Despite the (arguably) essential role of linguistic conventions in facilitating linguistic understanding, interpreters must still engage their general intelligence and mind reading skills in every ordinary instance of successful communication. I defend this claim against Lepore and Stone’s position in their recent book, Imagination and Convention (2015). There they argue for a division between conventional and imaginative uses of language and they picture it as sharper than it can really be. I hold that there is an irreducible element of unpredictability in linguistic understanding ensuring that we’re never too far from a radical setting where, unaided by convention, interpreters must exercise a broader ability to improvise a sense for other people’s actions, utterances included. This can only work against a background of common beliefs, interests, reasonings, values – in sum, a shared rationality.
Pedro Abreu, ArgLab, Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal