" is subject to error through misidentification relative to the term "a" means that the following is possible: the speaker knows some particular thing to be f, but makes the mistake of asserting "a is f" because, and only because, he mistakenly thinks that the thing he knows to be f is what "a" refers to. (1984: 7ff) This error occurs, for example, if a person sees a figure dressed in baggy clothes in a mirror and in an upset voice exclaims "I look awful!", not at first realising that he is looking at somebody else. Statements are not subject to error through misidentification if the speaker cannot mistake another person for himself in the way described in the quotation.
Self-Identification and Self-Reference *Ingar Brinck
 To know who one is, and also know whether one's experiences really belong to oneself, do not normally present any problem. It nevertheless happens that people do not recognise themselves as they walk by a mirror or do not understand that they fit some particular description. But there are situations in which it really seems impossible to be wrong about oneself. Of that, Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote:It is possible that, say in an accident, I should feel pain in my arm, see a broken arm at my side, and think it is mine, when really it is my neighbour's. And I could, looking into a mirror, mistake a bump on his forehead for one on mine. On the other hand there is no question of recognising a person when I say I have toothache.... it is as impossible that in making the statement "I have toothache" I should have mistaken another person for myself, as it is to moan with pain by mistake, having mistaken someone else for me. (1958: 67)In the passage in which this remark is found, Wittgenstein distinguishes between two kinds of use of "I". The first use, as object, as in "I have broken my arm" or "The wind is blowing in my hair", he holds, involves the recognition of a particular person, and there is the possibility of error as concerns the identity of the person. In the other use, as subject, as in "I think it will rain" or "I am trying to lift my arm", no person is recognised. No mistake can be made about who the subject is.
 By this distinction, Wittgenstein drew attention to a phenomenon that later has been dubbed immunity to error through misidentification (henceforth IEM) (see Shoemaker 1968). It occurs in cases in which it would be absurd or nonsensical to describe one's predication by saying: "Someone is F-ing (e.g. yawning, seeing, walking, etc.), but is it I?" In such cases, it appears impossible to be wrong about who the subject is.
 Of course, IEM does not pertain to cases in which one has knowledge about oneself by observation, as when one sees the reflection of a person walking across the street in the windows along the pavement, and infers that the person must be oneself. On the contrary, in cases that typically exhibit IEM, the subject does not need to infer that she instantiates property F.
 Wittgenstein explained the fact that it sometimes is impossible to misidentify oneself in saying "I" by denying that "I" in such uses, i. e. in its use as subject, refers. Statements like "I have pain" are not, says Wittgenstein, about a particular person. "I" in its use as subject does not function like a name, and it does not rely on a descriptive recognition of the speaker (1953: sections 404, 410; 1958: 67). Elisabeth Anscombe, for one, followed Wittgenstein in denying a reference to "I" (1975).
 Other writers, notably Sidney Shoemaker, have, when trying to explain IEM, focused on statements in which "I" occurs together with mental predicates. Shoemaker maintains that a statement is IEM relative to "I" if it contains a psychological predicate such that it is known by the speaker to be instantiated in a special way.
 This way is such that if one is aware that the predicate is instantiated, one thereby (non-inferentially and non-observationally) knows that it is instantiated in oneself. In saying "I feel pain", the speaker has not identified somebody that he knows to be doing so as himself (Shoemaker 1984: 9ff). Thus, a speaker does not have to first identify himself before he can use "I" correctly in a sentence that contains a predicate of the right kind. Self-identification and self-reference depend fundamentally on the self-ascription of those predicates. Shoemaker writes:[T]hat a statement "a is f
 Contrary to Shoemaker, Gareth Evans held that not only
psychological predicates, but also predicates referring to bodily
states occur in statements that are IEM (Evans 1982: 216ff).
This means that the way of gaining information about oneself that
lies behind IEM does not only concern mental states.
2. Evans on immunity to error through misidentification
 Gareth Evans treated IEM at length in Varieties of
Reference. At the bottom of our capacity never to, in a
fundamental sense, misidentify ourselves, lies, according to
Evans, a general capacity of gaining identification-free
knowledge. Such knowledge is based on a certain way of receiving
information, and is characterised by not being dependent on its
source being conceptually identified by the receiver of
The source is identified by its spatio-temporal location.
 Evans introduced the notion of immunity to error through
misidentification (IEM) in relation to demonstrative
identification. Demonstrative thoughts are disposed to be
controlled by information that the subject has gained in a
way that relies on a continuous information-link between subject
and object. On the basis of that information, the subject can
locate the object.
 Evans held that the information-link, in order to
guarantee IEM, must be supplemented by a so-called fundamental
identification. Such an identification consists in conceiving
of an object as an element of the objective order, which
in turn depends on knowing what it is for the object to be
located at a position in space. This knowledge is excersised as a
practical ability, but is based on patterns of reasoning, that
constitute a theory of inferences about the subject's own
location and movements through space (Evans 1982: 223). It is the
theory that makes us realise that we are part of an objective
order and that our thoughts are general.
