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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 36, 2011

Maura Tumulty
Pages 43-76

Modeling Expressing on Demonstrating

We can increase our understanding of expression by considering an analogy to demonstrative reference. The connections between a demonstrative phrase and its referent, in a case of fully successful communication with that phrase, are analogous to the connections between an expressible state and the behavior that expresses it. The connections in each case serve to maintain a certain status for the connected elements: as actions of persons; or as objects, events, or states significant to persons. The analogy to demonstrative reference helps show that a positive account of expression can make conceptual connections between expressed states and expressive behaviors without courting reductive behaviorism. A general account of expression as marked by these connections is compared to accounts of expression offered by Dorit Bar-On and Mitchell Green. Bar-On’s account turns out to be compatible with the account proposed here, once some of its consequences are fully appreciated. Green’s account rules out, as not expressive, some behaviors like crouching (in fear) that intuitively seem expressive. When Green’s account is altered to allow such behaviors back in, the resulting account also fits the one proposed.

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