Maximilian de Gaynesford has argued against the standard view that the reference of the first-person pronoun ‘I’ is determined by a rule linking the referent to some feature of the context of use. In this paper, we argue that de Gaynesford's arguments are inconclusive. Our main aim, however, is to formulate a novel version of the reference rule for ‘I’. We argue that this version can deal with several problematic cases. Our strategy involves analysing the so-called agent of the context (...) as the person responsible for a particular speech act. From this analysis, we exclude a particular class of uses of ‘I’, uses that we believe are best understood as demonstrative. (shrink)
This paper presents a dual intention model (DIM) of demonstrations as actions to show the agentive nature of demonstrations. According to the DIM, demonstrations are complex actions that contain as components at least three elements: an abductive intention, a deictic intention, and a basic ostensive act of indication. This paper unpacks these three components and discusses their roles from the viewpoint of the philosophy of action and the philosophy of language. It also shows how the DIM applies in selected practical (...) examples and explains the merits of the model in the context of other views on demonstrations and demonstratives. (shrink)
The paper discusses the answering machine puzzle and cases of non-standard uses of ‘I’. It offers an analysis of the phenomena that is conservative with respect to the Kaplanian account of indexicality. The point of departure of the paper is the observation that some proper indexicals have demonstrative uses. It is argued that treating some occurrences of ‘now’ as cases of such uses results in an intuitive and simple solution to the answering machine puzzle. At the same time, treating some (...) occurrences of ‘I’ in an analogous manner explains away the impression that some non-standard uses of ‘I’ enforce a modification of the standard semantics of the first-person pronoun. (shrink)
Natural languages are riddled with context-sensitivity. One and the same string of words can express many different meanings on occasion of use, and yet we understand one another effortlessly, on the fly. How do we do so? What fixes the meaning of context-sensitive expressions, and how are we able to recover the meaning so effortlessly? -/- This book offers a novel response: we can do so because we draw on a broad array of subtle linguistic conventions that determine the interpretation (...) of context-sensitive items. Contrary to the dominant tradition, which maintains that the meaning of context-sensitive language is underspecified by grammar and that interpretation relies on non-linguistic cues and speakers' intentions, this book argues that meaning is determined entirely by discourse conventions, rules of language that have largely been missed and the effects of which have been mistaken for extra-linguistic effects of an utterance situation on meaning. The linguistic account of context developed here sheds new light on the nature of linguistic content and the interaction between content and context. At the same time, it provides a novel model of context that should constrain and help evaluate debates across many subfields of philosophy where appeal to context has been common, often leading to surprising conclusions such as epistemology, ethics, value theory, metaphysics, metaethics, and logic. (shrink)
The traditional view is that 'now’ is a pure indexical, denoting the utterance time. Yet, despite its initial appeal, the view has faced criticism. A range of data reveal 'now’ allows for discourse-bound (i.e., anaphoric) uses, and can occur felicitously with the past tense. The reaction to this has typically been to treat ‘now’ as akin to a true demonstrative, selecting the prominent time supplied by the non-linguistic context or prior discourse. We argue this is doubly mistaken. The first mistake (...) concerns the semantic value of ‘now’, which is not a time, but a state — the consequent state of a prominent event. The second is that ‘now’ is a pure indexical after all, insofar as its interpretation is determined without recourse to extra-linguistic supplementation. Specifically, we argue that any occurrence of 'now’ selects the consequent state of the most prominent event, where event-prominence is linguistically maintained through prominence-affecting updates contributed by coherence relations. Our analysis accounts straightforwardly for a wide range of discourse initial and discourse bound uses of ‘now’, while giving it a simple indexical meaning. (shrink)
The popular interpretation of token‐reflexivism states that at the level of logical form, indexicals and demonstratives are disguised descriptions that employ complex demonstratives or special quotation‐mark names involving particular tokens of the appropriate expression‐types. In this article I first demonstrate that this interpretation of token‐reflexivism is only one of many, and that it is better to think of token‐reflexivism as denoting a family of distinct theoretical frameworks. Second, I contrast two interpretations of the idea of the token‐reflexive paraphrase of an (...) indexical sentence. The utterance approach claims that token‐reflexive paraphrases involve tokens of entire utterances. The sub‐utterance approach maintains that token‐reflexive paraphrases involve tokens of the particular indexical words used in the utterance. Next, I pose a problem that shows that neither of the two approaches is correct. The problem shows that the only viable version of the token‐reflexive proposition must somehow take into account the referential intentions of the speaker of the context. Therefore I conclude the article by sketching the framework of restricted intentional token‐reflexivism. I argue that it is an attractive semantic theory of distributed utterances that, among other things, enables automatic and intentional indexicals to be distinguished. (shrink)
