Speakers, in their everyday conversations, use language to talk
about language. They may wonder about what words mean, to whom a
name refers, whether a sentence is true. They may worry whether
they have been clear, or correctly expressed what they meant to
say. That speakers can make such inquiries implies a degree of
access to the complex array of knowledge and skills underlying our
ability to speak, and though this access is incomplete, we
nevertheless can form on this basis beliefs about linguistic
matters of considerable subtlety, about ourselves and others. It is
beliefs of this sort--de lingua beliefs--that Robert Fiengo and
Robert May explore in this book.Fiengo and May focus on the beliefs
speakers have about the semantic values of linguistic expressions,
exploring the genesis of these beliefs and the explanatory roles
they play in how speakers use and understand language. Fiengo and
May examine the resources available to speakers for generating
linguistic beliefs, considering how linguistic theory characterizes
the formal, syntactic identity of the expressions linguistic
beliefs are about and how this affects speakers' beliefs about
coreference. Their key insight is that the content of beliefs about
semantic values can be taken as part of what we say by our
utterances. This has direct consequences, examined in detail by
Fiengo and May, for explaining the informativeness of identity
statements and the possibilities for substitution in attributions
of propositional attitudes, cases in which speakers' beliefs about
coreference play a central role.
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