Robert Maximilian de Gaynesford : biography
Maximilian de Gaynesford (born 1968, London) is an English philosopher. He was educated at Ampleforth College and Balliol College, Oxford (1986-9; First in Modern History), after which he spent several years studying Theology, before turning to Philosophy in 1993. Before receiving his doctorate, he was elected Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Lincoln College, Oxford (1997). He was subsequently Humboldt Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin (2003) and a tenured professor at The College of William and Mary in Virginia (2002–2006) before becoming Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading. He is the author of over forty articles and three books: I: The Meaning of the First Person Term (2006), Hilary Putnam (2006), and John McDowell (2004). In 2011, he edited a collection of articles on the Philosophy of Action, (Blackwell), which includes recent work by John McDowell and Joseph Raz. He also spoke at the Harvard Conference in celebration of Hilary Putnam, recorded here . He is married to Brett, and they have a daughter, Elisabeth (born 2009).
- On J. L. Austin's doctrine of 'Uptake': in Agents And Their Actions (Blackwell, 2011) ed. M. de Gaynesford, pp. 121-37.
- On the notorious comments made by J. L. Austin about Poetry: in The British Journal of Aesthetics, 2011, 51, pp. 31-49.
- On the extension of a theory of speech acts to cover poetic utterance: in Analysis, 2010, 70, pp. 1-3.
- On the relationship between Philosophy and Poetry: in Essays in Criticism, 2009, 59, pp. 1–21.
- On the use of Speech Act Theory to justify intervention in the publication and distribution of pornography: in Analysis, 2009, 69, pp. 488-90.
I: The Meaning of the First Person Term
The book I: The Meaning of the First Person Term (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006) rejects the established view that I is a so-called Pure Indexical, arguing that it is a deictic term, and hence like the other singular personal pronouns (You; He / She).
The established view, so the book argues, depends on three mutually supportive doctrines which turn out to be myths:
- Rule Theory: A simple rule is sufficient to give the meaning of I.
- Independence: One can use I to express thoughts without having to identify what is being referred to.
- The Guarantee: The meaning of I logically guarantees any use of the term against failure to refer.
The radically new account of I (as a deictic term) depends on various kinds of evidence:
- Logical Character: The substitutional behaviour of I-use is that of an obligatorily deictic term.
- Inferential Role: The inferential behaviour of I-use is that of an obligatorily deictic term.
- Referential Function: The referential determinacy of I-use is deictic: it depends on making an individual salient.
- Expressive Use: The discriminability of I-use for the reference-maker is deictic: it depends on the referent's salience.
- Communicative Role: The discriminability of I-use for the audience is deictic: it depends on the referent's salience.
This account has a major bearing on other areas of research: the meaning of I is used to elucidate the thoughts expressed by the term, and so helps account for difficult and controversial features of self-knowledge, practical reasoning, belief-acquisition, and belief-ascription.
A critical evaluation which reveals a basic unity in Putnam’s work (Hilary Putnam, McGill-Queens University Press / Acumen, 2006), achieved through repeated engagements with a small set of hard problems, all of which stem from the need to account for the intentionality of thought and language.
A study (John McDowell, Blackwell / Polity Press, 2004) of McDowell's view that treating our fundamental relations with the world as problematic is a deep mistake, attributable to false views about nature, and that we should give proper weight to a natural fact about the world: that human beings are of a kind that is naturally placed within the natural order.
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