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The Practical TurnPragmatism in Britain in the Long Twentieth Century$
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Cheryl Misak and Huw Price

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266168

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266168.001.0001

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Pragmatism and Anscombe on the First Person

Pragmatism and Anscombe on the First Person

(p.117) 8 Pragmatism and Anscombe on the First Person
The Practical Turn

Jane Heal

British Academy

Anscombe’s famous paper on the first person makes claims which may seem bewildering or absurd, that we have ‘unmediated conceptions’ of some of our states and actions, that these conceptions are ‘subjectless’, and also, very controversially, that ‘I’ does not refer. Anscombe would not have identified herself as a pragmatist. But we can gain insight into and sympathy with some of these claims (even if we do not end up fully endorsing all of them) by seeing that they arise from her asking central pragmatist questions about ‘I’, that is how we use the word and why using it that way is important for us. Her answer centres on what she calls ‘self-consciousness’, that is, our ability to speak for ourselves, to say how things are with us, or what we are doing without checking to make sure that it is really ourselves we are speaking about.

Keywords:   First person, ‘I’, unmediated conceptions, subjectless conceptions, pragmatism, refer, self-consciousness

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