CFP: Mental Files Special Issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology

Submission deadline: April 1, 2014

Topic areas


Mental Files
Special Issue of the Review of Philosophy and Psychology

The concept of a mental file, introduced in the late sixties, has been used to theorize about a wide range of topics in the philosophy of mind and language, from the referential use of definite descriptions or the cognitive significance of identity statements, to the problem of cognitive dynamics and the nature of singular thought. In the seventies, neighbouring notions were introduced in linguistics to deal with definiteness, anaphora, and information structure. Shortly thereafter, object-files were postulated in cognitive psychology, first as part of models of mid-level object-directed attention in adults, then in theories of cognitive development, based on the hypothesized continuity of a core system of object-file representation from infancy to adulthood. It is not unreasonable to hope that researchers who invoke mental files in various disciplines are zeroing in on a psychological natural kind. Still, there are important differences between the various uses to which the notion is put, and more empirical and conceptual work has to be done before any unification can be attempted.

The main goal of this special issue is to bring together philosophers, psychologists and linguists in order to advance our understanding of mental files, as that notion is used in philosophy and throughout the cognitive sciences. We encourage submissions focusing on the conceptual foundations of the mental file framework, as well as submissions exploring the connections between appeal to mental files in philosophy and in empirical disciplines. Scientific work addressing foundational issues and philosophical work engaging in detail with recent scientific research is particularly welcome. All submissions should aim towards being as accessible as possible to a wide, multidisciplinary audience. Among the possible topics to be addressed are the following:

  •  Which phenomena in perceptual and developmental psychology are best explained by files?
  •  Are there different types of files? Are some files ‘descriptive’, and others ‘demonstrative’ or ‘indexical’?
  •  Do we have specific files for the representation of kinds or sorts? For events, places or times? For the self?
  • Does the file model accurately describe our cognitive architecture? Does neuroscientific evidence support this model? How does it relate to others, such as the language of thought hypothesis, etc.?
  • How is our mental filing system or mental ‘encyclopedia’ organized and how does it function? What formal tools (e.g., graphs) are appropriate for modeling its operations?
  •  Which linguistic phenomena can be better understood thanks to files? Are files needed to explain information structure, anaphora and semantic coordination, definiteness, discourse reference?
  •  How does the postulation of files contribute to the theory of content? Should modes of presentation be conceived of as mental files? Do files satisfy various constraints on different types of content, e.g., transparency, publicity, generality?

Guest editors
Michael Murez (Institut Jean-Nicod)
François Recanati (Institut Jean-Nicod)

Guest authors
Samuel Cumming (Philosophy, UCLA)
Hans Kamp (Linguistics, University of Stuttgart)
Ágnes Kovács (Psychology, CEU Budapest)
Josef Perner (Psychology, University of Salzburg)
Mark Richard (Philosophy, Harvard University)

Submission deadline: March 31, 2014
Target publication date: December, 2014

How to submit
Prospective authors should register at: to obtain a login and select Mental Files as the article type. Manuscripts should be no longer than 8,000 words and conform to the author guidelines available on the journal's website.

About the journal
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (ISSN: 1878-5158; eISSN: 1878-5166) is a peer-reviewed journal, published quarterly by Springer, which focuses on philosophical and foundational issues in cognitive science. The journal’s aim is to provide a forum for discussion on topics of mutual interest to philosophers and psychologists and to foster interdisciplinary research at the crossroads of philosophy and the sciences of the mind, including the neural, behavioral and social sciences. The journal publishes theoretical works grounded in empirical research as well as empirical articles on issues of philosophical relevance. It includes thematic issues featuring invited contributions from leading authors together with articles answering a call for papers.

For any queries or declaration of intention, please email the guest editors: [email protected] and [email protected]

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