Three Challenges for Indexicalism


  • Thanks to Eduardo García, Axel Barceló and the other members of the Thursday Seminar for their kind corrections. Many of the ideas here originated from discussions in the seminar Significado y Comunicación led by Mario Gómez Torrente and Maite Ezcurdia. I am also grateful to two anonymous referees, whose comments significantly improved the paper.

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Indexicalism is a strategy for defending truth-conditional semantics from under-determination arguments. According to indexicalism the class of indexical expressions includes not only the obvious indexicals, e.g. demonstratives and personal pronouns, but also unobvious indexical expressions, expressions which allegedly have been discovered to be indexicals. This paper argues that indexicalism faces significant obstacles that have yet to be overcome. The issue that divides indexicalism and truth-conditional pragmatics is first clarified. And then three general problems for indexicalism are presented, and some potential solutions that have been proposed in its defense are criticized.