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Summary

De re thoughts are thoughts that single out particular objects. For example, the thought that He is the world’s tallest man —had while looking at a particular person— is de re, but the thought that Somebody is the world’s tallest man is not. Attributions of de re thoughts are (utterances of) sentences containing that-clauses, in turn containing either singular terms or variables bound from outside the attitude verb. Issues surrounding these two phenomena include the following. What is the relationship between our theory of de re thoughts and our theory of de re attributions? What is required to have a de re thought? What is required for a de re attribution to be true or felicitous? What kind of semantic content should be used to type de re thoughts and de re attributions? Can we have de re thoughts about abstract and fictional entities? Can one have a priori de re knowledge? What role should de re thought play in the theory of reference? 

Key works

Work in the analytic tradition on de re thoughts and their attribution began with Russell 1905, Russell 1911 and Quine 1956. Classic papers focusing on the attribution of de re thoughts include Sleigh 1968, Kaplan 1968 and Sosa 1971. Another classic, that attempts to clarify the connection between the epistemology of de re thoughts and the semantics of their attribution is Burge 1977; see also Burge’s postscript in Burge 2007. McDowell 1984 and Evans 1982 also try to develop a Fregean theory of de re thought. Sosa 1971 and Schiffer 1979 defend the view that the requirements for attributing a de re thought are very lax and context-sensitive. Kripke 2011 disagrees. Salmon 2009 argues that having a de re thought requires the thinker to stand in a relation to the object her thought is about. Jeshion 2002 argues that it only requires the thinker to be in a certain kind of cognitive state. Azzouni 2010 aims to provide an account of de re thought about abstract and fictional entities. Salmon 1988 argues that there is no such thing as a priori de re knowledge. Hawthorne & Manley 2012 discuss all of these issues as well as the role of de re thought in the theory of reference. Burge 2010 connects the notion of de re thought to broader ones in the philosophy of mind. 

Introductions Hawthorne & Manley 2012 serves as an excellent introduction and is also of great interest to experts. Jeshion 2002 serves as an excellent introductory article due to its clarity.
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142 found
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1 — 50 / 142
  1. added 2020-06-20
    Understanding Self‐Ascription.Frank Jackson & Daniel Stoljar - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):141-155.
    David Lewis argues that believing something is self‐ascribing a property rather than holding true a proposition. But what is self‐ascription? Is it some new mysterious primitive? Is Lewis saying that every belief you have is about you? Several recent authors have suggested that, in the light of these questions, Lewis's theory should be rejected, despite its enormous influence. But this neglects the fact that Lewis makes two relevant proposals about belief: one about belief de se , another about belief de (...)
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  2. added 2020-06-08
    Revisionist Reporting.Kyle Blumberg & Harvey Lederman - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Several theorists have observed that attitude reports have what we call “revisionist” uses. For example, even if Pete has never met Ann and has no idea that she exists, Jane can still say to Jim ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis in ten lessons’ if Pete believes all 6-year-olds can learn to play tennis in ten lessons and it is part of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge that Ann is a 6-year-old. Jane’s assertion seems acceptable because the claim (...)
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  3. added 2020-03-12
    Careful What You Wish.John Beverley - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):21-38.
    Dilip Ninan has raised a puzzle for centered world accounts of de re attitude reports extended to accommodate what he calls “counterfactual attitudes.” As a solution, Ninan introduces multiple centers to the standard centered world framework, resulting in a more robust semantics for de re attitude reports. However, while the so-called multi-centered world proposal solves Ninan’s counterfactual puzzle, this additional machinery is not without problems. In Section 1, I present the centered world account of attitude reports, followed by the extension (...)
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  4. added 2019-12-16
    Belief de Re Without Encounter.Takashi Yagisawa - 1983 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 21 (3):461-474.
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  5. added 2019-11-12
    How I Really Say What You Think.José Manuel Viejo - forthcoming - Axiomathes:1-27.
    The apparently obviously true doctrine of opacity has been thought to be inconsistent with two others, to which many philosophers of language are also attracted: the referentialist account of the semantics of proper names and indexicals, on the one hand, and the principle of semantic innocence, on the other. I discuss here one of the most popular strategies for resolving the apparent inconsistency, namely Mark Richard’s theory of belief ascriptions, and raise three problems for it. Finally, I propose an alternative (...)
