, Volume 157, Issue 1, pp 107-123
Date: 11 Sep 2010

Indexical contextualism and the challenges from disagreement

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Abstract

In this paper I argue against one variety of contextualism about aesthetic predicates such as “beautiful.” Contextualist analyses of these and other predicates have been subject to several challenges surrounding disagreement. Focusing on one kind of contextualism—individualized indexical contextualism—I unpack these various challenges and consider the responses available to the contextualist. The three responses I consider are as follows: giving an alternative analysis of the concept of disagreement; claiming that speakers suffer from semantic blindness; and claiming that attributions of beauty carry presuppositions of commonality. I will argue that none of the available strategies gives a response which both (a) satisfactorily explains all of the disagreement-data and (b) is plausible independent of significant evidence in favor of contextualism. I conclude that individualized indexical contextualism about the aesthetic is untenable, although this does not rule out alternative contextualist approaches to the aesthetic.