pp 1–24 | Cite as

Saying a bundle: meaning, intention, and underdetermination

  • Mark BowkerEmail author


People often speak loosely, uttering sentences that are plainly false on their most strict interpretation. In understanding such speakers, we face a problem of underdetermination: there is often no unique interpretation that captures what they meant. Focusing on the case of incomplete definite descriptions, this paper suggests that speakers often mean bundles of propositions. When a speaker means a bundle, their audience can know what they mean by deriving any one of its members. Rather than posing a problem for the interpretation of loose talk, the underdetermination of a uniquely correct interpretation allows for various ways in which the audience can grasp the speaker’s meaning.


Definite descriptions Underdetermination What is said What is meant Referential Attributive 



This publication was funded by LMU Munich’s Institutional Strategy LMUexcellent within the framework of the German Excellence Initiative and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant Number AH/J500446/1). My thanks to Patrick Greenough, Andy Egan, and Andrew Peet for discussion.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St AndrewsScotlandUK

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