Institut Jean Nicod

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Workshop  "Thinking of Oneself"

November, 7-8, 2013


The first of two workshops co-organized by Institut Jean-Nicod and the Northern Institute of Philosophy, with the support of the British Academy (Leverhulme Funds) and of the Institut d’Etudes Cognitives (programme ‘New Ideas in the Philosophy of Mind and Language’)

Paris, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Pavillon Jardin,
29, rue d'Ulm 75005. Salle de réunion, RDC.



November 7

9:30 am  Opening of the workshop

9:45 am - 11 am Annalisa Coliva (University of Modena, Institut Jean-Nicod)?
“De Se Immunity”

Abstract: In this talk I will present a framework for drawing the distinction between de facto and logical immunity to error through misidentification and I will explore its bearing on an adequate characterization of the first person concept.

11 am - 11:15 am: coffee break

11:15-12:30 pm Aidan McGlynn (University of Edinburgh)
“Quasi-remembering Revisited”

Abstract : Certain judgments (made on the typical kind of basis) seem to enjoy immunity to error through misidentification, but only in a 'contingent' way. This has led to a number of attempts to draw a distinction between what are typically labelled 'logical' and 'de facto' IEM. However, others have argued that the cases typically taken to motivate drawing that distinction really motivate a quite different one. Building on an earlier discussion by Coliva, I will here argue against James Pryor's version of this strategy, according to which we should distinguish instead between judgments that are immune to both error through misidentification and error through which-object misidentification, and those which are only immune to the former sort of error.

12:30 pm-2:15 pm: lunch

2:15-3:30 pm Jérémie Lafraire (Institut Jean-Nicod)
“Explaining Immunity to Error Through Misidentification”

Abstract : Immunity to Error through Misidentification (IEM) undoubtedly has played a essential role in the literature on I-thoughts and many philosophers now regard it as a desideratum on a theory of first-person thought that it provides a satisfactory account of IEM.
My general goal is to sketch an explanation of that epistemological/psychological phenomenon from a more basic concept of IEM according to which an “I”-thought is immune to error through misidentification  when it can misrepresent the mental or bodily property self-ascribed but cannot misrepresent the subject (if any) possessing that property. This definition of IEM is incorrect as it stands. However, I will argue that it is a promising starting point for an explanation of IEM if we refine it in a way inspired both by the relativist approach of IEM (Recanati, 2007,2012) and by Robert Cummins' theory of targets and content (Cummins, 1996).

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm: Coffee break

4:00 pm – 5:15 pm Giovanni Merlo (University of Barcelona)
“Explaining Immunity to Error through Misidentification”

Abstract: In recent years, the Simple Explanation of immunity to error through misidentification has become increasingly popular. According to the Simple Explanation, a judgment will be immune to error through misidentification when it is not based on any identification. After clarifying what an error through misidentification is and what immunity to such errors consists in, this paper argues that the Simple Explanation misses its target. The mistake arises from ignoring that two distinct phenomena underlie immunity to error through misidentification: on the one hand, the impossibility that a certain type of error might occur and, on the other one, some sort of epistemic assurance, on the part of the author of the judgment, against such a type of error.

7:45 pm: Workshop dinner


November 8

9:45 am – 11 am Simon Prosser (University of st Andrews)
“The 'I' as Subject and the Essential Indexical”

Abstract: Despite some recent objections by Cappelen and Dever, most philosophers accept that indexicals have a special 'essential' role in bringing about our actions. But what is it about indexical thoughts that gives them this role and makes them essential? Many accounts say that there is a special first-person concept, and perhaps special 'here', 'now' and other concepts, that have special epistemological and cognitive roles. Perhaps it is just the nature of such concepts to have those roles. But I shall suggest a different kind of story, according to which the special kinds of mental representation are special because of their structure. In particular, I shall argue that an indexical thought involves a mental representation in which the thinking subject is an unarticulated constituent (a linguistic spatial example would be 'x is near', which abbreviates 'x is near to me'). This corresponds, at least very roughly, to what Wittgenstein called the use of the 'I' as subject, which many people have connected with the phenomenon of IEM. I shall argue that action is only possible where there are representations of this unarticulated kind. That is why indexical terms cannot be replaced by non-indexical terms without making a difference to the subject's actions.

11 am - 11:15 am: coffee break

11:15 am – 12:30 pm Alisa Mandrigin (University of Barcelona)
“Thinking of Oneself as a Thinker”

Abstract: I will look at how we might understand the self-consciousness or cognitive significance of first-person thought in terms of recognition that we are self-thinkers, and what kind of conception of a thinking subject this might require.

12:30 pm -2:15 pm: lunch

2:15 pm – 3:30 pm Uriah Kriegel (Institut Jean-Nicod)
“Self-Awareness and the Unity of Consciousness: Lessons from Brentano”

Abstract: Many philosophers have a persistent intuition that the unity of consciousness is determined in big part by the subject's awareness of her own conscious states. I offer an interpretation of Franz Brentano as developing a mereological account of the unity of consciousness that illuminates and vindicates this intuition.

3:30pm – 4:00 pm: Coffee break

4:00 pm – 5:15 pm Andy Hamilton (Durham University)
“The Self in Question: A Humanist Approach to Self-Consciousness”

Abstract: This will connect discussion of Immunity to Error through Misidentification (IEM), with a "whole-person" approach to the philosophy of mind that I regard as definitive of philosophical humanism, and which I outline. I regard IEM as integral to self-consciousness; the phenomenon rests on a personal as opposed to impersonal concept of information, a personal concept that excludes sci-fictional fantasies of memory-transfer that are the basis for attempts to undermine IEM. I argue that the integrity of the self therefore rests on a humanistic position.

A second workshop on the same topic will take place in Aberdeen (December 13-14). See The Northern Institute of Philosophy