By Robert Seltzer

Demonstrative Reference: It’s Not What You Think 1

Robert Seltzer, Nova Southeastern University

I. Introduction

Kent Bach has proposed a version of a so-called “intention-based” semantic theory for demonstratives, theories which became popular through the later writings of David Kaplan, specifically in his “Afterthoughts” (1989). I’ll present some examples of demonstrative reference (some familiar, some not), give an example of reference through proper names, and then discuss the views of Bach. I’ll then offer some critical comments on his theory, and conclude that it is not plausible and should be rejected.

II. Hits and Misses

What follows are some examples of mistakes in reference. The first two should be familiar:

(A) The Carnap-Agnew Case

This example is given by David Kaplan in “Dthat” (396):

Suppose that without turning and looking I point to the place on my wall which has long been occupied by a picture of Rudolf Carnap and I say:

(27) Dthat (I point as above) is a picture of one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.

But unbeknownst to me, someone has replaced my picture of Carnap with one of Spiro Agnew.

(B) The Keys Case

This example comes from Marga Reimer (1991a, 190):

Suppose, for instance, that I suddenly realize that I have left my keys on the desk in my (shared) office. I return to my office, where I find the desk occupied by my officemate. I then spot my keys, sitting there on the desk, alongside my officemate’s keys. I then make a grab for my keys, saying just as I mistakenly grab my officemate’s keys, “These are mine.”

The next three examples are original, and expand on the concept of mistaken reference:

(C) The Coffee Mug Case

I am sitting by my friend’s desk, where there is a coffee mug. When I go to grab the mug, he tells me, “Be careful, that’s hot”–so I immediately pull my hand away from the mug, thinking of course that the mug is too hot to grab. “No,” he continues, “I didn’t mean that the mug was hot; I meant that the coffee inside the mug was hot. You can grab it, but just be careful when you drink it.”

(D) The (Mis)Perception Case

While saying to someone, “Could you give me that?” I am pointing to the soda bottle on my desk, because the image is clear and right in front of me (so I think that object is what I’m looking at)–but, because of a reflection (or a trick of the light, or a dysfunction in my eyes), I misperceive the object (not the image), and I am actually pointing to a folder on my desk.

(E) The Jones-Case

I am sitting with my friend Smith, and both of us are talking about a person named Jones. Both of us happen to know two people named Jones: one is a police officer and the other is a firefighter. The police officer happens to be married with two children, and the firefighter is single (and doesn’t have many other personal commitments). In our discussion, I say, “Jones had to work a double-shift last night.” The conversation continues, and I go on about how much trouble it is for Jones to work a double-shift. Smith then turns to me, confused, and says, “Why? Jones is single, so it shouldn’t be that much more trouble than usual.” I reply (crudely, of course): “No, I meant Officer Jones, not Firefighter Jones.”

These examples show some differences in what we would call “mistakes in demonstration” or “mistakes in reference.” The last example contains no demonstratives, but can be used in the same spirit as the others to show this point about mistakes in reference. For (A) and (B), one could make a prima facie case that the speaker made the mistake; while in (C) and (E), there was clearly a mistake in communication between the speaker and the audience, and one could make the prima facie case that the audience made the mistake in assuming one thing over another. (We will suspend discussion of (D) temporarily.)

If one is an intention-theorist for demonstratives, then the intentions of the speaker are supposed to belong to the realm of semantics for demonstrations. This view has been embraced from Kaplan in his familiar work, “Afterthoughts” (582):

I am now inclined to regard the directing intention, at least in the case of perceptual demonstratives, as criterial, and to regard the demonstration as a mere externalization of this inner intention. The externalization is an aid to communication, like speaking more slowly and loudly, but is of no semantic significance. 2

According to Kaplan’s view, the actual demonstration (or pointing) aids communication, but does not bear on the semantic question of fixing the referent (or content) for demonstratives (or demonstrative utterances). The speaker’s inner intention, the directing intention that guides the behavioral manifestation of pointing, is supposed to have fixed the referent of a demonstrative before the pointing begins to communicate this intention to the audience. (Kaplan claims that the directing intention is “criterial” to the demonstration, and that the actual pointing “is of no semantic significance,” which would lead one to assume that he is also claiming this directing intention to belong to the realm of semantics.) The classic example that Kaplan uses (583-4) to illustrate this view is taken from Donnellan’s article “Reference and Definite Descriptions”:

Here the directing intention is aimed at the interesting looking person seen holding a martini glass. Had the speaker pointed and said, “Who is that man?” the case would have raised no question of referential use. But suppose, having been taught that it is rude to point at people, the normal mode of externalizing the intention is unavailable. What to do? He cannot simply say, “Who is that man?” with no externalization. This would baffle his auditor, who would say, “Which man?”

