Philosophy 290-6

Fall 2021

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-6 Graduate Seminar: The Common Ground MacFarlane/Yalcin Th 2-4 Moses 305

The notion of common ground is one of the key organizing ideas in pragmatics. We will ask what motivates the idea, starting with its role in the analysis of presupposition and assertion. After we develop a grip on what role common ground is supposed to play in linguistic communication, we will ask what kind of state of mind realizes the role. Standard definitions of common ground invoke common knowledge or common belief. We’ll ask whether an analysis in that direction is correct, and focus special attention on the question whether common knowledge is even possible. As time permits, we will look at some debates in semantics and pragmatics which turn on issues about common ground, possibly including anaphora, epistemic vocabulary, and vagueness. The readings will drawn from work by Stalnaker, Lewis, Williamson, Lederman, Harris, MacFarlane, Camp, Yalcin, Hawthorne, Magidor, and Simons, among others.