Context as Assumptions

  • Erich RastEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 369)


The article provides an overview of linguistic context dependence and seeks to lay out some adequacy criteria that a theory of linguistic context dependence has to fulfill. Indexicals in the narrow sense are distinguished from the much more common contextuals. While indexicals proper semantically depend on a possibly shifted deictic center given by the context of a possible utterance, the broader class of contextuals are marked for and subject to additional interpretation depending on the doxastic context of a discourse participant. The interpretation of contextuals is sometimes mandatory and sometimes optional and using parametrized modal logics for these expressions as if they were pure indexicals is of limited use only. Instead, it is suggested to stipulate open argument places in the lexicon entries of contextuals and consider their interpretation a form of abductive inference to a narrowed down semantic content that is most plausible to an agent in a given context.Such a representation is desirable, because it hooks up the notion of interpretation with representations of graded belief from Formal Epistemology. An example of how to implement such an inference mechanism in a type theory with inner negation is given.


Context-dependence Assumptions Indexicality Contextuals Graded belief 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Instituto de Filosofia da LinguagemUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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