In this paper I argue against one variety of contextualism about aesthetic predicates such as “beautiful.” Contextualist analyses of these and other predicates have been subject to several challenges surrounding disagreement. Focusing on one kind of contextualism— individualized indexical contextualism —I unpack these various challenges and consider the responses available to the contextualist. The three responses I consider are as follows: giving an alternative analysis of the concept of disagreement ; claiming that speakers suffer from semantic blindness; and claiming that (...) attributions of beauty carry presuppositions of commonality. I will argue that none of the available strategies gives a response which both satisfactorily explains all of the disagreement -data and is plausible independent of significant evidence in favor of contextualism. I conclude that individualized indexical contextualism about the aesthetic is untenable, although this does not rule out alternative contextualist approaches to the aesthetic. (shrink)
Epistemic contextualism—the view that the content of the predicate ‘know’ can change with the context of utterance—has fallen into considerable disrepute recently. Many theorists have raised doubts as to whether ‘know’ is context-sensitive, typically basing their arguments on data suggesting that ‘know’ behaves semantically and syntactically in a way quite different from recognised indexicals such as ‘I’ and ‘here’ or ‘flat’ and ‘empty’. This paper takes a closer look at three pertinent objections of this kind, viz. at what I call (...) the Error-Theory Objection, the Gradability Objection and the Clarification-Technique Objection. The paper concludes that none of these objections can provide decisive evidence against contextualism. (shrink)
The subjct of this book is the first person in thought and language. The main question is what we mean when we say 'I'. Related to it are questions about what kinds of self-consciousness and self-knowledge are needed in order for us to have the capacity to talk about ourselves. The emphasis is on theories of meaning and reference for 'I', but a fair amount of space is devoted to 'I'-thoughts and the role of the concept of the self in (...) cognition. The first part of the book constitutes a critique of different solutions to the problem of how 'I' refers, while the second part advances a positive account of 'I'. It is argued that 'I' refers indirectly through a de re sense that is based on non-conceptual content. 'I' expresses an individual concept with two components: the de re sense and a context-independent, fundamental self-concept. By interacting with the environment the subject forms belifs about herself that are essentially first-personal. To have a full-blown self-consciousness and be a competent speaker of 'I', the subject must be able to connect these indexical beliefs with general ones and thus conceive of herself as part of the objective order. The use of 'I' moreover presupposes unity of consciousness and identity over time on the part of the speaker. (shrink)
This collection deals with various problems related to "self-locating beliefs": the sorts of beliefs one expresses with indexicals and demonstratives, like "I" and "this." He includes such well-known essays as "Frege on Demonstratives," "The Problem of the Essential Indexical," and "The Prince and the Phone Booth.".
The objectives of this paper are twofold. The first is to present a differentiation between two kinds of deferred uses of indexicals: those in which indexical utterances express singular propositions and those where they express general propositions. The second objective is the analysis of the descriptive uses of indexicals. In contrast to Nunberg, who treats descriptive uses as a special case of deferred reference in which a property contributes to the proposition expressed, I argue that examples in which a general (...) proposition is indeed expressed by an indexical cannot be treated by assuming that the property is a deferred referent of the pronoun. I propose an analysis of descriptive uses of indexicals by means of a pragmatic mechanism of ‘descriptive anaphora’, which attempts to explain the special kind of contribution of the property retrieved from the context to the proposition that is characteristic of the descriptive interpretation. (shrink)
The main purpose of this paper is to characterize and compare two forms any relativist thesis can take: indexical relativism and genuine relativism. Indexical relativists claim that the implicit indexicality of certain sentences is the only source of relativity. Genuine relativists, by contrast, claim that there is relativity not just at the level of sentences, but also at propositional level. After characterizing each of the two forms and discussing their difficulties, I argue that the difference between the two is significant.
We discuss the challenge to truth-conditional semantics presented by apparent shifts in extension of predicates such as ‘red’. We propose an explicit indexical semantics for ‘red’ and argue that our account is preferable to the alternatives on conceptual and empirical grounds.