 By "objective order", Evans meant a conception of space
in which the egocentric and public perspectives have become
integrated. This conception arises when perceptions of public
space has an impact on individual action and the subject directs
her action at the public space. When the subject thus can impose
a conception of egocentric space on the public one, she has an
adequate Idea of a point in public space (Evans 1982: 168).2 The objective,
spatial world is "a world of objects and phenomena which can be
perceived but which are not dependent on being perceived for
their existence" (Evans 1982: 222).
 To have a conception of this world, the subject must be
able to "think of his perception of the world as being
simultaneously due to his position in the world, and to the
condition of the world at that position". The idea of there being
an objective world is simultaneous with the idea of the subject
being in the world, his location determined by what he perceives.
So the idea of an objective world and of the subject's being at a
particular location cannot be separated. The objective self comes
into existence when egocentric action and general thought are
 That information controls demonstrative thought means that there is no gap between the perceptual information that the subject receives and the concept formed from that information. According to Evans,
a bit of information (with the content Fx) is in the controlling conception of a thought involving a subject's Idea of a particular object if and only if the subject's disposition to appreciate and evaluate thoughts involving this Idea as being about an F thing is a causal consequence of the subject's acquisition and retention of this information. (1982: 122)The subject of a demonstrative thought does not infer that the perceptual information and the conceptual content concern the same object.
 Evans did not restrict IEM only to thoughts about oneself, as is customary. He defined it in terms of indentification-free knowledge:
When knowledge of the truth of a singular proposition, "a is F" can be seen as the result of knowledge of the truth of a pair of propositions, "b is F" (for some distinct Idea, b) and "a=b", I shall say that the knowledge is identification-dependent: it depends (in part) on the second basis proposition, which I shall call the identification component. We might say that knowledge of the truth of a singular proposition is identification-free if it is not identification-dependent. (1982: 180) 3He subsequently introduced a narrow sense of identification-freedom in order to exclude singular propositions that are not "information-based". Such singular propositions identify the referent purely descriptively as opposed to by some direct information-link between object and subject and do not stand in a causal relation to the referent. Evans wrote:
[K]nowledge of the truth of a singular proposition is identification-free in the narrow sense if (i) it is not identification-dependent and (ii) it is based on a way of gaining information from objects. (1982: 181)Note that in identification-free knowledge, predication and identification are simultaneous. There is no room for mistakes concerning the identity of the referent.
 Similarly to demonstrative thought,
self-conscious thought about oneself rests upon a disposition to have one's
thoughts controlled by information. This information concerns both our mental and
bodily states. And as in the case of demonstrative thought, the object of thought
-- in this case, oneself -- must, to be subject to a fundamental identification,
that is, be conceived of as an element of the objective order. The
identification involves, except for locating oneself spatiotemporally, conceiving
of oneself as a person, that is, as a being of a certain (general) kind.
 The ability to conceive of oneself as an instance of a category (the category of persons) is closely related to another ability, captured in what Evans called the Generality Constraint. According to it, conceptual thought is essentially structured. Evans wrote that
if a subject can be credited with the thought that a is F, then he must have the conceptual resources for entertaining the thought that a is G, for every property of being G of which he has a conception. (1982: 104)Likewise, the subject can think of other objects than a, of which he has a conception, that they are F. Structured thoughts can be generalised and combined, and the combinations can be transformed.4 The two applications of the Generality Constraint together make it possible for the subject to think of himself as part of the objective world. To grasp the generality of a concept involves understanding that it applies in the same way to other people as to oneself, and that the evidence that underlies ascription of beliefs to others is of the same kind as is used when one ascribes beliefs to oneself.
 "I"-ideas develop from the subject's capacity to act on
incoming information and thereby place herself in the objective
order. Her interaction with the surroundings will give rise to an
egocentric self-concept, that reflects what I call an
indexical self-awareness. As long as we only consider
situations in which the subject acts on information gained from
the actual context, this self-concept will account for the
knowledge that the subject has of herself. But to grasp
propositions about oneself whose value cannot be decided on the
basis of information accessible in the actual context, another
kind of self-concept is needed. This concept requires that the
subject has a detached self-awareness, that enables the
subject to think about herself as detached from any particular
 This means that the information-link and the action-link together do not exhaust what being a subject amounts to (Evans 1982: 208). Evans maintained that one's Idea of oneself also must comprise
a knowledge of what it would be for an identity of the form [I=dt] to be true, where dt is [...] an identification of a person which... is of a kind which could be available to someone else. (1982: 209)This identification would be available to someone else and would conform to the Generality Constraint. The content of such an identification is what it is for a particular subject as a person to be located at a point in spacetime in the objective world.
 To entertain thoughts about oneself that are IEM, it is,
apart from conceiving of onself as a person, necessary that one
is disposed to receive information about oneself, and that the
information gives rise to identification-free knowledge. There
are two ways to gain such knowledge about one's bodily
states (Evans 1982: 220ff). The first one is by perception of
one's body, through, for instance, proprioception, sensitivity to
heat, pressure, and so on. No gap will open up between knowing
that F is instantiated and knowing that it is so in
oneself, because "to have or to appear to have the information
that the property is instantiated just is for it to appear to him
that he is F" (1982: 221).
