Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 196, Issue 4, pp 1555–1573 | Cite as

Denial and retraction: a challenge for theories of taste predicates

  • Julia ZakkouEmail author
Article

Abstract

Sentences containing predicates of personal taste exhibit two striking features: (a) whether they are true seems to lie in the eye of the beholder and (b) whether they are true can be—and often is—subject to disagreement. In the last decade, there has been a lively debate about how to account for these two features. In this paper, I shall argue for two claims: first, I shall show that even the most promising approaches so far offered by proponents of so-called indexical contextualism fail to account for the disagreement feature. They might be able to account for some disagreement data, but they have trouble accounting for two kinds of disagreement data that caused the estrangement from indexical contextualism and the migration to relativism in the first place: the denial and the retraction data. Second, I shall show that we still do not have to abandon indexical contextualism, because what I shall call the superiority approach—a new pragmatically extended version of indexical contextualism—can very well account for the data.

Keywords

Predicates of personal taste Denial Retraction Contextualism Relativism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this material were presented at various events including the workshop Mind, World and Action in Dubrovnic, the Joint Session in Stirling, the workshop Tiefe Meinungsverschiedenheiten in Berlin, a masterclass on relativism at the NIP in Aberdeen, Tobias Rosefeldt’s research seminar in Berlin, Benjamin Schnieder’s research seminar in Hamburg, and the GAP-Doktorandenworkshop. I am grateful to all these audiences for helpful feedback. Special thanks to Carl Baker, Ralf Busse, Catharine Diehl, Alexander Dinges, Andy Egan, Filippo Ferrari, Suki Finn, Vera Flocke, Thomas Kroedel, John MacFarlane, Giulia Pravato, Tobias Rosefeldt, Thomas Sattig, Isidora Stojanovic, Maik Suehr, Tim Sundell, Richard Woodward, Crispin Wright, Dan Zeman as well as two anonymous referees of this journal. Endless and eternal gratitude to Dan López de Sa for invaluable input and support. My research on this paper was conducted within the context of the DFG Emmy Noether Research Group Ontology After Quine (WO-1896/1-1). Many thanks to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for supporting this project.

