Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

The paper aims to add contextual dependence to the new directival theory of meaning, a functional role semantics based on Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz’s directival theory of meaning. We show that the original formulation of the theory does not have a straight answer on how the meaning of indexicals and demonstratives is established. We illustrate it in the example of some problematic axiomatic and inferential directives containing indexicals. We show that the main reason why developing the new directival theory of meaning in this direction is difficult is that the theory focuses on the notion of a sentence (and not the notion of an utterance). To add the latter notion to the theory, we introduce the idea of admissible contextual distribution being an interpretation of the hybrid expression view on indexicals and demonstratives. We argue that this idea introduces a small but important modification to the concept of language matrix and gives way to define two distinct concepts of meaning: for an expression type and for a use of an expression type.

The new directival theory of meaning (henceforth the nDTM) is a functional role semantics based on a theory of meaning originally proposed by Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz in the 1930s. The easiest way of explaining the theory is to start with a slogan that it defines the meaning of words based on a combination of syntax and pragmatics. Let us now see how both aspects contribute to the theory. The nDTM begins with an observation about a specific type of disputes language users sometimes engage in. Since this part of the theory deals with users and their behavior, it can be classified as…


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