Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor David Hitchcock
Explanations of how we understand some types of utterances often involve appeals to either speaker meaning or context. I suggest that these devices are inadequate for explaining how we understand utterances using the word 'I', metaphorical statements, and statements in and about works of fiction. Instead, I argue that in order to explain our understanding of such utterances, we need to appeal to point of view.
I deal with each type of utterance separately, in each case building on a philosopher's previous work of explaining how we understand that type of utterance: Gareth Evans on utterances using the word 'I', Max Black's interaction theory of metaphor, and Kendall Walton's theory of make-believe for fictional statements. I note that in each case the relevant theory is not comprehensive enough. Gareth Evans accounts for how each of us thinks of ourselves as an individual self. Max Black's theory accounts for msot of our intuitions about metaphor, but his theory cannot explain our emotional response to metaphorical phrases. Kendall Walton's theory accounts for statements made in works of fiction and most statements made about works of fiction. However, his theory of make-believe is inadequate for explaining how we understand critical statements about works of fiction. I argue that all three theories can provide the required explanatory force if each is supplemented by an appeal to point of view.
Before characterizing point of view, I show that context is inadequate for explaining metaphorical statements and statements in and about works of fiction. Any contextual theory for these statements would be inadequate unless it allowed for multiple contexts for a single sentence. I concentrate on Francois Recanati's multiple domain theory in order to show that theories posting such multiple contexts are inadequate because they lack ways of differentiating and accessing such contexts.
Appealing to point of in conjunction with the three theories I favour, explains how we understand the utterances in question. Self-conscious self-reference using the word 'I' is possible because we assume an imaginative stance for viewing what we take to be our 'inner life.' Metaphorical statements are understood through a pattern that includes the self. When making statements about fictional characters mentioned in works of fiction, we make-believe that the names refer to actual people. However, when we make critical statements using such names, we believe that they are the names of fictional characters.
Anderson, Rhonda, "Revealing Positions: The Role of Point of View in the Understanding of Utterances" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 863.