Friday, March 3: Ryan Simonelli

Please join us this Friday as Ryan Simonelli from the Philosophy Department presents work on indexicals and opaque contexts.

Date and time: Friday, March 3, 11:00 a.m. – 12:50 p.m.

Location: Stuart 209

Title: Indexicality, opacity, and perspectivality


In 1979, two seminal articles by John Perry and David Lewis, “The Problem of the Essential Indexical” (Perry 1979) and “Attitudes De Dicto and De Se” (Lewis 1979), articulated the notion of “essential indexically” and ushered in a revisionary way of thinking about the contents of intentional attitudes as centered on particular individuals that have them. In a recent monograph entitled The Inessential Indexical (Cappelen and Dever 2013), Herman Cappelen and Josh Dever argue that this tradition is predicated on a confusion. “Essential indexicality,” they argue, is simply an instance of the well-known philosophical phenomenon of opacity, the failure of substitutability of co-referential terms in certain intensional contexts. While they do not give an account of opacity, Cappelen and Dever take their claim about indexicality and opacity to support the conclusion that that perspectivality is not a “philosophically deep” phenomenon.  Here, I’ll provide an account of opacity, drawing from Robert Brandom (1994), which shows that Capppelen and Dever’s claim is correct, but the exact opposite conclusion is to be drawn. The problem with the essential indexical tradition, in positing distinctively perspectival contents, isn’t its failure to realize perspectivality is philosophically shallow, but its failure to realize how deep perspectivality actually is.

A paper in progress on the topic can be viewed here:

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