Chapter 8. A plausibility-based model of shifted indexicals

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In his groundbreaking formal work on context-dependent expressions, Kaplan (1989a) argued that the conventional meaning of natural language indexicals cannot be modified by sentential operators. Kaplan’s original theory, however, has been recently challenged by empirical studies. It turned out that in certain languages, for example in Amharic and Zazaki, attitude operators are able to modify the meaning of indexicals. Some of these empirical findings appear to be clearly inconsistent with the Kaplanian account. From a metatheoretical point of view, the current debate about the operator-sensitivity of indexicals can also be interpreted as a debate about the role of linguistic data. In following the p-model and considering linguistic data as statements with plausibility values, one can make some progress in this field of research.


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