Symposium with Robert Stalnaker

The symposium with Robert Stalnaker on 21 September 2015 focuses on his recent book "Context".



University of Konstanz, room V 1001




10:00-11:00   Robert Stalnaker: Introduction to "Context"

11:15-12:00   Maria Biezma & Maribel Romero: The Common Ground for Linguists

12:15-13:00   Sven Lauer: t.b.a.

13:00-14:30   Lunch

14:30-15:15   Wolfgang Spohn: On Chapter 5 "The Essential Contextual"

15:30-16:15   Alexandra Zinke: An Uncommon Conception of Common Ground

16:15-16:45   Coffee Break

16:45-17:30   Michael De: On what is accommodated





Maria Biezma & Maribel Romero: The Common Ground for Linguists

In this talk we embrace Stalnaker's (2014) precise view of speaker's presupposition and elaborate on it from a linguistic point of view. We revisit several linguistic phenomena that argue for a more structured take of the Common Ground.


Michael De: On what is accommodated

I will discuss some of the issues Stalnaker discusses that have been raised against accommodation and how they, pace Stalnaker, don't show his pragmatic account of presupposition wrong (for reasons different than those he defends), when precisely what is being accommodated is made clear. I will also discuss whether gappy sentences can be accommodated.

Sven Lauer: t.b.a.


Wolfgang Spohn: On Chapter 5 "The Essential Contextual"

I would like to briefly comment on chapter 5, "The Essential Contextual". In my view, this chapter is on the right track, but not radical enough. We know that doxastic possibilities are not possible worlds, but at least centered possible worlds. Stalnaker proposes to enrich the center; it's not a single I, but a collective We consisting of n persons. The more radical idea is that we need to enrich doxastic possibilities by (a possibly infinite sequence of) intentional objects, anyway. This is required by the dynamics of belief, and it follows in my view from the epistemological reinterpretation of two-dimensional semantics. This would comprise Stalnaker's idea of multiply centered possible worlds. I will try to explain this in the shortness of time.


Alexandra Zinke: An Uncommon Conception of Common Ground

According to Stalnaker, successful communication is possible only if the participants share certain beliefs. In Stalnaker’s (idealized) model, such a body of shared beliefs, the common ground, has an iterative structure: if φ is in the common ground, then everybody believes that φ, everybody believes that everybody believes that φ, etc. As Stalnaker closely ties the notion of speaker presupposition to his notion of common ground, this also gives rise to an iterative notion of presupposition: if one presupposes that φ, then one presupposes that everybody presupposes that φ. These conceptions of common ground and presupposition appear to be very demanding. I will argue that a fully iterated structure of common ground is not necessary for communication, and that an iterative structure of speaker presupposition is phenomenologically inadequate. I will also sketch a more modest conception of common ground.





Everybody is welcome. In order to register, please send an email to arno[dot]goebel[at]uni-konstanz[dot]de.