SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

SOPhiA ToolsDE-pageEN-page

Programme - Talk

How to Implicate with (Conversational) Silence
(Philosophy of Language, )

The idea that we can communicate more with an utterance than we explicitly say has been widely discussed in terms of the Gricean (1967/1989) notion of conversational implicature. It is less clear, how we can sometimes communicate something by not saying anything at all. That is, philosophers of language talk very little about how somebody who remains literally silent during a conversational exchange can bring something across by not saying anything, even though it seems that silences like that are a common occurrence: E.g., think of the uncomfortable silence that can arise when somebody makes an inappropriate remark, or the approving silence of a friend who we know agrees with us. In this paper, I focus on the communicative functions of such silences---specifically, I argue that we can conversationally implicate with silence by critically assessing the Gricean framework and identifying an understanding of implicature that can accommodate cases of remaining silent. My paper is structured as follows: I will first briefly assess Grice's account of conversational implicature, and define what I will call ``conversational silence''. Second, I will think about how implicating with silence might work by referring to Grice's conversational maxims (Quantity, Quality, Relation and Manner), asking: (1) How is a maxim exploited (or observed) by the use of silence, and (2) how can an audience come to calculate a silent implicature? Finally, I identify an altered version of Grice's original definition that can capture silent conversational implicature, and point to some further questions and challenges.

Chair: Nursan Celik
Time: 15:20-15:50, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.007
Remark: (Online Talk)

Anna Klieber  
(University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)

I'm a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, UK. My research focusses primarily on the field of philosophy of language, especially political and feminist philosophy of language and pragmatics. I've also worked on issues related to social epistemology, and am currently working on a paper discussing empty names. In the past, I've studied at the University of Graz and the University of Bristol.

Testability and Meaning deco