Clarity and the grammar of skepticism

Christian Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Why ever assert clarity? If It is clear that p is true, then saying so should be at best superfluous. Barker and Taranto (2003) and Taranto (2006) suggest that asserting clarity reveals information about the beliefs of the discourse participants, specifically, that they both believe that p. However, mutual belief is not sufficient to guarantee clarity (It is clear that God exists). I propose instead that It is clear that p means instead (roughly) 'the publicly available evidence justifies concluding that p'. Then what asserting clarity reveals is information concerning the prevailing epistemic standard that determines whether a body of evidence is sufficient to justify a claim. If so, the semantics of clarity constitutes a grammatical window into the discourse dynamics of inference and skepticism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)253-273
    Number of pages21
    JournalMind and Language
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Linguistics and Language
    • Philosophy
    • Language and Linguistics

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