Research Article

Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 201-221

First online:

Color adjectives and radical contextualism

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Radical contextualists have observed that the content of what is said by the utterance of a sentence is shaped in far-reaching ways by the context of utterance. And they have argued that the ways in which the content of what is said is shaped by context cannot be explained by semantic theory. A striking number of the examples that radical contextualists use to support their view involve sentences containing color adjectives (“red”, “green”, etc.). In this paper, I show how the most sophisticated analysis of color adjectives within the explanatory framework of compositional truth conditional semantics—recently developed by Kennedy and McNally (Synthese 174(1):79–98 2010)—needs to be modified to handle the full range of contextual variation displayed by color adjectives.


Contextualism Context Color Adjectives Gradability Ambiguity Predicates of personal taste