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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 3, 1977

T. R. Girill
Pages 181-232

Explanatory Pragmatics
A Critical Analysis

Although context and comparison are widely regarded as vital to explanatory pragmatics, no systematic treatment of them is available which is free from unnecessary vagueness. The goal of this paper, therefore, is to develop a network of clear, explicit principles describing the conditions under which an audience finds a sentential explanation pragmatically adequate. Previous suggestions are spelled out overtly, and revised or rejected when they cannot overcome counter-examples. The roles and interrelationships of type appropriateness, explanatory power and explanatory appeal as pragmatic concepts are examined and clarified. In the process of formulating improved pragmatic principles, misleading assumptions by earlier writers are disclosed, and the logical consequences of each proposal are compared.