 The second one is indirect, and consists in knowing one's
position, orientation, and relation to other objects by
perceiving the external world. Evans made a connection between
having this kind of knowledge and having a concept of the
objective world. As mentioned above, a concept of the objective
world is necessary for locating objects and thereby for
demonstrative thought in general. The perceptual experiences of
the world and of oneself are interdependent, and so are the
objective and subjective spheres. In Evans account, there is, as
it were, no telling which comes first.
 We gain knowledge about ourselves through our mental
states by self-ascribing states like beliefs or other
attitudes. The self-ascription does not rely on directing oneself
inwards (Evans 1982; e.g., 225, 230). In ascribing beliefs to
myself, for instance, I do not scan my inner self, but direct my
attention outwards, to the states-of-affairs about which I have
 Self-ascription of perceptual experiences is different
(1982: 226ff). Perceptual experiences consist, according to
Evans, in informational states with a non-conceptual content that
can be true or false. Judgements are reliably caused by these
states. In going from an informational state to a judgement, the
information carried by the state becomes conceptualised. The
experience then becomes conscious to the subject.
3. Some problems with Evans' account
 The problems of Evans' account are related to the fact
that the information-links by themselves neither can determine
contents of thought or guarantee the IEM of judgements based on
purely informational states. As Evans himself pointed out, they
are necessary, but not sufficient to do this (1982: 88, and
section 6.2, especially at 148). The reason why information-links
cannot determine contents of thought is that they do not help the
subject single out which object he is thinking of. An
object must be identified in some particular way to be an object
of thought. The information-link cannot on its own provide the
subject with an object.
 Furthermore, to be disposed to treat an object as
relevant to the truth-value of a proposition is not sufficient
for conceptual thoughts, unless the subject's thought of the
object obeys the Generality Constraint (1982: 147). This means
thinking of it as independent of any particular context, but as
located in the objective order. An informational or causal link
of Evans' kind will not do for this, since generality implies
that the content can be detached from any context and thus cut
loose from any such link. The subject should be able to think
about the object also when the situation excludes demonstrative
 The identification required for generality cannot consist
in a definite description, if it is supposed to be involved in
thoughts that exhibit IEM. Descriptions are not IEM, since they
are not guaranteed to pick out the same (numerically identical)
object in all contexts. They are satisfied by whatever object
happens to fit them in the actual context.
 The view that causality is not sufficient to determine
the object of thought can be developed in various directions.
Causal links lack a conceptual connection with intentionality and
thereby with thought. This means that an intentional relation
prima facie cannot be reduced to a causal one. If the aim
is to naturalise intentionality, one has to find some way to
restrain the causal link in order that it univocally picks out
the right object. This is hard to do without using intentional
concepts, as indicated by the massive critique that has been
raised against such attempts.
 If a causal link nevertheless would adequately pick out
the object, it does not follow that the object has been selected
in a way that serves its cognitive purpose in the context of
thought. Indeed, it would not be guaranteed that the object was
displayed in a way that would at all be intelligible. It may even
be that the representation lacked content and only occured as a
 These possibilities emerge because of the difference
between the causal and the conceptual realms. Causality does not
imply conceptualisation, but intentional thought demands
concepts. Reflection depends on having concepts. The cause and
the content of a representation cannot be equated by fiat.
 In my view, the role of the causal link as concerns
I-thought is to tie the conceptual realm to the natural world.
Reflection is confined to that realm. Therefore, we need both the
causal relation that ensures that thoughts have, as it were, real
objects, and concepts that ensure that our thoughts are subject
to rational conditions.
 To the information-links, Evans adds the fundamental
identification, that is supposed to single out the source of the
information without the possibility of error. The fundamental
identification involves identifying the source as part of the
objective order. As concerns I-thoughts, this means to identify
oneself as a person.
 As far as I can see, it really is impossible to conceive
of oneself only from a third-person perspective, since one cannot
tie general beliefs to oneself without a first-person conception
of oneself. Lewis' example of the two Gods, who know all the
facts there is to know about the world, but cannot tell who they
are -- who is the God on the tallest mountain and who is the God
on the coldest one -- because they lack contextual knowledge, is
an excellent illustration of this (see Lewis 1979).
 On the other hand, a subject who can only have indexical
thoughts about herself will obviously not have a full
understanding of "I". She would not be able to entertain
context-independent thoughts about herself or think about herself
as an instance of a category of beings similar to herself. These
points are emphasised by Evans when he asserts that thoughts
about oneself must conform to the Generality Constraint.
 No doubt, generality is necessary for the ability to
entertain a full range of thoughts about oneself, including
future-directed, conditional, and counterfactual ones. But is it
necessary to explicitly think about oneself as instantiating the
Generality Constraint, or is it sufficient to apply it blindly?
And which is the connection between generality and IEM?
