Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 283–307 | Cite as

Object Files, Properties, and Perceptual Content

  • Santiago Echeverri


Object files are mental representations that enable perceptual systems to keep track of objects as numerically the same. How is their reference fixed? A prominent approach, championed by Zenon Pylyshyn and John Campbell, makes room for a non-satisfactional use of properties to fix reference. This maneuver has enabled them to reconcile a singularist view of reference with the intuition that properties must play a role in reference fixing. This paper examines Campbell’s influential defense of this strategy. After criticizing it, a new approach is sketched. The alternative view introduces representational contents to explain perceptual individuation. After arguing that those contents are not satisfactional, it is concluded that there is room for a third view of reference fixing that does not fit into the singularist/descriptivist dichotomy.


Correctness Condition Perceptual Organization Perceptual State Representational Content Object File 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I presented earlier versions of this paper at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas-UNAM (7th May 2014), the 5th Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Context (23–25 May 2014), the University of Antioquia (29th May 2014), and the University of Geneva (25th September 2014). I am grateful to the audiences for their comments, especially to Santiago Amaya, Julien Deonna, Richard Dub, and Fabrice Teroni. I am also indebted to Santiago Arango, Reinaldo Bernal, Ariel Cecchi, Jérôme Dokic, Gregory Bochner, and an anonymous referee for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. This work was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (research grant No. 100012-150265/1).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The present work has not been published before and is not under consideration for publication anywhere else. I declare that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial, personal or other relationships that could inappropriately influence, or be perceived to influence, my work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté des Lettres, Département de PhilosophieUniversité de GenèveGenève 4Switzerland

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