Instructor: Jonathan Cohen
First three letters of my first name and then my last name (all as one word) followed by the at sign, followed by 'aardvark.ucsd.edu'
office: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: ?, in H&SS 7022 (and by appointment)
I once followed a trail of sugar on a supermarket floor, pushing my trolly down the aisle on one side of a tall counter and back along the aisle on the other, seeking the shopper with the torn bag to tell him he was making a mess. With each trip around the counter, the trail became thicker. But I seemed unable to catch up. Finally it dawned on me. I was the shopper I was trying to catch (John Perry, "The Problem of the Essential Indexical").In the late 1970s and 1980s, Perry and others used such cases to argue that there must be a special and irreducible way each of us has of thinking of our own selves -- a way that has special connections to knowledge (it's natural to describe Perry as undergoing a realization of some kind) and action (only after this realization was Perry motivated to reach down adjust the torn bag in his own trolly). Philosophers have disagreed about whether this and related phenomena motivate the introduction of a special kind of "de se" of content, a special kind of de se psychological attitude toward ordinary content, a wholesale theoretical reconception of the notion of content, and more. More recently, theorists have argued that there are features of the de se at work in our mental and linguistic representation of such disparate elements as generics, predicates of personal taste, epistemic modals, and more. On the other hand, some have held that de se features present a new class of worries about the possibility of iterating the very same content in different heads --- which, in turn, arguably threatens the possibility that thinkers/speakers could communicate, agree, or disagree. And, indeed, others have argued that the phenomena of the de se themselves have been misunderstood, miscategorized, or overblown. This seminar will be devoted to consideration of the phenomena and the theoretical lessons drawn from them. After looking at some of the initial papers that got the literature started, we'll go on to consider some representative philosophical applications of the apparatus of the de se to a variety of projects in philosophy, before turning to a recent articulation of a deflationary, skeptical attitude about the de se, and finally a cluster of papers on the problems the de se raises for interpersonal communication. This seminar counts toward the distribution requirement in the area of philosophy of mind and language; it also counts as a core seminar.
|week 1||introductory meeting, a minimal semantic framework||Kaplan, "Demonstratives"||Jonathan|
|week 2||historical sources||Frege, "The thought"; Perry, "The problem of the essential indexical"; Lewis, "Attitudes de dicto and de se"; [Chierchia, "Anaphora and attitudes de se"]||?|
|weeks 3-4||applications, complications||Stalnaker, "Indexical Belief"; Egan, "Epistemic Modals, Relativism, and Assertion"; Ninan, "Semantics and the Objects of Assertion"; [Ninan, "De Se Attitudes: Ascription and Communication"]||?|
|weeks 5-7||a skeptical view: Cappelen and Dever||The Inessential Indexical: On the Philosophical Insignificance of Perspective and the First Person. ch3, 4, 5, 7, 8||?|
|weeks 8-10||communication and the de se||Ninan, "What is the Problem of De Se Attitudes?"; Stojanovic, "Speaking about Oneself"; Stalnaker, "Modeling a Perspective on the World"; Kinderman, "Varieties of Centering and De Se Communication" (all from Manuel Garcia-Carpintero and Stephan Torre (eds.), About Oneself: De Se Thought and Communication)||?|