Indexical identification: A perspectival account

Philosophical Psychology 14 (3):293 – 312 (2001)
Abstract
It is widely agreed that the references of indexical expressions are fixed partly by their relations to contextual parameters such as the author, time, and place of the utterance. Because of this, indexicals are sometimes described as token-reflexive or utterance-reflexive in their semantics. But when we inquire into how indexicals help us to identify items within experience, we find that while utterance-reflexivity is essential to an interpretation of indexical tokens, it is not a factor in a speaker's identificatory use of indexicals. Tokens cannot be interpreted unless they are first produced, and obviously the speaker who produces them does not depend upon utterance parameters in order to identify their referents in the way that hearers do. Consequently, the standard reflexive accounts of indexicals are of little use in explaining the speaker's identificatory use of indexicals, and must be either replaced or complemented by a further theory of the role of indexicals in thought. This paper provides an account of indexical identification that is attentive to a speaker's as well as a hearer's identification and reveals how indexicals are inextricably perspectival.
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