Forms of Context-Sensitivity

April 16, 2024
West University of Timisoara



University of Manchester
Warsaw University
Universidad de Salamanca
University of Warsaw


West University of Timisoara
University of Warsaw

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Many (if not most) expressions in natural languages are context-sensitive, at least in the sense that the same sentences comprising them, when uttered in different contexts, can intuitively have different truth values. There are many ways in which this phenomenon can come about. The meaning of many context-sensitive expressions depends on the context in which they are uttered. Thus, one of the most common forms of context-sensitivity is indexicality: the meaning of expressions such as "I", "here", "now" etc. depends on the speaker's situation. Other expressions are dependent on less objective contextual factors, such as the speakers' beliefs, intentions or preferences. Another source of this form of context-sensitivity comes from the presuppositions the relevant expressions trigger. Finally, many expressions are said to be polysemous, with the exact meaning of a word in certain context being determined by pragmatic mechanisms. But there are other ways in which the context-sensitivity mentioned can manifest. For example, it has been contended that the meaning of certain expressions - and hence the truth value of the sentences in which they occur - depends on the content in which they are assessed.

In this workshop, we explore some of these forms of context-sensitivity, in relation to various natural language expressions (indexicals, predicates of taste, gender terms, pejoratives, dogwhistles, definite descriptions, terms for institutions, etc.). We address questions such as what is the best account of indexicality, what is the most fitting theory of presuppositions, what are the possible applications of the assessment-sensitivity framework, what do terms for institutions refer to, etc., as well as various crucial details that arise in connection to these questions.


The workshop is organized by Dan Zeman and Adrian Briciu.


(All times are in CEST)

10.15: Welcome

10.30-11.20: Dan Zeman (Slovak Academy of Sciences), "New Applications of the Assessment-Sensitivity Framework"

11.30-12.20: Justina Berškytė & Graham Stevens (University of Manchester), "Whose Taste Is It Anyway? Relativism, Judges and Retraction"

Lunch break

14.00-14.50: Andrei Moldovan (University of Salamanca), "The Frege-Strawson Approach to Presuppositions Reconsidered"

15.00-15.50: Andreea Popescu (Research Institute of the University of Bucharest), "Reference and Institutions"

16.00-16.50: Tadeusz Ciecierski (University of Warsaw), "Content-Bearers and Indexicality"

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April 16, 2024, 10:00am EET

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