This essay attempts a rapprochement between Kent Bach’s view on semantic minimalism and the most radical version of contextualism about language on offer: Charles Travis’s occasion-sensitivity. Despite common assumptions held by defenders of semantic literalism – which cast Bach’s proposal as a form of contextualism – Bach rejects all conceivable forms of contextualism. In this paper, I argue that in spite of his systematic rejection of contextualism, Bach’s position bears a striking resemblance to Travis’s occasion-sensitivity. Further, when analyzed in light of the conceptual framework developed by Travis, Bach’s strand of minimalism can be shown to contain a deep-rooted conceptual inconsistency to the extent that he aims to ascribe “pure semantic content” to a linguistic entity that is necessarily pragmatic.
- semantic minimalism
- Minimal propositions