Philosophical Studies

, Volume 163, Issue 2, pp 561–574

On nonindexical contextualism


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-011-9831-1

Cite this article as:
Davis, W.A. Philos Stud (2013) 163: 561. doi:10.1007/s11098-011-9831-1


MacFarlane distinguishes “context sensitivity” from “indexicality,” and argues that “nonindexical contextualism” has significant advantages over the standard indexical form. MacFarlane’s substantive thesis is that the extension of an expression may depend on an epistemic standard variable even though its content does not. Focusing on ‘knows,’ I will argue against the possibility of extension dependence without content dependence when factors such as meaning, time, and world are held constant, and show that MacFarlane’s nonindexical contextualism provides no advantages over indexical contextualism. The discussion will shed light on the definition of indexicals as well as the meaning of ‘knows,’ and highlight important constraints on the way meaning can be represented in semantics.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA