Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 2139–2166 | Cite as

Weak speech reports

  • Martín Abreu ZavaletaEmail author


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 (J Philos 78(11): 668–691, 1981), views appealing to recent work on the notion of content parthood by Fine (J Philos Log 45(2):199–226, 2016) and Yablo (Aboutness. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2014), and Richard’s (Mind Lang 13(4): 605–616, 1998) proposal appealing to structured propositions.


Speech reports Alternative semantics Content parthood Structured propositions Situation semantics 



Thanks to Cian Dorr, Dan Hoek, Annette Martin, Jim Pryor, Stephen Schiffer, and an anonymous reviewer for very helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Thanks also to Sam Carter, Peter van Elswyk, Jane Grimshaw, Friederike Moltmann, Matt Moss, Gary Ostertag, and Erica Shumener for helpful discussion during the workshop on the semantics of embedded sentences at NYU (May 2017).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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