• Philippe Schlenker
Part of the Springer Undergraduate Texts in Philosophy book series (SUTP)


Indexicals are context-dependent expressions such as I, you, here and now, whose semantic value depends on the context in which they are uttered. They raise two kinds of questions. First, they are often thought to be scopeless – e.g. with I rigidly referring to the speaker – and to give rise to non-trivial patterns of inference – e.g. I exist seems to be a priori true despite the fact that I necessarily exist isn’t. Second, indexicals may play a crucial role in the expression of irreducibly De Se thoughts, and both the existence of such thoughts and the ways in which they can be reported in indirect discourse must be elucidated. The Kaplanian picture posits that indexicals take their value from a distinguished context parameter, whose very nature is responsible for some entailments, and which remains fixed – hence the apparent scopelessness of indexicals. It further posits that while indexicals may serve to express irreducibly De Se thoughts, these may not be reported as such in indirect discourse (no ‘De Se readings’). Both tenets have been criticized in recent research: there are a variety of constructions across languages in which the context parameter appears to be shifted; and several types of indirect discourse (some of them involving context shift) do give rise to De Se readings.


Indexicals Attitude reports Monsters Context-dependency Intensional semantics 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Schlenker
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Département d’Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Institut Jean-Nicod (ENS – EHESS – CNRS)PSL Research UniversityParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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