Contextology

Journal article


Goldstein, Simon and Kirk-Giannini, Cameron Domenico. (2022). Contextology. Philosophical Studies. 179(11), pp. 3187-3209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-022-01820-7
AuthorsGoldstein, Simon and Kirk-Giannini, Cameron Domenico
Abstract

Contextology is the science of the dynamics of the conversational context. Contextology formulates laws governing how the shared information states of interlocutors evolve in response to assertion. More precisely, the contextologist attempts to construct a function which, when provided with just a conversation’s pre-update context and the content of an assertion, delivers that conversation’s post-update context. Most contextologists have assumed that the function governing the evolution of the context is simple: the post-update context is just the pre-update context intersected with the content of the assertion. We argue that this assumption is wrong: not only is it false, it is also incoherent given standard contextological assumptions. Moreover, it is impossible in principle to revise it to correctly describe the dynamics of context. We conclude that there can be no science of Contextology. The laws governing the evolution of the context in response to assertion must make essential reference to the private information states of interlocutors.

Keywordsassertion; context; pragmatics; common ground
Year2022
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Journal citation179 (11), pp. 3187-3209
PublisherSpringer
ISSN0031-8116
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-022-01820-7
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85128846297
Page range3187-3209
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online27 Apr 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted24 Mar 2022
Deposited16 May 2023
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