Précis of Context
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The book is a general discussion of the notion of a speech context, and the development and defense of a particular way of representing context in a theory of the dynamics of discourse. A context, on the account I develop, is a body of information, represented by a set of possibilities—the common ground, or the information that is presumed to be shared by the participants in the conversation. This evolving body of information plays two roles: first, it represents the information that is available to the participants to use in order to interpret what is said; second, it is a representation of the possibilities that the participants mean to distinguish between with the speech acts that they perform. To play these two roles, the common ground must include two kinds of information: first, information about the subject matter of the discourse, and second, information about the conversation itself—about the beliefs and intentions of the participants and about the course that the conversation has taken, and is expected to take. One way to see the book is as a sequence of elaborations of the formal representation of common ground, which was initially, in early work on presupposition, just an unstructured set of possibilities, the context set.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Stalnaker, Robert. “Précis of Context.” Philosophical Studies 174.6 (2017): 1583–1585.
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