Speaker's reference, semantic reference, sneaky reference

Mind and Language (forthcoming)
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According to what is perhaps the dominant picture of reference, what a referential term refers to in a context is determined by what the speaker intends for her audience to identify as the referent. I argue that this sort of broadly Gricean view entails, counterintuitively, that it is impossible to knowingly use referential terms in ways that one expects or intends to be misunderstood. Then I sketch an alternative which can better account for such opaque uses of language, or what I call “sneaky reference.” I close by reflecting on the ramifications of these arguments for the theory of meaning more broadly.

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Eliot Michaelson
King's College London


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