Anaphoric Reference: Grammatical or Pragmatic?

Kent Bach

in Thought and Reference

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198240778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680267 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Anaphoric Reference: Grammatical or Pragmatic?

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Anaphoric reference has been discussed much more by linguists than by philosophers. It should be addressed by philosophers as well, for it raises some interesting questions about the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of pronouns. The main question concerns the status of the relation of co-reference between a pronoun and its antecedent: is this a semantic or merely a pragmatic relation? An answer to that question depends on the answer to a similar question about antecedency, which seems to be a syntactic relation. But is this relation really syntactic? In other words, do pronouns literally have antecedents? If they do, then anaphoric reference would have a syntactic basis and, since it would be explained at the level of sentence grammar, would have to be regarded as a semantic phenomenon. Otherwise, it would have to be explained pragmatically and be understood merely as a special case of indexical reference. This chapter takes the latter position, which is summed up very simply: being mentioned elsewhere in a sentence is just one way of being salient.

Keywords: anaphoric reference; pronouns; antecedents

Chapter.  6609 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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