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Singular Thought and Mental Files$
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Rachel Goodman, James Genone, and Nick Kroll

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746881

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746881.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 February 2021

Embedding Language in the World

Embedding Language in the World

(p.251) 12 Embedding Language in the World
Singular Thought and Mental Files

Ruth Millikan

Oxford University Press

Direct reference theories hold that nothing beyond reference is carried from speaker to hearer by singular terms. The chapter argues the same is true of common nouns and most other extensional terms such as terms for properties, places, events, and actions. None of these terms carry descriptions, grasp of paradigm property sets, inferential mandates, or anything else to be “loosened” or “tightened” by pragmatic inference. Both thought and language are directly structured by the structure of the world itself, not by peculiarities of the human mind and not by convention. The route from speech to hearer understanding is indirect, passing, typically, through the hearer’s prior grasp of world structure, a structure that hearers may have idiosyncratic ways of grasping. They may have quite different ways of identifying the same thing; that is, different ways of recognizing when new natural or intentional information about the same is arriving at the sensory surfaces.

Keywords:   direct reference, unicepts, singular thought, senses, de re thought, mental files

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