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Generalizing Detached Self-Reference and the Semantics of Generic One


  • I would like to thank the two anonymous referees for their comments as well as John Campbell, Mike Martin, Chris Peacock, Ken Safir, and Robert Stalnaker for discussions of material in this paper.

Institut d’Histoire de Philosophie de Sciences et de Technique, 13 rue du Four 75006, Paris, France.


In this paper I will give an analysis of what I call ‘generalizing detached self-reference’ within a general account of reference to the first person. With generalizing detached self-reference an agent attributes properties to a range of individuals by putting himself into their shoes, or simulating them. I will show that generalizing detached self-reference plays an important role in the semantics of natural language, in particular in the English generic one and in what syntacticians call arbitrary PRO.