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  6. added 2019-08-15
    De Re and De Se.François Recanati - 2009 - Dialectica 63 (3):249-269.
    For Perry and many authors, de se thoughts are a species of de re thought ; for Lewis, it is the other way round. To a large extent, the conflict between the two positions is merely apparent: it is due to insufficient appreciation of the crucial distinction between two types of de se thought. In view of this distinction, we can maintain both that de se thought is a special case of de re thought, and that de re thought is (...)
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    New Essays on Singular Thought – Robin Jeshion.José Luis Bermúdez - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):865-869.
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  8. added 2019-06-05
    Particular Thoughts & Singular Thought.M. G. F. Martin - 2002 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 51:173-214.
    A long-standing theme in discussion of perception and thought has been that our primary cognitive contact with individual objects and events in the world derives from our perceptual contact with them. When I look at a duck in front of me, I am not merely presented with the fact that there is at least one duck in the area, rather I seem to be presented with this thing in front of me, which looks to me to be a duck. Furthermore, (...)
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  9. added 2019-03-11
    IV—Sharing Thoughts About Oneself.Guy Longworth - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (1pt1):57-81.
    This paper is about first‐person thoughts—thoughts about oneself that are expressible through uses of first‐person pronouns. It is widely held that first‐person thoughts cannot be shared. My aim is to postpone rejection of the more natural view that such thoughts about oneself can be shared. I sketch an account on which such thoughts can be shared and indicate some ways in which deciding the fate of the account will depend upon further work.
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  10. added 2019-02-22
    Quine’s Poor Tom.Tristan Grøtvedt Haze - 2019 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 15 (1):5-16.
    Section 31 of Quine's Word and Object contains an eyebrow-raising argument, purporting to show that if an agent, Tom, believes one truth and one falsity and has some basic logical acumen, and if belief contexts are always transparent, then Tom believes everything. Over the decades this argument has been debated inconclusively. In this paper I clarify the situation and show that the trouble stems from bad presentation on Quine’s part.
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  11. added 2019-01-30
    A Sound Cartesian Argument From Doubt for Dualism.Ari Maunu - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):461-465.
    I put forward a version of the Cartesian Argument from Doubt for mind–body dualism. My version utilizes de re statements, which means that it is not vulnerable to the usual charge of intensional fallacy. The key de re statement is, ‘Body is such that its existence is entailed by Mind’s believing that Body does not exist’, which is false, whereas the respective ‘Mind is such that its existence is entailed by Mind’s believing that Body does not exist’ is true.
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  12. added 2019-01-05
    Fregean Reference Defended.Ernest Sosa - 1995 - Philosophical Issues 6:91-99.
    What is involved in acquiring a russellian proposition (x, φ) as content of an attitude: what does it take for one to acquire such an attitude de re? How do we gain access to x itself so as to be able to have (x, φ) as content of our thought?
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  13. added 2019-01-04
    The Objective Dimension of Believing "De Re".Igal Kvart - 1992 - Critica 24 (70):83-107.
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  14. added 2018-08-17
    Singular Thought.Tim Crane & Jody Azzouni - 2011 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 85 (1):21-43.
    A singular thought can be characterized as a thought which is directed at just one object. The term ‘thought’ can apply to episodes of thinking, or to the content of the episode (what is thought). This paper argues that episodes of thinking can be just as singular, in the above sense, when they are directed at things that do not exist as when they are directed at things that do exist. In this sense, then, singular thoughts are not object-dependent.
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  15. added 2018-07-06
    Acquaintance and First-Person Attitude Reports.Henry Ian Schiller - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):251-259.
    It is often assumed that singular thought requires that an agent be epistemically acquainted with the object the thought is about. However, it can sometimes truthfully be said of someone that they have a belief about an object, despite not being interestingly epistemically acquainted with that object. In defense of an epistemic acquaintance constraint on singular thought, it is thus often claimed that belief ascriptions are context sensitive and do not always track the contents of an agent’s mental states. This (...)
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  16. added 2018-04-10
    Singular Thoughts and de Re Attitude Reports.James Openshaw - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (4):415-437.