 Clearly, if I-thoughts necessarily involved the
performance of an explicit identification of the sort [I=dt], they would always be open to
error through misidentification, since there is no guarantee that
one knows that one is a particular person P, and thereby
instantiates a certain description. Actually, it seems that
I-thoughts that rely on the proposition [I=dt] are identification-dependent,
according to Evans own definition. This means that such
I-thoughts could, by definition, not be IEM.
 The condition that I-thoughts have to be general is, as
far as I can see, offering a background to particular thoughts.
The identification of oneself as a person is of a preparatory
kind, providing a condition that in principle should be
fulfilled, but that may not hold in practise. It is presupposed
by the use of "I". A subject may lose her understanding of the
generality of thought, or not take it into consideration, or she
may temporarily not be conscious of what it means to be a person,
but all the same be able to entertain thoughts about herself that
are IEM. Generality constitutes a formal property of thought in
all its guises, while IEM concerns a limited class of thoughts.
An account of IEM should reflect the particular basis of the
latter kind of thought.
 But if we take the fundamental identification of oneself
as a person to provide a background condition for I-thoughts that
does not have to be performed on every occasion of thought, this
will provoke a problem for Evans' solution to how to constrain
the information-links, which are specific to a certain context.
Remember that the information-links are necessary, but not
sufficient to determine particular contents of thought or
guarantee IEM. They cannot by themselves single out which object
the subject is thinking of in a particular context. This means
that, as things stand now, either the subject does not for some
reason have to perform an identification of herself when thinking
about herself in particular contexts of thought, or we need
another suggestion as to what constrains the links.
 There is yet another problem concerning the identity of
the subject. The model of thought that Evans takes as his
starting-point brings with it a distinction between the source
and the receiver of information conveyed by the link. As regards
demonstrative thought, the model appears quite natural. But as
regards I-thoughts, it seems inappropriate to distinguish between
source and receiver. Rather, the identity of the subject should
be assumed from the start, in line with the principle that all
entities are identical to themselves, and only be annulled in
 In connection with bodily self-ascription of such
properties that give rise to judgements that are IEM, Evans notes
how absurd it would be to question the identity of a body that
one has gained information about by, for instance, proprioception
or through interaction with one's surroundings (Evans 1982:
221ff). Evans nevertheless allows for the possibility of deviant
information-links, and thereby for error through
misidentification, in exceptional circumstances. He claims that
such possible situations show that error might occur, but that
ordinary judgements based on information-links are not subject to
IEM. Information-links only guarantee IEM under "normal"
conditions (1982: 249).
 It is not clear how we determine what counts as normal
conditions, or on what grounds we can exclude other cases. For
reasons of circularity, we cannot say that the conditions under
which the information-links guarantee IEM are normal. To me it
seems unsatisfactory to allow for the possibility that source and
receiver diverge as in the case of I-thoughts. It signals that
something is wrong with Evans' model of thought about oneself.
 In Evans' model there is actually two identifications
involved for I-thoughts, one of the source a as such, on
the basis of the information-link, a is F, and one between
source a and receiver b of information, a is
b, where b is I, that is, the subject of the
thought. The identity between b and I should hold
as a result of the identification of the subject as an element of
the objective order (which we just saw is
identification-dependent as well, since the subject must be
identified as a person). This means that I-thoughts are
inherently identification-dependent, something that, by Evans'
definition, is excluded for judgements that are IEM.
Surprisingly, Evans apparently introduces a possibility of error
through misidentification in his overall model for I-thoughts.
 This example of identification-dependence, pertaining to
the source and the receiver of information respectively, is
similar to the one brought up above, in relation to identities of
the form [I=dt], where dt is a general identification of a
person. It constitutes in fact an extension of it, since not only
thoughts about oneself that contain descriptive elements, but any
I-thoughts that rely on an identification brought on by the split
between source and receiver will be identification-dependent.
 There is no guarantee that the source and the receiver
are identical, and the receiver cannot just assume that she gets
information from the right source. In giving the self two roles,
both as source and receiver, or as subject and object, a gap
opens up that may be difficult to patch up. How is the identity
between the two guaranteed? -- Not by an identification built on
the information-link, since the problem arises with the link.
Constraints on the information-link cannot be taken from the link
 The causal relation between subject and object stands in
need of a foundation. If the subject should be able to identify
the source as hers, it appears that we need a self-concept prior
to gaining information about ourselves. Obviously, this runs
counter to Evans' theory, since he holds that self-identification
is simultaneous with the gaining of information.
4. The nature of IEM
 The idea that in
order that one's thought latches onto an object, it is necessary to identify the
object, sounds peculiar when the object is oneself. It also opens the possibility
of error. In a context that leads to judgements that are IEM, moreover, the
question of whether the source reflected in the received information is oneself
should never be allowed to come up. Still, it is hard to deny that whenever we
think about something, we must have a discriminating conception of it. In the
case of I-thoughts that occur in judgements that are IEM, this conception must be
of a special kind to exhibit identification-independence.
