Date of Degree
Philosophy of Language | Philosophy of Mind
unarticulated constituents, pragmatics, communication, the meaning-intention problem, teleosemantics, Relevance theory
This work is an investigation into a phenomenon introduced by John Perry that I call ‘totally unarticulated constituents.’ These are entities that are part of the propositional content of a speech act, but are not represented by any part of the sentence uttered or of the thought that is being expressed - that is, they are fully unarticulated. After offering a novel definition of this phenomenon, I argue that totally unarticulated constituents are attested in natural language, and may in fact be quite common. This raises fatal problems for a prominent theory of underspecification defended by Jason Stanley, according to which all context- sensitivity (including unarticulated constituents) can be traced to covert variables in the syntax. I then use these findings to draw out important lessons for the philosophy of language, including a rejection of a long-standing Gricean issue known as the “meaning- intention problem.” I also explore the dialectic between Paul Grice’s intention-based semantics and Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics, arguing that Millikan’s perception-based response to the problem of underspecification is untenable unless it is modified to give prominence to the speaker’s intentions.
Rappaport, Jesse, "Unarticulated Constituents and Theories of Meaning" (2018). CUNY Academic Works.