Philosophical Studies

, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 1–21

Who Is I?


  • Eros Corazza
    • Department of PhilosophyThe University of Nottingham
  • William Fish
    • Department of PhilosophyThe University of Nottingham
  • Jonathan Gorvett
    • Department of PhilosophyThe University of Nottingham

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013111419036

Cite this article as:
Corazza, E., Fish, W. & Gorvett, J. Philosophical Studies (2002) 107: 1. doi:10.1023/A:1013111419036


Whilst it may seem strange to ask to whom “I” refers, we show that there are occasionswhen it is not always obvious. In demonstratingthis we challenge Kaplan's assumptionthat the utterer, agent and referent of “I” arealways the same person.

We begin by presenting what weregard to be the received view about indexicalreference popularized by David Kaplan in hisinfluential 1972 “Demonstratives” before goingon, in section 2, to discuss Sidelle'sanswering machine paradox which may be thoughtto threaten this view, and his deferredutterance method of resolving this puzzle. Insection 3 we introduce a novel version of theanswering machine paradox which suggests that,in certain cases, Kaplan's identification ofutterer, agent and referent of “I” breaks down.In the fourth section we go on to consider arecent revision of Kaplan's picture by Predelliwhich appeals to the intentions of the utterer,before arguing that this picture is committedto unacceptable consequences and, therefore,should be avoided if possible. Finally, insection 5, we present a new revision ofKaplan's account which retains much of thespirit of his original proposal whilst offeringa intuitively acceptable way to explain all ofthe apparently problematic data. In doing so,we also show how this picture is able toexplain the scenario which motivated Predelli'saccount without appealing to speakerintentions.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002