…Now according to my new view of what determines the referent of demonstrative, the demonstration … is there only to help convey an intention and plays no semantical role at all.

Now, given this example, is Kaplan’s theory correct? For it seems that we could argue its correctness for (C) above, but not for (A) and (B), since those examples make a plausible prima facie claim that the speakers failed to refer to what they “intended to refer to.” If the theory doesn’t accept (A) and (B) as counterexamples, then there must be an explanation as to how an intention-based semantic theory of demonstratives can still be right in light of (A) and (B). Revisions and clarifications to intention-theories have thus appeared in the literature to account for this request.

Those revisions attempted to keep intentions at the helm for demonstrative reference, but to explain them differently in light of such examples—and such revisionary attempts are found in Bach.

III. Bach’s Intention-Theory – Synopsis

Are the intentions of the speakers actually thwarted in cases like (A) and (B)? Kent Bach claims they are not (1992). His claim is that “… the best of intentions are good enough to determine the referent (at least when there is one).” Since his position is a revised version of an intention-theory, it is necessary to reiterate his position. I will then provide some criticisms.

Bach claims that for demonstrative utterances (empty reference statements aside), there is an intention always present that we can call a “referential intention”:

(12) A referential intention isn’t just any intention to refer to something one has in mind but involves intending one’s audience to identify something as the referent by means of thinking of it in a certain identifiable way (296).


So, for example, consider once again example (A). For this example, there might have been an intention (in some sense) to refer to a picture of Carnap which clearly failed, but according to Bach there was actually another intention (a “referential intention”) hidden in Kaplan’s demonstration–and this intention was successful:

(9a) Clearly it was not Kaplan’s intention to be pointing to Agnew’s picture, but … he did intend to point to and thereby refer to the picture behind him. Believing this to be Carnap’s picture, he intended to point to and refer to Carnap’s picture, but this was not his referential intention. He intended his audience to identify what he was talking about simply by recognizing his intention to be pointing to the picture behind him. The fact that he took this to be a picture of Carnap was not germane to his referential intention, even though he intended to be talking about a certain picture of Carnap. He intended his audience to identify what he was talking about not as Carnap’s picture but as the picture he was pointing to behind him (297).

So, Bach claims that Kaplan’s “referential intention” succeeds in picking out the picture behind him—since Kaplan communicated successfully to his audience that they should look at the picture behind him—and so the intention-based semantic view is correct: intentions belong to the realm of semantics, and determine the referents of demonstrative propositions.

To further illustrate Bach’s point, consider once again Reimer’s case of grabbing the wrong set of keys in (B) and Bach’s revised account of how the speaker’s intentions once again played the decisive role. According to Bach, again, a “referential intention” hidden in Reimer’s demonstration succeeded:

(9b) Although I intended to refer to my keys, I didn’t intend my officemate to recognize that

intention. The intention I intended my officemate to recognize was my intention to refer to the keys I grabbed. My officemate was to identify what I was using the word “these” to refer to by thinking of the keys not as my keys but as the things I grabbed. The act of grabbing them was the only manifest basis, hence the only plausibly intended basis, for him to identify them. That they were my keys was not part of that basis (296).

If we follow Bach’s point here for Reimer’s example, her officemate is clearly drawn to a particular object (the object in her hand) by her grabbing it. She drew attention to those keys in her hand, and her officemate recognized what object she was talking about. The conversation then continued, and she discovered that those keys were not her keys but were his. Clearly, an object was demonstrated—and even though she said something false about that object, the demonstration itself was indeed successful in some sense (since she couldn’t have said something false about any object if it wasn’t). Again, as with Bach’s reformation of the Carnap case, we should conclude that the intentions of the speaker belong to the realm of semantics, and do indeed determine the referent of a demonstrative utterance.

IV. Criticisms of Bach (I)

Bach’s revisionist “intention-theory” seems correct at first, but his view is problematic. First, his revision of the “intention-theory” of demonstrations, while intuitive at first glance, makes the intention-theory tautological at best, and question-begging at worst. Bach explicitly claims that:

(10) The reason the act of demonstration does not and cannot override the speaker’s referential intention is that the latter is the intention to refer to the object being demonstrated. It is precisely because the speaker can be mistaken about which object this is that scenarios like Reimer’s can arise, but this does not make them genuine counterexamples to [the revised intention theory] (298 emphasis added).


