Thesis defense

Thinking Alike: Five Essays on the Publicity of Thought

Matheus Valente (IJN)
Practical information
16 June 2020

La soutenance aura lieu à 10h par visioconférence.

Si vous souhaitez assister à la soutenance, veuillez s’il vous plait envoyer un mail à Matheus Valente

Le jury sera composé de:

Laura Schroeter. Senior Lecturer. University of Melbourne
Genoveva Martí Campillo. ICREA. Universitat de Barcelona
Kathrin Glüer-Pagin. Professor. Stockholm University
François Recanati (Institut Jean Nicod/Collège de France)
Esa Díaz-León (Universitat de Barcelona)

Titre de la soutenanceThinking Alike: Five Essays on the Publicity of Thought/Penser le même: cinq essais sur la "publicité" de la pensé


I investigate several philosophical puzzles associated to the thesis that thoughts are public, i.e. that in successful instances of communication and understanding, thinkers accept the same thoughts. In chapter 1, I show that this thesis seems difficult to uphold in the face of cases involving indexical expressions. When subjects successfully communicate with indexical expressions, they are nonetheless disposed to perform different actions, and thus we have reason to deny that they accept the same thoughts. In chapter 2, I show that this thesis is in conflict with the thesis that thoughts must track the cognitive profile of our attitudes (‘Frege’s Constraint’). In chapter 3, I show that this thesis is in conflict with a minimal version of semantic internalism and that even the most conservative way of trying to make these two theses compatible involves weakening the claim that thought is public in the sense previously defined. In chapter 4, I investigate different criteria of successful communication and argue against the one based on match of referential content plus absence of false beliefs. In its place, I suggest we go back to criteria based on match of modes of presentation (thoughts) or successful recognition of the speaker’s referential intentions. In chapter 5, I argu that thought’s publicity cannot be fully accommodated by relationist theories of thoughts and concepts. One way to frame the most general conclusion of this dissertation is that we cannot individuate an intersubjective notion of thought which is transitive, or which is equally useful from an intrapersonal perspective (e.g. one that accords with the distinctions brought forward by Frege’s Puzzle). If we have any reason for carving up an intersubjective notion of thought – and not even this is clear, it has to be admitted – then it will most likely be orthogonal to the usual subjective one.