Philosophical Approaches to Language and Communication

Volume 2

by Piotr Stalmaszczyk (Volume editor) Martin Hinton (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 318 Pages


This two-volume collection showcases a wide range of modern approaches to the philosophical study of language. Contributions illustrate how these strands of research are interconnected and show the importance of such a broad outlook. The aim is to throw light upon some of the key questions in language and communication and also to inspire, inform, and integrate a community of researchers in philosophical linguistics.
Volume two presents analyses of several fundamental concepts and studies in which they are applied empirically. These include the linguistic topics of assertion, vagueness, and disagreement, and the philosophical themes of belief, normativity, and thought. These chapters provide unique insight into the role of philosophy in the contemporary study of communication.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Editors and Contributors
  • Introduction (Piotr Stalmaszczyk and Martin Hinton)
  • Propositional Contents: Historical and Methodological Considerations (Tadeusz Ciecierski)
  • Assertion and Denial: Challenges from Subjective Disagreement (Natalia Karczewska)
  • Vagueness and Subjectivity: An Overview of Approaches and Problems (Natalia Karczewska and Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska)
  • Disagreement is Said in Many Ways: An Experimental Philosophy of Language Study on Taste Discussions (David Bordonaba-Plou)
  • Thought and Talk about Iterated Attitudes (Brian Ball)
  • Communicating with Colourings (Lwenn Bussière-Caraes)
  • An Expectation-Based View of Human Communication (José V. Hernández-Conde)
  • What if Armchairs Really Got Burnt? Experimental Philosophy Research and the Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction (Izabela Duraj-Nowosielska)
  • Philosophical and Linguistic Aspects of Beliefs, their Justification and Meta-beliefs (Elżbieta Łukasiewicz)
  • Associative Exportation (Tomasz Zyglewicz)
  • On Some Objections to the Normativity of Meaning (Mindaugas Gilaitis)
  • Exhaustiveness, Normativity, and Communicative Responsibilities (Miklós Márton and Tibor Bárány)
  • Index (Vol. 2)
  • Series Index

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Editors and Contributors

Brian Ball

New College of the Humanities, United Kingdom

Email: brian.ball@nchlondon.ac.uk

ORCID: 0000-0003-2478-6151

Tibor Bárány

Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

Email: barany.tibor@gtk.bme.hu

ORCID: 0000-0002-6008-829X

David Bordonaba-Plou

Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile and Universidad de Granada, Spain

Email: davidbordonaba@gmail.com

ORCID: 0000-0002-0788-9733.

Lwenn Bussière-Caraes

University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Email: bussiere@sequitur.eu

ORCID: 0000-0002-1690-6961

Tadeusz Ciecierski

University of Warsaw, Poland

Email: taci@uw.edu.pl

ORCID: 0000-0001-5403-9590

Izabela Duraj-Nowosielska

Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

Email: iza_duraj@umk.pl

ORCID: 0000-0002-9470-3801

Mindaugas Gilaitis

Vilnius University, Lithuania

Email: mindaugas.gilaitis@fsf.vu.lt

ORCID: 0000-0002-7078-3499←7 | 8→

José V. Hernández-Conde

University of Valladolid, Spain

Email: jhercon@uva.es

ORCID: 0000-0002-8502-6570

Martin Hinton

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: martin.hinton@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-0374-8834

Natalia Karczewska

University of Warsaw, Poland

Email: natalia.karczewska@uw.edu.pl

ORCID: 0000-0003-0889-7169

Elżbieta Łukasiewicz

Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz, Poland

Email: el.lukasiewicz@gmail.com

ORCID: 0000-0002-9121-0016

Miklós Márton

Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, Hungary

Email: marton@ajk.elte.hu

ORCID: 0000-0002-0020-7947

Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska

University of Warsaw, Poland

Email: j.odrowaz@uw.edu.pl

ORCID: 0000-0001-7838-5666

Piotr Stalmaszczyk

University of Łódź, Poland

Email: piotr.stalmaszczyk@uni.lodz.pl

ORCID: 0000-0002-1407-7610

Tomasz Zyglewicz

The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

Email: tzyglewicz@gradcenter.cuny.edu

ORCID: 0000-0002-5656-3561

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Piotr Stalmaszczyk and Martin Hinton


The relationship between philosophy and linguistics is one of symbiosis. Whether the field in question is referred to as philosophy of language, philosophy of communication, philosophy of linguistics, or theoretical linguistics, there are clear connections in both the methodology and the subject matter: a broadly philosophical approach is taken to the study of words, texts, and the way in which we use them to interact with one another and build our societies. Advances in philosophy allow us to better understand what language does, and progress in linguistics shows us how it does it. By learning truths about how we communicate, we uncover the secrets of how we think; by examining the nature of our language, we throw light upon the workings of our minds; by connecting what we know of ideas with what we know of words, then, we begin to explain ourselves.

