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In Defence of Acquaintance

Williams, Thomas Edward; (2022) In Defence of Acquaintance. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to motivate, defend and explore the consequences of an acquaintance view (AV), which holds that acquaintance with an object is required for singular thought about that object. The thesis is divided into two parts. In part one I motivate and defend AV. In part two I explore some of the consequences of adopting AV. In part one I argue that AV is well motivated and defensible given one particular account of singular thought. I call this account ‘aboutness without properties’. I argue it is legitimate for AV to adopt this account of singular thought. I also argue that AV’s take on acquaintance—according to which there are three kinds of acquaintance: perceptual acquaintance, memory acquaintance and communication-based acquaintance—is the best account. It makes acquaintance a unified psychological kind that can explain our capacities for thought. I argue that, given this account of singular thought and of acquaintance, AV is a well-motivated and defensible view of how our thoughts about objects connect up and make contact with the external world. I identify and attempt to solve three puzzles (in part inherited from Russell) which AV faces, given that it allows acquaintance with and singular thought about ordinary objects. I also suggest how AV can deal with apparent counterexample cases, via an account of descriptive names and of thought that purports to be about the non-existent. In part two I argue that AV is committed to structured propositions. The aboutness without properties account of singular thought only works on a structured propositions view. Given some plausible assumptions about how the problem of informative identities needs to be solved, I also argue that AV is committed to a Fregean view of propositions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: In Defence of Acquaintance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10150876
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