Indexicals and Descriptions
Garcia-Murga (Fernando)
Source: Sorites 2, July 1995: 46-56
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    Reference is a common feature to indexicals, definite descriptions and, at least some uses of indefinite descriptions. A referential expression triggers a search for a referent, which ranges over the linguistic context, physical environment or encyclopedic knowledge. I argue for a unified theory of reference within which indexicals and definite descriptions refer to salient objects while indefinite descriptions refer to non salient objects. The descriptive content attached to each expression provides information making it possible for the addressee to find an object the speaker has referred to. Ostension and other non linguistic knowledge helps the addressee’s search. Salience, rather than mutual knowledge or givenness, is the crucial aspect the speaker considers when he performs a referential act. Unlike indefinite descriptions, indexicals and definite descriptions presuppose the referent’s existence. However, current theories of presupposition-projection maintain inheritance mechanisms which are shown to be inadequate from our present approach.


Filed electronically with the full edition of Sorites 02

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