ABSTRACT. The paper presents an inferential model of explicit communication based on the speaker’s interests and the addressee’s beliefs. After the introduction, the paper sets out some notions concerning explicit communication within the frameworks of truth-conditional pragmatics and relevance theory. The third section describes the phenomenon of semantic underdeterminacy, and the fourth section introduces non-demonstrative inferences in communication. The fifth section presents the model. The main notions involved are the speaker’s intended meaning and the addressee’s intended meaning. The former notion is centered on the speaker’s interest in situation: a speaker intends the meaning of an utterance on the basis of a partial order of preference with respect to a set of contextually plausible meanings. The latter notion is centered on the addressee’s communicative inference, which is based on the addressee’s belief about the speaker’s interest. The paper takes the notion of interest from cognitive social theory, the notion of meaning from semantics, and the notion of explicit meaning from pragmatics; and it uses the notion of communicative inference for explicit meaning in partial accordance with relevance theory. In the sixth section, the paper argues in favor of the inferential approach compared with the associative approach in determination of “what is said.” The paper’s method is conceptual analysis of declarative utterances used in communicative situations. The main finding of the paper has been to show that, in contextual underdeterminacy cases, speaker’s interest is a determining factor in communicative processes.

Keywords: states of affairs; truth-conditions; semantic underdeterminacy; contextual underdeterminacy; speaker’s interest; goal-conditions; speaker’s intended meaning; addressee’s belief; communicative inference; addressee’s intended meaning; shared intended meaning; explicit communication

How to cite: Cruciani, Marco (2018). “Explicit Communication: An Interest and Belief-based Model,” Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 17: 50–70.

Received 17 February 2017 • Received in revised form 19 May 2017
Accepted 20 May 2017 • Available online 15 June 2017


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Department of Engineering and Computer Science,
University of Trento

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