 As I pointed
out at the outset of the last section, the problems with Evans' theory that I
focus on all have to do with the idea that the information-links cannot determine
the object of thought or guarantee IEM on their own. It seems that there is
something wrong with the fundamentals of Evans' conception of IEM. To find the
source of the problems, we need to re-examine IEM. In this section, I will
therefor bring up a few different interpretations of it, in order to get a better
understanding of its nature.
 In the first section, I quoted
Wittgenstein on what Shoemaker later dubbed immunity to error through
misidentification. It appears that the passage from which the quotation is taken
has given rise to a number of interpretations, all directed at illuminating IEM.
 Wittgenstein seems to be saying that in some specific cases when the
subject believes that a certain property is instantiated, one belonging to a
particular kind, no question concerning in whom it is instantiated will arise.
The intuition is that in such cases, the subject cannot be wrong about who is the
subject of the predicate that designates the property -- if there even is a
subject. These cases are expressed by statements containing "I" in its use as
 According to Shoemaker, error through misidentification
occurs when a subject knows a certain predicate to be instantiated, but is wrong
about in whom. There are predicates such that if the subject knows that one of
those is instantiated, he cannot be wrong about in whom or about how to identify
that person. These predicates are assured to give rise to IEM. Shoemaker spells
out Wittgenstein's intuitions about the nature of the predicate and the
impossibility of error. He does not agree with Wittgenstein about the reference
of "I", though, since he maintains that it is a referential expression. The
latter point is, however, of minor importance for the moment.
puts forward two conditions for IEM: first, that there is a guarantee against
radical reference-failure, that is, the referent exists, and second, that there
is a guarantee against mistaken reference, that is, what the subject takes to be
the referent is the referent (1975: 56ff). Her definition does not explicitly focus on the
kind of property that gives rise to judgements that are IEM, but on the fact that
the subject does not make any mistakes concerning the identity of the object. In
this respect, what she writes about IEM differs somewhat from Wittgenstein's and
Shoemaker's comments about it. They apparently see a connection between the kind
of property that is instantiated and the impossibility of mistaken
 Evans maintains that knowledge of the truth of a
proposition is identification-free, and thus IEM, when the subject knows that
property F is instantiated, and her knowledge of the truth of the
proposition "a is F" does not depend on knowledge of the truth of a
proposition expressing identity, "a is b". Then he adds, as a way
of spelling out what lies behind IEM as described by the first two conditions,
that the knowledge of the truth of the proposition "a is F" is
based on a certain way of gaining information about the object.
 It seems that both Evans and Shoemaker think that IEM is connected to the fact that the predicate is true about the subject -- even that it depends on it. But if we take a look at sentences that express judgements that are IEM relative to "I", it turns out that they remain IEM also in case the predicate is misascribed. Compare with the following examples.
(1) I hear bird-songEven if it turns out that I did not hear anything but hallucinated, or that I am not at all overweight, but on the contrary skinny (as in a bad case of aneroxia), this would not automatically make me revise my opinion about who instantiated these properties. I would still be referring to myself, although I was attributing the wrong predicates. In (1) and (2), even if we have a misascription of predicates, we do not have a misidentification of the referent.
(2) I am overweight
 This means that in these and similar examples the predicate does not override the subject-term. Let us compare (1) and (2) with a few examples in which the subject never can be wrong about whether the predicate is instantiated.
(3) I have painSome of Evans' examples have a different character, although belonging to the same kind as (3) and (4), since he allows predicates that express bodily states in judgements that are IEM, as in
(4) I think it is going to rain
(5) I am hotand possibly
(6) I am being pushedIn (3)-(6), predication and identification are interdependent. The basic idea is that there are properties such that if one knows that they are instantiated, and this knowledge depends on a certain way of gaining information, -- the one that Evans tries to specify, the properties cannot be instantiated in somebody other than oneself.
 This position calls
for comments. For one thing, if IEM depends on a certain way of gaining
information, it might be that the property does not in fact have to be
instantiated in the subject, as long as the belief that it is so depends on the
proper way (to IEM) of gaining information. This means that any belief that a
certain kind of predicate is instantiated (the kind that occurs in judgements
that are IEM) is based on information that could only be gained in such a way as
to be gained from oneself. Then the information that the belief is based on is
either true and then about oneself, or distorted and not true about oneself, but
not true about somebody else either. The subject of the judgement is in either
case oneself. The information could not be about somebody else, since the way it
was gained is such that it could not be about someone else than oneself.
 Evans surprisingly appears to use a strong form of IEM that I will call
immunity to error through misascription (IEA), that only occurs if the judgement
as a whole is true. IEA depends on the truth of the predicate. No mistake can be
made about the identity of the subject due to misascription of the predicate, in
case the predicate is such that if the subject makes the judgement that the
property designated by the predicate is instatiated, it is instantiated. The
property that gives rise to IEA is self-presenting and infallible. That a
property F is self-presenting means that it is such that if I believe that I am
F (and I actually am F), then I am certain that I am F. Some
states are such that I could not believe that I am in them, without actually
being in them, as pain or happiness, or the state of thinking.
