Mental Files

Mental Files

by Francois Recanati

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Overview

Francois Recanati presents his theory of mental files, a new way of understanding reference in language and thought. He aims to recast the "nondescriptivist" approach to reference that has dominated the philosophy of language and mind in the late twentieth century. According to Recanati, we refer through mental files, which play the role of so-called "modes of presentation." The reference of linguistic expressions is inherited from that of the files we associate with them. The reference of a file is determined relationally, not satisfactionally: so a file is not to be equated to the body of (mis)information it contains. Files are like singular terms in the language of thought, with a nondescriptivist semantics.

In contrast to other philosophers, Recanati offers an indexical model according to which files are typed by their function, which is to store information derived through certain types of relation to objects in the environment. The type of the file corresponds to the type of contextual relation it exploits. Even detached files or "encyclopedia entries" are based on epistemically rewarding relations to their referent, on Recanati's account.

Among the topics discussed in this wide-ranging book are: acquaintance relations and singular thought; cognitive significance; the vehicle/content distinction; the nature of indexical concepts; co-reference de jure and judgments of identity; cognitive dynamics; recognitional and perceptual concepts; confused thought and the transparency requirement on modes of presentation; descriptive names and "acquaintanceless" singular thought; the communication of indexical thoughts; two-dimensional defences of Descriptivism; the Generality Constraint; attitude ascriptions and the "vicarious" use of mental files; first-person thinking; token-reflexivity in language and thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199659982
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 01/06/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Francois Recanati is the Director of Institut Jean-Nicod in Paris. He is the author of Perspectival Thought (OUP, 2007), Truth-Conditional Pragmatics (OUP, 2010), and many other publications in the philosophy of language and mind.

Table of Contents

Preface
Part I. Singular Thought and Acquaintance : Rejecting Descriptivism
1. Singularism vs Descriptivism
2. Can Descriptivism Account for Singularity?
Part II. Introducing Files
3. Non-Descriptive Modes of Presentation as Mental Files
4. Mental Files and Identity
Part III. The Indexical Model
5. Mental Indexicals
6. Stable Files
7. The Dynamics of Files
Part IV. Mental Files and Coreference
8. The Circularity Objection [followed by Appendix]
9. Coreference De Jure: The Transitivity Objection
Part V. Epistemic Transparency
10. Slow Switching
11. Transparency and its Limits
Part VI. Beyond Acquaintance
12. Descriptive Names
13. Singular Thought without Acquaintance
Part VII : Vicarious Files
14. Mental Files in Attitude Ascription
15. Indexed Files at Work
Part VIII. The Communication of Singular Thoughts
16. Frege and the Sense of 'I'
17. Reference Through Mental Files: Indexicals and Definite Descriptions
Part IX. Conclusion
18. The Mental File Framework and Its Competitors
References
Index

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