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Does Linguistic Communication Rest on Inference?

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Abstract:

It is often claimed that, because of semantic underdetermination, one can determine the content of an utterance only by appealing to pragmatic considerations concerning what the speaker means, what his intentions are. This supports ‘inferentialism’: the view that, in contrast to perceptual content, communicational content is accessed indirectly, via an inference. As against this view, I argue that primary pragmatic processes (the pragmatic processes that are involved in the determination of truth-conditional content) need not involve an inference from premises concerning what the speaker can possibly intend by his utterance. Indeed, they need not involve any inference at all: communication, I argue, is as direct as perception.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0017.00191

Affiliations: Institute Jean Nicod, CNRS, Paris

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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