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Traditionally, I am Entitled to a Last Meal

Organon F, 2011, roč. 18, č. 1, s. 5-13.
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Abstrakt

Nunberg maintains that there are cases like “I am traditionally entitled to a last meal”, as uttered by a condemned prisoner facing the firing squad, which suggest that an indexical like ‘I’ does double duty as a vehicle of singular and general reference. I argue against this claim. My position is that the sentence should be factored out into two: “Traditionally, a condemned prisoner is entitled to a last meal” and “I am a condemned prisoner”. Nunberg’s sentence is generated by means of an illicit substitution of ‘I’ for ‘a condemned prisoner’ inside the scope of ‘traditionally’. The morale is that sloppy or literally nonsensical speech like Nunberg’s sentence is not suitable as data for logical analysis of natural language. What is suitable data is the two-premise argument I put forward.

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