Being-Together: An Essay on the First-Person Plural
Fisher, Quentin Andrew
Lance, Mark N
This dissertation concerns the philosophy of the first-person. It consists of three principal philosophical studies, each concerning a set of concepts that, when taken together, form a skeletal though unified account of the first-person. The first part concerns the various uses of the first-person singular (‘I’) as well as first-person immunity to error through misidentification. The second part concerns the various uses of the first-person plural (‘we’). I argue that (i) there are several distinct uses of the first-person plural pronoun, (ii) that each of these uses can be articulated inferentially, and (iii) that one use of the first-person plural—what I call the “generic use”—is conceptually basic. In the third part, I argue that the first-person plural pronoun is, at least on some of its uses, the grammatical mark of a certain form of self-conscious understanding, and it is this kind of self-conscious understanding that underwrites the possibility of speaking a language. I end by outlining some structural relations between the various uses of the first-person singular and the first-person plural. According to the account offered here, the first-person singular and the first-person plural form a non-additive unitary structure. Correctly understood, an account of the first-person must include both the first-person singular and the first-person plural.
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