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?
Work in the analytic tradition on de re thoughts and their attribution began with Russell 1905, Russell 1910 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 1987 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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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
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