Intention-Sensitive Expressions

Emma Borg

in Pursuing Meaning

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588374
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741487 | DOI:
Intention-Sensitive Expressions

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This chapter examines the role of speaker intentions in issues of reference determination for context-sensitive expressions, focusing on demonstratives. Intuitively, the referent of a token utterance of ‘that’ is fixed (at least in part) by the speaker's intentions. However, if this is right it causes a potential problem for semantic minimalism. The chapter begins by setting out the nature of this problem and proceeds to explore three putative solutions. First, the assumption that speaker intentions fix reference in these cases may be rejected; second, it may be held that current speaker intentions are relevant but that they can be accommodated within a formal semantic theory; third, reference determination and semantic content may be held strictly apart. The first two of these moves, termed respectively ‘conventionalism’ and ‘non-inferentialism’, are rejected. However it is shown that the third move provides an appealing way for the minimalist to accommodate the content of context-sensitive expressions.

Keywords: demonstratives; context-sensitive expressions; intentions; mindreading; bodyreading; conventionalism; theory-theory approaches to mind; simulation theory; mirror neurons

Chapter.  13795 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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