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  2.  44
    The Edenic Theory of Reference.Elmar Unnsteinsson - forthcoming - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-33.
    I argue for a theory of the optimal function of the speech act of referring, called the edenic theory. First, the act of singular reference is defined directly in terms of Gricean communicative intentions. Secondly, I propose a doxastic constraint on the optimal performance of such acts, stating, roughly, that the speaker must not have any relevant false beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the intended object. In uttering a singular term on an occasion, on this theory, one represents (...)
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  3.  93
    Wittgenstein’s Influence on Austin’s Philosophy of Language.Daniel W. Harris & Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (2):371-395.
    Many philosophers have assumed, without argument, that Wittgenstein influenced Austin. More often, however, this is vehemently denied, especially by those who knew Austin personally. We compile and assess the currently available evidence for Wittgenstein’s influence on Austin’s philosophy of language. Surprisingly, this has not been done before in any detail. On the basis of both textual and circumstantial evidence we show that Austin’s work demonstrates substantial engagement with Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. In particular, Austin’s 1940 paper, ‘The Meaning of a Word’, (...)
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  4. Wittgenstein as a Gricean Intentionalist.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (1):155-172.
    According to the dominant view, the later Wittgenstein identified the meaning of an expression with its use in the language and vehemently rejected any kind of mentalism or intentionalism about linguistic meaning. I argue that the dominant view is wrong. The textual evidence, which has either been misunderstood or overlooked, indicates that at least since the Blue Book Wittgenstein thought speaker’s intentions determine the contents of linguistic utterances. His remarks on use are only intended to emphasize the heterogeneity of natural (...)
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  5. A Gricean Theory of Malaprops.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (4):446-462.
    Gricean intentionalists hold that what a speaker says and means by a linguistic utterance is determined by the speaker's communicative intention. On this view, one cannot really say anything without meaning it as well. Conventionalists argue, however, that malapropisms provide powerful counterexamples to this claim. I present two arguments against the conventionalist and sketch a new Gricean theory of speech errors, called the misarticulation theory. On this view, malapropisms are understood as a special case of mispronunciation. I argue that the (...)
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  6. Confusion is Corruptive Belief in False Identity.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):204-227.
    Speakers are confused about identity if they mistake one thing for two or two things for one. I present two plausible models of confusion, the Frege model and the Millikan model. I show how a prominent objection to Fregean models fails and argue that confusion consists in having false implicit beliefs involving the identity relation. Further, I argue that confused identity has characteristic corruptive effects on singular cognition and on the proper function of singular terms in linguistic communication.
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  7.  28
    Referential Intentions: A Response to Buchanan and Peet.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-6.
    Buchanan (2014) argues for a Gricean solution to well-known counterexamples to direct reference theories of content. Peet (2016) develops a way to change the counterexample so that it seems to speak against Buchanan’s own proposal. I argue that both theorists fail to notice a significant distinction between the kinds of cases at issue. Those appearing to count against direct reference theory must be described such that speakers have false beliefs about the identity of the object to which they intend to (...)
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  8. Compositionality and Sandbag Semantics.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2014 - Synthese 191 (14):3329-3350.
    It is a common view that radical contextualism about linguistic meaning is incompatible with a compositional explanation of linguistic comprehension. Recently, some philosophers of language have proposed theories of 'pragmatic' compositionality challenging this assumption. This paper takes a close look at a prominent proposal of this kind due to François Recanati. The objective is to give a plausible formulation of the view. The major results are threefold. First, a basic distinction that contextualists make between mandatory and optional pragmatic processes needs (...)
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  9.  9
    Frege's Puzzle is About Identity After All.Elmar Unnsteinsson - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Many philosophers have argued or taken for granted that Frege's puzzle has little or nothing to do with identity statements. I show that this is wrong, arguing that the puzzle can only be motivated relative to a thinker's beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the relevant object. The result is important, as it suggests that the puzzle can be solved, not by a semantic theory of names or referring expressions as such, but simply by a theory of identity statements. (...)
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