Neglecting Hegel on the a priori yet again, Jason Stanley gave an exciting talk about contextual sensitivity and shared content yesterday.
The (alleged) problem of shared content for those who believe in rampant contextual sensitivity is that is that to the extent that the proposition expressed varies with context, it is harder to explain why people find it so easy to communicate (i.e. grasp what propositions others are expressing) .
Richard Heck has suggested that grasping the exact proposition expressed is not important - you just have to grasp one that is similar enough.
Jason proposed instead that one should respond by saying that it is not so hard as you might think to grasp the exact same proposition that one's interlocutor expresses. Adpoting a Russellian view of propositions enabled him to argue (if I got him right) that my grasping the exact proposition you express requires only a kind of de re understanding. It only requires that I know, de re of the things you were talking about and properties you ascribed, that you said that those things have those properties. Since the Russellian proposition expresed is just a construct out of those things and properties, not a Fregean sense, mode of presentation doesn't matter: it doesn't matter what descriptions of these objects and properties I have available, nor whether I can distinguish them from close relatives, as long as I end up with the appropriate piece of de re knowledge about them.
One question this raised in my mind is whether this move really addresses the spirit (as opposed to the letter) of the shared content problem. If we go Russellian about propositions, then arguably grasping the proposition expressed is not all that's important for communication. Modes of presentation ought to matter too.
Addendum: Thanks to Jason for correcting my spelling of 'Russellian'. I should have mentioned that the term 'problem of shared content' is due to Herman Cappelen.