Pursuing Meaning

Paperback | May 4, 2015

byEmma Borg

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Emma Borg examines the relation between semantics (roughly, features of the literal meaning of linguistic items) and pragmatics (features emerging from the context within which such items are being used), and assesses recent answers to the fundamental questions of how and where to draw thedivide between the two. In particular, she offers a defence of what is commonly known as "minimal semantics". Minimal semantics, as the name suggests, wants to offer a minimal account of the interrelation between semantics and pragmatics. Specifically, it holds that while context can affect literalsemantic content in the case of genuine (i.e. lexically or syntactically marked) context-sensitive expressions, this is the limit of pragmatic input to semantic content. On all other occasions where context of utterance appears to affect content, the minimalist claims that what it affects is notliteral, semantic content but what the speaker conveys by the use of this literal content - it affects what a speaker says but not what a sentence means. As Borg makes clear, the minimalist must allow some contextual influence on semantic content, but her claim is that this influence can be limited to "tame" pragmatics - the kind of rule-governed appeals to context which won't scare formally minded horses. Pursuing Meaning aims to make good on thisclaim. The book also contains an overview of all the main positions in the area, clarification of its often complex terminology, and an exploration of key themes such as word meaning, mindreading, and the relationship between semantics and psychology.

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Emma Borg examines the relation between semantics (roughly, features of the literal meaning of linguistic items) and pragmatics (features emerging from the context within which such items are being used), and assesses recent answers to the fundamental questions of how and where to draw thedivide between the two. In particular, she offe...

Emma Borg joined the Philosophy Department at the University of Reading in 1998, shortly before she completed her PhD at University College London. She has been with the Department ever since and is currently Head of Department. She has held visiting positions at Rutgers University and the University of Chicago, and was a recipient of...

other books by Emma Borg

Minimal Semantics
Minimal Semantics

Hardcover|Dec 31 2005

$199.39 online$258.00list price(save 22%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.57 inPublished:May 4, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198738986

ISBN - 13:9780198738985

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Table of Contents

1. Surveying the Terrain2. Minimal Semantics and Psychological Evidence3. Propositionalism and Some Problem Cases4. Intention-Sensitive Expressions5. Ontological Arguments Against Minimal Word Meanings6. The Methodological Argument Against Minimal Word MeaningsBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Borg brings order and focus to the debate, responding to a deluge of objections from multiple perspectives. . .Borg writes in an exceptionally clear and often witty style. Pursuing Meaning is lively, full of interesting turns of phrase, and detailed in content. . .Borg addresses questionsabout the usefulness and underlying plausibility of minimalism head-on, offering positive reasons for being a minimalist. . .Pursuing Meaning has a proactive rather than reactive tone, which helps draw along readers who are initially disinclined to support her position. Given the depth ofdisagreement over the semantics/pragmatics divide, that, in itself, is a major achievement." --Allyson Mount, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews