UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 11 (1999)

The relevance of Argumentation Theory


In this paper, I examine Argumentation Theory (AT), a semantic framework best known for its detailed analyses of expressions with non-truth-conditional meaning, such as but and even. I sketch the development of the theory from its inception in the mid/late 1970s to the present day and I examine the basic AT notions and some of the theory's implications. In the last section, I discuss some problems with AT, e.g. its lack of a principled semantics/pragmatics distinction and its inability to explain why language is, quite routinely, used to convey information about the world. I then briefly suggest how a cognitive theory with a principled semantics/pragmatics distinction, such as Relevance Theory, can avoid the most serious problems encountered by AT.

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