Concept

De dicto and de re

Summary
De dicto and de re are two phrases used to mark a distinction in intensional statements, associated with the intensional operators in many such statements. The distinction is used regularly in metaphysics and in philosophy of language. The literal translation of the phrase de dicto is "about what is said", whereas de re translates as "about the thing". The original meaning of the Latin locutions may help to elucidate the living meaning of the phrases, in the distinctions they mark. The distinction can be understood by examples of intensional contexts of which three are considered here: a context of thought, a context of desire, and a context of modality. Context of thought There are two possible interpretations of the sentence "Peter believes someone is out to get him". On one interpretation, 'someone' is unspecific and Peter suffers a general paranoia; he believes that it is true that a person is out to get him, but does not necessarily have any beliefs about who this per
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