Universität Wien FIND

180006 SE Contexts: Semantic and Pragmatic Perspectives (2020S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Monday 20.04. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Wednesday 22.04. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Friday 24.04. 15:00 - 17:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Monday 27.04. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Wednesday 29.04. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Monday 18.05. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Wednesday 20.05. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Monday 25.05. 16:45 - 19:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course studies the roles of context in the interpretation of linguistic communication. We’ll discuss the significance of context for the resolution of ambiguity, and its role in determining what speakers non-literally communicate, as in cases of metaphors or irony. We shall continue with an introduction to the role of context for the interpretation of so-called indexical expressions such as ‘I’ or ‘now’, and with a brief survey of the relevance of contextuality for the solution of traditional philosophical problems, such as the problem of skepticism in epistemology. The final part of the module covers so-called contextualists attacks against the understanding of context implicit in traditional semantics.

Method: we will focus on one required reading for each topic. Throughout the course, I will also ask you to prepare two short summaries (approximately one-two pages), each summarizing one additional reading from the last part of our bibliography (roughly lectures 3-7, details announced during the first lecture). You should also be able to present your summaries during the relevant lectures. All bibliography will be made available through Moodle.

Assessment and permitted materials

Summaries, 20% each, and one final essay (2500 words maximum)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Minimum requirements: regular attendance and completion of all assessments (two summaries and one essay).

Examination topics

The main texts for this course are:

De Rose, K. 1995. Solving the Skeptical Problem. Philosophical Review. 104: 152.
Grice, P.: Logic and Conversation, extracts.
Kaplan, D. 1977. Demonstratives (extracts).
Lepore, E. and M. Stone 2010. Against Metaphorical Meaning.Topoi, 29(2): 165180.
Lewis, D. 1979. Scorekeeping in a language Game. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8: 339-359.
Recanati, F. 2002. Unarticulated Constituents. Linguistics and Philosophy 25: 299-345.
Travis. C. 1997. Pragmatics, in B. Hale and C. Wright (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language.

Reading list

There will also be optional readings, some of which will be relevant for your presentations:

Bach. K. 2006. The Top 10 Misconceptions About Implicature, in Birner & Ward 2006: 2130.
Bezuidenhout, A, 2001. Metaphor and What is Said: A Defense of the Direct Expression View of Metaphor.Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 25: 156186.
Camp, E. 2006. Metaphor and That Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi.Philosophical Studies, 129(1): 125.
Cappelen, H. and E. Lepore 2005. A Tall Tale: In Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism, in G. Preyer and G. Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy 197-219.
Carston, R. 1988. Implicature, Explicature, and Truth-Theoretic Semantics, inMental Representations: The Interface between Language and Reality, Ruth M. Kempson (ed.), 155181.
Carston, R. 1996. Metalinguistic Negation and Echoic Use. Journal of Pragmatics.
Currie, G. 2006. Why Irony is Pretence, inThe Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction, Shaun Nichols (ed.): 111136.
Elugardo, R. and R. Stainton 2004. Shorthand, Syntactic Ellipsis, and the Pragmatic Determinants of What is Said. Mind and Language 19: 442-471.
Lahav, R. 1989. Against Compositionality: The Case of Adjectives. Philosophical Studies 57: 261-279.
Lewis, D. 1996. Elusive Knowledge.Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74(4): 549567.
Perry, J. 1986. Thought Without Representation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60: 137-151.
Perry, J. 2003. Predelli’s Threatening Note: Contexts, Utterances, and Tokens in the Philosophy of Language. Journal of Pragmatics 35: 373387.
Predelli, S. 1998. Utterance, Interpretation, and the Logic of Indexicals. Mind and Language 13: 400-414.
Predelli, S. 2005. Painted Leaves, Context, and Semantic Analysis. Linguistics and Philosophy 28: 351-374.
Sadock, J.1978. On Testing for Conversational Implicature, in Cole 1978: 281297.
Sainsbury, M. 1984. Saying and Conveying.Linguistics and Philosophy, 7(4): 415432.
Sidelle, A. 1991. The Answering Machine Paradox. The Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21: 525-539.
Soames, S. 1989. Presupposition. In Gabbay, D. and Guenther, F. (eds.),Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Dordrecht: Reidel, vol. IV, 553616
Stalnaker, R. 2002. Common Ground. Linguistics and Philosophy 25: 701-721.
Stanley, J. and T. Williamson. 1995. Quantifiers and Context-dependence. Analysis 55: 29195.
Stanley, J. and Z. Szabo 2000. On Quantifier Domain Restriction. Mind and Language 15: 219-261.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Sa 10.09.2022 00:19