Indexical Thought: The Communication Problem

Abstract : What characterizes indexical thinking is the fact that the modes of presentation through which one thinks of objects are context-bound and perspectival. Such modes of presentation, I claim, are mental files presupposing that we stand in certain relations to the reference : the role of the file is to store information one can gain in virtue of standing in that relation to the object. This raises the communication problem, first raised by Frege : if indexical thoughts are context-bound and relation-based, how is it possible to communicate them to those who are not in the same context and do not stand in the right relations to the object? Following Frege, I argue that the solution comes from an important distinction between linguistic and psychological modes of presentation. Psychological modes of presentation are mental files. They are perspectival and context-bound. But linguistic modes of presentation are fixed by the conventions of the language and they are shared by the language users. They are public and serve to coordinate mental files in communication by constraining them to contain the piece of information they encode. In this way communication takes place even though the indexical thoughts entertained by the speaker are, in some sense, private and cannot be shared by the audience.
Type de document :
Pré-publication, Document de travail
To appear in S. Torre and M. Garcia-Carpintero (eds), *About Oneself*, Oxford University Press. 2015
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https://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_01103232
Contributeur : François Recanati <>
Soumis le : mardi 20 janvier 2015 - 13:16:52
Dernière modification le : mardi 24 avril 2018 - 17:20:08
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François Recanati. Indexical Thought: The Communication Problem. To appear in S. Torre and M. Garcia-Carpintero (eds), *About Oneself*, Oxford University Press. 2015. 〈ijn_01103232〉

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