Cognitive significance and reflexive content

Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (5):545-554 (2008)
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John Perry has urged that a semantic theory for natural languages ought to be concerned with the issue of cognitive significance—of how true identity statements containing different (utterances of) indexicals and proper names can be informative, held to be unaccountable by the referentialist view. The informativeness that he has in mind—one that has puzzled Frege, Kaplan and Wettstein—concerns knowledge about the world. In trying to solve this puzzle on referentialist terms, he comes up with the notion of cognitive significance as a special kind of a second-order content which should account for cognitive significance in the former sense. Focusing on his treatment of perceptual demonstratives, I argue that he fails to do so both on the level of second-order contents containing demonstrative utterances and on the level of second-order contents containing perceptual buffers as new notions associated with the perceptions and used to temporarily store ideas we gain from the perceptions, which he holds to be causally connected to each other.
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