Indexicals are unique among expressions in that they depend for their literal content upon extra-semantic features of the contexts in which they are uttered. Taking this peculiarity of indexicals into account yields solutions to variants of Frege's Puzzle involving objects of attitude-bearing of an indexical nature. If names are indexicals, then the classical versions of Frege's Puzzle can be solved in the same way. Taking names to be indexicals also yields solutions to tougher, more recently-discovered puzzles such as Kripke's well-known (...) case involving Paderewski. We argue that names are in fact rigidly designating indexicals. We also argue that fully developed, the direct reference theory's best strategy for solving the puzzles amounts to the adoption of the indexical theory of names – a move that we argue should be thought of as a natural development of the direct reference theory, and not as antagonistic to it. (shrink)
Reichenbachian approaches to indexicality contend that indexicals are "token-reflexives": semantic rules associated with any given indexical-type determine the truth-conditional import of properly produced tokens of that type relative to certain relational properties of those tokens. Such a view may be understood as sharing the main tenets of Kaplan's well-known theory regarding content, or truth-conditions, but differs from it regarding the nature of the linguistic meaning of indexicals and also regarding the bearers of truth-conditional import and truth-conditions. Kaplan has criticized these (...) approaches on different counts, the most damaging of which is that they make impossible a "logic of demonstratives". The reason for this is that the token-reflexive approach entails that not two tokens of the same sentential type including indexicals are guaranteed to have the same truth-conditions. In this paper I rebut this and other criticisms of the Reichenbachian approach. Additionally, I point out that Kaplan's original theory of "true demonstratives" is empirically inadequate, and claim that any modification capable of accurately handling the linguistic data would have similar problems to those attributed to the Reichenbachian approach. This is intended to show that the difficulties, no matter how real, are not caused by idiosincracies of the "token-reflexive" view, but by deep facts about indexicality. (shrink)
We distinguish, among other things, between the agent of the context, the speaker of the agent's utterance, the mechanism the agent uses to produce her utterance, and the tokening of the sentence uttered. Armed with these distinctions, we tackle the the ‘answer-machine’, ‘post-it note’ and other allegedly problematic cases, arguing that they can be handled without departing significantly from Kaplan's semantical framework for indexicals. In particular, we argue that these cases don't require adopting Stefano Predelli's intentionalism.
Recording devices are generally taken to present problems for the standard Kaplanian semantics for indexicals. In this paper, I argue that the remote utterance view offers the best way for the Kaplanian semantics to handle the recalcitrant data that comes from the use of recording devices. Following Sidelle I argue that recording devices allow agents to perform utterances at a distance. Using the essential, but widely ignored, distinction between tokens and utterances, I develop the view beyond the initial sketch given (...) by Sidelle, and I answer the main objections raised against the view. The paper is structured as follows. Section 1 gives a succinct presentation of Kaplanian semantics and of the problem raised by the use recording devices, Section 2 presents the remote utterance view and Section 3 answers the objections put forward against the view and further develops it. I conclude that the remote utterance view can handle the data that comes from the use of recording devices with only modest modifications of the Kaplanian semantics. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a non-referential interpretation of some uses of indexicals embedded under epistemic modals. The so-called descriptive uses of indexicals come in several types and it is argued that those embedded within the scope of modal operators do not require non-referential interpretation, provided the modality is interpreted as epistemic. I endeavor to show that even if we allow an epistemic interpretation of modalities, the resulting interpretation will still be inadequate as long as we retain a referential (...) interpretation of indexicals. I then propose an analysis of descriptive indexicals that combines an epistemic interpretation of modality with a non-referential interpretation of indexicals. (shrink)
I argue that not all context dependent expressions are alike. Pure (or ordinary) indexicals behave more or less as Kaplan thought. But quasi indexicals behave in some ways like indexicals and in other ways not like indexicals. A quasi indexical sentence φ allows for cases in which one party utters φ and the other its negation, and neither party’s claim has to be false. In this sense, quasi indexicals are like pure indexicals (think: “I am a doctor”/“I am not a (...) doctor” as uttered by different individuals). In such cases involving a pure indexical sentence, it is not appropriate for the two parties to reject each other’s claims by saying, “No.” However, in such cases involving a quasi indexical sentence, it is appropriate for the par- ties to reject each other’s claims. In this sense, quasi indexicals are not like pure indexicals. Drawing on experimental evidence, I argue that gradable adjectives like “rich” are quasi indexicals in this sense. e existence of quasi indexicals raises trouble for many existing theories of context dependence, including standard contextualist and relativist theories. I propose an alternative semantic and pragmatic theory of quasi indexicals, negotiated contextualism, that combines insights from Kaplan 1989 and Lewis 1979. On my theory, rejection is licensed with quasi indexicals (even when neither of the claims involved has to be false) because the two utterances involve conflicting proposals about how to update the conversational score. I also adduce evidence that conflicting truth value assessments of a single quasi indexical utterance exhibit the same behavior. I argue that negotiated contextualism can account for this puzzling property of quasi indexicals as well. (shrink)
