Even though it’s based on a bad argument, there’s something to Strawson’s dictum. He might have likened ‘referring expression’ to phrases like ‘eating utensil’ and ‘dining room’: just as utensils don’t eat and dining rooms don’t dine, so, he might have argued, expressions don’t refer. Actually, that wasn’t his argument, though it does make you wonder. Rather, Strawson exploited the fact that almost any referring expression, whether an indexical, demonstrative, proper name, or definite description, can be used to refer to different things in different contexts. This fact, he argued, is enough to show that what refers are speakers, not expressions. Here he didn’t take seriously the perfectly coherent view that an expression’s reference can vary with context. So, he concluded, what varies from context to context is not what a given expression refers to but what a speaker uses it to refer to. Strawson went on to suggest that there are several dimensions of difference between various sorts of referring expressions: degree of dependence on context, degree of “descriptive meaning,” and being governed by a general convention vs. an expressionspecific one. But despite these differences, he insisted that regardless of kind, referring expressions don’t themselves refer — speakers use them to refer.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Sharvy's Theory of Definite Descriptions Revisited.Berit Brogaard - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):160–180.
Demonstratives in Philosophy and Linguistics.Lynsey Wolter - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (3):451-468.
Similar books and articles
The Significance of Context in Comprehension: The `We Case'. [REVIEW]Carla Bazzanella - 2002 - Foundations of Science 7 (3):239-254.
Against Structured Referring Expressions.Arthur Sullivan - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (1):49 - 74.
Generation of Referring Expressions: Assessing the Incremental Algorithm.Kees van Deemter, Albert Gatt, Ielka van der Sluis & Richard Power - 2011 - Cognitive Science 36 (5):799-836.
Descriptions: Points of Reference.Kent Bach - 2004 - In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Clarendon Press. pp. 189-229.
Age Differences in Adults' Use of Referring Expressions.Petra Hendriks, Christina Englert, Ellis Wubs & John Hoeks - 2008 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 17 (4):443-466.
A Strictly Millian Approach to the Definition of the Proper Name.Richard Coates - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (4):433-444.
To Name or to Describe: Shared Knowledge Affects Referential Form.Daphna Heller, Kristen S. Gorman & Michael K. Tanenhaus - 2012 - Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (2):290-305.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads105 ( #47,226 of 2,163,993 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #129,103 of 2,163,993 )
How can I increase my downloads?