On an argument of Segal’s against singular object-dependent thoughts

Disputatio 2 (21):19-37 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper discusses and criticizes Segal’s 1989 argument against singular object-dependent thoughts. His argument aims at showing that object-dependent thoughts are explanatorily redundant. My criticism of Segal’s argument has two parts. First, I appeal to common anti-individualist arguments to the effect that Segal’s type of argument only succeeds in establishing that object-dependent thoughts are explanatorily redundant for those aspects of subjects’ behaviour that do not require reference to external objects. Secondly, Segal’s view on singular thoughts is at odds with his view on the semantics of proper names, which favours the singularity and object-dependency of the truth-conditions of sentences in which they occur. In particular, his views are at odds with a position he holds, that truth-conditional semantics can adequately account for all aspects of speakers’ linguistic competence in the use of proper names.

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Teresa Marques
Universitat de Barcelona

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