Book of Abstracts

Herman Cappelen: "Action without the First Person Perspective"

Abstract to come

Manuel García-Carpintero: "Token-Reflexive Self-Concepts"

I'll present the central aspects of a view on the nature of the self concept that I have defended in recent work, elaborating on previous proposals by Perry and Peacocke. It is a "two-tiered" view, assuming self-knowledge by acquaintance with one's own conscious states, and a token-reflexive rule of reference for the self-notion.

Marie Guillot: "What kind of phenomenal concept might the self concept be?"

In accounting for the way that the concept of self works, a number of authors (including, but not only, Castañeda, Kapitan, Bermúdez, O’Brien) rely on the idea that subjects have a basic experience of self, and that the self-concept is rooted in this experience. However, these writers differ on several key points, including the nature of the relevant self-experience, the mechanism through which the self-concept is grounded in this experience, and the strength of the dependence of the concept on the experience. I propose that the framework of phenomenal concepts, made familiar by discussions of ordinary perceptual experiences, can be a helpful tool to disentangle different possible dependence claims, and to clarify and compare the options. I end by tentatively proposing one interpretation of the phenomenal-concept model which might fit the self-concept. Along the way, I discuss the extent to which the approach can shed light on some of the semantic and epistemological features traditionally associated with the use of the self-concept.

Torfinn Huvenes: "Context and Assignment"

Contexts play many roles in linguistics theorising, but the plan for this talk is to focus on the role that contexts play in determining the reference of indexicals and demonstratives. The overarching question of the talk is whether variable assignments can fill that role. There are several obstacles that must overcome in order to make that plausible. I will argue that many of these obstacles can be overcome. However, there are reasons to think that variable assignments cannot do this by themselves, without making use of more traditional conceptions of contexts.

Dilip Ninan: "Easy Foreknowledge"

How does one’s location in time affect one’s mental states? According to some views of temporally indexical thought (Frege, Perry), as I move through time, the contents of my thoughts systematically vary as a function of the time at which they are held. And according to some views in formal epistemology, moving trough time can affect what it is rational for an agent to believe even without obviously affecting the agent’s evidence (e.g. Sleeping Beauty). My talk will consider yet another way in which moving through time can affect one’s mental states. In particular, I will discuss some examples in which knowledge that something will happen appears to be easier to obtain than (later) knowledge that the event in question did happen. In these cases, it seems that we can lose knowledge simply by moving through time, despite not losing or gaining any relevant evidence. I will defend this interpretation of the examples, and then speculate about what this tells us about the nature of knowledge.

Hazel Pearson: "On the Routes to 'De Nunc'"

This talk considers how current debates about de se play out in the realm of tense and time. How does natural language code the so-called subjective ‘now’ of the attitude holder – the time that she believes (or claims, or imagines...) that it is? Many linguists and philosophers have argued that there are at least two routes to a de se construal of a pronoun or anaphor binding by the attitude verb, and de re construal mediated by a ‘self’ acquaintance relation. I shall argue that both of these routes (or their analogues) are attested in the domain of temporal interpretation – that there are at least two routes to ‘de nunc’. Building on a significant body of earlier work by Abusch, Ogihara and others, I shall focus on two English phenomena: sequence of tense (‘Mary thought that she was in Uppsala’), and temporal modifiers such as in two days. I argue that (i) in two days has an obligatorily de se component (cf Schlenker 1999) (Some of the crucial data here were pointed out to me by Gregor Williamson), (ii) the de se construal for in two days is obtained by binding by the attitude verb, not by de re construal under a particular acquaintance relation and (iii)sequence of tense may be obtained by either of the two routes to de nunc. To the extent that the analysis succeeds, it lends support to the view that natural language makes available a dedicated mechanism for coding de se (or in this case ‘de nunc’), and that the observed phenomena are not reducible to instances of Frege puzzles.

Jessica Pepp: "The Guaranteed Reference of First Person Thought"

It is often observed that first person thoughts have guaranteed reference: there can be no first person thought that is not about the person who thinks it. This guarantee is supposed to make trouble for attempts to say in virtue of what such thoughts are about what they are about. For it is unclear that our usual approaches to reference-determination questions can secure the guarantee. In this talk I separate two interpretations of the guarantee: as a guarantee that the thought is at least about the person thinking it, or as a guarantee that the thought is uniquely about the person thinking it. I will argue that only on the first interpretation does the guarantee have the firm support that is typically accorded to it. But it is only on the second interpretation that the guarantee presents much trouble for our usual approaches to reference-determination. If this is right, then the guarantee of reference does not set the task of explaining why first person thought is about what it is about so far apart from the task of explaining why other thought is about what it is about.

Pär Sundström: "Thinking about Myself, Now, and Other Individuals"

Let a spatiotemporal individual be an individual that is located in time or space (or both).  I shall in my session do two things.  First I shall argue that, setting aside certain “I-thoughts” and “now-thoughts”, we can think about spatiotemporal individuals only indirectly, via their properties.  This view is widely regarded to be false in contemporary philosophy.  But I shall defend it against some influential objections deriving from Donnellan and Kripke.  I shall also present what I believe to be novel considerations in favour of the view, drawing on some largely neglected cases where we lack abilities to think about things.  Reflection on these cases suggests that there is no sufficient condition for being able to think about a spatiotemporal individual other than the “via-properties-condition” that I shall articulate. The second thing I shall do in my session is to argue that “I-thoughts” and “now-thoughts” really are exceptions to this claim: I can think about myself not-via-any-property. Similarly for now.

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