•  49
    Trading on Identity and Singular Thought
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    On the traditional relationalist conception of singular thought, a thought has singular content when it is based on an ‘information relation’ to its object. Recent work rejects relationalism and suggests singular thoughts are distinguished from descriptive thoughts by their inferential role: only thoughts with singular content can be employed in ‘direct’ inferences, or inferences that ‘trade on identity’. Firstly this view is insufficiently clear, because it conflates two distinct ideas—one abou…Read more
  •  41
    Influential work on proper names, most centrally associated with Kripke (1980), has had a significant influence in the literature on singular thought. The dominant position among contemporary singularists is that we can think singular thoughts about any object we can refer to by name and that, given the range of cases in which it is possible to refer using a name, name use in fact enables singular thought about a name's referent. I call this the extended name-based thought thesis (extended-NBT)…Read more
  •  207
    Mental filing
    with Aidan Gray
    Noûs. forthcoming.
    We offer an interpretation of the mental files framework that eliminates the metaphor of files, information being contained in files, etc. The guiding question is whether, once we move beyond the metaphors, there is any theoretical role for files. We claim not. We replace the file-metaphor with two theses: the semantic thesis that there are irreducibly relational representational facts (viz. facts about the coordination of representations); and the metasemantic thesis that processes tied to info…Read more
  •  53
    Singular Thought and Mental Files (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    The notion of singular (or de re) thought has become central in philosophy of mind and language, yet there is still little consensus concerning the best way to think about the nature of singular thought. Coinciding with recognition of the need for more clarity about the notion, there has been a surge of interest in the concept of a mental file as a way to understand what is distinctive about singular thought. What isn't always clear, however, is what mental files are meant to be, and why we shou…Read more
  •  134
    Why and how not to be a sortalist about thought
    Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1): 77-112. 2012.
  •  410
    Against the Mental Files Conception of Singular Thought
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (2): 437-461. 2016.
    It has become popular of late to identify the phenomenon of thinking a singular thought with that of thinking with a mental file. Proponents of the mental files conception of singular thought claim that one thinks a singular thought about an object o iff one employs a mental file to think about o. I argue that this is false by arguing that there are what I call descriptive mental files, so some file-based thought is not singular thought. Descriptive mental files are mental files for which descri…Read more
  •  186
    Cognitivism, Significance and Singular Thought
    Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263): 236-260. 2016.
    This paper has a narrow and a broader target. The narrow target is a particular version of what I call the mental-files conception of singular thought, proposed by Robin Jeshion, and known as cognitivism. The broader target is the MFC in general. I give an argument against Jeshion's view, which gives us preliminary reason to reject the MFC more broadly. I argue Jeshion's theory of singular thought should be rejected because the central connection she makes between significance and singularity do…Read more
  •  152
    Do Acquaintance Theorists Have an Attitude Problem?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (1): 67-86. 2018.
    ABSTRACTThis paper is about the relevance of attitude-ascriptions to debates about singular thought. It examines a methodology reject this methodology, the literature lacks a detailed examination of its implications and the challenges faced by proponents and critics. I isolate an assumption of the methodology, which I call the tracking assumption: that an attitude-ascription which states that s Φ's that P is true iff s has an attitude, of Φ-ing, which is an entertaining of the content P. I argue…Read more
  •  185
    A thesis I call the name-based singular thought thesis is part of orthodoxy in contemporary philosophy of mind and language: it holds that taking part in communication involving a proper name puts one in a position to entertain singular thoughts about the name’s referent. I argue, first, that proponents of the NBT thesis have failed to explain the phenomenon of name-based singular thoughts, leaving it mysterious how name-use enables singular thoughts. Second, by outlining the reasoning that make…Read more