On the Singularity of Descriptive Files
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Jeshion (New essays on singular thought, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010b) believes that singular thought is implemented by the tokening of mental files (MFC). She also believes that an individual’s being significant to the agent is necessary and sufficient for the agent’s having singular thought about the individual (Cognitivism). Goodman (Rev Philos Psychol 7(2):437–461, 2016a, Philos Q 66:236–260, 2016b) argues that mental files created under a description lead to descriptive not singular thought. She uses this to criticize Cognitivism’s sufficiency claim and MFC. I show that this criticism rests on a faulty conception of the singular thought versus descriptive thought distinction and such files indeed lead to singular thought. This in turn shows that Cognitivism’s necessity claim is false.
KeywordsSingular thought Singular versus descriptive content Mental files Descriptive files Cognitivism Semantic instrumentalism
I am grateful to Samuel Wheeler III and William Lycan for going through multiple drafts of the paper and for their insightful tips and comments that helped greatly in improving the paper. I also thank David Pruitt for helpful discussions on the issues covered in the paper and other closely related issues, and Anumita Shukla for her support. I am also grateful to two reviewers for their extremely helpful comments. Finally, I owe a great deal to Nirmalangshu Mukherji, my first and foremost philosophical mentor. The paper is dedicated to him.
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