Jesus loves you!
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According to orthodox semantics, a given sentence as used at a given situation expresses at most one content. In the last decade, this view has been challenged with several objections. Many of them have been addressed in the literature. But one has gone almost unheeded. It stems from sentences that are used to address several people individually, like ‘Jesus loves you!’ as uttered by a priest at a sermon. Cappelen (Philos Perspect 22(1):23–46, 2008), Egan (Synthese 166(2):251–279, 2009), López de Sa (Erkenntnis 79(1):241–253, 2014), and MacFarlane (Assessment sensitivity: relative truth and its applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014, ch. 4) claim that, to account for such cases, one has to adopt a pluralist semantics, according to which the sentences in question express more than one content. In this paper, I shall counter this objection. Exploiting different so far underappreciated features of singular and plural ‘you,’ I argue, orthodox semantics can very well account for the cases in question.
KeywordsContent pluralism Content relativism Indexicals Bound variables Pronouns
Earlier versions of this material were presented at the HU-KCL workshop in London, the workshop Topics in Analytical Metaphysics and Philosophy of Language in Mainz, the GAP.9 in Osnabrück and the SPB in Berlin. I am grateful to all these audiences for helpful feedback. Special thanks to Max Barkhausen, Alexander Dinges, Andy Egan, David Löwenstein, Eliot Michaelson and Richard Woodward, as well as two anonymous referees of this journal. My research on this paper was conducted within the context of the DFG Emmy Noether Research Group Ontology After Quine (WO-1896/1-1). Many thanks to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for supporting this project.
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