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Mental Files and Non-Transitive De Jure Coreference

Abstract : Among other virtues, Mental Files Theory provides a straightforward explanation of de jure coreference, i.e. identity of referent guaranteed by meaning alone: de jure coreference holds between terms when these are associated with the same mental file from which they inherit their reference. In this paper, I discuss an objection that Angel Pinillos raises against Mental Files Theory and other similar theories: the theory predicts that de jure coreference should be transitive, just like identity. Yet there are cases, involving ‘slash-terms’, in which transitivity fails, or so it seems. In his book Mental Files, Recanati replies that the mental files theorist can accommodate Pinillos’ exceptions by offering a refined model of merging files, the ‘partial merging’ model. While agreeing with Recanati on the need for such a model, I contend that, pace Recanati and Pinillos, de jure coreference is transitive even in the presence of slash-terms. I will first show that paradoxical consequences ensue if slash-terms are said to de jure corefer with several basic terms at once. Then, building on two different accounts Recanati gives of referential confusion, I will show that on both views, de jure coreference cannot hold because of the behaviour of confused slash-terms. I will conclude that, in Mental Files Theory, a slash-term can, at most, de jure corefer with only one basic term per context.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 19, 2015 - 4:52:07 PM
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Filipe Drapeau Vieira Contim. Mental Files and Non-Transitive De Jure Coreference. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 2016, 7 (2), pp.365-388. ⟨10.1007/s13164-015-0251-6⟩. ⟨hal-01202011⟩

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