Here Bach claims that it is a matter of definition that the referential intention of a speaker automatically succeeds referring “to the object being demonstrated.” If a demonstration cannot override a speaker’s referential intention, then one could never doubt the truth of this “intention theory” as defined here. Bach correctly says that Reimer’s scenarios are not “genuine counterexamples” to his “intention theory”—but not because something is wrong with her scenarios; rather, because (save empty reference cases) nothing could possibly count against “referential intentions” the way that Bach has defined them.

To see how tautological this move is, consider how the nature of this revision would infect other areas of language as well, making them also “intention-based” in the same way (since, of course, we all intend to refer to the referents when we use words that refer in our language). Just consider, for example, analogous cases with proper names. If I said “Smith” when I had Jones clearly in mind, whatever object I happened to refer to by the name “Smith” was in the realm of what I “intended to refer to” in this global sense of “intend.” I clearly intended to refer to someone in some sense, and I also clearly intended to refer to that someone by using the name “Smith,” because I used that name. Since Smith turned out to be the individual I referred to (and “the referent”), then I “intended” (of course) to refer to Smith (“the referent”). But again, claiming that I “intended to refer to Smith” because I used the word “Smith” and (mistakenly) referred to him through using this word is absurd, because I, of course, had intended to refer to Jones. Further, I could, in this sense of “intend,” “intend to refer to Smith” without ever meeting Smith or knowing who he is. Such cases can be multiplied indefinitely.

That the first case involves demonstratives and the second involves proper names has no bearing on Bach’s use of “referential intentions.” If we take his original statement—

(12) A referential intention isn’t just any intention to refer to something one has in mind but involves intending one’s audience to identify something as the referent by means of thinking of it in a certain identifiable way (296)—


then clearly my use of the word “Smith” fits all these criteria, since I understood the global social rules governing reference (since I understood the language), and I clearly intended to identify something as the referent “by means of thinking of it in a certain identifiable way.” In the sense of Bach’s “referential intention,” Smith was the person I “intended to refer to”—so just about every aspect of language (save empty reference cases) becomes tautologically intention-based on Bach’s formulation of the intention theory. For, as long as there are competent speakers of a language, rudimentary and trivial intentions will always be present in that language. (And it is not at all clear whether such intentions are philosophically interesting.)

Granted, we have methods to determine what a speaker “had in mind” while uttering a demonstrative, and they are pragmatic interpretations related to the context of utterance. But Bach has interpreted this concept of what a speaker “had in mind” so as to make it a matter of definition that the referent was the “intended referent”—even in cases where one has no idea who or what the referent is. On his account (save empty reference cases), an unintended referent would be impossible.

In other places, Bach seems to think that referential intentions can actually be overridden. Bach writes:

(11) Such an intention [i.e., a referential intention] is not fulfilled if the audience fails to identify

the right individual in the right way, that is, the one intended in the way intended (296, emphasis added).

But the problem with (11) is that it’s ambiguous (contradictory?), especially when one considers (9) and (10), where Bach explicitly formulates his definition of what a “referential intention” is. At least with those formulations, if something was referred to, then there was what Bach calls a “referential intention.” At best, what Bach says in (11) seems to conflict with his earlier claims of (9) and (10)—or, what is most likely the case, Bach’s use of the word “intended” in (11) is either ambiguous or begs the question.

V.Criticisms of Bach (II)

Comparing Bach’s view with Kaplan’s views in “Afterthoughts” brings out further problems. If one understands his formulation of the intention theory, one can ask whether Bach’s reformulation is even an intention-based semantic theory for demonstratives. I’ll argue that it isn’t—and I’ll use Kaplan’s later view in “Afterthoughts” as a comparison to show this.

Bach is well aware that one might too broadly construe his formulation of a referential intention and tries to defend his position in light of this possible misunderstanding. I quote him in full:

(12) IT [the “Intention-Thesis”] might seem to imply that one could utter any old thing and gesture in any old way and still manage to refer to whatever one has in mind. This would be absurd, but IT implies no such thing. To think that it does would be to misunderstand the nature of referential intentions and their relationship to the utterances used to express them. You do not say something and then, as though by an inner decree (an intention), determine what you are using it to refer to. You do not just have something “in mind” and hope that your audience is a good mind reader. Rather, you decide to refer to something and try to select an expression whose utterance will enable your audience, under the circumstances, to identify what you are referring to. These circumstances are comprised of mutually believed matters of fact, such as what is in plain view to both of you, including any gestures on your part, as well as shared background information (298-99).

