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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, 2013

Jeffrey C. King
Pages 161-168

Kent Bach on Speaker Intentions and Context

It is generally believed that natural languages have lots of contextually sensitive expressions. In addition to familiar examples like ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘today’, ‘he’, ‘that’ and so on that everyone takes to be contextually sensitive, examples of expressions that many would take to be contextually sensitive include tense, modals, gradable adjectives, relational terms (‘local’; ‘enemy’), possessives (‘Annie’s book’) and quantifi ers (via quantifier domains). With the exception of contextually sensitive expressions discussed by Kaplan [1977], there has not been a lot of discussion as to the mechanism whereby contextually sensitive expressions get their values in context, aside from vague references to speakers’ intentions. In a recent paper, I proposed a candidate for being this mechanism and defended the claim that it is such. Because, as I suggested, these issues have been most extensively discussed in the case of demonstratives, I focused on these expressions by way of contrasting the mechanism I proposed with others in the literature. In the present work, I simply state what I claim is the mechanism by means of which demonstratives secure semantic values in contexts without defending the claim that it is so. I then consider some claims made by Kent Bach, and arguments for those claims, which would undermine the account I propose of how demonstratives secure semantic values in context.

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