Singular Thought: Object‐Files, Person‐Files, and the Sortal PERSON

Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (4):632-646 (2014)
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In philosophy, “singular thought” refers to our capacity to represent entities as individuals, rather than as possessors of properties. Philosophers who defend singularism argue that perception allows us to mentally latch onto objects and persons directly, without conceptualizing them as being of a certain sort. Singularists assume that singular thought forms a unified psychological kind, regardless of the nature of the individuals represented. Empirical findings on the special psychological role of persons as opposed to inanimates threaten singularism. They raise the possibility that tracking individuals specifically as persons might require conceptualizing them in certain ways, for example, as persons. In this paper, we take such a possibility seriously but ultimately reject it. Instead, we propose to revise a prominent singularist theory, the theory of mental files, in order to accommodate data on the psychological distinctiveness of persons: We advocate the postulation of perceptual person-files. Perceptual tracking via person-files is different from object-tracking but also from descriptive classification under the sortal concept PERSON



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Author Profiles

Joulia Smortchkova
University Of Oxford
Michael Murez
Université de Nantes

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The origin of concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Mental Files.François Récanati - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Lot 2: The Language of Thought Revisited.Jerry A. Fodor - 2008 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Jerry A. Fodor.

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