A false dilemma for anti-individualism

American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (4):329-42 (2007)
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Abstract
It is often presupposed that an anti-individualist about representational mental states must choose between two accounts of no-reference cases. One option is said to be an ‘illusion of thought’ version according to which the subject in a no-reference case fails to think a first-order thought but rather has the illusion of having one. The other is a ‘descriptive’ version according to which one thinks an empty thought via a description. While this presupposition is not uncommon, it rarely surfaces in an explicit manner. Often, it is visible only when a theorist argues directly from the falsity of one of the two views to the truth of the other. However, Jessica Brown’s recent work on anti-individualism clearly illustrates the presupposition. In contention with Brown’s and others presupposition, arguments for two conclusions about the nature of anti-individualism are set forth. First, the choice between the illusion and descriptive version of anti-individualism is a dilemma. Each version of anti-individualism is prone to problems. Second, the choice is a false dilemma. There is another, less problematic, anti-individualistic account of reference failure.
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