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The Science of MeaningEssays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics$
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Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198739548.001.0001

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David Lewis on Context

David Lewis on Context

(p.98) 3 David Lewis on Context
The Science of Meaning

Robert Stalnaker

Oxford University Press

A critical discussion of David Lewis’s two-dimensional framework for doing semantics. Lewis’s framework has the same abstract structure as David Kaplan’s semantics for demonstratives, where the truth-value of a sentence is defined as a function of two parameters, one of which is a context. This chapter focuses on the notion of context that is common to the two frameworks, arguing that it is not suited to play the pragmatic role that we need a notion of context to play. The technical notion that both Kaplan and Lewis call ‘context’ plays several different roles in the explanation of speech that need to be distinguished, and this notion also needs to be distinguished from a pragmatic notion of context as the body of information that is available for the determination of what is said.

Keywords:   David Lewis, David Kaplan, Context, indexical semantics, two-dimensional semantics

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