The fostering of relationships and dialogue between linguists and philosophers of language has been the long-term goal of both the books in this series and the PhiLang conferences at the University of Lodz, which are their counterpart and their genesis. The editors have wide-ranging interests in both conducting research and propagating it, as evidenced by a host of recent works. The monograph Evaluating the Language of Argument (Hinton 2021) employs insights into the nature of language from linguists and philosophers in the construction of a systematic procedure for argument evaluation and a thorough dissection of the concept of fallacy. There have been special issues, such as ‘Names and Fictions’ in the journal Organon F (2021), ‘Inferring Truth and Meaning’ in Studia Semiotyczne (2020), and ‘Philosophy of Argumentation’ in Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric (2018), and a plethora of edited volumes including Understanding Predication (2017), Objects of Inquiry in Philosophy of Language and Linguistics (2018), and Philosophical Insights into Pragmatics (2019). Of particular note are the two most recent volumes: The Lvov-Warsaw School and Contemporary Philosophy of Language (2021), which assesses Poland’s most celebrated philosophical movement in the light of modern scholarship, and the major collection The Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language (2021).

The current work stretches across two volumes in its endeavour to bring together a range of ideas covering the broad, yet clearly defined, expanse of research being conducted as linguistic philosophy and philosophical linguistics across the world today. Some of the contributions reflect directly on these ←9 | 10→relationships, others display their value in tackling specific issues arising from our fascination with the tools of language which we have created but hardly know how. The chapters, then, not only form a collection of state-of-the-art papers on research into language, they also illustrate the interconnections among the branches of science tasked with that research, and, most importantly, stand as a testimony and monument to the community of scholars which has produced them.

The two parts to this book are not strictly divided by theme, but it may be said that the first volume focuses largely on fundamental topics in the field, and the second contains more detailed studies of particular issues exercising researchers today. These studies, in contrast to the more theoretical work in the first volume, often employ the experimental approaches which are of increasing importance across the field of philosophy. In this way, the collection as a whole covers not only the broad area of study into language, but also a full range of methodologies by which it may be conducted.

The first volume commences with a consideration of some fundamental issues, such as how we acquire languages, what single languages are, and how language is related to reality. These opening chapters are followed by a series of discussions of broad areas of research in the philosophy of language, such as ordinary language philosophy, Continental philosophy, and hermeneutics. Further chapters discuss the relationship between the philosophy of language and adjacent fields, including argumentation theory, pragmatics, and translation. The volume closes with two contributions discussing the role of literature and the value of literary texts in understanding the essential nature of language.

Volume two begins with Tadeusz Ciecierski’s ‘Propositional Contents: Historical and Methodological Considerations.’ In this chapter, Ciecierski discusses the concept of proposition, giving both an historical overview and a description of the two main strands of current thinking: the possible world theory and the structural theory. In the following chapter, ‘Assertion and Denial: Challenges from Subjective Disagreement,’ Natalia Karczewska surveys some well known accounts of assertion and denial and raises certain challenges to them. In particular, she considers the role the phenomenon of faultless disagreement plays in our understanding of what it means to assert and to deny and how this interacts with the choice of relativist or contextualist semantic theories. Some of these ideas are investigated further in ‘Vagueness and Subjectivity: An Overview of Approaches and Problems’ by Natalia Karczewska and Joanna Odrowąż-Sypniewska. Here the emphasis is on the notion of subjectivity and its relationship with the vague character of gradable adjectives. The authors go on to suggest a novel line of analysis of faultless disagreement which appeals to the ←10 | 11→illocutionary force of the relevant speech acts. David Bordonaba-Plou continues the investigation of the theme of disagreement in his chapter ‘Disagreement is Said in Many Ways. An Experimental Philosophy of Language Study on Taste Discussions.’ This study examines actual expressions of taste disagreement and shows that, in contrast to the standard representation, language users employ a broad collection of different locutions to express their disagreement, and these may often include mitigating phrases.

In ‘Thought and Talk about Iterated Attitudes,’ Brian Ball begins by looking at some fundamental question in the metaphysics of meaning, including the compatibility of intentionalism and interpretationism. He then also makes use of empirical evidence while investigating the relationship between thought and language, and in particular the possibility of entertaining thoughts about attitudes independently of language. Lwenn Bussière-Caraes, in ‘Communicating with Colourings,’ discusses the ways in which thoughts, with the same truth conditions, can be expressed differently in language by the use of colourings. The author considers the issue of how these colourings relate to Gricean implicatures and argues that even apparently non-communicative colourings do trigger inferences, which are, thus, communicated by the speaker. Investigation into phenomena of communication is continued by José V. Hernández-Conde’s ‘An Expectation-Based View of Human Communication.’ This chapter considers the notion of successful communication within a contextualist view of meanings and concepts. The contextualist account is defended against some of the problems it faces via a proposal of a conception of human communication based on information unquestionably available to the speaker. This leads to a weak definition of communicative success whereby that success is determined by the end point of the conversational exchange, rather than any form of speaker/hearer agreement.

