Presuppositional indexicals

Date
2010-12
Authors
Hunter, Julie Joanna
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Abstract

I present and defend an account of indexicals that treats indexicals as presuppositional expressions. I argue that the distinction between presupposed and asserted content can replace the more restrictive distinction between character and content that is characteristic of Kaplanian, two-dimensional views. My account, "Presuppositional Indexicals" (PI), is simpler than a two-dimensional account because it does not posit a special layer of meaning for indexicals that cannot interact with truth-conditional content. PI also has broader scope than two-dimensional theories. It opens the door to a general theory of definite noun phrases according to which all definites have two components to their meaning: an asserted component, which contributes new information to a discourse, and a presuppositional component, which determines where asserted information will be attached in a discourse. PI does not stipulate rigidity or referentiality for indexicals as many other theories do. Indexicals do receive a special semantic treatment in PI, but their special semantics are captured entirely in terms of a strategy that indexicals exhibit for the resolution of their presuppositions.

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