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Deferralism (a sketch)

Thinking about how to present and argue for indexicalism - a metaphysical thesis that the world is indexical - in terms closer to those of Kaplan, Perry and Wettstein. Been going through Kaplan´s Demonstratives. My initial ideas boil down a lot to the distinction between character and content. Kaplan understands character as the rule governing the indexical term while content is what, in a context, the indexical term point to. Direct reference, for Kaplan, is a result of content being composed by individuals, by objects - propositions have individuals as their components. The de re character of the proposition (and the direct reference associated to an expression with a content) is given by the presence in the content of individuals that can be described in substantive terms - so in his example "He now lives in Princeton, New Jersey", if he is not Paul but Charles, the content of the sentence is different (he calls the respective propositions Pat and Mike). Pat and Mike are different - and the difference doesn´t boil down to proper names for Paul and Charles supposedly admit being replaced by definite description (in the attributive sense). Direct reference of indexicals, then, seems to depend on substantive content - and on the world where the demonstrata is being substantive (and not indexical). What I am looking for is a full-blown indexicalist account of propositions.

I thought it would be interesting to understand propositions as somehow unreachable at least if we need to settle for an expression in substantive terms. A character would then be a function that in a context produces a content that has itself a character. The proposition is then deferred to this character which outputs in a context another content with character and so on. This deferralist aporoach would be in line with the essentially indexical nature of content and hence with the presence of characters in propositions. Such a deferralist approach would still be a direct reference approach although the reference is not to (substantive) individuals but rather to indexical demonstrata (or denotata). The deictic element is not exorcized when we move from a sentence to its content (to a proposition). Similarly, deferralism is also haecceitist - as, for example, it rejects the identity of indescernibles. (In fact, haeeceitas is an indexical expression, from ´haec´, ´this´). Kaplan may object that deferralism is Fregeanism in disguise. It is Fregean in the sense that it rejects a distinction between Pat and Mike above - the content of the sentence above involves whoever is pointed at (if ´he´ is used as a demonstrative). But it is not Fregean in a more important issue, it is not the sense that determines reference, not the demonstration that determines the demonstrata, but rather the reference is perhaps fixed but not determined by the demonstration. The expression ´the one i´m currently pointing at´ cannot be replaced by a substantive - or by a description in substantive terms. Deferralism is committed to direct reference, but the demonstrata cannot be expressed in non-indexical terms. (It is a mistake to think that direct reference requires that language is indexical but the world is substantive, although it is clear that there is no direct reference when language is ultimately descriptive and the world is made of instances of these descriptions.)


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