It appears to assert a fact about the relative merits of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. But, unlike the cases considered above, the fact expressed is about the person who makes the assertion. This claim is, first of all, implicitly relative. A claim is implicitly relative when it involves a comparison or other relation to something it doesn't explicitly mention (see Chapter 1, pp. 28-29, for a review of this concept). For example, said of an adult man, 'John is tall' states a comparison, a relation, between John and other men; it really says that John is taller than the average man.1 But furthermore, the claim about ice cream is implicitly speaker-relative. If Julie says 'Chocolate ice cream tastes better than vanilla', then what she is really saying is that she prefers chocolate to vanilla. Similarly, if John asserts this very same sentence, then he is saying that chocolate ice cream tastes better to him than vanilla does. So Julie and John are saying different things, despite the fact that they use the same sentence
1 Of course there is no such thing as 'the average man', as if, in addition to Tom, Dick, Harry and the rest, there were another chap, the average man. To say that John is taller than the average man is to say that if you take the average (the mean) of the heights of all men, then John's height exceeds that figure.
to say it. These two speakers' assertions are statements of fact about their respective preferences, not statements of fact about the superiority of chocolate over vanilla ice cream independent of anyone's preference.
This means that the sentence by means of which we express such a proposition - 'Chocolate ice cream tastes better than vanilla' - is an incomplete expression of the proposition we express by means of it. The statement actually expresses the preference of the person making it, but the sentence does not explicitly mention this; that is why the statement is implicitly speaker-relative.2
The importance of this emerges when we consider what happens when people appear to disagree over claims that are implicitly speaker-relative in this way, and compare this with genuine factual disagreement. Suppose now that Julie and John disagree about the capital of Bolivia. Julie says
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