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Book Reviews 171

Missoula, MT 59812
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Reference and Reflexivity, by John Perry. Stanford: CSLI Publications,


. Pp xiii + . H/b $., P/b $..

Indexical expressions, that is, personal pronouns (my, you, she, his,
we, ), demonstrative pronouns (this, that), compound demonstratives
(this table, that woman near the window, ), adverbs (today, yesterday,
now, here, ), adjectives (actual and present), possessive adjectives (my
pen, their house, ) have been at the centre of some recent studies in philosophy of language. Indexicals also captured the interest of those working
within the boundaries of cognitive science, for they play a crucial role when
dealing with such puzzling notions as the nature of the self, the nature of perception, the nature of time, cognitive dynamics, and so on. The notion of
indexicality is also at the core of Perrys new book. No doubt anyone interested
in singular reference and related topics, from the philosopher to the linguist
and the cognitive scientist will benet from reading this book. Perrys contribution cannot be ignored and will set the agenda for some time to come.
In this book, Perry brings together and develops some of the ideas he has
unveiled and published in the last few years. He thus explains and expands on
the reflexivereferential account of singular reference. Among Perrys main
contribution in this book we nd a careful and well-argued distinction
between indexicality and reexivity; that is, Perry distinguishes between what
is said using an utterance with an indexical and the identifying conditions at
work when reference gets xed. The identifying conditions are what a competent speaker grasps and masters when s/he uses/hears a referential expression.
To be the referent of an indexical expression and thus the object of discourse a
given object/individual must satisfy the identifying conditions associated with
the utterance of the indexical. When, for instance, one hears someone saying,
I am a philosopher without knowing who actually spoke, one comes to
understand that the speaker of the utterance is a philosopher. The referent
must be the speaker; this is the condition the referent must satisfy. If the utterance is produced by John, then John says that he is a philosopher and expresses
a proposition having himself as a constituent. John does not say that the
speaker of the utterance is a philosopher. If, addressing John, one says, You are
a philosopher, one expresses the very same proposition: that John is a philosopher. The condition John must satisfy to be the referent of you is that he is the
addressee. This identifying condition diers from the one John satises when
he says I.
Proper names are not indexicals. Nevertheless, the same distinction holds.
Utterances of proper names rest on the reexivereferential distinction as well.
When one uses a proper name, such as John Perry, one exploits a given convention; that is, one exploits the fact that there is a conventional link between

172 Book Reviews

John Perry and its bearer, John Perry. This link began when John was named/
baptized. What one says, however, is not something about this link, but something about Perry himself. If one utters John Perry is a philosopher, one
expresses the proposition that John Perry is a philosopher, the very same proposition John Perry would express in saying I am a philosopher. But they
express this proposition in a very dierent way: one exploits the convention
which bridges the gap between John Perry and John Perry, while John Perry
exploits the identifying condition linked with the rst person pronoun. This
dierence is what ultimately accounts for the dierence in cognitive signicance between the two utterances.
Since on such an account a singular term (either an indexical, a demonstrative or a proper name) places some constraints on the way the relevant individuals come to be the objects referred to, Perrys theory brings together the
merits of the so-called direct reference view (the view initiated by Kripke,
Donnellan, Kaplan, Marcus, and Perry himself) and the merits of the Fregean
tradition. Thus, unlike Freges theory, a singular term contributes to the proposition the referent itself and not a sense or mode of presentation. Yet a singular term does not merely play this referential role. It also plays a reexive role,
that is, it expresses the identifying condition the referent must full. The reexive conditions are relative to the utterance itself; they allow Perry to deal
with traditional puzzles such as the problems of cognitive signicance and
empty terms. These problems were at the core of the earlier works in philosophy of language; they were, for instance, at the centre of Freges and Russells
writings. The direct reference picture has often been criticized in so far as it
faces diculties in handling them, for if one focuses on the notion of singular
propositions, how can one explain why an utterance of Clark Kent is Superman is informative while an utterance of Clark Kent is Clark Kent is trivial?
How do we explain negative existentials like Superman does not exist, which
seem to be either false or meaningless (that is, false if Superman exists and
meaningless if Superman does not existthe puzzle arises because we seem to
introduce some kind of entity and then we go on to say that this entity does
not exist); what is the dierence between an utterance of I am Clark Kent, said
by Clark Kent and an utterance of Clark Kent is Superman, said by someone
in answer to Who is Clark Kent? Singular propositions, though, do not
exhaust the content of an utterance. An utterance does not merely expresses a
singular proposition. This is Perrys main moral.
If one adopts Perrys theory which he sometimes also terms Critical
Referentialism one commits oneself to the view that a single utterance
expresses, or at least conveys, several propositions, that is, that there are several
levels of content associated with a single utterance. Interestingly enough,
Perrys view rst appeared as a reaction to a paper by Wettstein, in which
Wettstein claimed that the new theory of reference cannot deal with Freges
inspired puzzles and that it is not the semanticists job to worry about these
psychological problems (see Howard Wettstein, Has Semantics Rested on a

