Imogen Dickie develops an account of aboutness-fixing for thoughts about ordinary objects, and of reference-fixing for the singular terms we use to express them. Extant discussions of this topic tread a weary path through descriptivist proposals, causalist alternatives, and attempts to combine the most attractive elements of each. The account developed here is a new beginning. It starts with two basic principles, the first of which connects aboutness and truth, and the second of which connects truth and justification. These principles (...) combine to yield a third principle connecting aboutness and justification. Dickie uses the principle to explain how the relations to objects that enable us to think about them--perceptual attention; understanding of proper names; grasp of descriptions--do their aboutness-fixing and thought-enabling work. The book includes discussions of the nature of singular thought and the relation between thought and consciousness. (shrink)
This paper develops a new account of reference-fixing for proper names. The account is built around an intuitive claim about reference fixing: the claim that I am a participant in a practice of using α to refer to o only if my uses of α are constrained by the representationally relevant ways it is possible for o to behave. §I raises examples that suggest that a right account of how proper names refer should incorporate this claim. §II provides such an (...) account. (shrink)
Here is one argument against realism. (1) Realists are committed to the classical rules for negation. But (2) legitimate rules of inference must conserve evidence. And (3) the classical rules for negation do not conserve evidence. So (4) realism is wrong. Most realists reject 2. But it has recently been argued that if we allow denied sentences as premisses and conclusions in inferences we will be able to reject 3. And this new argument against 3 generates a new response to (...) the antirealist argument: keep 1 and 2, avoiding 4 by rejecting 3. My aim in this paper is to see how much work in the fight against anti-realism this new response can really do. I argue that there is a powerful objection to the response: 2 is in tension with the claim that denied sentences can be premisses and conclusions in inferences. But I show that, even given this objection, the new response has an important role to play. (shrink)
: ‘Sortalism about demonstrative reference’ is the view that the capacity to refer to things demonstratively rests on the capacity to classify them according to their kinds. This paper argues for one form of sortalism. Section 1 distinguishes two sortalist views. Section 2 argues that one of them is false. Section 3 argues that the other is true. Section 4 uses the argument from Section 3 to develop a new response to the objection to sortalism from examples where we seem (...) to succeed in referring even though we get sortal classification wrong, or do not attempt to classify at all. (shrink)
This paper is about the claim that, necessarily, a subject who can think that a is F must also have the capacities to think that a is G, a is H, a is I, and so on (for some reasonable range of G, H, I), and that b is F, c is F, d is F, and so on (for some reasonable range of b, c, d). I set out, and raise objections to, two arguments for a strong version of (...) this claim (Gareth Evans' generality constraint). I present a new argument for a weaker version of the claim, and sketch some directions of enquiry which this new argument opens up. (shrink)
I propose an amendment to Sosa’s virtue reliabilism. Sosa’s framework assigns a central role to sophisticated, conceptual, motivational states: ‘intentions to affirm aptly’. I argue that the suggestion that ordinary knowers in fact are motivated by such intentions in everyday belief-forming situations is at best problematic, and explore the possibility of an alternative virtue reliabilist framework. In this alternative framework, the role Sosa assigns to ‘intentions to affirm aptly’ is played instead by non-conceptual motivational states, which I call ‘needs’. The (...) first part of the paper sketches Sosa’s framework. The second develops the need-based alternative. I close by comparing the two proposals, concluding that the onus is at least on Sosa to say why his intention-based framework should be preferred. (shrink)
This paper uses cases involving empty singular terms (on the one hand, cases of what I call “accidental aboutness-failure”; on the other, cases involving proper names occurring in fictions) to argue for a claim about the goal of ordinary belief-forming activity, and shows how this claim generates new foundations for the theory of reference.