Modal Meinongianism provides the semantics of sentences involving intentional verbs Priest. To that end, Modal Meinongianism employs a pointed non-normal quantified modal logic model. Like earlier Meinongian views Modal Meinongianism has a characterisation principle, that claims that any condition whatsoever is satisfied by some object in some world. Recently, Everett has proposed an argument against QCP that, if successful, gives rise to problems identical to those Russell raised for Naïve Meinongianism, namely that it allows for true contradictions, and allows us (...) to define anything into existence. Everett claims that the ordinary meanings of “actual” license an inference pattern, such that if an object satisfies Actual A at some world, then that object satisfies A in the actual world. Given that actual world is the designated point of evaluation for truth simpliciter, QCP would fall prey to Russell’s criticisms. As opposed to Everett, I argue that, even if we grant Everett the assumption that “actual” is a modal indexical that rigidly refers to the actual world, it does not conform to the inference pattern above. This is because when an object satisfies Actual A at some world, this alters the assertoric force of “actual”, because “actual” is interpreted in the scope of some modal or intentional operator. I also explain that Everett’s proposed example carries existential commitment because the problematic noun-phrase occurs outside the scope of a modal or intentional operator. (shrink)
Recording devices are generally taken to present problems for the standard Kaplanian semantics for indexicals. In this paper, I argue that the remote utterance view offers the best way for the Kaplanian semantics to handle the recalcitrant data that comes from the use of recording devices. Following Sidelle I argue that recording devices allow agents to perform utterances at a distance. Using the essential, but widely ignored, distinction between tokens and utterances, I develop the view beyond the initial sketch given (...) by Sidelle, and I answer the main objections raised against the view. The paper is structured as follows. Section 1 gives a succinct presentation of Kaplanian semantics and of the problem raised by the use recording devices, Section 2 presents the remote utterance view and Section 3 answers the objections put forward against the view and further develops it. I conclude that the remote utterance view can handle the data that comes from the use of recording devices with only modest modifications of the Kaplanian semantics. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose a new way to distinguish between indexicals, like “I” and “today”, and demonstratives, like “she” and “this”. The main test case is the second person singular pronoun “you”. The tradition would generally count it as a demonstrative, because the speaker’s intentions play a role in providing it with a semantic value. I present cross-linguistic data and explanations offered of the data in typology and semantics to show that “you” belongs on the indexical side, and argue (...) that they can be generalized to a novel criterion for distinguishing between indexicals and demonstratives. The central theoretical claim is that the semantic values of indexicals are objects which play certain utterance-related roles, which are fixed independently of the words being used in the utterance. For instance, the speaker plays the speaker role whether or not she uses the word “I”, and the addressee plays that role whether or not the speaker uses the word “you”. Demonstratives, on the other hand, pick out objects that play no such role, and are instead helped by the speaker’s word-specific intentions. (shrink)
There are two common reactions to Frege’s claim that some senses and thoughts are private. Privatists accept both private senses and thoughts, while intersubjectivists don’t accept either. Both sides agree on a pair of tacit assumptions: first, that private senses automatically give rise to private thoughts; and second, that private senses and thoughts are the most problematic entities to which Frege’s remarks on privacy give rise. The aim of this paper is to show that both assumptions are mistaken. This will (...) motivate a so far neglected, reconciliatory position between privatism and intersubjectivism according to which all thoughts are public while some senses are private. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to lay out a number of theses which are very widely held in contemporary philosophy of language and linguistics, and to argue that, given some extra theses for which I’ll argue, they are inconsistent. Some of this will involve going through some very well-trodden territory—my hope is that presenting this familiar ground in the way that I do will help to make plain the problem that I aim to identify.