When you use the word “I” it designates you; when I use the same word, it designates me. If you use “you” talking to me, it designates me; when I use it talking to you, it designates you. “I” and “you” are indexicals. The designation of an indexical shifts from speaker to speaker, time to time, place to place. Different utterances of the same indexical designate different things, because what is designated depends not only on the meaning associated with the (...) expression, but also on facts about the utterance. An utterance of “I” designates the person who utters it; an utterance of “you” designates the person to whom it is addressed, an utterance of “here” designates the place at which the utterance is made, and so forth. Because indexicals shift their designation in this way, sentences containing indexicals can be used to say different things on different occasions. Suppose you say to me, “You are wrong and I am right about reference,” and I reply with the same sentence. We have used the same sentence, with the same meaning, but said quite different and incompatible things. (shrink)
We discuss a recent attempt by Chris Daly and Simon Langford to do away with mathematical explanations of physical phenomena. Daly and Langford suggest that mathematics merely indexes parts of the physical world, and on this understanding of the role of mathematics in science, there is no need to countenance mathematical explanation of physical facts. We argue that their strategy is at best a sketch and only looks plausible in simple cases. We also draw attention to how frequently Daly and (...) Langford find themselves in conflict with mathematical and scientific practice. (shrink)
Words like you, here, and tomorrow are different from other expressions in two ways. First, and by definition, they have different kinds of meanings, which are context-dependent in ways that the meanings of names and descriptions are not. Second, their meanings play a different kind of role in the interpretations of the utterances that contain them. For example, the meaning of you can be paraphrased by a description like "the addressee of the utterance." But an utterance of (1) doesn't say (...) the same thing as an utterance of (2). (shrink)
In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...) criticize Rae Langton's claim that works of pornography can be understood as illocutionary acts – in particular acts of subordinating women or acts of silencing women. Saul argues that it does not make sense to understand works of pornography as speech acts, because only utterances in contexts can be speech acts. More precisely, works of pornography such as a film may be seen as recordings that can be used in many different contexts – exactly like a written note or an answering machine message. According to Saul, bringing contexts into the picture undermines Langton's radical thesis – which must be reformulated in much weaker terms. In this paper, I accept Saul's claim that only utterances in contexts can be speech acts, and that therefore only works of pornography in contexts may be seen as illocutionary acts of silencing women. I will, nonetheless, show that Saul's reformulation doesn't undermine Langton's thesis. To this aim, I will use the distinction Predelli proposes in order to account for the semantic behaviour of indexical expressions in recorded messages – namely the distinction between context of utterance and context of interpretation. (shrink)
Indexicals are linguistic expressions whose reference shifts from context to context: some paradigm examples are ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘now’, ‘today’,‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘that’. Two speakers who utter a single sentence that contains an indexical may say different things. For instance, Fred and Wilma say different things when they utter the sentence ‘I am female’. Many philosophers (following David Kaplan 1989a) hold that indexicals have two sorts of meaning. The first sort of meaning is often called ‘character’ or ‘linguistic meaning’; the second (...) sort is often called ‘content’. Using this terminology, we can say that the word ‘I’ has a single character (or linguistic meaning), but has different contents in different contexts. (shrink)
This paper argues that a theory of situated vision, suited for the dual purposes of object recognition and the control of action, will have to provide something more than a system that constructs a conceptual representation from visual stimuli: it will also need to provide a special kind of direct (preconceptual, unmediated) connection between elements of a visual representation and certain elements in the world. Like natural language demonstratives (such as `this' or `that') this direct connection allows entities to be (...) referred to without being categorized or conceptualized. Several reasons are given for why we need such a preconcep- tual mechanism which individuates and keeps track of several individual objects in the world. One is that early vision must pick out and compute the relation among several individual objects while ignoring their properties. Another is that incrementally computing and updating representations of a dynamic scene requires keeping track of token individuals despite changes in their properties or locations. It is then noted that a mechanism meeting these requirements has already been proposed in order to account for a number of disparate empiri- cal phenomena, including subitizing, search-subset selection and multiple object tracking (Pylyshyn et al., Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 48(2) (1994) 260). This mechanism, called a visual index or FINST, is brie. (shrink)
