First Person: The Demand for Identification-Free Self-Reference

Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):223-234 (1995)
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I defend the thesis that identification-free self-reference is immune to error through mis-identification because even though self-reference and self-identification are distinct, they are not separable. This provides a critique and a reductio of Carol Rovane’s neo-Lockean analysis of ‘I’ in terms of a definite description, since no definite description or proper name can be substituted salva sensu or salva veritate for the singular term ‘I’. Furthermore, I distinguish between self-identification and self-ascription, and argue that even if there may be an error in self-ascription, the self-identification component – that is, the reference and identity of ‘I’ – remains unshaken. There is no way of losing track of the subject in ‘I’-thoughts, since there is no way of forming dynamic Fregean thoughts. I conclude by arguing that one’s capacity to think of oneself self-consciously is not exhausted by the presence or absence of linguistic devices such as ‘I’. Rather, it has to do with the metaphysics concerning the nature of the self.



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Andrea Christofidou
University of London

Citations of this work

Stopping points: ‘I’, immunity and the real guarantee.Annalisa Coliva - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (3):233-252.
Immunity to error and subjectivity.Robert J. Howell - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):581-604.
Immunity to Error and Subjectivity.Robert J. Howell - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):581-604.
On Referring to Oneself.Maximilian de Gaynesford - 2004 - Theoria 70 (2-3):121-161.
De se thought and immunity to error through misidentification.Hongqing Cui - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

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