There are at least two ways to understand (12), so it might be helpful to spell out both interpretations. Both rest on the relation between (a) an intention to refer to some specific object and (b) the communication of your intention through an act of demonstration. For the first interpretation (i), your intention might refer to something logically prior to (and distinct from) your act of demonstration. In this sense, you have something “in mind” first (in Bach’s words, you “decide to refer to something”) and then, after having it “in mind” you proceed to demonstrate it. For the second interpretation (ii), your intention to refer to something and your means of communicating this intention through an act of demonstration are logically “bound up” together, so that they might be viewed as different things on the same level of language—i.e., the intention to refer is bound up with its communication, i.e., the physical act of demonstrating.

Note that Kaplan’s view aligns itself with (i), as was shown with Kaplan’s comments on Donnellan’s example:

Now according to my new view of what determines the referent of demonstrative, the demonstration … is there only to help convey an intention and plays no semantical role at all (1989, 583-4).

I am now inclined to regard the directing intention, at least in the case of perceptual demonstratives, as criterial, and to regard the demonstration as a mere externalization of this inner intention. The externalization is an aid to communication, like speaking more slowly and loudly, but is of no semantic significance (582).

That is, according to Kaplan, there is first an intention, and then the act of demonstration follows to simply communicate this intention to the speaker’s audience. For Kaplan, since the externalization of an intention to refer is of no semantic significance (and “plays no semantical role at all”), the semantics of demonstrative reference are already completed before the communicative act of demonstration occurs. In short, demonstrative reference (and the content of the demonstrative utterance) is secured before pointing to the specific object one “has in mind.” But it’s not clear if Bach’s position is (i) or (ii). Bach explicitly says that:

The crux of my defense of IT will be to explain how in each case the relevant intention is “directing” not just in Kaplan’s sense but in a specifically communicative way. A referential intention is part of a communicative intention, an intention whose distinctive feature is that “its fulfillment consists in its recognition” (1992, 296).

But in claiming this, Bach is fostering interpretation (ii), and that referential intentions are logically bound up with the communicative acts used to express them. His position, then, is not that referential intentions are distinct things inside of the speaker’s head that belong to the realm of semantics, and determine the referent of a demonstrative proposition before the demonstrative act gets under way (as it is with Kaplan’s view). Rather, the referential intention and the act of demonstration occur together—or at least should be understood as a single thing—for a demonstration to be completed.

If this is Bach’s view, then it’s clearly not Kaplan’s view. More importantly, if Bach’s claim is that referential intentions are such that they are logically bound with the communicative acts used to express them, then we have even more reason to reject it, because, on this interpretation, referential intentions are not part of the realm of semantics for demonstratives. They are (in Kaplan’s wording) part of the metasemantics of demonstrative reference—that part of demonstrative reference that concerns itself with communication—and, if this is the case, Bach’s position clearly is not an intention-based semantic theory of demonstratives, for it argues that the speaker’s intentions are part of the metasemantics of demonstrative reference.

Possibly, Bach’s position is (i), but it’s not clear how. For problems exist with what he says in (12), and the first sentence clearly goes against (i). If reference is secured by the intentions of the speaker to refer, then all that is at stake for finding the right words/action/etc. is communication. (We can see this with Kaplan’s view.) As far as the semantics of demonstratives is concerned, the work is already done by the intention to refer. So when Bach talks about not being able to determine the referent of a demonstrative utterance by an “inner decree (an intention),” he is already separating himself from (i), and an intention-based view of semantics.

In short, Bach’s intentions do not belong to the semantics of demonstrative reference—which entails eliminating his theory from an intention-based semantic theory of demonstratives. In trying to interpret the role of intentions for demonstratives, Bach either interprets them to the point of being tautological, or excludes them from the realm of semantics completely.

VI. What’s the Problem?

So, where should the intentions of speakers be situated for a demonstrative theory? Why are there problems in trying to place them within the realm of semantics? Obviously demonstrations are very “user-friendly” things in our language. We clearly have reasons for pointing as we do—and there are usually things (and people) that we want people to see, get for us, avoid, and so on, in our everyday interactions. Without these reasons and the purposeful account of demonstrating, the entire practice of demonstration would be a very stale and mechanical movement.

