Mind 125 (498):301-339 (2016)

Jeff Speaks
University of Notre Dame
Demonstratives have different semantic values relative to different contexts of utterance. But it is surprisingly difficult to describe the function from contexts to contents which determines the semantic value of a given use of a demonstrative. It is very natural to think that the intentions of the speaker should play a significant role here. The aim of this paper is to discuss a pair of problems that arise for views which give intentions this central role in explaining the characters of demonstratives. As will emerge, these problems lead quickly to a foundational question about the semantics of demonstratives and many other context-sensitive expressions: the question of whether, in explaining their characters, we need to understand them as sensitive, not just to facts about the psychology of the speaker of the context, but also to facts about the audience of the context. I critically examine Jeffrey King’s theory of demonstratives, which answers this question in the affirmative, and argue that it ultimately collapses into a purely speaker-based view of the character of demonstratives. I then show how to develop a much simpler speaker-based theory which both handles all of the cases handled by King’s theory and avoids some of the more serious problems which King’s theory faces. Towards the end I consider how we might solve the very difficult problems which result from cases in which speakers use demonstratives with conflicting referential intentions.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzv195
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References found in this work BETA

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.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
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Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.

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Citations of this work BETA

No Context, No Content, No Problem.Ethan Nowak - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (2):189-220.
A Puzzle About Demonstratives and Semantic Competence.Jeff Speaks - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):709-734.
The Edenic Theory of Reference.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (3):276-308.
A Defence of Intentionalism About Demonstratives.Alex Radulescu - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4): 775-791.

View all 17 citations / Add more citations

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