dickie-SenseCommunication.djvu, Wiley Online, Imogen's site
In this paper, Dickie and Rattan criticize the sort of view suggested in "The Sense of Communication" and argue in favor of what they call "Equivalence Class Fregeanism" (ECF). Section 1 summarizes their understanding the "Moderate Fregean View" and sketches what they take the main objection to ECF to be: that it has not explanatory value unless some account is given of what "unites" the different ways that different speakers may think of the referent of a given name while still understanding it.
In Section 2, Dickie and Rattan discuss an example given in "Do Demonstratives Have Senses?" that is supposed to show that two speakers can communicate successfully using a demonstrative even if they do not attach the same sense to it. Their diagnosis is that I fail to take sufficiently seriously the fact that the speakers who are communicating are jointly attending to the bottle. (Think here of the emphasis Campbell puts on the role of attention.)
Dickie and Rattan's argument depends, as my original argument did, upon a comparison between two sorts of cases: One in which a single speaker makes two demonstrative utterances from two different perspectives, and one in which different speakers make those two utterances. They claim that, if a single speaker does this but has "kept track" of the object during the time between the two utterances, then the uttered demonstratives will have the same sense, despite the difference of perspective.
This is an idea that is hinted at by Evans when he remarks that the key notion is that of "keeping track of an object". One could question it, but for the moment let us grant it (though anyone who wishes to do so is of course welcome to raise questions about it). As Evans notes in his discussion in Varieties of Reference, there does seem to be a need for a notion of persistence of belief in such cases, so that I can continue to believe that that bottle is half-empty as I moved around it, even if I may choose not to do so.
The case in which two speakers are jointly attending to an object is then supposed to be like the case in which a speaker moves arond an object, so that the two demonstratives they utter can have the same sense despite their different perspectives. As they go on to say, my argument assumes a "simple model" according to which "the content of your experience of a bottle to which you and I are jointly attending is the same as the content of an experience involved in solo attention to the bottle from your spatial perspective" (p. 140).
As Dickie and Rattan note, the question at issue is whether sameness of sense is requried for "rational engagement" in the interpersonal case. To object to the analysis they label (C*) on the ground that it doesn't take sameness of sense to be required, then, would be to beg the question. In so far as they have an argument against (C*), then, it would appear to be in the discussion on pp. 140-1 of the "instability of the Moderate Fregean View". What is that argument? How good is it?
A natural worry about Dickie and Rattan's suggested explanation (C) is that it may not generalize very well. The particular example they disucss concerns a perceptual demonstrative, but that is only one sort of case. What would the disagreement between their view and mine look like in the case of "I" or "here"?
In Section 3, Dickie and Rattan place the discussion in a broader theoretical context. As they note, the notion of sense plays two kinds of roles. On the one hand, it distinguishes Hesperus-thoughts from Phosphorous-thoughts. On the other, it explains why certain sorts of inferences are allowed to "trade on identity", as it is sometimes put. The example they give is fairly complicated. A simpler example is just:
- Twain is F.
- Twain is G.
- So someone is both F and G.
Here, the mere fact that "Twain" refers to the same object both times cannot be what explains the permissibility of this inference, as one can see by considering:
- Twain is F.
- Clemens is G.
- So someone is both F and G.
The mere fact that the same name occurs both times cannot be what explains the permissibility of the inference either, even assuming that the names have the same reference. Why not? (Hint: Paderewski.)
It is supposed to be because "Twain" has the same sense both times that the first inference is permissible. This is what Dickie and Rattan call a "consolidating" explanation in terms of sense.
Dickie and Rattan go on to argue that a similar "consolidating" explanation should be preferred in deciding between (C) and (C*). Of course, to do so is to assume that similar explanations should be given in the intra-personal can inter-personal cases. What might be said for or against that suggestion?
The proverbial rubber really hits the proverbial road on pp. 147-8, when Dickie and Rattan discuss a case of what one might call "inter-personal; inference". How are they thinking of this case in drawing the conclusions they draw about it? How might their opponent prefer to think of the case? (Here again, it might be worth considering cases not involving perceptual demonstratives, such as "I" and "here".)
Dickie and Rattan propose a positive view about how senses are to be individuated at the end of the paper: pp. 149-50. This is fairly complicated, and we will not have time to discuss it, so do not worry if you do not understand it.