Advertisement

Erkenntnis

pp 1–29 | Cite as

The Speaker Authority Problem for Context-Sensitivity (Or: You Can’t Always Mean What You Want)

  • Karen S. LewisEmail author
Original Research
  • 35 Downloads

Abstract

Context-sensitivity raises a metasemantic question: what determines the value of a context-sensitive expression in context? Taking gradable adjectives as a case study, this paper argues against various forms of intentionalist metasemantics, i.e. that speaker intentions determine values for context-sensitive expressions in context, including the coordination account recently defended by King (Philos Perspect 27:288–311, 2013; Noûs 48(2):219–237, 2014a; in: Burgess, Sherman (eds) Metasemantics: New essays on the foundations of meaning, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 97–118, 2014b). The paper argues that all intentionalist accounts face the speaker authority problem, that speaker intentions are just the wrong sorts of things to determine the standards for gradable adjectives in context. The problem comes to light when we look at cases in which speakers have idiosyncratic, false beliefs that cause their proper communicative intentions to come apart from the non-intentional features of context like the question under discussion, facts about the world, practical goals, and prior linguistic discourse.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Christopher Gauker, Jeff King, and several anonymous referees for helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Thanks also to audiences at the CUNY Cognitive Science Speaker Series, the Context-Relativity in Semantics conference at the University of Salzburg, The Ninth International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context in Larnaca, Cyprus, Jeff King's graduate seminar at Rutgers University, and Meaning & Other Things: A conference celebrating the work of Stephen Schiffer at NYU for helpful discussion of earlier versions of this paper.

References

  1. Bartsch, R., & Vennemann, T. (1972). The grammar of relative adjectives and comparison. Linguistische Berichte, 20, 19–32.Google Scholar
  2. DeRose, K. (2008). Gradable adjectives: A defence of pluralism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 86(1), 141–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gauker, C. (1997). Domain of discourse. Mind, 106, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gauker, C. (2010). Contexts in formal semantics. Philosophy Compass, 5, 568–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Glanzberg, M. (2007). Context, content, and relativism. Philosophical Studies, 136, 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Glanzberg, M. (2009). Not all contextual parameters are alike (unpublished manuscript).Google Scholar
  7. Kennedy, C. (2007). Vagueness and grammar: The semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives. Journal of Semantics, 30(1), 1–45.Google Scholar
  8. Kennedy, C. (2013). Two sources of subjectivity: Qualitative assessment and dimensional uncertainty. Inquiry, 56, 258–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. King, J. (2013). Supplementives, the coordination account and conflicting intentions. Philosophical Perspectives, 27, 288–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. King, J. (2014a). Speaker intentions in context. Noûs, 48(2), 219–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. King, J. (2014b). The metasemantics of contextual sensitivity. In A. Burgess & B. Sherman (Eds.), Metasemantics: New essays on the foundations of meaning (pp. 97–118). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ludlow, P. (1989). Implicit comparison classes. Linguistics and Philosophy, 12(4), 519–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McNally, L., & Stojanovic, I. (2014). Aesthetic adjectives. In J. Young (Ed.), Paper draft for the volume semantics of aesthetic judgement.Google Scholar
  14. Neale, S. (2005). Pragmatism and binding. In Z. Szabó (Ed.), Semantics vs pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Neale, S. (2007). On location. In M. O’Rourke & C. Washington (Eds.), Situating semantics: Essays on the philosophy of John Perry (pp. 251–393). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Neale, S. (2016). Silent reference. In G. Ostertag (Ed.), Meaning and other things: Essays in honor of Stephen Schiffer. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rett, J. (2015). The semantics of evaluativity Oxford studies in theoretical linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Richard, M. (2004). Contextualism and relativism. Philosophical Studies, 119(1), 215–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Roberts, C. (2004). Context in dynamic interpretation. In L. Horn & G. Ward (Eds.), Handbook of Pragmatics (pp. 197–220). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Schiffer, S. (1977). Naming and knowing. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 2, 28–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Schiffer, S. (1981). Indexicals and the theory of reference. Synthese, 49, 43–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schiffer, S. (1992). Belief ascription. Journal of Philosophy, 89, 499–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schiffer, S. (2005). Russell’s theory of descriptions. Mind, 114, 1135–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schiffer, S. (2016). Gricean semantics and reference. In G. Ostertag (Ed.), Meaning and other things: Essays in honor of Stephen Schiffer (pp. 493–523). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stalnaker, R. (1978). Assertion. Syntax and Semantics, 9, 315–332.Google Scholar
  26. Stanley, J. (2000). Context and logical form. Linguistics and Philosophy, 23(4), 391–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stanley, J. (2002a). Making it articulate. Mind & Language, 17(1–2), 149–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stanley, J. (2002b). Nominal restriction. In G. Peter & G. Preyer (Eds.), Logical form and language (pp. 365–390). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Stanley, J. (2005a). Knowledge and practical interests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stanley, J. (2005b). Semantics in context. In G. Peters & G. Preyer (Eds.), Contextualism (pp. 221–253). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Stanley, J., & Szabó, Z. (2000). On quantifier domain restriction. Mind & Language, 15, 219–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Szabó, Z. (2001). Adjectives in context. In I. Kenesei & R. M. Harnish (Eds.), Perspectives on semantics, pragmatics, and discourse: A festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer (pp. 119–146). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBarnard College, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations