OSTENSION AND DEMONSTRATIVE REFERENCE by Gheorghe Ștefanov

RFA-VIII-2-Stefanov

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Author: Gheorghe Ștefanov

Abstract. The strong similarity between the use of ostension and that of a simple
demonstrative to predicate something of an object seems to conflict with equally
strong intuitions according to which, while “this” does usually refer to an object,
the gesture of holding an object in your hand and showing it to an audience does
not refer to the demonstrated object. This paper argues that the problem is
authentic and provides a solution to it. In doing so, a more general thought is
given support by the approach used. Namely, the thought that our abilities to
directly refer to things require some basic referential abilities exhibited in
ostension and the use of demonstratives which, in their turn, rest upon our
abilities to cooperate in performing non-communicative actions on our
environment. Several concepts introduced in order to solve the initial problem
can be used to articulate this thought in more detail.

Keywords: ostension, demonstratives, direct reference, tagging, this-predication.

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