The Demonstrative Model of first-person thought

Daniel Morgan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


What determines the reference of first-person thoughts—thoughts that one would express using the first-person pronoun? I defend a model on which our ways of gaining knowledge of ourselves do, in much the way that our ways of gaining knowledge of objects in the world determine the reference of perceptual demonstrative thoughts. This model—the Demonstrative Model of First-Person Thought—can be motivated by reference to independently plausible general principles about how reference is determined. But it faces a serious objection. There seems to be an explanatory rival to it with a great deal of plausiblility. The rival is The Simple Rule Model, which says that first-person thoughts are governed by the simple rule that any token of one will be about the person whose token it is. I pinpoint a crucial unclarity in The Simple Rule Model, hinging on how we understand the notion of a rule, and argue that no version of the Simple Rule Model is both plausible and a genuine explanatory rival to the Demonstrative Model. I also provide an argument that the Demonstrative Model is extensionally adequate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1795-1811
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number7
Early online date26 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • First-person thought
  • Introspection
  • Knowledge-maximization
  • Quasi-proprioception
  • Token-reflexive rule


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