Indexicals and communicative affordances

Synthese 203 (3):1-21 (2024)
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Various data from communication that does not occur face-to-face are taken to be problematic for Kaplan’s account of indexical expressions, as is the case with the so-called answering machine paradox. One fix, developed by Sidelle (1991) and Briciu (2018), is the remote utterance view: recording artifacts are means by which speakers perform utterances at a distance, just as by means of other artifacts agents performs other types of actions at a distance. This view has faced an important objection, namely that remote utterances lead to Moorean paradoxes. In this paper, I defend the remote utterance view against this objection and further develop the view. I argue that worries about Moorean paradoxes can easily be dispelled if we take into consideration the artifactual nature of recording devices, their materiality, and the communicative affordances they bring about. In the first section, we’ll present the answering machine paradox and give a brief overview of the remote utterance view. The second section presents the objection against the view, while the third gives a detailed rejoinder to the objection. Answering this objection is important also because it allows us to explore some underdeveloped aspects of the remote utterance view. First, I will discuss how the theorist calibrates her model with the data she seeks to explain and predict. Secondly, I will argue that speech acts performed via recording devices have different felicity conditions than their oral counterparts. I conclude with a short discussion of some semantic and pragmatic consequences of the view.

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Adrian Briciu
West University of Timisoara


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