Meeting on 04/27: Bill Lycan

We will meet on Thursday, April 27, 1:45-2:45 in Oak 338. Bill Lycan will present his ongoing work.

Explicature and Cancellability

Relevance theorists, most notably Robyn Carston, defend a notion they call “explicature,” that contrasts with mere conversational implicature in much the way that Grice’s “what is said” and semantic entailment do. But there is a puzzle: (i) As characterized, explicatures should not be cancellable in the way that conversational implicatures are. But (ii) in fact the standard examples of explicature are all cancellable, which you’d think is a serious objection to the Relevance theorists’ claim. Yet (iii) Carston not only grants but insists that explicatures are cancellable.

I try to solve that puzzle by pointing out something not often noticed, that “cancellable” is a relative term: cancellable without… what penalty? (And I believe that point is important independently of the explicature issue.)