The Inessential Indexical On the Philosophical Insignificance of Perspective and the First Person

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-01-28
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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When we represent the world in language, in thought, or in perception, we often represent it from a perspective. We say and think that the meeting is happening now, that it is hot here, that I am in danger and not you; that the tree looks larger from my perspective than from yours. The Inessential Indexical is an exploration and defense of the view that perspectivality is a philosophically shallow aspect of the world. Cappelen and Dever oppose one of the most entrenched and dominant trends in contemporary philosophy: that perspective (and the perspective of the first person in particular) is philosophically deep and that a proper understanding of it is important not just in the philosophies of language and mind, but throughout philosophy. They argue that there are no such things as essential indexicality, irreducibly de se attitudes, or self-locating attitudes. Their goal is not to show that we need to rethink these phenomena, to explain them in different ways. Their goal is to show that the entire topic is an illusion--there's nothing there.

The Context and Content series is a forum for outstanding original research at the intersection of philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive science. The general editor is Francois Recanati (Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris).

Author Biography

Herman Cappelen is a professor of philosophy at the University of St Andrews, where he works at the Arche Philosophical Research Centre. He works in philosophy of language, philosophical methodology and related areas of epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. He is the author of many papers and four books: Insensitive Semantics (with Ernest Lepore; Blackwell, 2004), Language Turned on Itself (with Ernest Lepore; OUP, 2007), Relativism and Monadic Truth (with John Hawthorne; OUP, 2009), and Philosophy without Intuitions (OUP, 2012).

Joshua Dever is Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He completed his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, and his primary research interests include philosophy of language and philosophical logic.

Table of Contents

1. Introductory Overview: The Role of Indexicality, Perspective and the De Se in Philosophy
2. Preliminaries: Language-Mind, Super Indexicals, and Opacity
3. Indexicality, the De Se, and Agency
4. Indexicality, Opacity, and Fregeanism
5. Lewis on the De Se, Self-Ascription, and Centered Worlds
6. Functionalism to the Rescue?
7. Indexicality and Immunity to Error
8. A Brief Note on Perceptual Content and the De Se
9. The De Se and the Semantics of PRO Constructions
10. The View From Everywhere

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