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Psychological Explanations in Gricean Pragmatics: An Argument from Cultural ‘Common Ground’. Kasia Jaszczolt University of Cambridge. Psychologism and post-Gricean pragmatics. Fregean logic > truth-conditional semantics > truth-conditional pragmatics
University of Cambridge
Fregean logic > truth-conditional semantics > truth-conditional pragmatics
Does Frege’s ban on psychological explanations in logic extend to pragmatic theory?
Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884: 90):
‘[t]here must be a sharp separation of the psychological from the logical, the subjective from the objective’
Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (1893: 202):
‘If a geographer was given an oceanographic treatise to read which gave a psychological explanation of the origin of the oceans, he would undoubtedly get the impression that the author had missed the mark and shot past the thing itself in a most peculiar way. (…) Reading [Husserl’s] work has enabled me to gauge the extent of the devastation caused by the irruption of psychology into logic…’ Frege (1894: 209)
Q2: Should the psychology of utterance processing be considered in the discussions of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics?
 The selection of the perspective to be adopted: that of the speaker, the addressee, or a Model Speaker – Model Addressee interaction;
 The unit on which pragmatic inference or default enrichment operate;
 The definition and delimitation of automatic (default) interpretations vis-à-vis conscious pragmatic inference;
 The definition of the unit of analysis (Primary Meaning)
The theory of utterance meaning (meaningnn) is to account for the meanings the speakers normally convey and at the same time the meanings the addressees normally recover in the process of rational conversational interaction.
Saul 2002, Co-existence Thesis: both the speaker and the addressee can be wrong about what is said.
Psychologism in :
? ‘…hypotheses about meaning are entertained incrementally – as the words come in, as it were.’ Levinson (2000: 5).
= processing as explanandum (psychologism?)
‘What is expressed simply is stereotypically exemplified’
(1) bread knife +> knife used for cutting bread
kitchen knife +> knife used for preparing food, e.g. chopping
steel knife +> knife made of steel
a road +> hard-surfaced one
I don’t like garlic. +> I dislike garlic.
? Cancellation problem:
(3) Some (+> ‘not all’), in fact all, of the boys came.
? +> the one he read, wrote, borrowed…
Levinson (2000: 37)
vs. ‘Chomsky’s book is about grammar.’
We need a theory that construes pragmatic inference and defaults as operating on a unit that is adequate for the case at hand, ranging from a morpheme to the entire discourse.
But: ‘psychologising’ must appear before empirical studies in order to identify the unit for experimental testing.
(cf. Recanati 2004 on automatic modulation)
Psychologism in :
Conscious or automatic?
‘Leonardo’s painting was stolen from Czartoryskis’ Museum in Kraków.’
‘Larry’s book is a thrilling account of negation.’
+ ‘bread/kitchen/steel knife’
B: No, it’s my twenty second.
A: Any favourites among the twenty two?
B: Working with Leonardo.
A: da Vinci?
A: Of course. And is he your favourite Italian director?
(Richard Curtiss, Notting Hill, 1999)
+> a female nanny
Situational context (used for conscious inference) or common ground (exploited in automatic, unreflective inference)?
+ level of specificity at which the default meaning ends
Psychologism in :
Primary Meaning: what is intended by MS and recovered by MA as ‘the main message’
Q3: Should primary meaning obey the syntactic constraint?(cf. what is said, explicature)
Psychologism in :
(modelled as merger representations in Default Semantics, loosely modelled on DRSs of DRT, Kamp and Reyle 1993; Kamp and van Eijck 1997; Kamp, van Genabith and Reyle forthcoming)
‘Logic is concerned with the laws of truth, not with the laws of holding something to be true, not with the question of how people think, but with the question of how they must think if they are not to miss the truth.’
‘being true’ is ‘placeless and timeless’ (Frege 1893: 203)
Thoughts (Gedanken) (Frege 1918-19) are MS/MA meanings; they are not mental entities.
Neo-Fregean Thought when no syntactic constraint on Primary Meaning as in Default Semantics or late-Wittgensteinian Meaning Eliminativism (Recanati 2005).
While Gricean theory of meaningnn respects Frege’s rejection of psychological explanations from logic, it must resort to psychology in choosing and defining the object of study of pragmatics.
Q4: Does semantic minimalism (Cappelen and Lepore 2005, Borg 2004) respect Frege’s ban on psychologism?
A4: No, if it resorts to Propositionalism (Bach 2004, 2005, 2006). See Jaszczolt 2007.
A5: I argued for the latter because a proposition- free semantics that is properly formally constrained and compositional is for me inconceivable. Exorcising propositions means exorcising truth conditions, or placing them on the wrong side of the semantics/ pragmatics boundary.
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Atlas, J. D. forthcoming. ‘Meaning, propositions, context, and semantical underdeterminacy’. In: G. Preyer (ed.). Essays on Insensitive Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bach, K. 2004. ‘Minding the gap’. In: C. Bianchi (ed.). The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. Stanford: CSLI Publications. 27-43.
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Bach, K. 2006. ‘The excluded middle: Semantic minimalism without minimal propositions’. Unpublished paper.
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