Communicating Egocentric Beliefs: Two-Content Accounts

Erkenntnis:1-21 (forthcoming)
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.
Keywords egocentric belief  communication  two-dimensional semantics
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-017-9921-3
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