chapter  3
3 Pages

Heck on second-person thoughts

In addition to Context-Dependence claims andUniform-Understanding claims, there is a further range of claims to the effect that there are thoughts that can be expressed only through the use of “I” (or its equivalents), or only through the use of other particular expressions. Claims of that sort – to the effect that “I”-thoughts are distinctive, at least to the extent that they differ from thoughts that are expressible by any other expression – are typically referred to as Irreducibility claims. One way of trying to defend such an Irreducibility claimwould be via appeal to the specific formof context-dependence towhich those thoughts are subject. For if it could be shown that that specific form of context-dependence differed from, and could not be reconstructed on the basis of, the forms of context-dependence attending thoughts expressed by any other expression, that would show that the target thoughts are irreducible to forms of thought that are expressible by other means. Here, again, we might want to distinguish different strengths of Irreducibility claim. A strong Irreducibility claim would be one to the effect that none of the thoughts expressed by a target expression – say, “I” – is expressible by the use of any expression with a meaning different from the target. A weaker claim would be one to the effect that each of the thoughts expressed by the target expression is expressible by the use of one or another alternative expression the meaning of which determines different constraints on appropriate use from those that are associated with “You”. A claim that is weaker still, and that coincides with a weak form of Context-Dependence claim, would be one to the effect that any alternative means of expression for thoughts expressible by the target expression must be a means of expressing context-dependent thoughts.