François Recanati (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris)
Natural language provides a wide range of expressions that allow us to refer to individuals, times, or places, most notably proper names, definite descriptions, indefinite descriptions, simple and complex demonstratives, pronouns, and indexical expressions (see e.g., Abbott 2010). In the linguistic and philosophical literature, different semantic and pragmatic mechanisms were proposed to describe how reference is determined for these expressions: in some cases, the linguistic content is sufficient to determine the referent (like for the inventor of the petrol engine), in others, the linguistic content is supplemented by additional conventional (non-)cognitive actions (e.g., simple or complex demonstratives). Most of this research has focused on the expressions’ “literal use”, for which the referent picked/described by the linguistic expression (= the semantic referent) matches speaker’s intended referent (= the “speaker’s referent”, Kripke 1977). Many (all?) referring expressions, however, also allow for “non-literal uses”, in which the semantic referent and the speaker’s referent do not match: for example, instances of Donnellan’s (1966) referential use of definite descriptions. Similar cases have been described for proper names, demonstratives, and pronouns (see recently Aloni 2016, Ebert & Ebert 2014, Rami 2016, and also: Smith 1989 and Nunberg 1992). What are the semantic/pragmatic consequences of this mismatch? How do the linguistic content and non-linguistic mechanisms interact in literal vs. non-literal uses?
- Submission deadline (extended!): August 27, 2017
- Notifications of acceptance: September 15, 2017