The Truth-conditional / Non-truth-conditional and Conceptual / Procedural Distinctions Revisited

Abstract

This paper investigates two different types of linguistic meaning, namely truthconditional/non-truth-conditional meaning and conceptual/procedural meaning. The paper has a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it argues that the assumed parallelism between truth-conditional/non-truth-conditional and the conceptual/procedural meaning must be questioned due to the fact that there are some linguistic expressions the meaning of which both contributes to the truth conditions and constrains the interpretation of utterances in which they occur. Secondly, the conceptual/procedural distinction is not mutually exclusive, as claimed by Blakemore (1987). The paper will provide a set of linguistic expressions that can encode both conceptual and procedural meaning. Such expressions will be called the conceptuo-procedural expressions. The paper will be structured as follows. Section 1 discusses the relation between linguistic meaning and truth conditions and gives an analysis of some linguistic elements the meaning of which does not contribute to the truth conditions of the utterances in which they occur. Section 2 provides a criticism of two previous approaches to the analysis of non-truth conditional meaning i.e., Frege’s and Grice’s approaches. Section 3 discusses how linguistic meaning is analysed in Relevance Theory (RT) as concepts and procedures. Section 4 provides some linguistic expressions the meaning of which can be analysed in both conceptual and procedural terms. Section 5 is a conclusion. 1. Linguistic meaning and truth conditions Theorists and ordinary language users consider language as a medium of exchanging information about the world. In the fields of linguistics and the philosophy of language, this has been referred to as the relation between natural language and truth conditions. Strawson (1971) points out that the notions of truth and truth conditions can account for linguistic meaning, as he puts it: It is a truth implicitly acknowledged by communication theorists-themselves that in almost all the things we should count as sentences there is a substantial central core of meaning which is explicable either in terms of truth conditions or in terms of some related notions.

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