And intention-theories get their motivations from these kinds of considerations. That is, though Kaplan may have pointed to the wrong thing in the Carnap-Agnew case, he did have some “intention to refer,” as Bach suggests. There were clearly some (implicit) intentions that Kaplan had to get his audience to look where he wanted them to look. (Just consider the intention to speak English to his audience.) What are we to say about these? Kaplan had a purpose in pointing as he did, didn’t he?

We all have some important background linguistic intentions when we point that are related to how reference works, and how to refer in general. These intentions are global or general views about reference, and they do coincide with our pointing (since we are competent speakers of language, and know that when we point over there people will look over there).

But such beliefs that we may have about how reference works or what constitutes reference for some particular context containing a demonstrative do not answer the semantic question of how a particular referent gets individuated for a demonstrative proposition and its content. All these examples mentioned concerning how reference works (and my background linguistic intentions that accord with them) fall clearly in the realm of the metasemantics of demonstrative reference, since they involve the pragmatics of linguistic rules, and how things generally get demonstrated in our language. They do not answer the semantic question of what makes a demonstrative utterance be about a specific object for a particular demonstration— i.e., how that demonstrative came to be about that object.

Consider another example, analogous to Kaplan’s Carnap-Agnew case. Suppose I am talking to my friend who is not very fluent in the philosophy of language, Steve, and I turn to someone while pointing to Steve and I say:

(a) Dthis guy doesn’t know much about demonstratives.


But, in this example, a contingency arises, and my friend gets replaced by David Kaplan. In this situation, if I were to turn and see who I am pointing to, I would definitely be surprised, and withdraw my statement.

Note the individuation of reference for my demonstration—and how much I didn’t (or wouldn’t) want to point to David Kaplan. The reason why I pointed in the first place had to do with my friend, and not David Kaplan. We can claim further that I didn’t even know that David Kaplan was in the building, let alone anywhere near my demonstration. But there he is, the referent of my demonstration. How are we to explain this in terms of intention-based semantic theories?

Before we answer this question, first note about what was going on in my head when I pointed. To claim that I had my friend “in mind” when I pointed seems intuitively and, I would argue, correct—but claiming this, of course, entails that my intention did not secure the referent (which would definitely exclude it from the realm of semantics). Second, the claim that I had Kaplan “in mind” when I pointed seems clearly wrong. Third, and this is Bach’s approach, to claim that I had an intention to “point to the person (say) to my left,” and that intention fixed the referent of my utterance, utterly reduces what was going on in my head at the time I pointed to the point of it being tautological, to the claim of my wanting to demonstrate the thing demonstrated. (But this is clearly true, because that’s why I pointed.) That is, this third claim concerning the other kinds of intentions that I might have had concerning my pointing—i.e., those having to do with how reference works and how to refer in general—should not be the semantic criterion for the individuation of reference for demonstrative utterances. They are global metasemantic or pragmatic intentions about linguistic rules and norms, and do not answer the question of how my utterance of the word “dthis” in (a) came to be about David Kaplan, and not my friend. If intention-theorists have only these motivations to justify the semantic role of speaker intentions, one should reject such theories. For if intention-theories of demonstrative reference are to be convincing in arguing for the semantic role of speakers’ intentions, they cannot do this by begging the question of reference or reducing the mental contents of speakers to a trivial tautological machine.

A semantic theory of demonstratives (intention-based or not) should answer the following basic background question: in virtue of what is a specific demonstrative utterance about a specific object? If a demonstrative is uttered, and the utterance was about a specific object, then we can ask, “How (or Why) did that demonstrative utterance come to be about that object?”

Throughout this discussion, I have been sketching out “intention-ways” of answering this background question from Bach. In his theory, my intentions should fix the referents of my demonstrations, and belong to the semantic realm. My physical act of pointing, on the other hand, belongs to the realm of metasemantics—namely, of communicating this intention to my audience. As a general rule, intention-theories claim that the speaker’s intentions are the semantic criteria; for the intentions of speakers play a semantic role, and should be responsible for fixing the reference of a demonstrative.

For example, if we ask, “In virtue of what did the utterance, ‘Who is that man?’ come to be about the man in the corner, as opposed to some other man?”—the answer for intention-theories is: that the speaker had that person “in mind” when he uttered as he did, and that his intention to refer to that man allowed his utterance to be about that particular man. But, as I have argued, this way of providing a semantic theory of demonstratives can’t work.

