A Role for the prefrontal cortex in supporting singular demonstrative reference

Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (11-12):133-156 (2019)
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One of the most pressing questions concerning singular demonstrative mental contents is what makes their content singular: that is to say, what makes it the case that individual objects are the representata of these mental states. Many philosophers have required sophisticated intellectual capacities for singular content to be possible, such as the possession of an elaborate scheme of space and time. A more recent reaction to this strategy proposes to account for singular content solely on the basis of empirical models of visual processing. We believe both sides make good points, and offer an intermediate way of looking into singular content. Our suggestion is that singular content may be traced to psychological capacities to form flexible, abstract representations in the prefrontal cortex. This allows them to be sustained for increasingly longer periods of time and extrapolated beyond the context of perception, thus going beyond lowlevel sensory representations while also falling short of more sophisticated intellectual abilities.

Author Profiles

Felipe Nogueira de Carvalho
Universidade Federal de Lavras
Albert Newen
Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum


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