Rollercoasters are not Fun for Mary: Against Indexical Contextualism

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Indexical contextualism (IC) is an account of predicates of personal taste (PPTs) which views the semantic content of PPTs as sensitive to the context in which they are uttered, by virtue of their containing an implicit indexical element. Should the context of utterance change, the semantic content carried by the PPT will also change. The main aim of this paper is to show that IC is unable to provide a satisfactory account of PPTs. I look at what I call “pure” IC accounts and show that because they fail to respect empirical data regarding disagreements where neither person is at fault, known as “faultless disagreements”, they must be rejected. I then go on to consider what I call IC “plus” (IC+) accounts. Such accounts attempt to account for the faultlessness of such disagreements using a simple indexical semantics, whilst introducing some extra ingredient to account for the disagreement part. I focus on two main versions of IC+: Gutzmann’s (in: Meier, van Wijnberger-Huitink (eds) Subjective meaning: alternatives to relativism, De Gruyter, Berlin, 2016) expressivist account, and López de Sa’s (in: García-Carpintero, Kölbel (eds) Relative truth, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008; Erkenntnis 80(Supp 1):153–165, 2015) presuppositional account. I discuss some internal worries with these accounts before going on to some final remarks about IC/IC+ in general. I conclude that neither IC nor IC+ can provide a satisfactory semantics for PPTs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020


  • Context; Faultless disagreement; Indexical contextualism; Predicates of personal taste; Relativism; Semantics


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