Volume 19, Issue 3, 2019
Esther Romero, Belén Soria
The Trouble with Devitt’s What-Is-Said
In his forthcoming book, Overlooking Conventions: The Trouble with Linguistic Pragmatism, Michael Devitt raises, once again, the debate between minimalism and pragmatism to defend the former. He claims that, by taking some overlooked conventions into account, a semantic notion of what is said is possible. In this paper, we claim that a semantic notion of what is said is not possible, especially if some overlooked compositional conventions are considered. If, as Devitt defends, verbal activity is more linguistically constrained, compositional linguistic rules should be included in his catalogue of overlooked conventions and this entails an important challenge to the minimalist claim that the semantic view of what is said can handle all context relative phenomena. In this paper, we argue that, when conventions concerning compositionality are not overlooked, modulation should be added to the two qualifications (disambiguation and saturation) accepted by Devitt in the constitution of what is said. Thus, what is said is not always literally said and the traditional semantic view of what is said cannot be saved.