The importance of the nature of experimental methods used in contemporary philosophy is highlighted by Izabela Duraj-Nowosielska in the chapter ‘What if Armchairs Really Got Burnt? Experimental Philosophy Research and the Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction.’ She questions some assumptions behind ‘x-phi’ and raises in particular the lack of distinction between semantic and pragmatic language phenomena and the problems this may lead to. By focussing on several examples and the interpretation of their results, support is offered for the conclusion that experimental philosophers should engage in some ‘armchair’ reflection on the semantic characteristics of the key expressions used in the experiments, as well as on some general mechanisms of speech, as a background to their empirical work.

The following two chapters concern the issue of beliefs and their relation to language. Elżbieta Łukasiewicz’s ‘Philosophical and Linguistic Aspects of Beliefs, ←11 | 12→their Justification and Meta-beliefs’ discusses problems related to beliefs and their justification. The author looks at the nature of beliefs and their content and questions the degree to which the believer’s conscious access to justification is necessary, focussing on two internalist theories: foundationalism and coherentism. An analysis of the externalist perspective offered by reliabilism and virtue epistemology follows and it is argued that in order to account for the due role of epistemic responsibility, virtue epistemology must partly give up its externalist premises and include internalist elements in belief’s justification. In the chapter ‘Associative Exportation’ by Tomasz Zyglewicz, we find a discussion of latitudinarianism and Saul Kripke’s criticism of it. The notion of associative aboutness is then invoked to put forward a novel account of mental reference, called ‘associative exportation,’ which avoids these problems while retaining the essence of latitudinarianism.

The final two chapters of the volume are linked by the theme of normativity. In ‘On Some Objections to The Normativity of Meaning,’ Mindaugas Gilaitis reflects on some of the presuppositions and seemingly irresolvable dialectical points of disagreement in the debate on the normativity of meaning. By examining ideas put forward by normativists and engaging with objections raised by anti-normativists, the author aims to provide a clearer representation of some of the arguments and concepts that guide the debate, while providing some support for the normativist cause. Finally, Miklós Márton and Tibor Bárány discuss Jennifer Saul’s account of the alleged conflict between the Gricean notions of ‘what is said’ and ‘what is implicated’ and the Speaker-Meaning Exhaustiveness Thesis (SMET) in their chapter ‘Exhaustiveness, Normativity, and Communicative Responsibilities.’ That account, they suggest, partly misconstrues the relation between Grice’s theory of speaker-meaning and his normative account of conversational implicature. The authors then put forward and argue for an alternative, speaker-oriented normative interpretation of Grice’s account of conversational implicatures.

All of the chapters in these volumes were subjected to double-blind peer review, in most cases by one of the other authors and one external reviewer. As always, great thanks are due to those who agree to take on the task of reviewing: their work provides invaluable suggestions and forces us all to think harder about that which we may have got wrong or expressed poorly. We extend our thanks also to Przemek Ostalski and Chris Genovesi for their help with copy-editing. Finally, our gratitude is due to all of those who have questioned, commented, criticised, and encouraged at conferences, seminars, and workshops as we have endeavoured to maintain a spirit of community through a period of global anxiety and restrictions on movement. We look forward to more face-to-face ←12 | 13→meetings, more mutual inspiration and support, and more ideas and volumes in which to express them in the years to come.

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Tadeusz Ciecierski

Propositional Contents: Historical and Methodological Considerations1

Abstract: The article discusses the concept of proposition. The history of the concept is discussed, general postulates are formulated, the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of which makes it possible to compare different theories of propositional contents. An outline of the history of inquiries into the notion of proposition is followed by a presentation of the two main contemporary ways of thinking about the notion: the possible world theory and the structural theory.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (May)
philosophy of language semantics pragmatics normativity experimental philosophy meaning
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 318 pp., 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Piotr Stalmaszczyk (Volume editor) Martin Hinton (Volume editor)

Piotr Stalmaszczyk is a professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Lodz, where he holds the Chair of English and General Linguistics. His research is concerned with theory of language and philosophy of language and linguistics. Martin Hinton is an assistant professor of English Linguistics at the University of Lodz, where he studies argumentation theory and philosophical linguistics. His chief area of interest is in fallacy theory and argument evaluation.


Title: Philosophical Approaches to Language and Communication