Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

The Significance of First-Personal Attitudes

Duration: 2016 - 2020

Code: FFI2016-80588-R

All researchers

J.P. Grodniewicz

Carlota Serrahima (U. Barcelona)
Josep-Lluís Prades (U. Girona)
Francesc Pereña (U. Barcelona)
Marta Campdelacreu (U. Barcelona)
Daniel Morgan (2015)
Manuel García-Carpintero (U. Barcelona)
Teresa Marques (U. Barcelona)



Inspired by Castañeda, Perry (1979) and Lewis (1979) argued that, among singular thoughts in general, thoughts about oneself “as oneself” – first-personal thoughts, which Lewis aptly called de se – call for special treatment. More specifically, by means of a series of imaginative compelling thought-experiments, they argued that such thoughts cannot have contents with the two properties assigned to them (for good reasons) by traditional theorizing: contents are absolute (given a full description of how the world might be, they are either true or false), and they are shareable by different thinkers, or the same thinker at different times. The evidence Perry and Lewis provided for this is what we call the “De Se effect”. They went on to provide accounts abandoning one of those two features, Lewis’ the absoluteness of contents, Perry’s their shareability. In a project we are currently developing, which has already achieved successful results in the form of significant international publications (e.g., About Oneself, García-Carpintero & Torre, OUP 2016, including papers by several team members), we have been examining the virtues of the two accounts along different lines, some of us arguing for a version of Perry’s proposal, and exploring its potential to account for first-person related epistemological matters such as the immunity to error through misidentification of some first-personal thoughts. Now, in spite of many controversies about how to account for the De Se effect, of which our current project is just a particular instance, few have questioned its very existence. This is what de se skeptics such as Cappelen & Dever (2013) and Magidor (forthcoming) have done recently: they contend that traditional contents are perfectly apt for all relevant purposes. The main goal of this project is to provide replies to their challenging arguments. We also plan to investigate related additional de se phenomena that have become in recent years a focus of interest, such as issues concerning disagreements involving de se thoughts, and the nature of a “sense of mineness” that appears to accompany many of our first-personal states, including perceptual states such as instances of bodily awareness in different sensory modalities.