Philosophical Studies 70 (3):337 - 345 (1993)
|Abstract||A familiar means of enhancing the descriptive power of attitudinal reports is the distinction between de re and de dicto readings of ascriptions or, alternatively, between internal and external occurrences of terms and phrases used in ascribing attitudes.i While there is little agreement about the philosophical significance or viability of these contrasts, supporters of cognitive theories of content -- those which take the that-clause of an ascription to express something to which the subject bears a psychological relation, viz., what he or she believes, doubts, wishes for, etc. -- invoke the de re mode whenever the ascriber does not claim to represent the subject's exact content, though, for descriptive or explanatory purposes, finds a partial specification appropriate.ii The strategy is particularly useful for understanding ascriptions containing indexicals. For example, if I overhear Andrea praising my insights, strategies, and calculations, I might report her thoughts as follows: (1) Andrea thinks that I am clever. This ascription is misleading if taken to convey Andrea's exact content; the occurrence of 'I' expresses my thought of myself, not hers. Since she does not think of me in a first-person way, (1) cannot be understood as reporting her disposition to assent to the sentence 'I am clever,' nor to affirm the proposition that I am clever, regardless if the I in question is herself or myself. On certain views of indexical content, I might be unable to specify exactly the proposition she does accept, but I can at least allude to what she has in mind by exporting the pronoun as in, (2) I am someone whom Andrea believes to be clever. or, to retain an overt that-clause, (3) There is someone x who is identical to me and Andrea believes..|
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