Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A study in the cognition of individuals’ identity: Solving the problem of singular cognition in object and agent tracking

By Dr. Nicolas Bullot and Dr. Patrick Rysiew


This article compares the ability to track individuals lacking mental states with the ability to track intentional agents. It explains why reference to individuals raises the problem of explaining how cognitive agents track unique individuals and in what sense reference is based on procedures of perceptual-motor and epistemic tracking. We suggest applying the notion of singular-files from theories in perception and semantics to the problem of tracking intentional agents. In order to elucidate the nature of agent-files, three views of the relation between object- and agent-tracking are distinguished: the Independence, Deflationary and Organism-Dependence Views. The correct view is argued to be the latter, which states that perceptual and epistemic tracking of a unique human organism requires tracking both its spatio-temporal object-properties and its agent-properties

Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Philosophy of Mind
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2001). [1980]). Essays on actions and events, (2nd ed). Oxford: Clarendon Press,
  2. (2006). [1999]). Leaflet, Application form. International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen (on the Internet). Available from,
  3. (1978). A biomechanical invariant for gait perception.
  4. (1994). A critique of pure vision. In
  5. (1978). A sense of unity.
  6. (2001). A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness.
  7. (1995). A theory of agency. In
  8. (2000). A theory of sentience.
  9. (1989). Afterthoughts. In
  10. (1975). An essay concerning human understanding.
  11. (1944). An experimental study of apparent behavior.
  12. (2001). Are we all natural dualists? A cognitive developmental approach. The Malinowski Memorial Lecture,
  13. (2003). Attentive tracking of objects versus substances.
  14. (2001). Attraction, distraction and action: multiples perspectives on attentional capture.
  15. (1997). Basic objects: A reply to Xu.
  16. (2004). Bodies capture attention when nothing is expected.
  17. (1984). Changing views of attention and automaticity. In
  18. (1985). Collected papers.
  19. (1950). Configuration in event perception.
  20. (1969). Content and consciousness.
  21. (1997). Deictic codes for the embodiment of cognition.
  22. (1991). Demonstrative content: a reply to
  23. (1989). Demonstratives [1977]. In
  24. (2004). Descartes’ baby, how the science of child development explains what makes us human.
  25. (1995). Distinguishing between animates and inanimates: Not by motion alone. In
  26. (2004). Do 5-month-old infants see humans as material objects?
  27. (2005). Do dead bodies pose a problem for biological approaches to personal identity?
  28. (1999). Eric Olson, The human animal. doi
  29. (1998). Failure to detect changes to people during a real-world interaction.
  30. (2004). Feature-placing and proto-objects.
  31. (2005). From monkey-like action recognition to human language: An evolutionary framework for neurolinguistics.
  32. (1953). Gene and organism.
  33. (2000). How children learn the meanings of words.
  34. (1999). How motion reveals intention: Categorizing social interactions.
  35. (1975). Human being: The boundaries of the concept.
  36. (1987). Human beings. doi
  37. (1981). Human life.
  38. (1996). Human simulation of adaptive behavior: Interactive studies of pursuit, evasion, courtship, fighting, and play. In
  39. (1967). Identity and spatio temporal continuity.
  40. (1974). Individuation and reference in memory: Proper names and definite descriptions.
  41. (2001). Infant’s knowledge of objects: beyond object files and object tracking.
  42. (2001). Infants’ physical knowledge: Of acquired expectations and core principles.
  43. (1971). Intentional systems.
  44. (1983). Intentionality, an essay in the philosophy of mind. Cambridge: doi
  45. (2001). Introduction: The significance of intentionality. In
  46. (1997). Is ‘physical object’ a sortal concept? A reply to Xu. Mind and Language,
  47. (1993). Language acquisition: core readings.
  48. (1984). Meditations on first philosophy,
  49. (2004). Mind: a brief introduction. doi
  50. (2002). Mindreading, communication and the learning of names for things.
  51. (1980). Naming and necessity.
  52. (1999). Object individuation and object identity in infancy: The role of spatiotemporal information, object property information, and language.
  53. (1998). Objects, attention and perceptual experience. In
  54. (2005). Oscillatory activity in the infant brain reflects object maintenance.
  55. (1994). Past, space and self.
  56. (2004). People v. objects: a reply to Rakison and Cicchino.
  57. (1959). Personal identity and memory. doi
  58. (1971). Personal identity.
  59. (1976). Physical identity.
  60. (1998). Predictive action in infancy: tracking and reaching for moving objects.
  61. (1986). Reasons and persons.
  62. (2002). Reference and consciousness.
  63. (1961). Referential transcendence. doi
  64. (2007). Rysiew /
  65. (2001). Sameness and substance renewed. Cambridge:
  66. (2005). Seeing, doing, and knowing: a philosophical theory of sense perception.
  67. (1984). Selective attention and the organization of visual information.
  68. (1997). Self and substance. doi
  69. (1999). Self, body, and coincidence. Supplement to the
  70. (1959). Sensations as guides to perceiving. doi
  71. (1994). Shifting visual attention between objects and locations: Evidence from normal and parietal lesion subjects.
  72. (1974). Singular terms.
  73. (1997). Sortal concepts: A reply to Xu.
  74. (1976). Survival and identity. In
  75. (2001). Systems of spatial reference in human memory. doi
  76. (1995). Taking the intentional stance at 12 months of age.
  77. (1982). The concept of identity.
  78. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception.
  79. (2004). The fusiform face area subserves face perception, not generic within-category identification.
  80. (1997). The human animal: personal identity without psychology.
  81. (1987). The intentional stance.
  82. (2004). The natural emergence of reasoning about the afterlife as a developmental regularity.
  83. (2005). The persistence of object file representations.
  84. (1644). The principles of philosophy.
  85. (1944). The problem of organic form. I. Building through functioning.
  86. (1979). The problem of the essential indexical.
  87. (1992). The rediscovery of the mind. doi
  88. (1992). The reviewing of object files: Object-specific integration of information. doi
  89. (1993). The role of physical objects in spatial thinking. In
  90. (1970). The self and the future.
  91. (2001). The social folk theorist: Insights from social and cultural psychology on the contents and contexts of folk theorizing. In
  92. (1982). The varieties of reference. Oxford:
  93. (1947). Theory of the human operator in control systems, 1. The operator as an engineering system.
  94. (1987). Thought and reference.
  95. (1995). Timbre perception and auditory object identification.
  96. (2000). Tracking an object through feature space.
  97. (2005). Tracking multiple targets with multifocal attention.
  98. (2004). Trust in testimony: Children’s use of true and false statements.
  99. (1980). Twelve issues for cognitive science.
  100. (1892). U¨ber Sinn und Bedeutung. Zeitschrift fu¨r Philosophie und philosophische
  101. (1981). Understanding demonstratives. In
  102. (1999). Vision science, photon to phenomenology.
  103. (1993). Visual attention and objects: Evidence for hierarchical coding of location.
  104. (1975). Visual motion perception. doi
  105. (1973). Visual perception of biological motion and a model for its analysis. doi
  106. (1997). Was I ever a fetus?
  107. (2003). Ways of seeing, the scope and limits of visual cognition. doi
  108. (1999). What am I?
  109. (1997). What is a person? An ethical exploration. Urbana and Chicago:
  110. (2001). What is a visual object? Evidence from target merging in multiple object tracking. doi
  111. (1983). What preschoolers know about animate and inanimate objects. In

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.