Philosophical Studies

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 273–298 | Cite as

Metaphor and minimalism



This paper argues first that, contrary to what one would expect, metaphorical interpretations of utterances pass two of Cappelan and Lepore’s Minimalist tests for semantic context-sensitivity. I then propose how, in light of that result, one might analyze metaphors on the model of indexicals and demonstratives, expressions that (even) Minimalists agree are semantically context-dependent. This analysis builds on David Kaplan’s semantics for demonstratives and refines an earlier proposal in (Stern, Metaphor in context, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2000). In the course of this argument, I also discuss some new examples of linguistic phenomena that motivate a semantic structure underlying metaphorical interpretation, phenomena I argue that neither Minimalists nor Contextualists can explain.


Metaphor Semantics Pragmatics Minimalism Context-dependence 



This paper was presented to the Baltic States Philosophy Conference “A Figure of Speech,” Riga, Latvia, at Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris, and at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am especially indebted to participants and especially Nat Hansen, Liz Camp, Robyn Carston, and Francois Recanati for their comments. I also want to thank the American Council of Learned Societies for fellowship support in 2007–2008 while this paper was first composed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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