References

  1. Bach, K. (2002). Seemingly semantic intuitions. In J. Campbell, M. O’Rourke, & D. Shier (Eds.), Meaning and truth (pp. 21–33). New York: Seven Bridges Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, C. (2012). Indexical contextualism and the challenges from disagreement. Philosophical Studies, 157(1), 107–123.Google Scholar
  3. Barker, C. (2002). The dynamics of vagueness. Linguistics and Philosophy, 25(1), 1–36.Google Scholar
  4. Barker, C. (2013). Negotiating taste. Inquiry, 56(2–3), 240–257.Google Scholar
  5. Brogaard, B. (2008). In defence of a perspectival semantics for ‘know’. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 86(3), 439–459.Google Scholar
  6. Cappelen, H., & Hawthorne, J. (2009). Relativism and monadic truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cappelen, H., & Lepore, E. (1997). On an alleged connection between indirect speech and the theory of meaning. Mind and Language, 12(3/4), 278–296.Google Scholar
  8. Chapman, S. (1996). Some observations on metalinguistic negation. Journal of Linguistics, 32(2), 387–402.Google Scholar
  9. Egan, A. (2007). Epistemic modals, relativism and assertion. Philosophical Studies, 133(1), 1–22.Google Scholar
  10. Egan, A. (2010). Disputing about taste. In R. Feldman & T. Warfield (Eds.), Disagreement (pp. 247–286). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Egan, A. (2011). Relativism about epistemic modals. In S. D. Hales (Ed.), A companion to relativism (pp. 219–241). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Egan, A. (2012). Relativist dispositional theories of value. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50(4), 557–582.Google Scholar
  13. Egan, A. (2014). There’s something funny about comedy: A case study in faultless disagreement. Erkenntnis, 79, 73–100.Google Scholar
  14. Grice, P. (1989). Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Horn, L. (1992). The said and the unsaid. Proceedings of SALT, 2, 163–192.Google Scholar
  16. Huvenes, T. (2012). Varieties of disagreement and predicates of taste. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 90(1), 167–181.Google Scholar
  17. Huvenes, T. (2014). Disagreement without error. Erkenntnis, 79(1), 143–154.Google Scholar
  18. Kneer, M. (ms). “Predicates of personal taste: empirical data”.Google Scholar
  19. Knobe, J., & Yalcin, S. (2014). Epistemic modals and context: Experimental data. Semantics and Pragmatics, 7, 1–21.Google Scholar
  20. Kölbel, M. (2002). Truth without objectivity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Kölbel, M. (2003). Faultless disagreement. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 104(1), 53–73.Google Scholar
  22. Kölbel, M. (2004). Indexical relativism versus genuine relativism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12(3), 297–313.Google Scholar
  23. Kölbel, M. (2007). How to spell out genuine relativism and how to defend indexical relativism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(2), 281–288.Google Scholar
  24. Kölbel, M. (2008). True as ambiguous. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 77(2), 359–384.Google Scholar
  25. Kölbel, M. (2009). The evidence for relativism. Synthese, 166, 375–395.Google Scholar
  26. Lasersohn, P. (2005). Context dependence, disagreement, and predicates of personal taste. Linguistics and Philosophy, 28(6), 643–686.Google Scholar
  27. Lasersohn, P. (2008). Quantification and perspective in relativist semantics. Philosophical Perspectives, 22(1), 305–337.Google Scholar
  28. Lasersohn, P. (2009). Relative truth, speaker commitment, and control of implicit arguments. Synthese, 166(2), 359–374.Google Scholar
  29. Lasersohn, P. (2011). Context, relevant parts and (lack of) disagreement over taste. Philosophical Studies, 156(3), 433–439.Google Scholar
  30. Levinson, S. (2000). Presumptive meaning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lewis, D. (1979). Scorekeeping in a language game. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 8, 339–359.Google Scholar
  32. Lewis, D. (1980). Index, context, and content. In S. Kanger & S. Öhman (Eds.), Philosophy and Grammar (pp. 79–100). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. López de Sa, D. (2007). The many relativisms and the question of disagreement. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(2), 269–279.Google Scholar
  34. López de Sa, D. (2008). Presuppositions of commonality: An indexical relativist account of disagreement. In M. García-Carpintero & M. Kölbel (Eds.), Relative truth (pp. 297–310). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. López de Sa, D. (2009). Relativizing utterance-truth? Synthese, 170(1), 1–5.Google Scholar
  36. López de Sa, D. (2015). Expressing disagreement: A presuppositional indexical contextualist relativist account. Erkenntnis, 80(1), 153–165.Google Scholar
  37. MacFarlane, J. (2007). Relativism and disagreement. Philosophical Studies, 132(1), 17–31.Google Scholar
  38. MacFarlane, J. (2011). Epistemic modals are assessment-sensitive. In A. Egan & B. Weatherson (Eds.), Epistemic modality (pp. 144–178). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. MacFarlane, J. (2014). Assessment sensitivity: Relative truth and its applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. MacFarlane, J. (2016). Replies to raffman, stanley, and wright. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 92(1), 197–202.Google Scholar
  41. Marques, T. (ms). Falsity and retraction: New experimental data on epistemic modals.Google Scholar
  42. Marques, T. (2014). Doxastic disagreement. Erkenntnis, 79, 121–142.Google Scholar
  43. Marques, T. (2015). Retractions. In Synthese.Google Scholar
  44. Moltmann, F. (2010). Relative truth and the first person. Philosophical Studies, 150(2), 187–220.Google Scholar
  45. Pearson, H. (2013). A judge-free semantics for predicates of personal taste. Journal of Semantics, 30(1), 103–154.Google Scholar
  46. Plunkett, D., & Sundell, T. (2013). Disagreement and the semantics of normative and evaluative terms. Philosophers’ Imprint, 13(23), 1–37.Google Scholar
  47. Raffman, D. (2016). Relativism, retraction, and evidence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 92(1), 171–178.Google Scholar
  48. Schaffer, J. (2004). Skepticism, contextualism, and discrimination. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 69(1), 138–155.Google Scholar
  49. Schaffer, J. (2011). Perspective in taste predicates and epistemic modals. In A. Egan & B. Weatherson (Eds.), Epistemic modality (pp. 179–226). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Schaffer, J. (2012). Necessitarian propositions. Synthese, 189(1), 119–162.Google Scholar
  51. Snyder, E. (2013). Binding, genericity, and predicates of personal taste. Inquiry, 56(2–3), 278–306.Google Scholar
  52. Stalnaker, R. (2002). Common ground. Linguistics and Philosophy, 25, 701–721.Google Scholar
  53. Stephenson, T. (2007). Judge dependence, epistemic modals, and predicates of personal taste. Linguistics and Philosophy, 30(4), 487–525.Google Scholar
  54. Sundell, T. (2011). Disagreements about taste. Philosophical Studies, 155(2), 267–288.Google Scholar
  55. von Fintel, K. (2008). What is presupposition accommodation, again? Philosophical Perspectives, 22, 137–170.Google Scholar
  56. Weatherson, B. (2009). Conditionals and indexical relativism. Synthese, 166(2), 333–357.Google Scholar
  57. Wright, C. (2008). Relativism about truth itself: Haphazard thoughts about the very idea. In M. García-Carpintero & M. Kölbel (Eds.), Relative truth (pp. 157–186). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zakkou, J. (forthcoming). Tasty contextualism. A superiorty approach to the phenomenon of faultless disagreement. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations