, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 155–167 | Cite as

A plea for pragmatics

  • Jonas Åkerman


Let intentionalism be the view that what proposition is expressed in context by a sentence containing indexicals depends on the speaker’s intentions. It has recently been argued that intentionalism makes communicative success mysterious and that there are counterexamples to the intentionalist view in the form of cases of mismatch between the intended interpretation and the intuitively correct interpretation. In this paper, I argue that these objections can be met, once we acknowledge that we may distinguish what determines the correct interpretation from the evidence that is available to the audience, as well as from the standards by which we judge whether or not a given interpretation is reasonable. With these distinctions in place, we see that intentionalism does not render communicative success mysterious, and that cases of mismatch between the intended interpretation and the intuitively correct one can easily be accommodated. The distinction is also useful in treating the Humpty Dumpty problem for intentionalism, since it turns out that this can be treated as an extreme special case of mismatch.


Semantics Pragmatics Speaker intentions Indexicals Interpretation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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