    It is widely supposed that if there is to be a plausible connection between the truth of a de re attitude report about a subject and that subject’s possession of a singular thought, then ‘acquaintance’-style requirements on singular thought must be rejected. I show that this belief rests on poorly motivated claims about how we talk about the attitudes. I offer a framework for propositional attitude reports which provides both attractive solutions to recalcitrant puzzle cases and the key to preserving (...)
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  17. added 2018-04-03
    Object-Dependent Thoughts.Sean Crawford - 2005 - In Keith Brown (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed. Elsevier.
    The theory of object-dependent singular thought is outlined and the central motivation for it, turning on the connection between thought content and truth conditions, is discussed. Some of its consequences for the epistemology of thought are noted and connections are drawn to the general doctrine of externalism about thought content. Some of the main criticisms of the object-dependent view of singular thought are outlined. Rival conceptions of singular thought are also sketched and their problems noted.
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  18. added 2018-03-09
    Perceptual Demonstrative Thought: A Property-Dependent Theory.Sean Crawford - 2020 - Topoi 39 (2):439-457.
    The paper presents a new theory of perceptual demonstrative thought, the property-dependent theory. It argues that the theory is superior to both the object-dependent theory (Evans, McDowell) and the object-independent theory (Burge).
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  19. added 2018-02-17
    Identidad y discriminación en el contenido no conceptual.Justina Díaz Legaspe - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):65-93.
    En The Varieties of Reference, Evans sostiene que el contenido perceptual posee una naturaleza no conceptual. Precisamente, los vínculos informacionales entre sujeto y objeto habilitan el pensamiento singular, al permitir la localización del objeto en un entorno egocéntrico. Anclados en algunos casos en estos vínculos, los pensamientos singulares contienen Ideas adecuadas del objeto, dependientes de una determinada clasificación del mismo. Nada en el contenido perceptual equivale a este recorte conceptual del objeto en el pensamiento. Sostendré entonces la necesidad de introducir (...)
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  20. added 2017-10-20
    Ultra-Liberal Attitude Reports.Kyle Blumberg & Ben Holguín - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):2043-2062.
    Although much has been written about the truth-conditions of de re attitude reports, little attention has been paid to certain ‘ultra-liberal’ uses of those reports. We believe that if these uses are legitimate, then a number of interesting consequences for various theses in philosophical semantics follow. The majority of the paper involves describing these consequences. In short, we argue that, if true, ultra-liberal reports: bring counterexamples to a popular approach to de re attitude ascriptions, which we will call ‘descriptivism’; and (...)
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  21. added 2017-09-08
    An Idea of Donnellan.David Kaplan - 2011 - In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), Having In Mind: The Philosophy of Keith Donnellan. Oxford, but (c) David Kaplan. pp. 122-175.
    This is a story about three of my favorite philosophers—Donnellan, Russell, and Frege—about how Donnellan’s concept of having in mind relates to ideas of the others, and especially about an aspect of Donnellan’s concept that has been insufficiently discussed: how this epistemic state can be transmitted from one person to another.
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  22. added 2017-09-05
    Direct and Indirect Belief.Curtis Brown - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (2):289-316.
    Belief states are only contingently connected with the objects of belief. Burge's examples show that the same belief state can be associated with different objects of belief. Kripke's puzzle shows that the same object of belief can be associated with different belief states. Nevertheless, belief states can best be characterized by a subset of the propositions one believes, namely those one directly or immediately believes. The rest of the things one believes are believed indirectly, by virtue of one's direct beliefs. (...)
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  23. added 2017-06-07
    Singular Thought, Cognitivism, and Conscious Attention.Heimir Geirsson - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (3):613-626.
    The focus of this paper will be on singular thoughts. In the first section I will present Jeshion’s cognitivism; a view that holds that one should characterize singular thoughts by their cognitive roles. In the second section I will argue that, contrary to Jeshion’s claims, results from studies of object tracking in cognitive psychology do not support cognitivism. In the third section I will discuss Jeshion’s easy transmission of singular thought and argue that it ignores a relevant distinction between general (...)
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  24. added 2017-04-18
    Transparent Quantification Into Hyperpropositional Contexts de Re.Duží Marie & Bjørn Jespersen - 2012 - Logique & Analyse 55 (220):513-554.
