Semantics and What is Said

  • Una StojnicEmail author
  • Ernie Lepore
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 19)


A once commonplace view is that only a semantic theory that interprets sentences of a language according to what their utterances intuitively say can be correct. The rationale is that only by requiring a tight connection between what a sentence means and what its users intuitively say can we explain why, normally, those linguistically competent with a language upon hearing its sentences uttered can discern what they say. More precisely, this approach ties the semantic content of a sentence to intuitions about “says that” reports. Cappelen and Lepore (1997, 2004) forcefully argued against this approach. But given their criticism, what constraints are there on a correct assignment of semantic conent to sentences of a language? Two choices are available regard: either give up the strategy of identifying semantic content by looking at indirect speech reports, or, conclude that the intuition about the connection between meaning and intuitions about indirect reports is basically on the right track, but needs to be further constrained. We will explore both strategies and argue that ultimately we should reject the intuitions about indirect reports as tests on semantic theory, and propose a more direct strategy for identifying semantic content.


semantics indirect reports conversational record David Lewis 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive ScienceRutgers University – New BrunswickPiscatawayUSA

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