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Against rigidity. An investigation of the semantics and pragmatics of indexicality

Grimberg, Mary Lou; (1996) Against rigidity. An investigation of the semantics and pragmatics of indexicality. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Saul Kripke, for whom the paradigmatic de jure rigid designator is the proper name, suggests that the link between such a name and its designatum is first established at an 'initial baptism' and that the link thus established is maintained by means of a 'causal chain'. One of the most significant properties claimed for such a designator is that its propositional meaning is exhausted by its referent. A second claim is the more mysterious one concerning the transworld identity of objects designated in this way. David Kaplan prefers to use the expression 'directly referential' to describe the semantic function of such terms. For him the paradigmatic directly referential term of natural language is the pronoun used indexically. He claims that such terms are also de jure rigid designators which contribute objects, not descriptions, to propositions. These two theses are closely associated, and it is against them both that I wish to argue as they give rise to a range of problems. In chapter one, some of the traditional philosophical problems are introduced. It is also suggested that there are additional, linguistic, reasons for believing the theses of rigid designation and direct reference to be mistaken. In chapter two certain problems arising from the assumption that indexically occurring pro-terms are directly referential are investigated in greater detail. In chapter three an alternative analysis of indexical reference, developed from Geoffrey Nunberg's model of indexicality, is presented. In chapter four the distinction between indexicality and deixis is investigated, and in chapter five I argue that the analysis of indexical interpretation developed in the previous chapters may be extended to include anaphoric reference also, thus providing a unitary semantic model for all the functions of pro-terms. Finally, the viability of this model is tested with respect to well-known problem utterances. The results of these tests are encouraging.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Against rigidity. An investigation of the semantics and pragmatics of indexicality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106152
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