“The Difference between Indexicals and Demonstratives”
by Alex Radulescu (Ph.D., Philosophy, UCLA)
Location: Lory Student Center 214-216
Free and open to the public
ABSTRACT: There are at least two kinds of context sensitive words: indexicals (e.g. “I” and “today) and demonstratives (e.g. “this” and “that”). I argue that the difference between them lies in the role played by the speaker’s intentions in providing them with a semantic value in a given context. The traditional view, which actually comes in many flavors, would have it that the need for intentions of any kind immediately entails that the word in question is a demonstrative. I argue that my criterion, which looks more carefully at types of
semantically relevant intentions, fits better with the natural account of the second person singular pronoun “you”, and that it helps solve two conceptual problems which have until now plagued every logic of demonstratives. This allows me to then sketch a logic of demonstratives which accounts for the validity of arguments which take place in conversations (that is, arguments in which the speaker, the addressee, the place, the time, etc. may change from premise to premise).