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Imogen Dickie

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755616.001.0001

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Descriptions and Singular Thought

Descriptions and Singular Thought

(p.247) 7 Descriptions and Singular Thought
Fixing Reference

Imogen Dickie

Oxford University Press

This chapter extends the discussion of reference by description and descriptively mediated singular thought from Chapter 6 to engage with three central topics from the debate about the nature of singular thought. Section 1 explains the conditions under which a subject who understands a description and is rational in taking it to be satisfied can make the move from mere descriptive thought to descriptively mediated singular thought, thereby distinguishing the proposal of Chapter 6 from Kaplan’s semantic instrumentalism. Section 2 argues that description-based thoughts are object-dependent thoughts. Section 3 locates the proposal relative to the two main extant views of the nature of singular thought: the extended acquaintance view; and ‘cognitivism’, according to which singular thoughts must be about objects that are somehow ‘significant’ to the subject.

Keywords:   reference by description, descriptively mediated singular thought, singular thought, semantic instrumentalism, object-dependent thought, acquaintance, extended acquaintance, cognitivism

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