‘Nobody Loves Me’: Quantification and Context

Philosophical Studies 130 (2):377 - 397 (2006)
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Abstract

In my paper, I present two competing perspectives on the foundational problem (as opposed to the descriptive problem) of quantifier domain restriction: the objective perspective on context (OPC) and the intentional perspective on context (IPC). According to OPC, the relevant domain for a quantified sentence is determined by objective facts of the context of utterance. In contrast, according to IPC, we must consider certain features of the speaker’s intention in order to determine the proposition expressed. My goal is to offer a plausible and fair reconstruction of IPC. Drawing a parallel between quantifier domain restriction and standard cases of context dependence as indexicality, I argue that the speaker’s intentions can play a semantic role only if they satisfy an Availability Constraint: an intention must be made available or communicated to the addressee, and for that purpose the speaker can exploit any feature of the objective context (words, gestures, relevance or uniqueness of either the quantificational domain or of the referent in the context of utterance). An intention satisfying the Availability Constraint must be something that a hearer in normal circumstances is able to work out by relying on the physical surroundings of the utterance situation, on utterances exchanged during the previous conversation, and on background knowledge shared by speaker and addressee.

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Author's Profile

Claudia Bianchi
Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele (Milan)