Intentions and Demonstrations

Analysis 52 (3):140--146 (1992)
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Abstract

MARGA REIMER has forcefully challenged David Kaplan's recent claim ([3], pp. 582-4) that demonstrative gestures, in connnection with uses of demonstrative expressions, are without semantic significance and function merely as 'aids to communication', and that speaker intentions are what determine the demonstratum. Against this Reimer argues that demonstrations can and do play an essential semantic role and that the role of intentions is marginal at best. That is, together with the linguistic meaning of the demonstrative phrase being used, an act of demonstration determines what is said. I will argue that Kaplan's view is borne out if we consider the referential intentions specific to communication. Reimer may be correct about such intentions as she considers, but she overlooks specifically referential ones. When these are taken into account, we find that aalthough demonstrations contribute in a way to what is said, this does not make them semantically significant.

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Kent Bach
San Francisco State University

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