Presuppositional Indexicals

Journal of Semantics 30 (3):381-421 (2013)
Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories secure rigidity for indexicals by positing special contexts and semantic mechanisms reserved only for indexicals. The result is a deep and unexplained chasm between expressions that depend on the extra-linguistic context and expressions that depend on the discourse context. Theories that treat indexicals as anaphoric, presuppositional expressions (e.g., Zeevat 1999; Roberts 2002; Hunter & Asher 2005; Maier 2006, 2009) have the potential to be more minimal and general than Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories—the mechanism of presupposition, unlike that of Kaplanian character, is useful for the semantics of a great many expressions. Maier (2006, 2009), however, has argued that presuppositional theories of indexicals must be supplemented with a two-dimensional semantics in order to secure rigidity for indexicals. If this is right, then presuppositional theories of indexicals will suffer from the limitations of Kaplan's system. This article argues that Maier is not right on this point: presuppositions can completely replace Kaplanian characters. A presuppositional theory can secure rigidity for indexicals without positing two independent dimensions of meaning that can never interact; in particular, it can do so without positing that indexicals have a special kind of meaning that by its nature can never interact with the kind of meaning that Kaplan called ‘content’. The result is a more general, minimal and flexible theory that better handles the data on indexicals
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DOI 10.1093/jos/ffs013
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H. Zeevat (1999). Demonstratives in Discourse. Journal of Semantics 16 (4):279-313.

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