I propose a pragmatic approach to the kind of reference-shifting occurring in indexicals as used in e.g. written notes and answering machine messages. I proceed in two steps. First, I prepare the ground by showing that the arguments against such a pragmatic approach raised in the recent literature fail. Second, I take a first few steps towards implementing this approach, by sketching a pragmatic theory of reference-shifting, and showing how it can handle cases of the relevant kind. While the immediate (...) scope of the paper is restricted to indexicals and reference-shifting, and the discussion is confined to a specific range of theories and cases, the approach proposed is compatible with a fairly broad range of more or less semantically conservative theories, and many of the conclusions drawn are significant for the evaluation of pragmatic explanations in philosophy more generally. The overall goal is to offer a new perspective on the issues under discussion, and to prompt philosophers to reconsider some of the established methods by which pragmatic explanations are evaluated. (shrink)
Ecological communities are seldom, if ever, biological individuals. They lack causal boundaries as the populations that constitute communities are not congruent and rarely have persistent functional roles regulating the communities’ higher-level properties. Instead we should represent ecological communities indexically, by identifying ecological communities via the network of weak causal interactions between populations that unfurl from a starting set of populations. This precisification of ecological communities helps identify how community properties remain invariant, and why they have robust characteristics. This respects the (...) diversity and aggregational nature of these complex systems while still vindicating them as units worthy of investigation. (shrink)
In Multiple Object Tracking (MOT), an observer is able to track 4 – 5 objects in a group of otherwise indistinguishable objects that move independently and unpredictably about a display. According to the Visual Indexing Theory (Pylyshyn, 1989), successful tracking requires that target objects be indexed while they are distinct -- before tracking begins. In the typical MOT task, the target objects are briefly flashed resulting in the automatic assignment of indexes. The question arises whether indexes are only assigned (...) automatically or whether they can be assigned voluntarily in a top-down manner. This study compares several ways of specifying which of 8 items are the targets to be tracked. In the Flash condition the target items were flashed, in the Nonflash condition the targets were the items not flashed, and in the Number condition the targets were specified by number (e.g., items numbered 1-4). The results showed no difference between the three conditions, suggesting that tracking was possible with either voluntary or involuntary indexing. The second experiment tested the hypothesis that voluntary indexing is possible only if the target items are visited serially. The conditions were the same as experiment 1 except that the time available for index assignment was too short to allow targets to be visited serially. In this experiment, targets flashed only once (or, in the Numbers condition, remained visible for about 400 ms). The results showed a decrease in tracking performance for the Number condition, but the Flash and the Nonflash conditions did not differ, suggesting that as long as the designation of targets was done rapidly, the observer did not have to visit each target serially in order to index it. These results suggest that indexing can occur both automatically and voluntarily, and without serially visiting them, so long as the items are successfully specified. (shrink)
Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories secure rigidity for indexicals by positing special contexts and semantic mechanisms reserved only for indexicals. The result is a deep and unexplained chasm between expressions that depend on the extra-linguistic context and expressions that depend on the discourse context. Theories that treat indexicals as anaphoric, presuppositional expressions (e.g., Zeevat 1999; Roberts 2002; Hunter & Asher 2005; Maier 2006, 2009) have the potential to be more minimal and general than Kaplanian, two-dimensional theories—the mechanism of presupposition, unlike that of (...) Kaplanian character, is useful for the semantics of a great many expressions. Maier (2006, 2009), however, has argued that presuppositional theories of indexicals must be supplemented with a two-dimensional semantics in order to secure rigidity for indexicals. If this is right, then presuppositional theories of indexicals will suffer from the limitations of Kaplan's system. This article argues that Maier is not right on this point: presuppositions can completely replace Kaplanian characters. A presuppositional theory can secure rigidity for indexicals without positing two independent dimensions of meaning that can never interact; in particular, it can do so without positing that indexicals have a special kind of meaning that by its nature can never interact with the kind of meaning that Kaplan called ‘content’. The result is a more general, minimal and flexible theory that better handles the data on indexicals. (shrink)
Are non-indexical action rationalizations necessarily incomplete because of a missing indexical component? Bermúdez argues that they are. Two things make the argument unpersuasive. First, it assumes that all action rationalizations involve attitudes that are about the agent. Second, it assumes that the attitudes expressible using ‘I’ are themselves indexical. Each is an assumption that believers in complete but non-indexical action rationalizations can and do reject. Surprisingly though, a more effective argument can be obtained by switching focus from indexical attitudes about (...) agents to indexical attitudes about times. The debate about the de se and the de nunc has much less in common than is standardly assumed. It is the de nunc not the de se which provides the knock-down case for essential indexicality. (shrink)
Francois Recanati’s Mental Files presents a picture of the mind on which mental representations are indexical and transparent. I dispute this picture: there is no clear case for regarding mental representations as indexical, and there are counterexamples to transparency.
