, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 547-562
Date: 19 Mar 2011

Bare-Boned Demonstratives

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Abstract

This essay proposes a novel semantic account of demonstratives, aimed at clarifying the sense in which demonstratives are semantically dependent on demonstrations. Its first two sections summarize the main views currently on the market. Section 3 argues that they are all vitiated by the same shortcomings, and yield incorrect results of ‘truth in virtue of character’ and entailment. Section 4 proposes a different account of the relationships between demonstratives and demonstrations, grounded on the idea of truth-conditionally irrelevant aspects of the meaning of certain expressions. The resulting view of demonstratives is consonant with the so-called ‘bare boned’ account of their truth-conditional role, but is also in the position to recognize that the dependence of a demonstrative on a demonstration is, in some sense of the term, meaning-governed. The final section of this essay discusses the distinction between ‘vacuous’ and ‘incomplete’ uses of demonstratives, and cases involving multiple occurrences of these expressions.