Discourse context and indexicality

Mark Whitsey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problems related to indexicality, such as Sidelle's Answering Machine Paradox, have been problematic for direct reference theorists. The solutions suggested to date are not wholly satisfactory. I suggest that the correct solution requires an account of context shifting in natural language. However, existing context shifting accounts assume that context shifting is a purely semantic, operator-governed mechanism. This view has trouble dealing with so-called 'free shifts', such as the answering machine problem. I discuss these approaches and sketch a new account in terms of discourse context, which should be viewed as a pragmatic feature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-368
Number of pages13
JournalLecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (Subseries of Lecture Notes in Computer Science)
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Natural language pragmatics
  • Natural language semantics
  • Natural language understanding


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