Against the Mental Files Conception of Singular Thought

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (2):437-461 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

It has become popular of late to identify the phenomenon of thinking a singular thought with that of thinking with a mental file. Proponents of the mental files conception of singular thought claim that one thinks a singular thought about an object o iff one employs a mental file to think about o. I argue that this is false by arguing that there are what I call descriptive mental files, so some file-based thought is not singular thought. Descriptive mental files are mental files for which descriptive information plays four roles: determines which object the file is about, if any, it sets limits on possible mistakes that fall within the scope of successful reference for the file, it acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ for the file, and it determines persistence conditions for the file. Contrary to popular assumption, a description playing these roles is consistent with the file-theoretic framework. Recognising this allows us to distinguish the notion of singular thought from that of file-thinking and better understand the nature and role of both.

Author's Profile

Rachel Goodman
University of Chicago (PhD)

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-11-05

Downloads
714 (#21,337)

6 months
100 (#42,782)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?