 But it does not seem that the predicate must be true about the subject for IEM to occur. Even if the predicate is wrong, the subject will in some cases not be misidentified, notably in those that are based on information gained in the way described in the last paragraph. The position that a judgement can be IEM regardless of whether the predicate is true about the subject or not is, it seems, allowed for by a definition put forward by Andy Hamilton. He defines IEM in the following way:
An assertion of "I am F", "I fed", "I shall f", etc., is IEM if and only if the justification subjects would offer for it is such that if they subsequently come reasonably to doubt the assertion, no matter what the cause, it will be senseless for them to cite the original justification as a reason for claiming that none the less someone is F (or fed, etc.). (1995: 335)Hamilton goes on to say that the original justification is that which the subject would offer if asked to justify the first-person utterance. According to Hamilton, IEM thus concerns what the subject actually believes, and not how she has received the information. He believes that an account of IEM should be internalist. But it is not farfetched to assume that the reason why the original justification cannot be used to claim that somebody else than oneself is F depends on how the information was gained in the first place.
 The case which in accordance with Hamilton's definition would
give rise to error through misidentification is such that the predicate will take
precedence over the subject-term. If the predicate does not fit the subject, we
are on some occasions licensed to draw the conclusion that somebody other than
whom we initially thought instantiates the property in question.
what is it that guarantees that the subject is not misidentified in judgements
that are IEM, if the information on which the judgement is based can be
incorrect? We have reached the position that IEM does not depend on having true
information about oneself in the context of judgement, but so far, we do not have
a hint of an explanation of what else would guarantee IEM. There are at least two
 It might be that as long as the information is not
gained indirectly, the subject-term will pick out the subject who has gained it,
even if it is false. The way of gaining information guarantees IEM. But this
suggestion does not avoid the difficulties we had with Evans' account of IEM. We
still cannot be certain that the receiver of the information is the same as its
source, or that the subject is the receiver. The information-link remains
insufficient to explain IEM. And in some cases, there does not seem to be any
information of the relevant sort at all connected to the judgement that is IEM,
for instance, in the case of hallucinations and imagined experiences. The subject
may have faulty beliefs about herself that do not rely on gaining information
about oneself directly or immediately, but that could be conjured up from sheer
 A second possibility is that there exists an
identification-free default way of referring to oneself, that in some particular
circumstances can be overriden by the kind of predicate that relies on such
information as renders the predicate an identificatory role. This way of
referring does not directly depend on information-gaining, but has been
determined beforehand. I will explore this line of thought in the next section.
5. Self-identification and self-reference
 We have reached the position that whatever it is that
guarantees IEM relative to "I", it cannot only be information
gained in a direct or immediate way. This means that IEM must be
guaranteed at an earlier stage. We also know that IEM cannot be
based on a description of the subject, since descriptions are
inherently identification-dependent. To get a grip on what we are
looking for to account for the foundation of IEM, let us return
to what Evans had to say.
 It seems that Evans maintained that in normal
circumstances one does not need to perform an identification of
oneself every time that one has an I-thought. He asserted that an
egocentric self-concept develops as a result of the subject's
constant and long-term interaction with the surroundings. It
gives, according to Evans, rise to an objective conception both
of oneself and the world. This means that the subject is located
spatiotemporally through this interaction, because she is at the
centre of a network of information- and action-links. In this
case, no further contextual identification is called for.
 The egocentric self-concept consequently provides the
subject with a location in the objective order. She does not need
to keep track of herself through different contexts, since the
concept evolves in a self-perpetuating process, as the subject
moves around in a changing environment. Evans points out that no
special skill is necessary to produce suitable judgements about
oneself that span past, present, and future. It simply is a
feature of the cognitive dynamics of "I" that such judgements can
be made (1982: 237ff). As soon as the subject has access to the
conceptual sphere, she will also understand that she can be
categorised as a person, and thereby have a general self-concept
that conforms to the Generality Constraint. She will then be able
to think about herself in an infinite number of ways.
 But if we take the causal model for I-thoughts, that is
evoked by Evans to explain IEM, for granted, it is hard to see
how we can avoid a theory in which the subject is held to
re-identify herself on each occasion she tokens an I-thought, and
in which case an identification of the source at time t
with the evolving, continuous subject would be required. How
might we retain the view that the content of I-thoughts relies on
discriminating knowledge obtained by an information-link, while
avoiding the need for an identification in the context of
 It appears that one source of the problems with Evans'
account is that he tried to answer two questions at once. The
first question concerns IEM, the second the idea or concept of
oneself that is necessary for entertaining an I-thought or using
the word "I". If we look for the raw material needed for
answering both questions in Evans' texts, the answer to the first
question should most probably be found in the interaction that
lies behind the unfolding of the egocentric self-concept, while
the answer to the second one would have to do with the way the
subject is presented with herself in the actual context. Let us,
for the moment, direct our attention to the first matter. I would
describe it as follows.
