Context, indexicals and the sorites

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<ul><li><p>362 jonathan ellis</p><p>Analysis 64.4, October 2004, pp. 36264. Jonathan Ellis</p><p>University of New England, ArmidaleNSW 2351, Australia</p><p></p><p>References</p><p>Braddon-Mitchell, D. 2004. How do we know it is now now? Analysis 64: 199203.Bourne, C. 2002. When am I? A tense time for some tense theorists? Australasian</p><p>Journal of Philosophy, 80: 35971.</p><p>Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Oxford, UK and Malden, USAANALAnalysis0003-26382004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.October 200464436264ArticlesJonathan Ellis</p><p>Context, indexicals and the sorites</p><p>Context, indexicals and the sorites</p><p>Jonathan Ellis</p><p>According to Stanley (2003), contextualist solutions to the sorites paradoxfail because they run afoul of a fact about indexical expressions.</p><p>Stanley underscores two components of the contextualist approach. Thefirst is that vague terms are context-sensitive.</p><p>The reason, according to the contextualist, that precise boundariesfor expressions like heap or tall for a basketball player are sodifficult to detect is that when two entities are sufficiently similar (orsaliently similar), we tend to shift the interpretation of the vagueexpression so that if one counts as falling in the extension of theproperty expressed by that expression, so does the other. As a conse-quence, when we look for the boundary of the extension of a vagueexpression in its penumbra, our very looking has the effect of chang-ing the interpretation of the vague expression so that the boundaryis not where we are looking. This accounts for the persuasive forceof sorites arguments. (Stanley 2003: 269)</p><p>The second is that vague terms are indexicals, like I, here, and now(as in Soames 2002).</p><p>Stanley claims that indexical expressions have invariant interpretationsin Verb Phrase ellipsis (henceforth, VP ellipsis). He gives the followingexamples:</p><p>(1) John likes me, and Bill does too.(2) Hannah lives here, and Bill does too.</p></li><li><p>context, indexicals and the sorites 363</p><p>(3) Hannah is supposed to be in Syracuse now, and Mary is too.(4) John saw Hannahs film, and Bill did too.(5) John read that, and Bill did too.</p><p>This fact about indexical expressions undermines the contextualist solu-tion, he argues, because there are versions of the paradox in which thevague term appears in VP ellipsis, as does is a heap in the following:</p><p>(6) If that1 is a heap, then that2 is too, and if that2 is, then that3 is,and if that3 is, then that4 is, ... and then thatn is.</p><p>If vague expressions in VP ellipsis have invariant interpretations, then thecontextualist cannot in this case appeal to the context-sensitivity of vagueexpressions. And since there is no plausibility to a disjunctive explana-tion of sorites cases, Stanley reasons, the contextualist approach to themfails.</p><p>But imagine the following case. Thirty friends are standing in the middleof a very large field. One of them has the following idea: Why dont weeach go and stand in any place we choose, and see where everyone goes.Jill, you go first. Jill walks a good distance away from the group andshouts, Im going to stand here! Its Toms turn next, and being the tag-along Tom is, he goes straight for Jill and stands right next to her. Jillexclaims humorously, And I guess Tom is too! Sally then goes and standson the other side of Jill, who now says And apparently, so is Sally! ThenBill goes and stands behind Jill (and so is Bill), and then Ann stands infront of Jill (and Ann). Each of the other twenty-nine people walkstowards Jill and stands as close to her as s/he can without touching anyoneelse. In each case, Jill amusingly shouts And so is so-and-so!</p><p>In this case, the interpretation of here, which appears in VP ellipsis,varies. We can imagine that had the second person (Tom) gone and stoodwhere the 30th person ended up, Jill would not have said, And I guessTom is too! We can imagine that not only would Jill not have uttered thissentence, but if she had been asked, she would have said that the propo-sition expressed by it is false.</p><p>Indexicals in VP ellipsis may have invariant interpretations in the non-iterative cases that Stanley mentions, but at least some indexicals in VPellipsis (the vague ones, perhaps) can have variant interpretations in iter-ative cases. Indeed, if the contextualist is correct, this is precisely whatwould be going on in (6).</p><p>Stanley might respond that when Jill says of the 30th person And sois so-and-so! what she says is in fact false. Alternatively, he might arguethat the extension of the first instance of here does in fact include thelocation of the 30th person. However, there is little reason to accept eitherof these prima facie non-intuitive proposals if we do not already have</p></li><li><p>364 josh parsons</p><p>Analysis 64.4, October 2004, pp. 36466. Josh Parsons</p><p>strong reason to suppose that indexicals in VP ellipsis cannot have variantinterpretations in iterative cases.1</p><p>University of California, Santa CruzSanta Cruz, CA 95064, USA</p><p></p><p>References</p><p>Soames, S. 1999. Understanding Truth. New York: Oxford University Press.Soames, S. 2002. Replies. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62: 42952.Stanley, J. 2003. Context, interest relativity and the sorites. Analysis 63: 26980.</p><p>1 Thanks to Chris Hom and Martin Jones for helpful discussion.</p><p>Blackwell Publishing Ltd.Oxford, UK and Malden, USAANALAnalysis0003-26382004 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.October 200464436466ArticlesJosh Parsons</p><p>The Eleatic hangover cure</p><p>The Eleatic hangover cure</p><p>Josh Parsons</p><p>Its well known that one way to cure a hangover is by a hair of the dog another alcoholic drink. The drawback of this method is that, so itwould appear, it cannot be used to completely cure a hangover, since thecure simply induces a further hangover at a later time, which must in turneither be cured or suffered through.</p><p>But, if you think about it, there is a way to completely cure a hangoverusing a hair of the dog. Suppose (1) that there is a simple and directrelationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the durationof its effects, so that, for example, a pint of beer induces an hoursdrunkenness, followed by an hours hangover, with smaller quantities ofalcohol corresponding to proportionally shorter periods of drunkennessfollowed by shorter hangovers. Suppose also (2) that a hair of the dogworks because drunkenness masks the pain of a hangover. I will speakloosely: when a hangover is masked in this way, I will say that thehangover is cured, though perhaps it would be fairer to say only that itssymptoms have been relieved.</p><p>To cure a hangover using a hair of the dog, start drinking at a timewhen you are not drunk, and have no hangover. Drink a half a pint ofbeer, and wait for half an hour until you are just about to get a hangover.Then drink quarter of a pint of beer. Wait quarter of an hour, until you</p></li></ul>