Institut Jean Nicod

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Joulia Smortchkova (IJN) "Singular Thought : from Object Files to Person Files"

Vendredi 1er mars 2013 de 16h-18h, Salle de Réunion du Pavillon Jardin. Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, 29, rue d’Ulm 75005 Paris.

For the next session, Joulia Smortchkova (Institut Jean Nicod) will talk about a work she’s been developing with Michael Murez (Institut Jean Nicod & Harvard University).

 "Singular Thought : from Object Files to Person Files"


Abstract :
How do mind and world connect, so that particular things (objects, people, etc.) find their way into the content of our thought ? To answer this question is to solve what philosophers call the problem of singular thought. Many singularists claim that to have a non-descriptive thought about some thing is to represent it via a mental file.
Psychologists’ notion of an object file resembles philosophers’ notion of a file : both serve to represent things independently from their properties. However, an account still needs to be given to connect the existing psychological data with another crucial part of the singularist thesis, viz., that we are able to form acquaintance-based thoughts not just about objects, but also about people.
We argue for a careful extension of the notion of a file, starting from psychologists’ narrower notion. We postulate files specially dedicated to the tracking of animated agents, biological entities, and especially, people. We claim a file of this latter kind, which we call a person file, explains our ability to form a singular thought about a person.

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