Verbal Disputes and Reference (Tartu)

This project investigates the preconditions of successful communication in two respects, one at the level of discourses, the other at the level of words.

  • At the level of discourses we will investigate under which preconditions an agreement or disagreement between the participating parties in a discourse is “genuine” and under which conditions it is “merely verbal”. We thereby also hope to clarify the conditions under which participants in a discourse talk “past each other”. Although we are interested in this topic from an applied, methodological perspective (since one of our interests is to investigate under which conditions specific discourses, for example, philosophical disputes about logic or ontology, are “merely verbal”), this project nevertheless will also contribute to the foundational theoretical work of the collaborative research project, concerning the preconditions for successful communication in general.
  • At the level of words, we will investigate in which way the interpretation of singular terms (such as, for example, proper names) in utterances of others is influenced by information on the background knowledge of these speakers about the referent of the singular term, and to what extent charity consideration lead to a reinterpretation of what is taken to be the “semantic” referent of the singular term in question. While the first set of questions will mainly involve theoretical work and will be investigated in close cooperation with the group at Stockholm and Lisbon, the second set will mainly be investigated empirically and in close cooperation with the group in Trondheim/Turku and Osnabrück.

For further information, please contact Daniel Cohnitz (project leader): cohnitz [at]

See also the project’s website here.