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Meaning and Context


Edited By Luca Baptista and Erich Rast

The contextual contributions to meaning are at the core of the debate about the semantics/pragmatics distinction, one of the liveliest topics in current philosophy of language and linguistics. The controversy between semantic minimalists and contextualists regarding context and semantic content is a conspicuous example of the debate’s relevance. This collection of essays, written by leading philosophers as well as talented young researchers, offers new approaches to the ongoing discussion about the status of lexical meaning and the role of context dependence in linguistic theorizing. It covers a broad range of issues in semantics and pragmatics such as presuppositions, reference, lexical meaning, discourse relations and information structure, negation, and metaphors. The book is an essential reading for philosophers, linguists, and graduate students of philosophy of language and linguistics.


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12 Salvatore Pistoia-Reda


Some Notes on Game Theory and the Pragmatics of Alternatives 1 Game theory and Gricean pragmatics Cheap talk Since the beginning of the Gricean project, game theory and the prag- matics of communication have been felt to be closely tied. Explicit reference to this parallel is found in Lewis (1969), and in more recent works such as Parikh (2000) and Jäger (2008b). Further discussions are found in the collection Benz et. al. (2005). In his contribution to this volume, Stalnaker presents a theoretical justification of the par- allel in explaining patterns of real communication. Two aspects are taken as playing a key role in the parallel. The first one involves the Gricean general program on the philosophy of language.1 According to Grice, any definition of communication has first to make reference to the intentions and beliefs of the speakers involved in communica- tive situations. This is to say that the conventionalized practice that speakers use in carrying meaning and communicating things, that is, language, has to play no essential role in that definition. Communi- cation is to be defined in terms of its strict function. Language is, in 1 See Grice (1989). 270 Salvatore Pistoia-Reda some sense, central to communication, but keeping things separated can help us, for example, in interpreting cases in which speakers drift away from the literal readings of linguistic messages in order to say, or to implicate, something more than language would strictly allow. The game-theoretical concept of cheap talk can...

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