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François Recanati attempts to recast the 'nondescriptivist' approach to reference that has dominated the philosophy of language and mind in the late twentieth-century in terms of mental files. According to Recanati, we refer through mental files, which play the role of so-called 'modes of presentation'. The reference of linguistic expressions is inherited from that of the files we associate with them. The reference of a file is determined relationally, notsatisfactionally: so a file is not to be equated to the body of (mis-)information it contains. Files are like singular terms in the language of thought, with a nondescriptivist semantics. In contrast to other philosophers, Recanati offers an indexical model according to which files are typed by theirfunction, which is to store information derived through certain types of relation to objects in the environment. The type of the file corresponds to the type of contextual relation it exploits. Even detached files or 'encyclopedia entries' are based on epistemically rewarding relations to their referent, on Recanati's account.
Francois Recanati is the Director of Institut Jean-Nicod in Paris. He is the author of Perspectival Thought (OUP, 2007), Truth-Conditional Pragmatics (OUP, 2010), and many other publications in the philosophy of language and mind.
Table of Contents
Part I. Singular Thought and Acquaintance : Rejecting Descriptivism
1. Singularism vs Descriptivism
2. Can Descriptivism Account for Singularity?
Part II. Introducing Files
3. Non-Descriptive Modes of Presentation as Mental Files
4. Mental Files and Identity
Part III. The Indexical Model
5. Mental Indexicals
6. Stable Files
7. The Dynamics of Files
Part IV. Mental Files and Coreference
8. The Circularity Objection [followed by Appendix]
9. Coreference De Jure: The Transitivity Objection
Part V. Epistemic Transparency
10. Slow Switching
11. Transparency and its Limits
Part VI. Beyond Acquaintance
12. Descriptive Names
13. Singular Thought without Acquaintance
Part VII : Vicarious Files
14. Mental Files in Attitude Ascription
15. Indexed Files at Work
Part VIII. The Communication of Singular Thoughts
16. Frege and the Sense of 'I'
17. Reference Through Mental Files: Indexicals and Definite Descriptions
Part IX. Conclusion
18. The Mental File Framework and Its Competitors