Can there ever be a theory of utterance interpretation?

Cummings, L., 2014. Can there ever be a theory of utterance interpretation? Reti, Saperi, Linguaggi: Italian Journal of Cognitive Sciences (2), pp. 199-222. ISSN 1826-8889

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Abstract

In this paper, I tackle what appears to be a rather simple question: can there ever be a theory of utterance interpretation? It will be contended that a theory of utterance interpretation is not beyond the intellectual grasp of present-day pragmatists so much as it is a construct which lacks sense and is unintelligible. Although many of our most successful theories exhibit desiderata such as simplicity, completeness and explanatory power, it will be argued that these same desiderata are problematic when it is utterance interpretation that is the focus of theoretical efforts. The case in support of this claim sets out from a detailed analysis of the rational, intentional, holistic character of utterance interpretation and draws on the insights of the American philosopher Hilary Putnam. To the extent that a theory of utterance interpretation is not a difficult empirical possibility to realize so much as it is an endeavour which leads to an unintelligible outcome, we consider where this situation leaves pragmatists who have a substantial appetite for theory construction.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Reti, Saperi, Linguaggi: Italian Journal of Cognitive Sciences
Creators: Cummings, L.
Publisher: Il Mulino
Place of Publication: Bologna
Date: 2014
Number: 2
ISSN: 1826-8889
Rights: © Società editrice il Mulino
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2015 12:37
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20797

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