Craige Roberts

Senior Fellow
The Ohio State University, US
Project Title: 
Reference in Context
Project Abstract: 

This project aims to develop an integrated theory of the meanings of the referential or definite noun phrases—definite descriptions (the woman), pronouns (she), demonstratives (that woman) and proper names (Jane Brown). These are usually studied independently, but I argue that they share common features reflecting context sensitivity: presuppositions of familiarity, a tendency to project (apparent wide scope), and shifted interpretations in epistemic contexts—under the scope of epistemic modals or propositional attitude predicates. Exploring these commonalities sheds light on the issue of uniqueness in definite noun phrases, the supposed direct referentiality of demonstratives, and the difference between de dicto and de re interpretations, as well as puzzles about de re belief attributions, inter alia. I am preparing a monograph on the subject for Oxford University Press, and intend to focus next year on the theory's implications for proper names.

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