According to the perceptual view of language comprehension, listeners typically recover high-level linguistic properties such as utterance meaning without inferential work. The perceptual view is subject to the Objection from Context: since utterance meaning is massively context-sensitive, and context-sensitivity requires cognitive inference, the perceptual view is false. In recent work, Berit Brogaard provides a challenging reply to this objection. She argues that in language comprehension context-sensitivity is typically exercised not through inferences, but rather through top-down perceptual modulations or perceptual learning. (...) This paper provides a complete formulation of the Objection from Context and evaluates Brogaards reply to it. Drawing on conceptual considerations and empirical examples, we argue that the exercise of context-sensitivity in language comprehension does, in fact, typically involve inference. (shrink)
We argue that the most ambitious version of the mental files theory of singular thought, according to which mental files are a wide-ranging psychological natural kind underlying all and only singular thinking, is unsupported by the available psychological data. Nevertheless, critical examination of the theory from a psychological perspective opens up promising avenues for research, especially concerning the relationship between our perceptual capacity to individuate and track basic individuals, and our higher level capacities for singular thought.
Many debates in philosophy focus on whether folk or scientific psychological notions pick out cognitive natural kinds. Examples include memory, emotions and concepts. A potentially interesting type of kind is: kinds of mental representations (as opposed, for example, to kinds of psychological faculties). In this chapter we outline a proposal for a theory of representational kinds in cognitive science. We argue that the explanatory role of representational kinds in scientific theories, in conjunction with a mainstream approach to explanation in cognitive (...) science, suggest that representational kinds are multi-level. This is to say that representational kinds’ properties cluster at different levels of explanation and allow for intra- and inter-level projections. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Belief fragments and mental files are based on the same idea: that information in people’s minds is compartmentalized rather than lumped all together. Philosophers mostly use the two notions differently, though the exact relationship between fragments and files has yet to be examined in detail. This chapter has three main goals. The first is to argue that fragments and files, properly understood, play distinct yet complementary explanatory roles; the second is to defend a model of belief that includes them both; (...) and the third is to raise and address a shared dilemma that confronts them: that they threaten to be either explanatorily lightweight or empirically refuted. This chapter contends that it is better to embrace the horn of this dilemma that opens up files and fragments to empirical refutation or confirmation, by adopting a psychofunctionalist approach. (shrink)
Modes of presentation (MOPs) are often said to have to be transparent, usually in the sense that thinkers can know solely via introspection whether or not they are deploying the same one. While there has been much discussion of threats to transparency stemming from externalism, another threat to transparency has gar- nered less attention. This novel threat arises if MOPs are robust, as I argue they should be according to internalist views of MOPs which identify them with represen- tational vehicles, (...) such as mental files. I explain how identifying MOPs with vehicles/files threatens trans- parency, provide empirical illustrations, and critically examine some attempts to dispel the threat. Rather than abandoning transparency, I outline a way of reconciling it with a robust view of mental files which takes seriously the idea that they are targets for investigation in cogni- tive science. Transparency does not require introspective access, and rather than as an incontrovertible principle for individuating MOPs, we can view it more modestly, as an open empirical hypothesis. (shrink)
Selon le russellianisme, nous avons des pensées singulières faisant directement référence aux objets, fondées sur des relations d’accointance (1 re partie). Selon le frégéanisme, toute pensée est médiatisée par un concept (2 e partie). Le fressellianisme anti-descriptiviste cherche à réconcilier ces thèses apparemment opposées, et à éviter les objections auxquelles chacune s’expose, en postulant des concepts singuliers, individués par des relations d’accointance (3 e partie). Mais le fressellianisme rencontre un dilemme : s’il conçoit l’accointance en termes causaux, il rencontre les (...) mêmes objections que le russellianisme ; mais s’il conçoit l’accointance en termes épistémiques, il rencontre les mêmes objections que le frégéanisme (4 e partie). Le but principal de cet article est ainsi essentiellement négatif : il s’agit de montrer que le fressellianisme anti-descriptif, qui prétend constituer une avancée significative par rapport au russellianisme et au frégéanisme, hérite en fait des faiblesses des deux approches. (shrink)