Files and Singular Thoughts Without Objects or Acquaintance: The Prospects of Recanati’s “Actualism”


Authors
Georges Rey
University of Maryland, College Park
Carsten Hansen
University of Oslo
Abstract
We argue that Recanati burdens his otherwise salutary “Mental File” account of singular thought with an “Actualist” assumption that he has inherited from the discussion of singular thought since at least Evans, according to which singular thoughts can only be about actual objects: apparent singular thoughts involving “empty” terms lack truth-valuable content. This assumption flies in the face of manifestly singular thoughts involving not only fictional and mistakenly postulated entities, such as Zeus and the planet Vulcan, but also “perceptual inexistents,” e.g., Kanizsa figures, rainbows, words and phonemes, as well as hosts of at best metaphysically problematic “objects,” such as properties, numbers, ceremonies, contracts, symphonies, “the sky,” “the rain.” Indeed, reflection on what seems to be the boundless diversity of “things” about which we seem to be able to have singular thoughts strongly suggests that there may be no general metaphysics of objects, much less “acquaintance” and “epistemically rewarding” relations that would distinguish singular from non-singular thought. We recommend that Recanati and other mental file theorists confine the theory to a metaphysically neutral account of singular thought as specific kind of internally “focused” computational state, and not seek any general account of the relation of thought to reality.
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-015-0246-3
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References found in this work BETA

Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - Oxford University Press, Usa.
The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford University Press.
Mental Files.François Recanati - 2012 - Oxford University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.

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