Skip to main content

Metaphors and Martinis: a response to Jessica Keiser

Abstract

This note responds to criticism put forth by Jessica Keiser against a theory of lying as Stalnakerian assertion. According to this account, to lie is to say something one believes to be false and thereby propose that it become common ground. Keiser objects that this view wrongly counts particular kinds of non-literal speech as instances of lying. In particular, Keiser argues that the view invariably counts metaphors and certain uses of definite descriptions as lies. It is argued here that both these claims are false.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. I defend a detailed theory of what is said, in this sense, in Stokke (2016), Schoubye and Stokke (2015).

  2. See Stokke (2013). Keiser (2016, Sect. 5.2) who summarizes the common ground view of assertion as the claim that “S asserts p iff in stating p S proposes to add p to the common ground.” This is a stronger view of assertion than the one employed in my account of lying, i.e., the view given by (A1)–(A2). However, I want to show that, even ignoring this, my view does not have the undesirable consequences Keiser points to.

  3. The main reason for this is the desiredatum to count as genuine lies cases of lying without the intent to deceive, so called “bald-faced lies.” See Stokke (2013) for discussion.

  4. See Stalnaker (2002, p. 716).

  5. See Grice (1989, p. 34). Note that, if one follows Grice's strong view of non-literal speech as cases in which the speaker merely “makes as if to say” the literal meaning of her utterance, my view straightaway is not saddled with (a). For discussion, see Neale (1992) and Stokke (2013).

  6. For relevant discussion, see, e.g., Sperber and Wilson (1981), Stern (2000), Bach (2001), Bezuidenhout (2001), Camp (2012), Saul (2012).

  7. For discussion, see Saul (2012) and Fallis (2014).

  8. The fact that metaphorical meaning survives embeddings—as in this case, under attitudes—is one major piece of evidence against the Gricean view of metaphors as cases of (particularized) conversational implicatures. As noted, if the Gricean view is wrong, my view of lying has an even easier time not counting all metaphorical utterances as lies.

  9. On a Russellian view of definite descriptions, an utterance of “the man drinking a martini” asserts that there is a unique (salient) man drinking a martini. Hence, on such a view, it is harder to avoid the result that all utterances like Alice's utterance of (5) are lies. However, I take it that there are sufficient, independent reasons for rejecting a Russellian view of definite descriptions in favor of a presuppositional view. For recent discussion, see, e.g., Heim and Kratzer (1998), Elbourne (2005, 2010), Schoubye (2009, 2013), Glanzberg (2007), Kripke (2005).

References

  • Bach, K. (2001). You don’t say? Synthese, 128, 15–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bezuidenhout, A. (2001). Metaphor and what is said. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 25, 156–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Camp, E. (2012). Sarcasm, pretense, and the semantics/pragmatics distinction. Noûs, 46(4), 587–634.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donnellan, K. (1966). Reference and definite descriptions. Philosophical Review, 75, 281–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elbourne, P. (2005). Situations and individuals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Elbourne, P. (2010). The existence entailments of definite descriptions. Linguistics and Philosophy, 33(1), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fallis, D. (2014). Review of Lying, misleading, and what is said: An exploration in philosophy of language and in ethics, by Jennifer Mather Saul. European Journal of Philosophy, 22(S1), e17–e22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glanzberg, M. (2007). Definite descriptions and quantifier scope: Some Mates cases reconsidered. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 3(2), 133–158.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grice, H. (1989). Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heim, I., & Kratzer, A. (1998). Semantics in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keiser, J. (2016). Bald-faced lies: How to make a move in a language game without making a move in a conversation. Philosophical Studies, 173, 461–477.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kripke, S. (2005). Russell’s notion of scope. Mind, 114(456), 1005–1037.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neale, S. (1992). Paul Grice and the philosophy of language. Linguistics and Philosophy, 15, 509–559.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Saul, J. (2012). Lying, misleading, and what is said: An exploration in philosophy of language and in ethics. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Schoubye, A. (2009). Descriptions, truth value intuitions, and questions. Linguistics and Philosophy, 32, 583–617.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schoubye, A. (2013). Ghosts, murderers, and the semantics of descriptions. Noûs, 47(3), 496–533.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schoubye, A. J., & Stokke, A. (2015). What is said? Noûs. doi:10.1111/nous.12133.

  • Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1981). Irony and the use-mention distinction. In P. Cole (Ed.), Radical pragmatics (pp. 295–318). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stalnaker, R. (1984). Inquiry. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stalnaker, R. (1999 [1970]). Pragmatics. In Context and content (pp. 31–46). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Stalnaker, R. (1999 [1974]). Pragmatic presuppositions. In Context and content (pp. 47–62). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Stalnaker, R. (1999 [1978]). Assertion. In Context and content (pp. 78–95). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Stalnaker, R. (1999 [1998]). On the representation of context. In Context and content (pp. 96–114). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Stalnaker, R. (2002). Common ground. Linguistics and Philosophy, 25, 701–721.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stalnaker, R. (2014). Context. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Stern, J. (2000). Metaphor in context. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stokke, A. (2013). Lying and asserting. Journal of Philosophy, CX(1), 33–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stokke, A. (2016). Lying and misleading in discourse. Philosophical Review, 125(1), 83–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Don Fallis for helpful comments and suggestions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andreas Stokke.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Stokke, A. Metaphors and Martinis: a response to Jessica Keiser. Philos Stud 174, 853–859 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-016-0709-0

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-016-0709-0

Keywords

  • Lying
  • Metaphors
  • Definite descriptions
  • Common ground
  • Assertion