Non-World Indices and Assessment-Sensitivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I argue that sentence contents should be assigned truth-values relative to parameters other than a possible world only if those parameters are fixed by the context of assessment rather than the context of use. Standard counterexamples, including tense, de se attitudes, and knowledge ascriptions, all admit of alternative analyses which do not make use of such parameters. Moreover, allowing such indices greatly complicates the task of defining disagreement, and forces an odd separation between what is true, and what someone has truthfully said. If non-world indices are always fixed by the context of assessment, a characterization of semantic theories as 'relativist' in terms of assessment-sensitivity converges with a characterization in terms of sensitivity to non-world indices. More tentatively, I suggest that even a possible world index, when used in the assignment of truth-values to sentence contents, should be fixed by the context of assessment, not the context of use. This eliminates MacFarlane's category of 'non-indexical contextualism', and results in a system in which parameters fixed by the context of use are used only in the assignment of contents to linguistic expressions, and parameters used in the assignment of truth-values to contents are uniformly fixed by the context of assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-148
Number of pages27
JournalInquiry (United Kingdom)
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 8 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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