Inferentialism on Meaning, Content, and Context

  • Matej DrobňákEmail author


In this paper, I show how normative inferentialism could be used to explain several phenomena related to natural languages. First, I show how the distinction between the inferential potential and the inferential significance fits the standard distinction between the meaning of a sentence and the content of an utterance. Second, I show how the distinction could be used to explain ambiguity and free pragmatic enrichment from the perspective of normative inferentialism. The aim of this paper is to establish theoretical foundations that enable normative inferentialism to enter the discussions within the literalism-contextualism debate. As I argue, the biggest advantage of inferentialism is that it provides one general framework for the representation of meaning/content that naturally incorporates contextual information and so it can be used to represent meanings of various types of context-dependent sentences.


Context Pragmatics Inferential significance Inferentialism Rich meaning 



I would like to thank an anonymous reviewer, Jaroslav Peregrin, and participants of The second Context, Cognition and Communication Conference in Warsaw for their comments that allowed me to significantly improve the present paper.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Philosophical Faculty, University of Hradec Králové, where the author currently holds the position of Junior Researcher and by the Specific Research Grant “Empirical Grounds of Inferentialism.”

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Social SciencesUniversity of Hradec KrálovéHradec KrálovéCzech Republic

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