Mental Filing Systems: A User's Guide

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8 (2021)
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How seriously should we take the idea that the mind employs mental files? Goodman and Gray (2022) argue that mental filing – a thinker rationally treating her cognitive states as being about the same thing – can be explained without files. Instead, they argue that the standard commitments of mental file theory, as represented by Recanati’s indexical model, are better seen in terms of a relational representational feature of object representations, which in turn is based on the epistemic links a thinker bears to objects. This paper argues that this revision is misguided. Neither the representational property nor any basic role for epistemic links are needed for an adequate explanatory theory that makes use of the image of a mental filing system. A better alternative to the indexical model does posit files, albeit as causal-functional entities. This makes additional representational features redundant, and shows that epistemic links play a secondary role.

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Henry Clarke
University College London (PhD)


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