Intentional Identity as a Transparency Phenomenon

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Intentional Identity, introduced by Geach (J Philos 64(20):627–632, 1967), refers to pairs of attitude reports where a pronoun embedded into the second report is anaphoric on a quantifier embedded into the first one. In the Geach sentence (Hob thinks a witch has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob thinks she killed Cob’s sow) the antecedent carries no commitment to the existence of witches, and moreover the sentence does not require that Nob should know anything about Hob or Hob’s mental state. This fact has given rise to the conviction, almost universally shared, that in Intentional Identity reports the anaphoric pronoun cannot be D-type, i.e. that it cannot borrow its reference and descriptive content directly from its antecedent. We show that the perceived non-committing truth conditions can be derived via a D-type analysis of pronouns, which are taken to be syntactically complex. The crucial ingredient of the proposal is that the predicate within a pronoun in Intentional Identity ascriptions receives a “non-specific transparent” reading (in the sense of Fodor (The linguistic description of opaque contents. PhD dissertion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1970); Schwager (Proc SALT 19:395–412, 2009)), so the second attitude holder (e.g. Nob) is required to know Hob’s thoughts no more than Ralph is required to know Ortcutt’s name in the famous scenario due to Quine (J Philos 53(5):177–187, 1956).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Linguistics and Philosophy
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages31
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Linguistics and Philosophy
ISSN (Print)0924-4662
ISSN (Electronic)2215-034X

Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy


  • Anaphoric Pronouns
  • Hold Positions
  • Intentional Identity
  • Ortcutt
  • World Beliefs


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