Project

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First-Person Thought in Contemporary Philosophy: Immunity, Self-Knowledge, and Intentional Action

English title First-Person Thought in Contemporary Philosophy: Immunity, Self-Knowledge, and Intentional Action
Applicant Soldati Gianfranco
Number 156548
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Philosophie Faculté des Lettres Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.04.2015 - 30.09.2018
Approved amount 181'451.00
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Keywords (8)

self-knowledge; self-concept; intentional action; self-reference; de se content; immunity to error through misidentification; first person; self-consciousness

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Unsere Fähigkeit, über uns selbst nachzudenken, unterscheidet sich fundamental von der Fähigkeit über anderes nachzudenken. Ein bekanntes Beispiel ist Descartes' berühmtes cogito-Argument. Dieses kann nur dann funktionieren, wenn es in der ersten Person durchgeführt wird. Es gilt also, diesen Unterschied anhand der relevanten Phänomene zu erfassen und theoretisch zu erklären.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Das Denken über uns selbst nimmt in der Philosophie des Geistes eine zentrale Stellung ein. Dabei spielen einerseits semantische und andererseits nicht-semantische Aspekte eine wichtige Rolle. Erstens ist die Art und Weise, wie Gedanken in der ersten Person auf das denkende Subjekt referieren einzigartig: zwei Subjekte können den selben Gedanken-Typ denken und trotzdem besitzen ihre Gedanken völlig verschiedene Wahrheitsbedingungen. Zweitens sind die Gedanken in der ersten Person besonders gut gesichert: ein Subjekt kann sich nicht darüber irren, über wen sie gerade nachdenkt und sie befindet sich in einer guten Position, Wissen über sich selbst zu besitzen. Drittens sind Gedanken in der ersten Person eng mit unseren Handlungen und Absichten verknüpft, welche wir ebenfalls aus der eigenen Perspektive heraus realisieren.

Diese verschiedenen Aspekte werden im Projekt zuerst analysiert und deren Relevanz diskutiert. Ebenfalls wird untersucht, welche Nachteile andere Theorien über Gedanken in der ersten Person mit sich bringen. Anschliessend wird eine bestehende Theorie verfeinert, welche die wichtigsten Aspekte integrieren und damit ein umfassendes Bild unserer Fähigkeit, über uns selbst nachzudenken, liefern kann.

 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Projekt besteht in einer philosophischen Analyse eines Phänomens, welches in vielen wissenschaftlichen Bereichen untersucht wird. Zu diesen gehören unter anderen die kognitiven Neurowissenschaften, die Erforschung künstlicher Intelligenz, kognitive Ethologie und Psychologie. Dadurch leistet das Projekt einen Beitrag zur Philosophie des Geistes und verwandten Disziplinen.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 14.01.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
De Se Beliefs, Self-Ascription, and Primitiveness
Wüstholz Florian Leonhard, De Se Beliefs, Self-Ascription, and Primitiveness, in Disputatio.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Universität Salzburg KGW Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SOPhiA 2016 Talk given at a conference Shortcomings of two-dimensional theories of de se beliefs 07.09.2016 Salzburg, Austria Wüstholz Florian;
GAP.9 Talk given at a conference De Se Beliefs: Troubles with Self-Ascription 14.09.2015 Osnabrück, Germany Wüstholz Florian;
SOPhiA 2015 Talk given at a conference De Se Beliefs: Troubles with Self-Ascription 02.09.2015 Salzburg, Austria Wüstholz Florian;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Intentionality and the First Person 16.12.2015 Fribourg, Switzerland

Awards

Title Year
Best Paper Award der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie für den GAP.9-Kongressbeitrag "De Se Beliefs: Troubles with Self-Ascription" 2015

Abstract

First-person thought has been a major topic in contemporary philosophy. The main question is how to characterize the kinds of thought a subject has about herself as herself. Typically, these kinds of thought are expressed in language by use of the first-person pronoun such as in the sentences 'I want a cup of tea' or 'I see a tree over there'. This project aims to work out and defend a novel property theory of first-person thought based on a systematic review of the two most dominating contemporary theories. As a working hypothesis, it is proposed that first-person thought is an attitude best characterised as self-ascription of an indexed structured set of properties. The framework for the assessment of opposing theories and development of our own theory will be a collection of desirable features which have been identified as essential in the recent literature and need to be accommodated by a sound theory of first-person thought. The project will answer three research questions:(1) What are the desirable features of first-person thought?(2) Can these features be accounted for by the most promising current theories?(3) How can these features be accommodated in an enhanced version of the property theory?Accordingly, the project will be split into three parts. The first part of the project will identify the desirable features of first-person thought by illustrating the role they have played in the debate between propositional theories of first-person thought (mainly Perry, 1977, 1979; Kaplan 1989b,a) and property theories of first-person thought (mainly Lewis, 1979; Chisholm, 1976, 1981; Feit, 2008, 2010). We will show that these different approaches share at least five features which are held to be essential for first-person thought. However, they differ in highlighting these features. In the second part we will review two very prominent and promising approaches to the topic. On the one hand, Récanati (2007, 2010, 2012b, 2013a) proposes a Neo-Fregean theory which makes extensive use of the notion of a self-file which is a non-descriptive mode of presentation of the subject. On the other hand, Peacocke (2008, 2010, 2014) argues for a descriptivist Neo-Fregean theory which uses the notion of a first-person concept to account for the features. We will exhibit how these current theories relate to our established framework of evaluation and work out the exact way they can accommodate the desired features. We will argue that neither theory can fully account for all of them in a coherent way. Working out these shortcomings will be a major part of the project. In the third part, we will be developing and discussing the hypothesised enhanced property theory. The main idea is to use the Lewisian framework of the de se and expand it in such a way as to be able to account for all the features of first-person thought. We will show how this novel theory relates to its competitors and how it can respond to objections and challenges springing from the motivations underlying these competing theories. In this way, we can achieve a better understanding of first-person thought.
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