The philosophical significance of the De Se

Manuel García-Carpintero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Inspired by Castañeda, Perry and Lewis argued that, among singular thoughts in general, thoughts about oneself ‘as oneself’–first-personal thoughts, which Lewis aptly called de se–call for special treatment: we need to abandon one of two traditional assumptions on the contents needed to provide rationalizing explanations, their shareability or their absoluteness. Their arguments have been very influential; one might take them as establishing a new ‘effect’–new philosophical evidence in need of being accounted for. This is questioned by the skeptical arguments in recent work by Cappelen & Dever and Magidor, along lines that a few discrepant voices had already announced earlier. Skeptics content that the evidence does not really call for revising traditional theories of content. I will discuss their challenges–first and foremost, concerning action explanations–aiming to make the case that the ‘De Se effect’ is no illusion: de se attitudes require us to revise one of the two tenets of traditional views.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-276
Number of pages24
JournalInquiry (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the DGI, Spanish Government, research project [FFI2013-47948-P]; the Generalitat de Catalunya through the award ‘ICREA Academia’ for excellence in research, 2013.


  • de se attitudes
  • First-personal reference
  • introspection
  • presupposition
  • singular reference
  • subjectivity


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