How and Why to Be a Moderate Contextualist
In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Context Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism: New Essays on Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. pp. 111-132 (2007)
Much recent work in the philosophy of language has focused on the extent to which what linguistic expressions express depends upon context. It is (relatively) uncontroversial that some expressions are context-sensitive, for instance, indexicals like ‘I’, and demonstratives like ‘this’. But there is little agreement beyond this point. On some views (the Minimalist views), there is little context-sensitivity in the language that goes beyond these uncontroversially context-dependent expressions. On other views (the Radical Contextualist views), context-sensitivity is everywhere in our language. And on yet other views (the Moderate Contextualist views), the truth lies somewhere in between these extremes. (I shall offer more precise renderings of these views in what follows.).
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