Vikesdal, Sara Kasin (2019). Vehicle Relationism: Essays on Samethinking and Samesaying.
This thesis concerns the nature of thought. We all have various beliefs concerning objects and individuals in our surroundings and the world at large. For instance, you probably have the belief that Ringo Starr was the drummer for The Beatles. You might also know that Ringo Starr is from Liverpool. If you have both of these beliefs, it will be natural for you to infer that someone who was the drummer for The Beatles is from Liverpool. Cases like these are very common. We often have various beliefs about one and the same individual, and use these beliefs to draw new conclusions. However, it's not always the case that this kind of inference is rational in cases where our beliefs concern the same individual. Suppose you have a further belief to the effect that Richard Starkey was the drummer for the band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. 'Richard Starkey' is Ringo Starr's birth name, so this belief concerns the same person as your previous beliefs. Suppose that you are not aware of this fact. If so, you would not be rational in concluding that someone who was the drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes is from Liverpool on the basis of these beliefs alone. In this thesis, I investigate how we are to understand the difference between cases such as these. Which aspects of thoughts explain the difference between cases in which one is rational in drawing these kinds of conclusions directly and cases in which one is not? I develop a new framework for understanding the nature of thoughts. I argue that the relations thoughts have to each other, and also relations within a thought, play an essential role in the explanation of certain rational dispositions. I then argue that such relations cannot be reduced to sameness or difference in intrinsic features of thoughts. The result is that the relations in question are to be taken as primitive.