The paper seeks to develop an account of indexical phenomena based on the highly general theory of structure and dependence set forth by Husserl in his Logical Investigations. Husserl here defends an Aristotelian theory of meaning, viewing meanings as species or universals having as their instances certain sorts of concrete meaning acts. Indexical phenomena are seen to involve the combination of such acts of meaning with acts of perception, a thesis here developed in some detail and contrasted with accounts of (...) indexicals suggested by Frege, Wittgenstein and by the later Husserl himself in his Ideas I. Implications are drawn also for our understanding of the categorial grammar sketched by Husserl in his 4th Logical Investigation, as also for our understanding of the nature of proper names and other candidate indexical expressions. (shrink)
In this paper, I show how a solution to Lewis’ problem of temporary intrinsics is also a response to McTaggart’s argument that the A-series is incoherent. There are three strategies Lewis considers for solving the problem of temporary intrinsics: perdurantism, presentism, and property-indexing. William Lane Craig (Analysis 58(2):122–127, 1998) has examined how the three strategies fare with respect to McTaggart’s argument. The only viable solution Lewis considers to the problem of temporary intrinsics that also succeeds against McTaggart, Craig claims, (...) is presentism. This gives us prima facie reason to be presentists. But there is a strategy Craig does not consider-indexing, or relativizing, the copula. In this paper, I show that to the degree that indexing the copula solves the problem of temporary intrinsics, it also shows the invalidity of McTaggart’s argument. The upshot: the copula-indexer needn’t affirm the unreality of time, nor need she embrace presentism. (shrink)
Philosophers and logicians use the term “indexical” for words such as “I”, “you” and “tomorrow”. Demonstratives such as “this” and “that” and demonstratives phrases such as “this man” and “that computer” are usually reckoned as a subcategory of indexicals. (Following [Kaplan, 1989a].) The “context-dependence” of indexicals is often taken as a defining feature: what an indexical designates shifts from context to context. But there are many kinds of shiftiness, with corresponding conceptions of context. Until we clarify what we mean by (...) “context”, this defining feature remains unclear. In sections 1–3, which are largely drawn from [Perry, forthcoming(a)], I try to clarify the sense in which indexicals are context-dependent and make some distinctions among the ways indexicals depend on context. In sections 3–6, I contrast indexicality with another phenomenon that I call “unarticulated constituents.”. (shrink)
John Perry's book Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness is a lucid and engaging defense of a physicalist view of consciousness against various anti-physicalist arguments. In what follows, I will address Perry's responses to the three main anti-physicalist arguments he discusses: the zombie argument , the knowledge argument , and the modal argument.
Indexicals are linguistic expressions whose meaning remain stable while their reference shifts from utterance to utterance. Paradigmatic cases in English are ‘I’, ‘here’, and ‘now’. Recently, a number of authors have argued that various constructions in our language harbor hidden indexicals. We say 'hidden' because these indexicals are unpronounced, even though they are alleged to be real linguistic components. Constructions taken by some authors to be associated, or to ‘co-habit’, with hidden indexicals include: definite descriptions and quantifiers more generally (hidden (...) indexical refers to a domain – Davies (1981), Westerstahl (1985), Soames (1986), Higginbotham (1988), Stanley and Williamson (1995)), propositional attitude verbs (hidden indexical refers to a mode of presentation – Richard (1990)), comparative adjectives (hidden indexical refers to comparison classes – Partee (1989), Kamp (1975), Ludlow (1989)). An interesting recent addition is the view that all nouns are associated with a hidden indexical referring to a domain restriction (Stanley and Szabo (2000), Stanley.. (shrink)
Answering machines and other types of recording devices present prima facie problems for traditional theories of the meaning of indexicals. The present essay explores a range of semantic and pragmatic responses to these issues. Careful attention to the difficulties posed by recordings promises to help enlighten the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics more broadly.
