Saying and Agreeing


  • Many thanks are due to the following: Herman Cappelen, Brian Coffee, David Copp, Paul Elbourne, Jerry Fodor, Michael Glanzberg, John Hawthorne, Robbie Hirsch, Barry Smith, and Jason Stanley, as well as helpful suggestions from two anonymous referees from Mind & Language. We would also like to thank the audiences of a philosophy of language seminar at UC Davis (Fall 2009), an APA Symposium in Chicago, University College Dublin, University of Siena and Bilkent University (Ankara).

Ernie Lepore, Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, Psych Bldg Addition, Busch Campus, 152 Frelinghuysen Road. Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020, USA; Adam Sennet, Philosophy Department, UC Davis, 1 Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95814, USA.;


No semantic theory is complete without an account of context sensitivity. But there is little agreement over its scope and limits even though everyone invokes intuition about an expression's behavior in context to determine its context sensitivity. Minimalists like Cappelen and Lepore identify a range of tests which isolate clear cases of context sensitive expressions, such as ‘I’, ‘here’, and ‘now’, to the exclusion of all others. Contextualists try to discredit the tests and supplant them with ones friendlier to their positions. In this paper we will explore and evaluate Cappelen and Hawthorne's recent attempts to discredit Cappelen and Lepore's tests and replace them with others. We will argue they have failed to provide sufficient reason to abandon minimalism. If we are right, minimalism about context sensitivity is still viable.