Semantic Minimalism and Nonindexical Contextualism

In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism: New Essays on Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. pp. 240--250 (2007)
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Abstract

According to Semantic Minimalism, every use of "Chiara is tall" (fixing the girl and the time) semantically expresses the same proposition, the proposition that Chiara is (just plain) tall. Given standard assumptions, this proposition ought to have an intension (a function from possible worlds to truth values). However, speakers tend to reject questions that presuppose that it does. I suggest that semantic minimalists might address this problem by adopting a form of "nonindexical contextualism," according to which the proposition invariantly expressed by "Chiara is tall" does not have a context-invariant intension. Nonindexical contextualism provides an elegant explanation of what is wrong with "context-shifting arguments" and can be seen as a synthesis of the (partial) insights of semantic minimalists and radical contextualists.

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John MacFarlane
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

Relativism and disagreement.John MacFarlane - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):17-31.
Nonindexical contextualism.John MacFarlane - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):231-250.
Relativism.Maria Baghramian & Adam J. Carter - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moral Contextualism and Moral Relativism.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (232):385 - 409.

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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Xiv *-making sense of relative truth.John MacFarlane - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):305-323.
Tense, modality, and semantic values.Jeffrey C. King - 2003 - Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):195–246.
Painted leaves, context, and semantic analysis.Stefano Predelli - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (3):351 - 374.

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