Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 41, Issue 3, 2014

Alexei Chernyak
Pages 82-95

Indirect Reference for Indexicals and Ambiguous Self-Identification

The article is devoted to a philosophical discussion of semantics of indexical expressions inspired mainly by theories of D. Kaplan and P. Schlenker. The author considers Schlenker’s arguments contra Kaplan that referents of indexicals sometimes may not be considered as directly provided by contexts of their use. He argues that the idea that indexicals can have shifted reference can and should be developed further. The author discusses cases which seem to call for a broader understanding of context dependency of indexicals. In particular the cases that introduce contexts where the speaker does not refer to herself as a unique individual specifically located in space and time. It is argued that references in such cases can hardly be explained as either shifted or not shifted in the standard way suggested by Schlenker. These examples are followed by more examples of conditional shifting and examples of split shifted parameters. The author argues that such real speech situations along with communicative intentions of speaker suggest that a broader understanding of context dependency of indexicals should be taken into account.