Reference and subjectivity

In ‘Fregean Reference Defended’ (1995), Sosa presents a sophisticated descriptive theory of reference, which he calls ‘fregean’, and which he argues avoids standard counterexamples to more basic variants of this approach. What is characteristic of a fregean theory, in his sense, is the idea that what makes a person’s thought about some object, a, a thought about that particular thing, is the fact that a uniquely satisfies an appropriate individuator which is suitably operative in her thinking.1 On his version, (FT), any individuating concept, or definite description, is an appropriate individuator, whether it picks out its referent entirely independently of context, and is therefore absolute (e.g. ), or it picks out its referent only with the aid of a context of use, and is therefore perspectival (e.g. ); and such an individuator, α, may be suitably operative in a person’s thinking in one of two ways. First, she may be thinking, de dicto, a proposition predicating some property φ with respect to α. Second, she may be thinking, de dicto, a proposition predicating φ with respect to another individuator, β, which is a member of a referential conception for her at that time, whose epistemic basis contains α as one of its great preponderance of individually co-referential members. The second possibility is designed to avoid standard counterexamples, in which, insofar as a person is thinking, de dicto, a proposition predicating φ with respect to some individuator, β, she is nevertheless intuitively thinking about something other than the unique satisfier of β, either because there is no such thing, just a near miss, or because, although there is, she is really thinking about something else, which may generally be believed to be the β (e.g. Donnellan, 1966; and Kripke, 1980). For Sosa argues that, in such cases, the intuitive object of thought uniquely satisfies an appropriately related α..
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