Uniformity motivated

Abstract

Can rational communication proceed when interlocutors are uncertain which contents utterances contribute to discourse? An influential negative answer to this question is embodied in the Stalnakerian principle of uniformity, which requires speakers to produce only utterances that express the same content in every possibility treated as live for the purposes of the conversation. The principle of uniformity enjoys considerable intuitive plausibility and, moreover, seems to follow from platitudes about assertion; nevertheless, it has recently proven controversial. In what follows, I defend the principle by developing two arguments for it based on premises reflecting the central aims and assumptions of possibility-carving frameworks for modeling inquiry—that is, frameworks which describe the evolution of individuals’ attitudinal states in terms of set-theoretic operations defined over a domain of objects representing possibilities.

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Correspondence to Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini.

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Kirk-Giannini, C.D. Uniformity motivated. Linguist and Philos 41, 665–684 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-018-9238-y

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Keywords

  • Assertion
  • Inquiry
  • Uniformity
  • Stalnaker