Complex demonstratives, hidden arguments, and presupposition

Synthese (4):1-36 (2019)
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Abstract

Standard semantic theories predict that non-deictic readings for complex demonstratives should be much more widely available than they in fact are. If such readings are the result of a lexical ambiguity, as Kaplan (1977) and others suggest, we should expect them to be available wherever a definite description can be used. The same prediction follows from ‘hidden argument’ theories like the ones described by King (2001) and Elbourne (2005). Wolter (2006), however, has shown that complex demonstratives admit non-deictic interpretations only when a precise set of structural constrains are met. In this paper, I argue that Wolter’s results, properly understood, upend the philosophical status quo. They fatally undermine the ambiguity theory and demand a fundamental rethinking of the hidden argument approach.

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Ethan Nowak
Umeå University

Citations of this work

No context, no content, no problem.Ethan Nowak - 2020 - Mind and Language 36 (2):189-220.
Indirectly direct: An account of demonstratives and pointing.Dorothy Ahn - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (6):1345-1393.
A monstrous account of non-deictic readings of complex demonstratives.Joan Gimeno-Simó - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Semantics in generative grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Malden, MA: Blackwell. Edited by Angelika Kratzer.
Situations and attitudes.Jon Barwise & John Perry - 1981 - Journal of Philosophy 78 (11):668-691.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.

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