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I: The Meaning of the First Person Term$
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Maximilian de Gaynesford

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199287826

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199287821.001.0001

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Historical Background

Historical Background

(p.11) 1 Historical Background
I: The Meaning of the First Person Term

Maximilian de Gaynesford (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The historical development towards the current standard account of I as a ‘pure indexical’ (‘purism’) has two main features. First, the gradual acquisition of a logical apparatus which can distinguish genuine from non-singular referring expressions, and categorize the latter into names, descriptive terms, indexicals, and so on. Second, the development and acceptance of three supposed doctrines: that a simple rule is sufficient to give the meaning of I (‘rule theory’); that one can use I to express thoughts without having to identify what is being referred to (‘independence’); and that as a matter of the meaning of I, any use of the term is logically guaranteed against failure to refer (‘the guarantee’).

Keywords:   indexicals, logical apparatus, singular referring expression, names, descriptive terms, rule theory, independence, the guarantee, Descartes, Kant

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