Not All Contextual Parameters Are Alike

A great deal of discussion in recent philosophy of language has centered on the idea that there might be hidden contextual parameters in our sentences. But relatively little attention has been paid to what those parameters themselves are like, beyond the assumption that they behave more or less like variables do in logic. My goal in this paper is to show this has been a mistake. I shall argue there are at least two very different sorts of contextual parameters. One is indeed basically like variables in logic, but the other is very different, and much more like overt referring expressions. This result is of interest in its own right, to those of us who are concerned to map out the details of the semantic and pragmatic workings of language. But it will have some wider morals as well. One of the important issues behind the debate over hidden parameters has been how we can posit hidden structure in language, and how far such structure can stray from the intuitive forms and contents speakers see in communication. I shall argue that one sort of hidden parameter is surprisingly close to the contents and forms speakers find intuitive, while another is more remote. I shall show that the..
Keywords philpapers: relativism about truth
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