in Thought and Speech
In this paper, I argue for the following twelve theses:
referring terms are a commonplace in language.
follows directly about whether a direct reference theory for thought is
correct from a direct reference theory being correct for some terms of
direct reference theory for thought is forced on us by our holding four
things: that the universe may be spatio-temporally symmetrical, that we do
not know whether it is or not, and that we both uniquely refer and know we
uniquely refer to spatio-temporal particulars.
most conservative solution to the problem of how unique reference to
spatio-temporal particulars is possible is that we can refer directly to the
self-at-a-time. This is sufficient
in principle for referring to spatio-temporal particulars around us, and
if we are to know that we refer sometimes to the self, it is necessary.
theory of direct reference for thought requires that we have maximally
direct knowledge that we refer to the self on some occasions.
direct reference to the self and the direct knowledge that we refer to the
self must be take as primitive relations.
We know that we bear these relations to the self because they are required
to explain the possibility of our knowingly uniquely referring to
- If we
refer to spatio-temporal particulars by means of referring directly to the
self-at-a-time, then any language we speak which includes terms that refer
to spatio-temporal particulars must contain directly referring terms.
language which contains directly referring terms does not have to contain
a first person pronoun or any other specialized indexicals.
- It is
in principle possible for a language to contain no indexical expressions
at all, but it is a practical impossibility for finite beings like
ourselves who need to be able to uniquely refer to an indefinitely large
number of particulars.
should not be thought of as reducible to a canonical form or to be
intertranslatable: it is not required for their linguistic function that
they be strictly synonymous with any other expressions in a language, and
sentences in which we substitute the rules that can be given to
characterize how to determine the referents of indexical expressions for
those expressions do not have the same entailment relations as the
- It is
a mistake to read off from the semantics of a sentence in a that-clause of
a propositional attitude attribution the content of the thought of the person
to whom an attitude is attributed.
there is no reason found in ordinary usage to think that there are any
singular thoughts other than thoughts about the self.*
* Note that I would now qualify this claim. See my “Singular Thought and the Cartesian
Theory of Mind” (abstract).