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Edgington, Dorothy, , . On Conditionals
1995, Mind 104(414): 235-329.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Helen De Cruz

Summary: Examines the theory of conditionals and whether it’s possible to have a unified theory of them.

Comment: Great core text as there are many important discussion points here, and Edginton uses lots of helpful examples. Could set students the task of coming up with their own conditionals, and analysing these in the would/will sense. This definitely requires a background in beginner’s logic.

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Marti, Luisa, , . Unarticulated constituents revisited
2006, Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (2):135 – 166.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: An important debate in the current literature is whether ‘all truth-conditional effects of extra-linguistic context can be traced to [a variable at; LM] logical form’ (Stanley, ‘Context and Logical Form’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 23 (2000) 391). That is, according to Stanley, the only truth-conditional effects that extra-linguistic context has are localizable in (potentially silent) variable-denoting pronouns or pronoun-like items, which are represented in the syntax/at logical form (pure indexicals like I or today are put aside in this discussion). According to Recanati (‘Unarticulated Constituents’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 25 (2002) 299), extra-linguistic context can have additional truth-conditional effects, in the form of optional pragmatic processes like ‘free enrichment’. This paper shows that Recanati’s position is not warranted, since there is an alternative line of analysis that obviates the need to assume free enrichment. In the alternative analysis, we need Stanley’s variables, but we need to give them the freedom to be or not to be generated in the syntax/present at logical form, a kind of optionality that has nothing to do with the pragmatics-related optionality of free enrichment.

Comment: Probably won’t make sense without looking at Recanati and Perry’s work
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Patterson, Sarah, , . The explanatory role of belief ascriptions
1990, Philosophical Studies 59 (3):313-32.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to argue that belief ascription in common- sense discourse is not uniformly non-individualistic, as Burge’s conclusion suggests. (In concentrating on belief ascriptions I follow the usual practice of treating belief as the paradigm propositional attitude.) I shall present some examples which suggest that when giving common-sense explanations of action we do not individuate thoughts with reference to agents’ linguistic environment in the manner indicated by Burge’s thought-experiment. The challenge supposedly presented to the Continuity Thesis by Burge’s thought-experiment is thus removed. I then discuss whether the mode of individuation characteristic of our explanatory practice deserves to be called individualistic, and conclude with some remarks on the expressibility of thought contents.

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Taylor, Kenneth A., , . Sex, breakfast, and descriptus interruptus
2001, Synthese 128 (1-2):45 – 61.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: Consider utterances of the following two sentences: (1) Have you had breakfast? (2) Have you had sex? Utterances of (1) and (2) typically differ in temporal import. An utterance of (1) raises a ‘this morning’ question. An utterance of (2) raises an ‘ever’ question. The difference in felt temporal import clearly has something to do with the difference between our more or less shared breakfast eating practices and our more or less shared sexual practices. People tend to eat breakfast daily – though there are, of course, exceptions. People tend not to have sex daily – though here too there are exceptions. Moreover, people by and large mutually know these facts. The first goal of these remarks is to explain how our mutual knowledge of such shared practices influences the perceived temporal import of utterances like (1) and (2). The explanation is not terribly surprising, but this unsurprising explanation reveals something significant about the nature of the great divide between pragmatics and semantics. In particular, I’m going to argue that Grice got it pretty close to right. The explanation of this phenomenon, and certain others like it, turns out to be roughly, but still deeply Gricean. I say ‘roughly’ Gricean because the account I offer does not entail that the difference in temporal import between (1) and (2) is a difference in conversational implicature strictly so-called. But for reasons that will become clear in due course, the explanation I offer even if not strictly Gricean is nonetheless deeply Gricean. Armed with our roughly but deeply Gricean understanding of this easy case, I turn to the somewhat more challenging and controversial case of incomplete definite descriptions. Imagine an utterance of: (3) The cat is on the couch again. In uttering such a sentence, a speaker commits what we might call descriptus interruptus. The context independent meaning of the uttered sentence is insufficient to fix a fully determinate descriptive significance for the contained descriptions. Though we may justly infer that a speaker who utters such a sentence intends thereby to communicate some proposition or other to the effect that some unique cat or other is once again on some unique couch or other, nothing more determinate may be inferred on the basis of sentence meaning alone about the relevant cat and the relevant couch. But the speaker’s act of descriptus interruptus does not prevent speaker and hearer from enjoying a mutually consummated communicative exchange. The roughly though deeply Gricean approach I outline explains how such consummation is possible in a relatively straightforward way.

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