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Notes on Disagreement

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Chapter Summary

Language is generally assumed to be homogeneous inside what is called the language community. This chapter argues that the homogeneity assumption is actually ill-founded. It discusses an example on how misunderstandings can be diagnosed and managed in dialogue. The chapter broadens the scope somewhat showing that not only are differences in semantics partly due to the fact that we have to learn them, but also that the variation is deliberately created and exploited. Pragmatics will have to take some of the burden of explaining which of the many meanings enter the discourse. The chapter provides a theoretical reconstruction of communication in terms of the calculus of judgements. Crucially, the calculus allows to deal with both judgements and announcements, which are the fundamental categories of communication. The chapter shows how the distinctions in meaning from one person to another inform pragmatics.

Keywords: calculus; homogeneity assumption; language community; pragmatics



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