    This paper is the twin of (Duží and Jespersen, in submission), which provides a logical rule for transparent quantification into hyperprop- ositional contexts de dicto, as in: Mary believes that the Evening Star is a planet; therefore, there is a concept c such that Mary be- lieves that what c conceptualizes is a planet. Here we provide two logical rules for transparent quantification into hyperpropositional contexts de re. (As a by-product, we also offer rules for possible- world propositional contexts.) One (...)
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  25. added 2017-02-16
    Empty Thoughts and Vicarious Thoughts in the Mental File Framework.François Recanati - 2014 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):1-11.
    Mental files have a referential role—they serve to think about objects in the world—but they also have a meta-representational role: when ‘indexed’, they serve to represent how other subjects think about objects in the world. This additional, meta-representational function of files is invoked to shed light on the uses of empty singular terms in negative existentials and pseudo-singular attitude ascriptions. -/- For a longer version see "Empty Singular Terms in the Mental-File Framework" In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Genoveva Marti (eds.), Empty (...)
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  26. added 2017-02-15
    Is de Re Belief Reducible to de Dicto?Nathan Salmon - 1997 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 27 (sup1):85-110.
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  27. added 2017-02-14
    Reply to My Critics: Anthony Brueckner and Robin Jeshion.Albert Casullo - 2011 - In Michael J. Shaffer & Michael Veber (eds.), What Place for the a Priori? Open Court. pp. 111.
  28. added 2017-02-09
    Lawlor, Krista. New Thoughts About Old Things: Cognitive Policies as the Ground of Singular Concepts.Timothy Schroeder - 2003 - Review of Metaphysics 56 (3):661-662.
    Imagine you are looking at a cat and make the following inference: That cat sneezed; That cat is missing an ear; thus There exists a sneezing cat missing an ear. Such an inference is valid only if there is no equivocation on the term “that cat.” If “that cat” in refers to Puss, but in refers to Midnight, then the inference is invalid. This much is elementary. Now imagine that Puss is the cat in front of you when you think, (...)
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  29. added 2017-02-08
    `` D E Dicto and D E Se &Quot.Peter Markie - 1984 - Philosophical Studies 45:231-237.
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  30. added 2017-02-02
    Review of Krista Lawlor, New Thoughts About Old Things: Cognitive Policies As the Ground of Singular Concepts[REVIEW]Kent Bach - 2002 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (2).
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  31. added 2017-02-01
    Defending de Dicto.Mark Huston - 2000 - Ratio 13 (2):186–190.
  32. added 2017-02-01
    De Dicto and de Se.Peter J. Markie - 1984 - Philosophical Studies 45 (2):231 - 237.
  33. added 2017-02-01
    De Dicto and de Re.Pavel Tichý - 1978 - Philosophia 8 (1):1-16.
  34. added 2017-01-28
    Object Dependent Thoughts, Perspectival Thoughts, and Psychological Generalization.Max F. Adams, R. Stecker & G. Fuller - 1999 - Dialectica 53 (1):47-59.
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  35. added 2017-01-28
    A. Woodfield "Thought and Object". [REVIEW]Andrew Hamilton - 1984 - Philosophical Quarterly 34 (34):81.
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  36. added 2017-01-24
    Robin Jeshion, Ed. , New Essays on Singular Thought . Reviewed By.Sam Cowling - 2011 - Philosophy in Review 31 (6):434-437.
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  37. added 2017-01-23
    New Essays on Singular Thought, by Robin Jeshion (Ed.).Krista Lawlor - 2013 - Mind 122 (486):fzt017.
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  38. added 2017-01-23
    A New Source of Data About Singular Thought.Mihnea D. I. Capraru - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (4):1159-1172.
    Philosophers have justified extant theories of singular thought in at least three ways: they have invoked wide-ranging theories motivated by data from other philosophical areas, they have elicited direct intuitions about which thoughts are singular, and they have subjected propositional attitude reports to tests such as Russellian substitution and Quinean exportation. In these ways, however, we haven’t yet been able to tell what it takes to have singular thoughts, nor have we been able to tell which of our thoughts they (...)
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  39. added 2017-01-23
    Image-Based de Re Thought.Xiaoqiang Han - 2008 - Disputatio 2 (24):17.
    In this paper I argue that in addition to the three generally recognized kinds of de re thought, i.e., perception-based, memory-based and communication-based thought, there is a kind of de re thought, which is based on image and cannot be assimilated to any of these recognized kinds of de re thought. I call it simply image-based de re thought. Although image-based thought shares some similarities with the other kinds of de re thought, it should and can be distinguished from each (...)
