Reference and confusion [Book Review]

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Being in a state of confusion is, unfortunately, an ordinary part of human experience. What is going on in our heads exactly, when we are confused about something? Surely, there are many different ways of being confused, but in his engaging new book Talking About, Elmar Unnsteinsson takes on the special case of what he calls identity confusion. He suggests that understanding what happens when we are in a state of identity confusion – and what kinds of things this confusion allows us to, or inhibits us from doing – will dissolve Frege's puzzle. And more importantly, it will pave the road to a new theory of reference which relies on what he calls the Edenic Constraint – a constraint that makes acts of reference unavailable to victims of identity confusion. I argue that this account is convincing if the Edenic Constraint is restricted to certain cases of combinatory confusion – namely those that involve conflicting intentions – but that it is less plausible that the reference mechanism fails in cases of combinatory confusion that don't involve conflicting intentions, or in any cases of separatory confusion.



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Jessica Keiser
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Talking About: A Response to Bowker, Keiser, Michaelson.Elmar Unnsteinsson - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference.Saul A. Kripke - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):255-276.

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