Book Reviews 173


Mistake?, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. , No. , , pp. , and John
Perry, Cognitive Signicance and New Theories of Reference, Nos, Vol. ,
, pp. , reprinted in his The Problem of the Essential Indexical and Other
Essays, Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications, ). In his reply Perry distinguished
between the proposition created and the proposition expressed by an utterance:
The proposition expressed by my utterance [You are spilling coee] is that Ellsworth
is spilling coee. The proposition created by it is that its speaker is addressing someone who is spilling coee. Both can be regarded as singular propositions, one about
Ellsworth, one about my utterance. (p. )

In his more recent writings and in this new book, Perry characterizes the proposition created as the reflexive truth condition or pure truth condition of the
utterance, while the proposition expressed is the incremental truth condition.
Roughly, while the former has to do with linguistic meaning, the latter is what
is said/communicated by the utterance. These are also characterized as the official content. The reexive truth conditions of an utterance of
() Clark Kent can y
are:
There is an individual x and a convention C such that
(i) C is exploited by ()
(ii) C permits one to designate x with Clark Kent
(iii) x can y
while the incremental truth conditions are:
That Clark Kent can y.
The reexive truth conditions of
() I can y [said by Clark Kent]
are:
There is an x such that
(i) x is the agent of ()
(ii) x can y
and the incremental truth conditions are:
That Clark Kent can y.
Since the incremental truth conditions of () and () do not dier and correspond to the proposition that Clark Kent can y, they are not suited to deal
with the dierence in cognitive signicance between () and (). The latter is
dealt with by the reexive truth conditions. The same story can be told about
identity statements such as:
() Clark Kent is Superman
whose reexive truth conditions are:
There is an individual x, an individual y and conventions C and C* such that
(i) C and C* are exploited by ()
(ii) C permits one to designate x with Clark Kent and C* permits one to
designate y with Superman
(iii) x = y.

174 Book Reviews

Perry tells a similar story about empty terms and negative existentials. The
reexive truth conditions of
() Superman does not exists
are:
There is no individual that is assigned to the convention being exploited by a
use of Superman.
Perrys reexive truth conditions/incremental truth conditions distinction
seems to bring us back to Freges Begriffsschrift metalinguistic theory. Before
introducing the sense/reference distinction, Frege held that an identity statement like a = b could be analysed as: the sign a and the sign b designate the
same thing. But see G. Frege (), On Sense and Meaning, in P. Geach
and M. Black, Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege,
Oxford: Blackwell, this cannot be the case, for:
In that case the sentence a = b would no longer refer to the subject matter, but only
to its mode of designation; we would express no proper knowledge by its means.
(p. )

