De Re and De Dicto
11 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2006
Statements involving knowledge, intent, and the like may often be interpreted either de re (about a thing) or de dicto (about a statement). For instance, "A knowingly took B's car" can mean either "A knowingly took a car that turned out to be B's," the de re interpretation, or "A knowingly caused it to be the case that he took B's car," the de dicto interpretation. This paper takes up twelve cases whose outcome depends on which interpretation one gives to a governing principle. It suggests that since the two alternative interpretations are equally supported by the applicable language policy considerations must be brought in to resolve the cases.
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