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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: 28 February 2021

Descriptive Names and Singular Thought

Descriptive Names and Singular Thought

Reflections on the Evans/Kaplan Debate

(p.38) 3 Descriptive Names and Singular Thought
Singular Thought and Mental Files

Marga Reimer

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with an apparent disagreement between Gareth Evans (1982) and David Kaplan (1989) with regard to the capacities of names introduced into the language by describing their referents. The question at issue is whether such expressions are potential sources of novel singular thought. While Evans’ response is an emphatic “no,” Kaplan’s response is an equally emphatic “yes.” The chapter attempts to resolve (or rather dissolve) this apparent dispute by suggesting that the two philosophers have importantly different phenomena in mind when they talk of “thoughts”—including (and in particular) singular thoughts. Whereas Evans construes thoughts as mental states, Kaplan construes them as semantic contents. Before concluding, it argues for the superiority of the proposed resolution of the Evans/Kaplan debate over that of Francois Recanati (2012), who invokes his Mental File Framework in an attempt to reconcile the seemingly contrary views of Evans and Kaplan.

Keywords:   descriptive names, singular thought, mental states, semantic contents, mental files

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