Meaning and Indexicality

  • Gaetano Fiorin
  • Denis Delfitto
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 25)


In this chapter, we introduce the class of expressions known as indexicals. These are expressions such as “I”, “you”, “here”, and “now” whose reference varies depending on their circumstances of use. We discuss the challenges these expressions raise for the theory of meaning as reference. We also introduce and discuss the descriptive theory of indexicals, whereby indexicals are to be regarded as descriptions in disguise. On the basis of several arguments, we will conclude that both the analysis of indexicals in terms of their reference and the analysis of indexicals as descriptions are empirically as well as conceptually unsatisfactory.


Indexicals First-person Self-reference Self-acquaintance 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gaetano Fiorin
    • 1
  • Denis Delfitto
    • 2
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of VeronaVeronaItaly

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