An utterances reexive truth condition is a proposition about words. It is not


a proposition about the subject matter. Frege is quite right. But Perry avoids
the Fregean objection in so far as he defends a multiple proposition view. A
single utterance does not merely express its reexive truth conditions. It also
expresses its incremental truth condition. It is the latter, the official content,
which is the subject matter (what is said) of the utterance. Freges metalinguistic account faces diculties in so far as it does not distinguish between the
incremental truth conditions and the pure or reexive truth conditions; it
takes the latter to be the subject matter of the utterance. That is, Freges metalinguistic account faces diculties because Frege recognized only one level of
content, a unique proposition, and asks the latter to deliver all the relevant
information, that is, both the information relative to the cognitive signicance
and the subject matter of the utterance. In a nutshell, Freges metalinguistic
account cannot succeed because Frege commits the fallacy of misplaced information, that is, he asks a single entity to deliver all the information. Frege is
right in arguing that an identity statement is not about words but about things
and thus rejects his metalinguistic account. He is wrong, though, in claiming
that the metalinguistic account must be supplanted by the sense/reference distinction and that the propositional constituents are the senses expressed by
words. Were Frege (and the neo-Fregeans for that matter) to accept the view
that a single utterance expresses or conveys several propositions, then Frege
and his followers would be happy to accommodate the view that a sentence
expresses a proposition about words and yet this proposition is not the subject
matter, for the latter is a proposition having the referents themselves as constituents and not the words used to designate them.
One of Freges main worries was the substitution salva veritate of co-referring terms in oratio obliqua constructions. In an ascription like Lois believes
that Superman can y we cannot substitute salva veritate Superman with

Book Reviews 175

Clark Kent, for Lois is not aware that Superman is Clark Kent. Does the reexivereferential distinction capture Freges data? Moreover, Perry spent a long
time discussing indexicality but, curiously enough, he did not himself venture
to discuss how, from the third person viewpoint, we attribute indexical reference to others. How do we attribute, for instance, an I-thought? In a series of
papers, Castaeda claimed that to capture someones indexical thoughts we
need to use quasi-indicators, that is, expressions of the form s/he (her/
himself ) H.-N. Castaeda, He: A Study in the Logic of SelfConsciousness, Ratio, Vol. , No. , , pp. ; Indicators and QuasiIndicators, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. , No. , , pp. ;
On the Logic of Attributions of Self-Knowledge to Others, The Journal of
Philosophy, Vol. , No. , , pp. -. Thus a report like Mary believes
that she (herself) is rich attributes to Mary an I-thought, that is, the thought
she would express in saying I am rich. Can the reexivereferential distinction
be accommodated to capture quasi-indicators? What would be the reexive
truth conditions of a report like Mary believes that she (herself) is rich? In so
far as it is the job of the reexive truth conditions to deal with the problem of
cognitive signicance, the reexive truth conditions of Mary believes that she
(herself) is rich must dier from the reexive truth conditions of a report like
Mary believes that Mary is rich, while the pure truth conditions may well be
the same for Mary and she (herself) are co-referential.
This book is admirable for its richness of data and the way it handles them.
Yet it is succinct and goes straight to the core of the main problems. In avoiding too many technicalities, it is a fresh and enjoyable read, inviting and
accompanying the reader through some of the central issues in philosophy of
language. Perry is a master at motivating his theory with lots of good and
entertaining examples, and the reader will nd it dicult not to succumb to its
charm and elegance.
Department of Philosophy
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
UK

eros corazza

Nietzsches Postmoralism: Essays on Nietzsches Prelude to Philosophys Future, edited by Richard Schacht. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, . Pp. xiv + . H/b ., $..

This volume presents nine new essays on Nietzsche, but beyond that they have
little connection, substantively or stylistically, with one another. The contributors are Ivan Soll, Rdiger Bittner, Alan D. Schrift, Alan White, Robert B.
Pippin, Maudemarie Clark, Robert C. Solomon, James Conant, and the editor.
Several papers deal with topics related to or inspired by Nietzsches moral
philosophy, including his putative virtue ethics (Solomon, and in some ways