Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lasersohn (2005) vs Non-Indexical Contextualism

I just came back from Paris, where I participated in the CPR07 organized by François, Isidora, and Neftalí. It has been a great fun, many thanks to them for that! Now I really look forward to submiting something also for the next one on vagueness.

Isidora presented her 'Talking about Taste,' where she discusses Lasersohn (2005) on the assumption that the view is a version of non-indexical contextualism, and I've met some other people attributing that view to him likewise. But I think this is not correct.

Lasersohn does say that the truth of contents is relative to a further, non-standard coordinate in indices, a judge, who will be provided by the context. But he also says:
In order to maintain an authentically subjective assignment of truth values to sentences containing predicates of personal taste, we must allow that the objective facts of the situation of utterance do not uniquely determine a judge. The formalism developed ... required that for any context c, there must be a unique individual j_c, the judge of c. That is, it was stipulated that the contexts uniquely determine a judge. If we are to retain this feature of the formalism, therefore, we must conclude that the objective facts of the situation of utterance do not uniquely determine a context. (p. 669, emphasis added)
Hence, contrary to the appearances produced by his non-standard use of 'context,' Lasersohn view is indeed radical relativism proper.


Peter Lasersohn said...

Quite right. In fact, if I were writing the paper now, I'd probably relativize to contexts of assessment, MacFarlane-style, and make the judge part of those -- but I didn't know about MacFarlane's work when I first developed the system in my paper. It is definitely not a "non-indexical contextualist" analysis, as I think that term is usually understood.

Dan López de Sa said...

Thanks for the comment!