The semantics and pragmatics of complex demonstratives

Ernest Lepore, Kirk Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Complex demonstratives, expressions of the form 'That F', 'These Fs', etc., have traditionally been taken to be referring terms. Yet they exhibit many of the features of quantified noun phrases. This has led some philosophers to suggest that demonstrative determiners are a special kind of quantifier, which can be paraphrased using a context sensitive definite description. Both these views contain elements of the truth, though each is mistaken. We advance a novel account of the semantic form of complex demonstratives that shows how to reconcile the view that they function like quantified noun phrases with the view that simple demonstratives function as context sensitive referring terms wherever they occur. If we are right, previous accounts of complex demonstratives have misconceived their semantic role; and philosophers relying on the majority view in employing complex demonstratives in analysis have proceeded on a false assumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-240
Number of pages42
Issue number434
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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