Minimizing indexicality

Philosophical Studies 168 (1):1-20 (2014)
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Abstract

I critically examine Cappelen and Lepore’s definition of and tests for indexicality, and refine them to improve their adequacy. Indexicals cannot be defined as expressions with different referents in different contexts unless linguistic meaning and circumstances of evaluation are held constant. I show that despite Cappelen and Lepore’s claim that there are only a handful of indexical expressions, their “basic set” includes a number of large and open classes, and generates an infinity of indexical phrases. And while the tests can be used effectively to combat contextualism concerning ‘knows’ and ‘actual,’ many expressions not in their basic set test positive for indexicality, including quantifier nouns, weather reports, and comparative adjectives. I rebut their claim that context-shifting arguments inevitably lead to radical contextualism, and that if there were any indexicals beyond their basic set, communication would be impossible.

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Wayne Davis
Georgetown University

Citations of this work

Knowledge claims and context: belief.Wayne A. Davis - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):399-432.

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Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Literal Meaning.François Récanati - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Logical investigations.Edmund Husserl - 2000 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Dermot Moran.

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