Self-verification and the content of thought

Synthese 149 (1):59 - 75 (2005)
Abstract
Descartes famously argued, on purely conceptual grounds, that even an extremely powerful being could not trick him into mistakenly judging that he was thinking. Of course, it is not necessarily true that Descartes is thinking. Still, Descartes claimed, it is necessarily true that if a person judges that she is thinking, that person is thinking. Following Tyler Burge (1988) we call such judgments ‘self-verifying.’ More exactly, a judgment j performed by a subject S at a time t is selfverifying if and only if the fact that S has made j at t entails that j is true at t.2 Burge follows Descartes in claiming that the category of conceptually self-verifying judgments includes (but is not restricted to) judgments that give rise to sincere assertions of sentences of the form, ‘I am thinking that p’. We call such judgments ‘cogito’ judgments. In this paper I argue that Burge’s Cartesian insight is hard to reconcile with Fregean accounts of the content of thought. Theorists have tried to account for the self-verifying status of cogito judgments by arguing that the second-order judgment that one is thinking that p contains the thought that p as a part of it. I argue (§1) that the accuracy of the containment model is entailed by a Russellian view of content (according to which ‘‘belief’’ contexts are both extensional and transparent) when the Russellian view is attached to some fairly uncontroversial assumptions. The accuracy of the containment model is also entailed by non-hierarchical Fregean views of content according to which expressions in oblique contexts both denote and express first-level senses (§2), but there are compelling arguments against non-hierarchical Fregean views (§3). Moreover, the extremely plausible account of self-verification provided by Russellianism is not entailed by theories that follow Frege in accepting a hierarchy of senses and so allow that expressions in oblique contexts express senses that are not identical to the senses they there denote (§4)..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    Tyler Burge (1977). Belief de Re. Journal of Philosophy 74 (6):338-362.
    Tyler Burge (1988). Individualism and Self-Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 85 (November):649-63.

    View all 15 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    8 ( #138,461 of 1,088,370 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,449 of 1,088,370 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.