This paper advances the thesis that sensory concepts have as a semantic component the first-person indexical. It is argued that the private nature of our access to our own sensations forces, in our talking about them, an indexical reference to the inner states of the speaker in lieu of publicly accessible properties by which reference is usually fixed. Indexicals, such as ‘here’, can be understood despite ignorance of their referent. Such is the case with sensory terms. Furthermore, the thesis that (...) sensory terms are indexical has considerable explanatory power. I give two examples: firstly, I argue that clashes of intuition over Block's ‘inverted spectrum’ thought experiment can be explained by appeal to semantic properties of indexicals. Secondly, I argue that multiple realisability intuitions can be shown to be consistent with the view that sensations are type-identical with brain states. (shrink)
In recent analytic literature on the Trinity we have seen a variety of "social" models of the Trinity. By contrast there are few "non-‐social" models. One prominent "non-‐social" view is Brian Leftow's "Latin Trinity." I argue that the name of Leftow's model is not sufficiently descriptive in light of diverse models within Latin speaking theology. Next, I develop a new "non-‐social" model that is inspired by Richard of St. Victor's description of a person in conjunction with my appropriating insights about (...) indexicals from David Kaplan and John Perry. I point out that the copula in tokens of statements like, "I am the Father," is an ambiguous term and when used by a certain divine person a different proposition is affirmed. Central to this model is the claim that the copula bears the "is of identity" and the "is of numerical sameness without identity." Further, I show that Leftow's model employs two concepts of "person," a Lockean one and a Boethian one, and mine employs Richard of St. Victor's. I describe Leftow's model as a "hard non-‐social" model and mine as a "soft non-‐social" model that is nearer to some social models. I conclude that Leftow's model is not the lone candidate among "non-‐social" models and that the variety of "non-‐social" models has yet to be exhausted. (shrink)
This paper is a comparison of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s theory of indexicals, especially concerning Frege’s remarks on time as “part of the expression of thought”. I analyze the most contrasting features of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s remarks on indexicals. Subsequently, I try to identify a common ground between Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations, and hint at a possible convergence between those two views, stressing the importance given by Frege to nonverbal signs in defining the content of (...) thought. I conclude by indicating a possible direction for further research. (shrink)
To avoid difficulties facing intention-based accounts of indexicals, Cohen () recently defends a conventionalist account that focuses on the context of tokening. On this view, a token of ‘here’ or ‘now’ refers to the place or time at which it tokens. However, although promising, such an account faces a serious problem: in many speech acts, multiple apparent tokens are produced. If I call Alaska from Paris and say ‘I'm here now’, an apparent token of my utterance will be produced in (...) both Paris and Alaska. The token-contextual account seems to imply that in such cases I will refer to both places and contradict myself. Here I argue that to resolve this and similar puzzles we must realize that not all apparent semantic tokens really are semantic tokens, and that to decide which ones count we must appeal to speaker intentions. However, because this appeal is made at the level of the metaphysics of semantic tokens rather than to determine their meaning, it does not raise the problems associated with intentionalism that the conventionalist hopes to avoid. The metaphysics of semantic tokens uncovered is surprisingly complex, showing that shapes and sounds can transition in and out of being utterances. (shrink)
We present a computational analysis of de re, de dicto, and de se belief and knowledge reports. Our analysis solves a problem first observed by Hector-Neri Castañeda, namely, that the simple rule -/- `(A knows that P) implies P' -/- apparently does not hold if P contains a quasi-indexical. We present a single rule, in the context of a knowledge-representation and reasoning system, that holds for all P, including those containing quasi-indexicals. In so doing, we explore the difference between reasoning (...) in a public communication language and in a knowledge-representation language, we demonstrate the importance of representing proper names explicitly, and we provide support for the necessity of considering sentences in the context of extended discourse (for example, written narrative) in order to fully capture certain features of their semantics. (shrink)
In this essay I examine how we use indexicals. The key function of indexicals, I claim, is to help the audience --- that is the hearers or readers of the utterance with whom the speaker intends to be communicating---to find supplementary channels of information about the object to which the indexical refers. To keep the discussion manageable, I will oversimplify the epistemology of conversation. I ignore the fact that people sometimes lie and sometimes make mistakes. I talk freely about what (...) one learns and the information one gets from an utterance. (shrink)