Traditionally, pronouns are treated as ambiguous between bound and demonstrative uses. Bound uses are non-referential and function as bound variables, and demonstrative uses are referential and take as a semantic value their referent, an object picked out jointly by linguistic meaning and a further cue—an accompanying demonstration, an appropriate and adequately transparent speaker’s intention, or both. In this paper, we challenge tradition and argue that both demonstrative and bound pronouns are dependent on, and co-vary with, antecedent expressions. Moreover, the semantic (...) value of a pronoun is never determined, even partly, by extra-linguistic cues; it is fixed, invariably and unambiguously, by features of its context of use governed entirely by linguistic rules. We exploit the mechanisms of Centering and Coherence theories to develop a precise and general meta-semantics for pronouns, according to which the semantic value of a pronoun is determined by what is at the center of attention in a coherent discourse. Since the notions of attention and coherence are, we argue, governed by linguistic rules, we can give a uniform analysis of pronoun resolution that covers bound, demonstrative, and even discourse bound readings. Just as the semantic value of the first-person pronoun ‘I’ is conventionally set by a particular feature of its context of use—namely, the speaker—so too, we will argue, the semantic values of other pronouns, including ‘he’, are conventionally set by particular features of the context of use. (shrink)
The Problem of Overlappers is a puzzle about what makes it the case, and how we can know, that we have the parts we intuitively think we have. In this paper, I develop and motivate an overlooked solution to this puzzle. According to what I call the self-making view it is within our power to decide what we refer to with the personal pronoun ‘I’, so the truth of most of our beliefs about our parts is ensured by the very (...) mechanism of self-reference. Other than providing an elegant solution to the Problem of Overlappers, the view can be motivated on independent grounds. It also has wide-ranging consequences for how we should be thinking about persons. Among other things, it can help undermine an influential line of argument against the permissibility of elective amputation. After a detailed discussion and defence of the self-making view, I consider some objections to it. I conclude that none of these objections is persuasive and we should at the very least take seriously the idea that we are to some extent self-made. (shrink)
Are there distinctively second-personal thoughts? I clarify the question and present considerations in favour of a view on which some second-personal thoughts are distinctive. Specifically, I suggest that some second-personal thoughts are distinctive in also being first-personal thoughts. Thus, second-personal thinking provides a way of sharing another person's first-personal thoughts.
In this paper I defend the “Standard View” of the semantics of ‘I’—according to which ‘I’ is a pure, automatic indexical—from a challenge posed by “deferred reference” cases, in which occurrences of ‘I’ are (allegedly) not speaker-referential, and thus non-automatic. In reply, I offer an alternative account of the cases in question, which I call the “Description Analysis” (DA). According to DA, seemingly deferred-referential occurrences of the first person pronoun are interpreted as constituents of a definite description, whose operator scopes (...) over an open sentence Rxy—where R is a contextually selected relation ranging over pairs of people and objects. The role of intentions is thus limited to the determination of R, which is posterior to the fixation of the reference of ‘I’. In support of the DA I present evidence that, in the cases in question, the (Determiner) phrase containing ‘I’ behaves in relevant ways like a description. I show that the DA can account for the problematic examples, while preserving the simplicity of the standard semantics of ‘I’. Finally, I examine a rival account of the data, offered by Nunberg (Linguist Philos 16:1–43, 1993), and argue for the superiority of the DA. (shrink)
Answering machines and other types of recording devices present prima facie problems for traditional theories of the meaning of indexicals. The present essay explores a range of semantic and pragmatic responses to these issues. Careful attention to the difficulties posed by recordings promises to help enlighten the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics more broadly.
I-theories of bare demonstratives take the semantic referent of a demonstrative to be determined by an inner state of the utterer. E-theories take the referent to be determined by factors external to the utterer. I argue that, on the Standard view of communication, neither of these theories can be right. Firstly, both are committed to the existence of conventions with superfluous content. Secondly, any claim to the effect that a speaker employs the conventions associated with these theories cannot have any (...) content, i.e. nothing can count as following these conventions. Bare demonstratives may well not be devices of semantic reference at all, i.e. may not actually contribute a referent to the proposition semantically expressed by an utterance. (shrink)
We distinguish, among other things, between the agent of the context, the speaker of the agent's utterance, the mechanism the agent uses to produce her utterance, and the tokening of the sentence uttered. Armed with these distinctions, we tackle the the ‘answer-machine’, ‘post-it note’ and other allegedly problematic cases, arguing that they can be handled without departing significantly from Kaplan's semantical framework for indexicals. In particular, we argue that these cases don't require adopting Stefano Predelli's intentionalism.
