First Person Thought

In Julien Dutant, Davide Fassion & Anne Meylan (eds.), Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel. pp. 506-511 (2014)
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First person thoughts are the sort of thought one may express by using the first person ; they are also thoughts that are about the thinker of the thought. Neither characterization is ultimately satisfactory. A thought can be about the thinker of the thought by accident, without being a first person thought. The alternative characterization of first person thought in terms of first person sentences also fails, because it is circular : we need the notion of a first person thought to account for the reference rule governing the first person in language. The paper offers a new characterization of first person thought. A first person thought is a thought which deploys the first person concept, where the first person concept is construed as a special kind of ‘mental file’. Mental files are based on, and their reference determined by, epistemically rewarding (ER) relations in which the subject stands to entities in the environment. In the case of the SELF file, the relevant ER relation is identity. This guarantees that the first-person concept refers to the thinker of the thought in which it is deployed.



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Francois Recanati
Institut Jean Nicod

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References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Varieties of Reference.Louise M. Antony - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (2):275.
Mental Files.François Recanati - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
Self-Reference and Self-Awareness.Sydney S. Shoemaker - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (October):555-67.
Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology: Volume 2.David Lewis - 1999 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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