Natural language expressions such as 'Fred', 'Ethel', 'Ginger' (proper names), 'I', 'here', 'yesterday' (indexicals) and 'this', 'that', 'them' (demonstratives) raise a number of difficult questions for the philosophies of language and mind. What sort of semantic contribution do these expressions make to the content of the sentences they appear in? Do they have senses? Do they contribute only the object to which they refer? And how should we understand the contents of the thoughts we use these sentences to express? Do they depend in some special way on the existence of the objects thought about? Do our thoughts about particular objects somehow contain those objects?
We will explore a number of approaches to the semantics of proper names, indexicals and demonstratives, and their implications for our understanding of human language and thought. Other authors whose work we may study include Kripke, Kaplan, Perry, McDowell, Evans and Katz.