Complex demonstratives

Philosophical Studies 97 (2):229-249 (2000)
Abstract
Some demonstrative expressions, those we might term ‘bare demonstratives’, appear without any appended descriptive content (e.g. occurrences of ‘this’ or ‘that’ simpliciter). However, it seems that the majority of demonstrative occurrences do not follow this model. ‘Complex demonstratives’ is the collective term I shall use for phrases formed by adjoining one or more common nouns to a demonstrative expression (e.g. ‘that cat’, ‘this happy man’) and I will call the combination of predicates immediately concatenated with the demonstrative in such phrases the ‘matrix’ of the expression. The question, then, is how we should construe the logical form of such expressions within a semantic theory for our language; and I wish to suggest that some recent answers to this question are, in fact, mistaken. The structure of the paper is as follows: first, I wish to highlight two (often underlying) assumptions about the nature of noun phrases in general, and suggest that, if they are both adopted, they apparently constrain the possible accounts of the logical form of complex demonstratives to just three options. The second and third parts of the paper will be concerned with expanding these options and arguing that none of them are adequate; thus the major part of the paper is concerned with the negative claim that the most obvious moves to make in this area must actually fail on closer inspection. The fourth and final section will then (very briefly) sketch the positive thesis of the paper: that we can deliver a clear and cohesive account of complex demonstratives, armed simply with elements which we will draw from David Kaplan’s theory of demonstratives, but only at the cost of rejecting (or at least refining) one assumption we recognised initially.
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