Professor Robert Stainton - An Anscombian Reference for 'I'
|Dates:||22 May 2018|
|Times:||16:00 - 18:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
Robert Stainton, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Western Ontario, will be giving a talk to the Mind & Language Research Group 4-6pm Tuesday 22 May in HBS 2.53.
Everyone is welcome. We'll be going for drinks and dinner afterwards.
Title: An Anscombian Reference for 'I'
Abstract: A usual reading of Anscombe's "The First Person" has her endorsing a radical non-referring view about 'I'. Goes the idea, 'I' is like the expletive 'it' in 'It's raining' or 'It seems that Alice is hungry'. This "straight" reading, as we call it, should be resisted. It has Anscombe making some obvious blunders about natural language syntax and semantics; and it contradicts various points she makes in the text about what 'I' concerns/specifies. What Anscombe holds, instead, is a modest and plausible "non-referring view", viz. that 'I' is not name-like in that it lacks a descriptive sense: the way 'I' specifies an object is sui generis. This leads to the central questions of our paper. If, in the 2018 usage of the word 'refer', 'I' refers for Anscombe, how does it does so, and what does it refer to? Also, how does this positive view of the "Anscombean reference for 'I'" accommodate her crucial observations about how the first person pronoun differs radically from personal names, definite descriptions, etc.? Our answer, in a word, is that Anscombe anticipates a "deflated" notion of reference: what is referred to may be ontologically "deflated"; the means of securing reference can be "deflated"; and the explanatory burden of a theory of reference is "deflated" too. 'I' is a case in point.
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