Pragmatics and philosophy: In search of a paradigm

24 Jan 2018

Abstract There is no doubt that pragmatic theory and philosophy of language are mutually relevant and intrinsically connected. The main question I address in this paper is how exactly they are interconnected in terms of (i) their respective objectives, (ii) explanans – explanandum relation, (iii) methods of enquiry, and (iv) drawing on associated disciplines. In the introductory part I attempt to bring some order into the diversity of use of such labels as philosophical logic, philosophical semantics, philosophical pragmatics, linguistic philosophy, or philosophy of linguistics, among others. In the following sections I focus on philosophical pragmatics as a branch of philosophy of language (pragmaticsPPL) and the trends and theories it gave rise to, discussing them against the background of methodology of science and in particular paradigms and paradigm shifts as identified in natural science. In the main part of the paper I address the following questions: How is pragmaticsPPL to be delimited? How do pragmatic solutions to questions about meaning fare vis-à-vis syntactic solutions? Is there a pattern emerging? and, relatedly, What are the future prospects for pragmaticsPPL in theories of natural language meaning? I conclude with a discussion of the relation between pragmaticsPPL and functionalism, observing that contextualism has to play a central role in functionalist pragmatics at the expense of minimalism and sententialism.