 The interaction with the surroundings that gives rise to
an egocentric self-concept, as descibed by Evans, will also
involve an immediate awareness of oneself as an
information-gainer and experiencing subject. This indexical
self-awareness has developed from the gaining of information that
represents the context from the subject's point of view, making
the subject aware of her position in relation to other objects in
the context and of herself as enduring through time. It is
inherently subjective and accompanies every self-representation,
indexing them, as it were, with the mark of subjectivity.
 The indexical self-awareness is a direct consequence of
being the nexus between incoming information and action. It is
independent of having or receiving information either about
oneself or the surroundings once it has developed. Consequently,
it constitutes a disposition to have thoughts indexed with the
point of view of the subject. If the information-links are
temporarily disrupted, it remains intact, since it does not
depend on a continuous flow of information. But it will only
matter to cogntion and agency if tied to contextual information
about the subject and her spatiotemporal location.
 All information that is gained immediately or directly by
way of a causal link will automatically be indexed as subjective.
It is not an act of will or intention on behalf of the subject.
So will every tokening of "I" be. But unfortunately indexical
self-awareness cannot guarantee that uses of "I" are IEM. It will
at most give rise to a Kantian I-think, that guarantees that
every thought one has actually is one's own. What is needed for
IEM is an awareness that this (my) thought is about me.
 It sounds plausible that unless the subject has evidence
for the opposite, she will take information about herself that
has been gained in the way described by Evans to be about
herself. Information that has not been gained in this way will
not be indexical or centred on the subject. In that case, nothing
at all indicates that it is about the subject. If in a particular
context it becomes evident that a certain predicate is false
about the subject, and the belief that it is true has not been
caused in the relevant way, the subject is licensed to draw the
conclusion that it may instead be true about somebody else.
 IEM would consequently depend on how the subject had
gained information about herself, but the information or the
information-links as such could not alone guarantee that she did
not misidentify the subject of the predicate. In the absence of
evidence to the contrary, however, it would be correct of the
subject to assume that the predicate was about herself, and she
would intuitively do so.
 Nevertheless, another type of argument could be given for
the IEM of I-thoughts, from evolutionary design. States that
carry information about oneself, gained either immediately or
directly, play a crucial role in agency. Several conditions on
content having to do with the context in which it occurs must be
fulfilled for agency to take place. First of all, purely
descriptive thought content would not move the agent to action.
It has to be connected to the context, that is, the
spatiotemporal location of the subject. Further, the content has
to be provided with the point of view of the subject: it must
concern the subject.
 Third, there should not be any room for hesitation as
regards the identity of the subject. The information must concern
the subject in an immediate way, or many actions will fail to
reach their goal. Timing is an essential ingredient in agency.
Some of the information that the subject receives will function
as a cue for action, and to do so, it must lock into the
informational state that the subject already is in, and move her
at the precise moment.
 Informational states take care of the most basic
processes and actions, those that underlie conscious reflection.
They provide the impulse that sets off basic actions like running
from the enemy, pulling away the hand when burned, drinking when
in need of liquid, and so on. It would be an extreme waste of
cognitive resources if there were a gap between this part of the
cognitive world and the conscious part that springs from it -- if
the subject always could doubt whether it really was she who had
those experiences. Much energy would be put into finding out to
whom those experiences belong, and the hesitation would cause
failures, both because of that and because of problems with
 I submit that if the perceptual and cognitive faculties
of a subject function properly (that is, as designed), the
first-person judgements of a subject that are caused by
informational states about herself will display IEM. This
suggestion cannot provide a constraint on the information-links
or a logical guarantee of IEM. What it can do is to tell us in
what situations it simply becomes senseless to refer to IEM at
all, that is, in cases of mental or physical illness, when the
perceptual apparatus is malfunctioning, or in case the perceptual
apparatus has been manipulated with. It does not seem that we can
get any further in this matter.
 Let us return to the question what is required to token
"I". I argued above that a causal link cannot alone determine the
object of thought, or reference. A conceptual element must be
added. But how can it be, if we are talking about judgements or
statements that are IEM relative to "I"? The challenge is to show
how reference can be conceptual but still remain IEM.
 Evans held that demonstratives and indexicals are
referent-dependent, that is, that their meaning depends on that
the referent occurs in the context of utterance (Evans 1985:
294ff). The function of sense, according to him, is not to
determine the reference of the term, but to provide a way of
thinking of the referent, a mode of presentation.7 He writes that
"[T]o give an account of how a thought concerns an object is to
explain how the subject knows which object is in question". To
know which object is in question involves being able to
distinguish it from all other things. That requires
discriminating knowledge. Evans brings up the following
sufficient conditions for that: when one can perceive the object
at the present time; when one can recognise it if presented with
it; and when one knows distinguishing facts about it (1982: 89).