To see this clearly, we come to the last example, (D). What would Bach claim I had “in mind” for this example? What “referential intention” was successful in this case? I am looking directly at the (image of a) soda bottle, but, because of a trick of light or an eye dysfunction, I am pointing to a folder. I clearly demonstrated the folder, and anyone in my office would interpret my pointing as such. One way of phrasing my “referential intention” could be: I intended “to refer to whatever was at the end of my finger when I pointed”—and, again, one shouldn’t reject this phrasing. One should only reject the view that my intention (phrased in this way) belongs to the semantics of demonstratives.

One general reason this approach fails is connected to the logic of explanation. If we start with a given referent for a demonstration, and then rephrase what my intention was according to this referent (as I have argued Bach does), this clearly begs the question of how intentions are supposed to fix referents for demonstrations. We can rephrase this false explanation in terms of the background question mentioned above (i.e., how a demonstrative gets to be about an object): How do we figure out what the referent is?—just look to the speaker’s intentions (and conveniently rephrase them); how do we figure out what the speaker “intended to refer to” or what the speaker “had in mind” at the time of the pointing?—just see what the referent is.

Or, put another way: if intention-theorists claim that the intentions of the speaker fix the referent of a demonstrative, they cannot do this by taking a given referent and then rephrasing the intention according to that referent. Why? Because intention-theorists are supposed to explain how the intentions of a speaker determine the referent of a demonstrative utterance, and this approach begs this question. This approach ignores even the basic problem of how reference is fixed for demonstrative utterances at all. It simply remains silent on this problem (since it just assumes a referent, and works backwards from that referent to a convenient rephrasing of what speakers “have in mind”). Such a side-step of the main issue comes close to a remark from Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations [#308]: “The decisive movement in the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent.” We can certainly start with a referent and then rephrase what a speaker “had in mind” given this referent. But the question at the start was, “How did that object get to be that referent?”—and this question has been passed over.

Fortunately, there seems to be a plausible answer to the question of where to put the intentions of speakers for demonstratives. The answer comes from Kaplan’s semantic theory of proper names in “Afterthoughts.” In his theory, Kaplan argues that the intentions of speakers for proper names (cf. example (E) above) do not belong to the realm of semantics:

The contextual feature which consists of the causal history of a particular proper name expression in the agent’s idiolect seems more naturally to be regarded as determining what word was used than as fixing the content of a single context-sensitive word. …The causal theory of reference tells us, in terms of contextual features (including the speaker’s intentions), which word is being used in a given utterance.

That is, the intentions of speakers for proper names belong to the metasemantic realm of reference—i.e., they are part of the context that, in Kaplan’s words, help determine what is said, but are not part of what is said. And demonstratives should be (semantically) treated like proper names for the correct placement of the intentions of speakers. In doing this, we are delegating the intentions of speakers to the realm of metasemantics for demonstratives. They are simply part of the context that helps determine the referents of demonstratives. Multiple utterances of demonstratives are similar (semantically) to multiple utterances of a name. Only by adopting this view of demonstratives can we have both a plausible account of demonstrative reference and a plausible account of mental content that preserves important contextual information for speakers in a language.


Works Cited

Bach, K. “Paving the Road to Reference.” Philosophical Studies 67 (1992): 295-300.

Bertolet, R. What Is Said: A Theory of Indirect Speech Reports. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990.

Kaplan, D. “Demonstratives.” In Almog, Perry, and Wettstein (eds.) Themes from Kaplan. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.

__. “Afterthoughts.” In Almog, Perry, and Wettstein (eds.) Themes from Kaplan. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989b.

__. Dthat. In French, Uehling, and Wettstein (eds.) Contemporary Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1979.

Reimer, M. “Demonstratives, Demonstrations, and Demonstrata.” Philosophical Studies 63 (1991a): 187-202.

__. “Do Demonstrations Have Semantic Significance?” Analysis 51 (1991b): 177-83.

__. “Three Views of Demonstrative Reference.” Synthese 93 (1992): 373-402.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Tr. G.E.M. Anscombe. New York: Macmillan, 1968.

  1. Thanks to Deirdre Fagan, Steve Alford, David McNaron, and Ben Mulvey for helpful comments and suggestions.  
  2. One must use caution, because anything can be viewed as “semantically significant” or semantically insignificant, depending on one’s views of generality. To say that something “bears on the semantic question,” or “belongs to the realm of semantics,” or “belongs to semantics proper,” is to claim that it is part of the fixing of reference and truth value of a proposition, and that it is not part of other aspects of language (such as the intonation and tone of a speaker).  

Robert Seltzer

Bob Seltzer is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Humanities at Nova Southeastern University. He received his Ph.D. from the University at Albany, SUNY, and his current research interests lie in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion.