Communicating Egocentric Beliefs: Two-Content Accounts

Erkenntnis 83 (5):947-967 (2018)
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It has long been known that the popular account of egocentric thoughts developed by David Lewis is in conflict with a natural account of communication, according to which successful communication requires the transmission of a thought content from speaker to hearer. In this paper, I discuss a number of proposed attempts to reconcile these two accounts of egocentric thought and communication. Each of them postulates two kinds of mental content, where one is egocentric, and the other is transmitted from speaker to hearer in communication. I argue that Ninan’s account, which involves multi-centered contents, and Kölbel’s and Moss’s accounts, which postulate centered and uncentered proxy contents, respectively, are unsatisfactory. Therefore, I propose a two-dimensionalist account, according to which egocentric thoughts are represented by primary intensions, while the thoughts shared by speaker and hearer in cases of successful communication are represented by secondary intensions. Finally, I argue that aside from being able to reconcile Lewis’s account of egocentric thoughts with the natural account of communication, two-dimensionalism also provides the means for modeling agreement and disagreement.



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Jens Kipper
University of Rochester

Citations of this work

Private Investigators and Public Speakers.Alexander Sandgren - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (1):95-113.
When Lingens meets Frege: communication without common ground.Jens Kipper - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (5):1441-1461.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
Frege’s Puzzle (2nd edition).Nathan U. Salmon - 1986 - Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview Publishing Company.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.

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