Jason Stanley has criticized a contextualist solution to the sorites paradox that treats vagueness as a kind of indexicality. His objection rests on a feature of indexicals that seems plausible: that their reference remains fixed in verb phrase ellipsis. But the force of Stanley’s criticism depends on the undefended assumption that vague terms, if they are a special sort of indexical, must function in the same way that more paradigmatic indexicals do. This paper argues that there can be more than (...) one sort of indexicality, that one term might easily have both sorts, and that therefore, and despite Stanley’s worries, vagueness might easily be assimilated to one form. (shrink)
Eros Corazza presents a fascinating investigation of the role that indexicals play in our thought. Indexicality is crucial to the understanding of such puzzling issues as the nature of the self, the nature of perception, social interaction, psychological pathologies, and psychological development. Corazza draws on work from philosophy, linguistics, and psychology to illuminate this key aspect of the relation between mind and world. By highlighting how indexical thoughts are irreducible and intrinsically perspectival, Corazza shows how we can depict someone else's (...) indexical thought from a third-person perspective. The phenomenon of quasi-indexicality is introduced here: to represent Jane saying, "I am prosperous", we use what Castañeda termed a quasi-indicator in a report of the form "Jane said that she is prosperous". Corazza argues that quasi-indicators play such an important role in our linguistic, social, and psychological life that they have a cognitive primacy over other mechanisms of reference. Quasi-indexicality also emerges as a key notion when we come to consider our ability to understand other minds. Corazza argues that indexicality and quasi-indexicality are two sides of the same coin, best understood within the framework of direct reference. (shrink)
Call a thought whose expression involves the utterance of an indexical an indexical thought. Thus, my thoughts that I’m annoyed, that now is not the right time, that this is not acceptable, are all indexical thoughts. Such thoughts present a prima facie problem for the thesis that thought contents are phenomenally individuated -- i.e., that each distinct thought type has a proprietarily cognitive phenomenology such that its having that phenomenology makes it the thought that it is -- given the assumption (...) that phenomenology is intrinsically determined. My concern in this paper is to blunt standard intuitions concerning the external individuation of indexical thought contents, and to defend a conception of indexical thought content that is entirely phenomenal and internalist. (shrink)
This essay reconsiders Paul Ramsey’s “medical indications” policy and argues that his reconstruction of the case of Joseph Saikewicz demonstrates that there is more room for caretakers to decline treatments for “voiceless dependents” than his interlocutors have sometimes thought. It furthermore draws on Ramsey’s earlier work to propose ways that Ramsey might have improved his policy, and argues that the shortcomings of Ramsey’s view arise from his bracketing of age in making determinations about what form of medical care is owed. (...) The reading of Ramsey set forth here suggests Cathleen Kaveny’s depiction of the ‘medical indications’ policy in Ethics at the Edges of Law is too rigid and inflexible, even while it affirms other aspects of her critique. (shrink)
Beliefs are commonly analyzed as binary relations between subjects and propositions. Perry and Lewis have shown that the standard account has difficulties in handling self-locating beliefs. Robert Stalnaker has recently put forward a version of the standard account that is supposed to overcome this problem. Stalnaker's motivation for defending the propositional account of belief is that it comes with a simple and powerful propositional model of communication. In this paper I argue that Stalnaker's proposal fails. The only way of upholding (...) the propositional account of belief is by abandoning the simple account of communication. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
It has been persuasively argued by David Kaplan and others that the proposition expressed by statements like (1) is a singular proposition, true in just those worlds in which a certain person, David Israel, is a computer scientist. Call this proposition P . The truth of this proposition does not require that the utterance (1) occur, or even that Israel has ever said anything at all. Marcus, Donnellan, Kripke and others have persuasively argued for a view of proper names that, (...) put in Kaplan’s terms and applied to this example, implies that the proposition expressed by (2) is also simply P .1 The thesis that expressions of a certain category (names, indexicals, demonstratives, pronouns, descriptions, etc.) are referential 2holds that these expressions contribute the object to which they refer, rather than a mode of presentation of that object, to the propositions expressed by statements containing them. The thesis that indexicals and names are referential creates the challenge of explaining the difference in cognitive signiﬁcance between statements like (1) and (2), that express the same proposition[Wettstein, 1986]. The problem has two parts, which.. (shrink)
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