Scorekeeping in a Language Game
Lewis (David)
Source: Lewis - Philosophical Papers Volume I, Part 3: Philosophy of Language, Chapter 13
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Sparked by the work of Robert Stalnaker, this paper integrates some of Lewis's views in formal semantics and formal pragmatics.
  2. 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.
  3. In such cases, Lewis argues, certain "rules of accommodation" inform the practice of natural discourse.
  4. Lewis demonstrates this phenomenon at work in a number of examples, including presupposition, permissibility, definite descriptions, reference, vagueness, modality1, performatives, and making plans.

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