A number of authors have argued that the fact that certain indexicals depend for their reference-determination on the speaker’s referential intentions demonstrates the inadequacy of associating such expressions with functions from contexts to referents (characters). By distinguishing between different uses to which the notion of context is put in these argument, I show that this line of argument fails. In the course of doing so, I develop a way of incorporating the role played by intentions into a character-based semantics for (...) indexicals and I argue that the framework I prefer is superior to an alternative which has been proposed by others. (shrink)
Within the class of indexicals, a distinction is often made between “pure” or “automatic” indexicals on one hand, and demonstratives or “discretionary” indexicals on the other. The idea is supposed to be that certain indexicals refer automatically and invariably to a particular feature of the utterance context: ‘I’ refers to the speaker, ‘now’ to the time of utterance, ‘here’ to the place of utterance, etc. Against this view, I present cases where reference shifts from the speaker, time, or place of (...) utterance to some other object, time, or place. I consider and reject the claim that these counterexamples to the automatic indexical theory all involve non-literal uses of indexicals and argue that they cannot be explained away on the grounds that they involve conversational implicature or pretense. (shrink)
Donnellan and Predelli have both responded to accusations that in virtue of involving intentions in their accounts of reference they are committed to ‘Humpty Dumpty’ theories of reference. I examine their responses and argue that they do not succeed in escaping this accusation. Corazza et al. (2002) propose an alternative to Predelli’s account involving linguistic conventions instead of intentions. I argue that Predelli’s responses to Corazza et al. are unsatisfactory and that the intentional theorist is obliged either to accept the (...) Humpty Dumpty conclusion or to adopt the conventional picture, thus relegating intentions to a less significant role in their reference theory. (shrink)
It is argued that, in order to account for examples where the indexicals `now' and `here' do not refer to the time and location of the utterance, we do not have to assume (pace Quentin Smith) that they have different characters (reference-fixing rules), governed by a single metarule or metacharacter. The traditional, the fixed character view is defended: `now' and `here' always refer to the time and location of the utterance. It is shown that when their referent does not correspond (...) to the time and/or location of the utterance, `now' and `here' work in an anaphoric way, inheriting their reference from another noun phrase. The latter may be explicit or implicit in the discourse. It is also shown that `now' and `here' can inherit their reference from a presupposed or tacit reference. In that case, they are coreferential with what will be labeled a `tacit initiator'. This anaphoric interpretation has the merit of fitting within the Kaplanian distinction between pure indexicals (`now', `here', `today', etc.) and demonstratives (`this', `that', `she', etc.). (shrink)
Context and the indexical 'I'.Varol Akman - 2002 - 1st North American Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI) Workshop on Cognition: Formal Models and Experimental Results, John Perry (Organizer), CSLI, Stanford, CA.details
John Perry argued that the clearest case of an indexical that relies only on the narrow context is 'I,' whose designation depends on the agent and nothing else. In this presentation, I give some examples which show that this view, while essentially correct, may have problems in some rare divergent cases.
The aim of this paper is to explore the proper content of a formal semantic theory in two respects: first, clarifying which uses of expressions a formal theory should seek to accommodate, and, second, how much information the theory should contain. I explore these two questions with respect to occurrences of demonstratives and pronouns – the so- called ‘deferred’ uses – which are often classified as non-standard or figurative. I argue that, contrary to initial impressions, they must be treated as (...) semantically identical to ordinary, perceptual uses of these expression-types, and that this finding has important repercussions for our view of the scope and limits of a semantic theory. (shrink)
Siegel defends "Limited Intentionism", a theory of what secures the semantic reference of uses of bare demonstratives ("this", "that" and their plurals). According to Limited Intentionism, demonstrative reference is fixed by perceptually anchored intentions on the part of the speaker.
Having been influenced by John Perry's 1997 article, "Indexicals and Demonstratives," in this paper I take a closer look at contexts for indexicals, more specifically the indexical "I." (N.B. The adjective in the title is not misspelt; it is used in the sense of the leading brand of premium vodka.).
In this paper I expose and criticise the distinction between pure indexicals and demonstratives, held by David Kaplan and John Perry. I oppose the context of material production of the utterance to the “intended context” (the context of interpretation, i.e. the context the speaker indicates as semantically relevant): this opposition introduces an intentional feature into the interpretation of pure indexicals. As far as the indexical I is concerned, I maintain that we must distinguish between the material producer of the utterance (...) containing I and the “intended agent of the context” - i.e. the individual designated by the material producer as the responsible for the utterance. (shrink)
It is argued that none of the speaker's referential intentions accompanying his utterance of a demonstrative are semantically significant but rather the associated demonstration (or some other source of salience). It is constitutive of the speaker's having the specifically referential intention - held by Kent Bach to be semantically significant - that the speaker is taking, and relying upon, his accompanying gesture (or some other source of salience) as semantically significant, making it the case that this intention is not even (...) partly semantically significant. The same is then shown to hold for the speaker's remaining referential intentions: his intention aimed at a perceived object, believed by David Kaplan to be semantically significant, as well as the intention to refer to the object that he has in mind. (shrink)