A Plea against Monsters

in Grazer Philosophische Studien
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Inspired by Schlenker’s (2003) seminal Plea for Monsters, linguists have been analyzing every occurrence of a shifted indexical by postulating a monstrous operator. The author’s aim in this paper is to show that Kaplan’s (1989) original strategy of explaining apparent shifting in terms of a quotational use/mention distinction offers a much more intuitive, parsimonious and empirically superior analysis of many of these phenomena, including direct–indirect switches in Ancient Greek, role shift in signed languages, free indirect discourse in literary narratives, and mixed quotation.

A Plea against Monsters

in Grazer Philosophische Studien



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Slave Anand and Nevines 2004.


Slave Rice 1986.


Recanati 2001.


Pagin and Westerståhl (2011) argue that the pure quotation component that Potts’ account builds makes the account non-compositional but this subtlety need not concern us here.


Clark and Gerrig 1990.


Cappelen and Lepore 1997.


Maier 2014b.


De Brabanter 2010.


Maier 2014a.


Shan (2011) and Recanati (2008) come close to adopting this strategy. Consider for instance the following passage: “[(41a)] involves what I dubbed a language-shift: the words within the quotation marks are interpreted as belonging to the ‘language’ (idiolect) of the source and this affects not only their content but also their linguistic meaning or character. Yet as I pointed out in several places the two phenomena can be unified if we let the language spoken in a ­context be one of the coordinates of the context in question." Nonetheless for the reason mentioned in footnote 20 Recanati might object to this characterization pointing out that in his account the context shift is pragmatic or pre-semantic rather than semantic.


Recanati (2001) makes the same point confirming that we can’t simply take the quote in footnote 31 as an endorsement of supermonsters.


Kaplan 1989.

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