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Mon, 09 Dec


Room 234

James Openshaw (Edinburgh)

Time & Location

09 Dec 2019, 16:00 – 18:00

Room 234, Senate House, London WC1B, UK


For any ordinary object, what must one do, at a general level, in order to acquire the capacity for singular thought about it? In particular, what are the necessary conditions on singular thought which do the aboutness-fixing work—whose fulfilment determines that one’s thought is about that thing? Imogen Dickie’s Fixing Reference (2015) pioneers a new epistemic theory of aboutness-fixing for singular thought. If successful, it would capture the attractions of both descriptivist and causal theories, and it would explain the intuitive verdicts for paradigm cases of singular thought. Unfortunately, her official picture leads to either unsavoury claims about rationality or unsavoury restrictions on singular thought (§2). But there is an alternative in the vicinity. I present this in §3 and defend it from objection in §4. I hope to convince the reader that this is the most plausible theory on the market. However, the broader upshot is that there is a positive research programme here—that of clarifying in what sense singular thought is an epistemic achievement—which adds new fuel to a longstanding debate about singular thought.

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