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2012-

The study of indexical expressions like ‘I,’ ‘here,’ and ‘now’ led to the well-known contextualist semantics, in which the content and therefore the extension of a sentence or term varies with the content of utterance. This formal framework has recently been applied to a wide range of terms beyond the set that inspired it, including quantifiers, ‘knows,’ epistemic modals, and relative terms like ‘tall.’ Problems with these applications inspired relativist semantics, which have in turn been applied to taste predicates and moral terms. In a relativist semantics, the extension of a sentence or term is relative to a context of interpretation and assessment. Reflection on the formal differences between contextualist and relativist semantics has led to yet another type of semantics, in which the content of an expression varies with or is relative to a context of interpretation and assessment. I will distinguish two formal frameworks of this third type, one contextualist and one relativist, and assess their utility. We will look at suggested applications to ‘you,’ ‘dangerous,’ and ‘if.’ I will conclude that neither framework is likely to have any useful applications in semantics or pragmatics.

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