Deictic codes, demonstratives, and reference: A step toward solving the grounding problem

In Wayne D. Gray & Christian D. Schunn (eds.), Cogsci 2002, 24th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum. pp. 762-767 (2002)
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Abstract
In this paper we address the issue of grounding for experiential concepts. Given that perceptual demonstratives are a basic form of such concepts, we examine ways of fixing the referents of such demonstratives. To avoid ‘encodingism’, that is, relating representations to representations, we postulate that the process of reference fixing must be bottom-up and nonconceptual, so that it can break the circle of conceptual content and touch the world. For that purpose, an appropriate causal relation between representations and the world is needed. We claim that this relation is provided by spatial and object-centered attention that leads to the formation of object files through the function of deictic acts. This entire causal process takes place at a pre-conceptual level, meeting the requirement for a solution to the grounding problem. Finally we claim that our account captures fundamental insights in Putnam’s and Kripke’s work on “new” reference.
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