Scorekeeping in a Language Game

David Lewis

in Philosophical Papers Volume I

Published in print August 1983 | ISBN: 9780195032048
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833382 | DOI:
Scorekeeping in a Language Game

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Sparked by the work of Robert Stalnaker, this paper integrates some of Lewis's views in formal semantics and formal pragmatics. Drawing an analogy with the practice of scorekeeping in baseball, Lewis proposes the notion of a “conversational score” that varies depending on the semantic vicissitudes arising from the contexts in which context‐sensitive terms (e.g. “flat”) are used. In such cases, Lewis argues, certain “rules of accommodation” inform the practice of natural discourse. Lewis demonstrates this phenomenon at work in a number of examples, including presupposition, permissibility, definite descriptions, reference, vagueness, modality, performatives, and making plans.

Keywords: contextualism; definite descriptions; language game; modality; performatives; permissibility; pragmatics; presupposition; reference; semantics; Robert Stalnaker; Peter Unger; vagueness

Chapter.  8637 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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