 As regards demonstratives and indexicals, knowing which
object means being able to identify the object as it appears in
the actual context and not by some antecedently given condition
(Evans 1985: 303). The identification depends on observation and
on the information-links between subject and object. But we do
not observe the self, and it seems that the referent of
"I"-thoughts, according to Evans, is presented in a different
 Evans' conditions for discriminating knowledge mentioned
above make use of general concepts as well as of information
gained in the actual context. Above, I pointed out that, as
concerns "I", the general concept is not sufficient to constrain
the information-links. Nor is it sufficient to account for the
cognitive role of "I". It leaves the latter without an
 Part of the specific cognitive role of "I" is contributed
by the subjective perspective of thought content as given in
indexical self-awareness. If the information that a subject gains
about herself was not centred on the subject, it would not move
her to action or influence her behaviour. All kinds of
information could be registered, but would not be localised, or
causally connected to any particular sources. The information
would come from a purely descriptive place in the universe,
impossible to pick out in relation to the subject herself, since
she would not be able to place herself indexically in the
universe. An inert and causally impotent subject that exists
isolated from the causal realm would not last long.
 The other part of the cognitive role is given by the way
the subject is presented with herself in the actual context. This
presentation will influence her actions, lines of thought, and
decisions. Subjects do not normally function in the same way
cognitively even if placed in the same kind of situation, not
only because they happen to be at different places in time and
space, but also because they happen to be in different individual
states at that location.8
 Evans is quite right that the information-links are
necessary to identify the subject by its spatiotemporal location.
But if "I" is to have the adequate cognitive role, not only in
agency, but also in reasoning, one has to conceive of onself as
something more than a point in a system of coordinates -- which
is what the spatiotemporal identification provides. Any
subject, or person, could be at a particular point p. A
conceptual, individual, and contextual mode of presentation is
necessary to individuate the subject.
 Such a mode of presentation is given by so-called de
Evans and John McDowell have both worked on modifications of
Frege's theory that aim at making sense context-sensitive. 10 McDowell
describes de re senses as conceptual, but depending
essentially for their occurrence on the existence of the referent
(McDowell 1984: 283ff). De re senses constitute the
content of token expressions, a content which could not be
determined without the presence of the referent in the context of
utterance (287ff). They present the referent to the speaker in a
certain way, which makes the de re sense specific to its
res, and provides the cognitive significance of token
 De re senses function as a conceptualisation of
the referent. As I see it, they permit the speaker to focus her
attention on the referent and give her the means to discriminate
it from its surroundings by its non-relational properties.11 As regards
"I", the referent is identical with the subject that has those
experiences which constitute the foundation for the de re
senses. The de re sense is caused by an informational
state carrying non-conceptual content about oneself. Saying "I"
constitutes a direct expression of the particular point of view
of the subject.
 Thus, self-reference depends on knowing the linguistic
meaning of "I" as well as on being presented with oneself by a
de re sense. Since the de re sense is caused by an
informational state about the subject, and it constitutes a
conceptualisation of the information carried by the state, "I"
will always be used from a certain perspective or point of view
and be indexed as subjective.
 But there are nevertheless uses of "I" in which the
referent can be misidentified. As described in section 4, that
happens when the predicate takes precedence over the
subject-term. "I" can then, although referring to the speaker on
the basis of a de re sense, be exchanged for another
subject-term that refers to the person who actually instantiates
the predicate in question.
 Two kinds of judgement (containing "I") that do not
exhibit IEM relative to "I" can be discerned. First we have those
that focus on properties of oneself that cannot be known
immediately or directly, but the knowledge of which is gained
from the context, like "weighing 120 lbs" and "facing south".
Then we have such that attribute properties the information about
which cannot be gained from the context of utterance (although it
might be gained in the context of utterance). They are
such as "I am Liz Taylor", "I won all my fights", and "I am the
editor of Soul".
 Judgements that exhibit error through misidentification
relative to "I" are ambiguous. According to a first
interpretation, the speaker talks about herself as instantiating
a certain property, that she actually does not instantiate. On a
second interpretation, the speaker talks about a certain person
who has a particular property and who she thinks is identical to
herself, but is not so.12 But despite the fact that the
speaker misidentifies herself, there is no doubt that in saying
"I" she intends to refer to herself.
 Nevertheless, it seems that the intended referent is the
person who instantiates the relevant property. This means that
the identification of the referent relies on indirectly gained
information. The referent is identified descriptively. On the
other hand, "I" will, all the same, refer to the speaker in the
context. This is taken care of by the lingustic meaning of the
type expression "I", which is to refer to the user (presumably a
person) in the actual context.
 The ambiguity shows that there is not any point in using
the teminology of intended or actual referent relative to uses of
"I" that exhibit error through misidentification. The actual
referent may equally well be the speaker as whoever instatiates
the predicate that did not fit the speaker -- if anybody does so.
How we interpret the situation will be a pragmatic matter,
depending on cues in the context of use.
 At the outset of this article I said that knowing who one
is does not normally present any problems. At least it does not
if the locution "knowing who" only means to be able to place
oneself in space and time relative to other objects and to
categorise oneself as a person. Problems may arise as soon as we
go beyond these rather modest demands. Still, in the absence of
psychological illnesses and neurophysiological injuries, or
perhaps science fiction come true, knowing who one is does not
usually cause any trouble. The existence of persons is as
described above inherently subjective. We do not really run the
risk of conflating ourselves with somebody else.
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