Talb by Gregory Bochner (2018-2019 Paris IAS fellow) within the framework of the workshop "Perspectives on Speech as Action", organized by Paolo Labinaz and Marianna Ginocchietti (Trieste)
This talk has two parts. In the first, I draw a contrast between two views of the contents of referential assertions that are both compatible with Stalnaker’s (1999; 2016) pragmatic account of conversation: propositional referentialism (PR) and centred referentialism (CR). I argue that PR cannot, but CR can, predict the right truth-conditions for some assertions containing referential uses of descriptions. The reason is because PR involves a false claim about the way in which the referent of these assertions is determined. In the second part, I describe the pragmatic roles that CR ascribes to the linguistic content encoded by the description. This content is not part of the truth-conditions of the corresponding assertion, and it does not fix reference. Nevertheless, being presupposed of the referent, it is what shapes the contextual effects of the assertion by delimiting the possibilities that accepting its content rules out from the context.