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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that referring is a joint accomplishment of the interlocutors involved in a conversation. This argument is built around two assumptions. Firstly, it is not words that refer but people who refer by using words in appropriate contexts. Referring is a kind of purposive linguistic action. Secondly, it is possible to perform a purposive action jointly. Two or more agents in coordination can do their part to bring about a joint accomplishment that would not be brought about by any of the individuals acting alone. There are cases of joint referring, where two or more interlocutors do their part to produce an outcome (referring) that would not result from the efforts of any of the individuals acting alone. Furthermore, all referring is a joint accomplishment and talk of individuals as referring (either in conversation or in thought) is parasitic on the idea of joint referring.

Keywords: joint referring, coordination, joint accomplishment, distributed cognition, purposive action, linguistic action

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