`She' and `he': Politically correct pronouns

Philosophical Studies 111 (2):173 - 196 (2002)
Abstract
It is argued that the pronouns `she' and `he' are disguised complexdemonstratives of the form `that female/male'. Three theories ofcomplex demonstratives are examined and shown to be committed to theview that `s/he' turns out to be an empty term when used to refer toa hermaphrodite. A fourth theory of complex demonstratives, one thatis hermaphrodite friendly, is proposed. It maintains that complexdemonstratives such as `that female/male' and the pronoun `s/he' can succeed in referring to someone independently of his or her gender.This theory incorporates: (i) a multiple proposition view, i.e., theview that an utterance of a sentence containing a complex demonstrativeexpresses two (or more) propositions, namely the background proposition(s)and the official one; (ii) that the referent of a complex demonstrativeis a component of the official proposition expressed whether it satisfiesthe nominal part of the demonstrative expression or not; (iii) that thenominal part of a complex demonstrative only affect the background proposition(s) and (iv) that the utterance inherits its truth-value onlyfrom the official proposition.
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