Article/Publication Details

(Mock-)Thinking about the Same

Organon F, 2017, vol. 24, No 3, pp. 282-307.
Language: English
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In this paper, I want to address once more the venerable problem of intentional identity, the problem of how different thoughts can be about the same thing even if this thing does not exist. First, I will try to show that antirealist approaches to this problem are doomed to fail. For they ultimately share a problematic assumption, namely that thinking about something involves identifying it. Second, I will claim that once one rejects this assumption and holds instead that thoughts are constituted either by what they are about, their intentional objects, or by what determines their proposition-like intentional contents, one can address the problem of intentional identity in a different way. One can indeed provide a new solution to it that basically relies on two factors: a) what sort of metaphysical nature intentional objects effectively possess, once they are conceived as schematic objects à la Crane (2001, 2013); b) whether such objects really belong to the overall ontological inventory of what there is. According to this solution, two thoughts are about the same nonexistent intentional object iff i) that object satisfies the identity criterion for objects of that metaphysical kind and ii) objects of that kind belong to the overall ontological inventory of what there is, independently of whether they exist (in a suitable first-order sense of existence). As such, this solution is neither realist nor antirealist: only if condition ii) is satisfied, different thoughts can be about the same nonexistent intentionale; otherwise, they are simply constituted by the same intentional content (provided that this content is not equated with that intentionale). Third, armed with this solution, I will hold that one can find a suitable treatment of the specific and related problem of whether different people may mock-think about the same thing, even if there really is no such thing. Finally, I will try to show that this treatment can be also applied to the case in which different thoughts are, according to phenomenology, about the same intentionale and yet this intentionale is of a kind such that there really are no things of that kind. For in this case, such thoughts are about the same intentionale only fictionally.


intentional contents, intentional identity, intentional objects, schematic objects

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