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Tense, Aspect, and Indexicality$
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James Higginbotham

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239313

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239313.001.0001

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Tensed Thoughts

Tensed Thoughts

(p.53) 3 Tensed Thoughts
Tense, Aspect, and Indexicality

James Higginbotham (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the question of how tensed thoughts differ from tenseless ones, and cites certain parallels between tense in thought and tense in language, with consequences for semantic theory. On some proposals for the semantics of tense and temporal indexicals (words like ‘now’ and ‘then’), the difference between tensed thoughts and tenseless thoughts either cannot be made out or, if it does come in, requires special attention. These proposals have their rationale in the behaviour of tense and temporal indexicals in conjunction with modality, as discussed most prominently in David Kaplan (1977). It is argued that the behaviour of modals should be re-evaluated in light of the distinction between tensed thoughts and tenseless thoughts. It this is true then what requires explaining is not how tensed thoughts are to be constructed, but rather the peculiar behaviour of modality, in that it may efface distinctions among thoughts.

Keywords:   tenses, tenseless thoughts, truth, temporal indexicals, semantic theory

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