Using “I” ‘as Subject’: Cartesian Reference or No Reference?

Dorit Bar-On

in Speaking My Mind

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780199276288
Published online October 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602894 | DOI:
Using “I” ‘as Subject’: Cartesian Reference or No Reference?

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The uniquely secure status of avowals apparently has something to do with the special way an avowing subject refers to herself by the pronoun ‘I’, as opposed to referring to herself by some description. However, the author argues in this chapter that excessive focus on the way ‘I’ refers has led people astray. In particular, she criticizes the view that we must see ‘I’ as referring to some special object, a Cartesian ego, as well as Anscombe’s view that ‘I’ in fact, does not refer at all. Both accounts fail to respect the Semantic Continuity of avowals with other empirical reports.

Keywords: ‘I’; Anscombe’s ‘No Reference View’; Cartesian ego; reference; uses of

Chapter.  11933 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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