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  40. added 2017-01-23
    Against Absence-Dependent Thoughts.Harold W. Noonan - 2004 - Analysis 64 (1):92 - 93.
  41. added 2017-01-15
    Kaplan, Quine, and Suspended Belief.Tyler Burge - 1977 - Philosophical Studies 31 (3):197-203.
  42. added 2017-01-14
    Cognitivism, Significance and Singular Thought.Rachel Goodman - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):236-260.
    This paper has a narrow and a broader target. The narrow target is a particular version of what I call the mental-files conception of singular thought, proposed by Robin Jeshion, and known as cognitivism. The broader target is the MFC in general. I give an argument against Jeshion's view, which gives us preliminary reason to reject the MFC more broadly. I argue Jeshion's theory of singular thought should be rejected because the central connection she makes between significance and singularity does (...)
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  43. added 2016-12-08
    Belief De Re, Knowing Who, and Singular Thought.Michaelis Michael - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (6):293-310.
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  44. added 2016-12-08
    Acquaintance and de Re Thought.Chris John Daly - 2007 - Synthese 156 (1):79-96.
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  45. added 2016-12-08
    Indexical Propositions and De Re Belief Ascriptions.Mark Balaguer - 2005 - Synthese 146 (3):325-355.
    I develop here a novel version of the Fregean view of belief ascriptions (i.e., sentences of the form ‘S believes that p’) and I explain how my view accounts for various problem cases that many philosophers have supposed are incompatible with Fregeanism. The so-called problem cases involve (a) what Perry calls essential indexicals and (b) de re ascriptions in which it is acceptable to substitute coreferential but non-synonymous terms in belief contexts. I also respond to two traditional worries about what (...)
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  46. added 2016-09-01
    Token-Reflexivity and Indirect Discourse.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2000 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2000:37-56.
    According to a Reichenbachian treatment, indexicals are token-reflexive. That is, a truth-conditional contribution is assigned to tokens relative to relational properties which they instantiate. By thinking of the relevant expressions occurring in “ordinary contexts” along these lines, I argue that we can give a more accurate account of their semantic behavior when they occur in indirect contexts. The argument involves the following: (1) A defense of theories of indirect discourse which allows that a reference to modes of presentation associated with (...)
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  47. added 2016-04-06
    Singular Thought Without Significance.Andrei Moldovan - 2015 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 22 (1):53-70.
    The main purpose of this essay is critical. I focus on Robin Jeshion’s (2002; 2004; 2010) theory of singular thought, and I offer three objections to her Significance Condition for the creation of mental files. First of all, this condition makes incorrect predictions concerning singular thoughts about insignificant objects. Second, it conflicts with a theoretical aim mental file theories usually have, that of accounting for our ability to track discourse referents. And third, it appeals to a vague notion where a (...)
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  48. added 2016-04-06
    Singular Thought: The Division of Explanatory Labor.Andrei Moldovan - 2015 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 36 (1/2):83-99.
    A tacit assumption in the literature devoted to singular thought is that singular thought constitutes a unitary phenomenon, and so a correct account of it must encompass all instances. In this essay, I argue against such a unitary account. The superficial feature of singularity might result from ver y different deep-level phenomena. Following Taylor (2010) and Crane (2013), I distinguish between the referential fitness and the referential success of a thought. I argue that facts responsible for referential fitness (e.g., mental (...)
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  49. added 2016-01-06
    De Re Belief.David Kaplan - 2013 - In Richard Hull (ed.), Presidential Addresses of The American Philosophical Association 1981–1990. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 25-37.
  50. added 2015-12-29
    A Puzzle About de Rebus Beliefs.Vann McGee & Agustín Rayo - 2000 - Analysis 60 (4):297–299.
    George Boolos (1984, 1985) has extensively investigated plural quantifi- cation, as found in such locutions as the Geach-Kaplan sentence There are critics who admire only one another, and he found that their logic cannot be adequately formalized within the first-order predicate calculus. If we try to formalize the sentence by a paraphrase using individual variables that range over critics, or over sets or collections or fusions of critics, we misrepresent its logical structure. To represent plural quantification adequately requires the logical (...)
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