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2.3. Naturalizing Mental Content (Naturalizing Mental Content on PhilPapers)

See also:
Akins, Kathleen (1996). Of sensory systems and the "aboutness" of mental states. Journal of Philosophy 93 (7).   (Google)
Callaway, H. G. (1995). Intentionality naturalized: Continuity, reconstruction, and instrumentalism. Dialectica 49 (2-4):147-68.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: This paper explicates and defends a social-naturalist conception of internationality and intentions, where internationality of scientific expressions is fundamental. Meanings of expressions are a function of their place in language-systems and of the relations of systems to object-level evidence and associated community activities-including deliberation and experiment. Naturalizing internationality requires social-intellectual reconstruction exemplified by the scientific community at its best. This approach emphasizes normative elements of pragmatic conceptions of meaning and their function in orientation. It requires social conditions and intellectual practices making knowledge of intentions possible. Scientific ends, methods, and meanings, together, constitute culturally evolved instruments of adaptation to, and reconstruction of, physical and cultural environments.
Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). A Theory of Content and Other Essays. MIT Press.   (Cited by 458 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerrold A. (1990). A theory of content II: The theory. In Jerrold A. Fodor (ed.), A Theory of Content and Other Essays. The Mit Press.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1987). Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1153 | Google)
Mandik, Pete (2010). Swamp Mary's revenge: Deviant phenomenal knowledge and physicalism. Philosophical Studies 148 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Deviant phenomenal knowledge is knowing what it’s like to have experiences of, e.g., red without actually having had experiences of red. Such a knower is a deviant. Some physicalists have argued and some anti-physicalists have denied that the possibility of deviants undermines anti-physicalism and the Knowledge Argument. The current paper presents new arguments defending the deviant-based attacks on anti-physicalism. Central to my arguments are considerations concerning the psychosemantic underpinnings of deviant phenomenal knowledge. I argue that physicalists are in a superior position to account for the conditions in virtue of which states of deviants constitute representations of phenomenal facts

2.3a Information-Based Accounts of Mental Content

72 / 73 entries displayed

Adams, Frederick R. (2003). The informational turn in philosophy. Minds and Machines 13 (4):471-501.   (Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat (1997). Pure informational semantics and the narrow/broad dichotomy. In Dunja Jutronic (ed.), The Maribor Papers in Naturalized Semantics. Maribor.   (Google)
Abstract: The influence of historical-causal theories of reference developed in the late sixties and early seventies by Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam and Devitt has been so strong that any semantic theory that has the consequence of assigning disjunctive representational content to the mental states of twins (e.g. [H2O or XYZ]) has been thereby taken to refute itself. Similarly, despite the strength of pre-theoretical intuitions that exact physical replicas like Davidson's Swampman have representational mental states, people have routinely denied that they have any intentional/representational states. I want to focus on a particular brand of causal theory that is not historical, the so-called pure informational or nomic covariance theories, and examine how they propose to handle twin cases and replicas like Swampman. In particular, I will take up Fodor
Barwise, Jon (1986). Information and circumstance. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 27 (July):324-338.   (Cited by 17 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Barwise, Jon & Perry, John (1983). Situations and Attitudes. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1714 | Google | More links)
Barwise, Jon (1987). Unburdening the language of thought. Mind and Language 2:82-96.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1994). Grounds for Cognition. Erlbaum.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1988). Information and semantic cognition: An ontological account. Mind and Language 3:81-122.   (Cited by 61 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: Information is the fuel of cognition. At its most basic level, information is a matter of structures interacting under laws. The notion of information thus reflects the (relational) fact that a structure is created by the impact of another structure. The impacted structure is an encoding, in some concrete form, of the interaction with the impacting structure. Information is, essentially, the structural trace in some system of an interaction with another system; it is also, as a consequence, the structural fuel which drives the impacted system's subsequent processes and behavior. Information takes various forms because the world has many levels of compositional and functional complexity, under different constraints. The key constraints that matter in the understanding of information are natural patterns of organization, or types, and systematic correlations among types, or laws. These level- sensitive constraints, in the form of types and laws, shape the very form in which information is tokened in some structure, that is, the very form in which it is encoded. As a result, the information-producing interactions bring about different sorts of structures, with various sorts of causal effects and functions, whence so many ways in which information is coded and utilized
Bogdan, Radu J. (1987). Mind, content and information. Synthese 70 (February):205-227.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is it that one thinks or believes when one thinks or believes something? A mental formula? A sentence in some natural language? Its truth conditions? Or perhaps an abstract proposition? The current story of content is fairly ecumenical. It says that a number of aspects, some mental, other semantic, go into our understanding of content. Yet the current story is incomplete. It leaves out a very important aspect of content, one which I call incremental information. It is information in a specific format, information as a limited or local increment, structured by a number of underlying parameters. It is in the form of such increments that information drives cognition and behavior. This is why, perhaps of all aspects of content, it is incremental information which matters most when we want to understand cognitive attitudes and performances. This in turn must have an impact on our philosophical notions of content, propositional attitudes, inference, justification and knowledge
Bogdan, Radu J. (1988). Replies to Israel and Dretske's Bogdan on information. Mind and Language 3:145-151.   (Google)
Bridges, Jason (2006). Does informational semantics commit euthyphro's fallacy. Nos 40 (3):522�547.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that informational semantics, the most well-known and worked-out naturalistic account of intentional content, conflicts with a fundamental psychological principle about the conditions of belief-formation. Since this principle is an important premise in the argument for informational semantics, the upshot is that the view is self-contradictory??indeed, it turns out to be guilty of a sophisticated version of the fallacy famously committed by Euthyphro in the eponymous Platonic dialogue. Criticisms of naturalistic accounts of content typically proceed piecemeal by narrowly constructed counterexamples, but I argue that the current result is more robust. It affects a broad family of accounts, and provokes a wider doubt about the possibility of successful execution of the naturalistic project
Chemero, Anthony (2003). Information for perception and information processing. Minds and Machines 13 (4):577-588.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Clark, Andy (1987). Intentionality and information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (September):335-341.   (Google | More links)
Clark, Austen (1993). Mice, shrews, and misrepresentation. Journal of Philosophy 60 (6):290-310.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Cohen, Jonathan (2006). An objective counterfactual theory of information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):333 – 352.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We offer a novel theory of information that differs from traditional accounts in two respects: (i) it explains information in terms of counterfactuals rather than conditional probabilities, and (ii) it does not make essential reference to doxastic states of subjects, and consequently allows for the sort of objective, reductive explanations of various notions in epistemology and philosophy of mind that many have wanted from an account of information
Cohen, Jonathan (2002). Information and content. In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Information and Computing. Blackwell.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: Mental states differ from most other entities in the world in having semantic or intentional properties: they have meanings, they are about other things, they have satisfaction- or truth-conditions, they have representational content. Mental states are not the only entities that have intentional properties - so do linguistic expressions, some paintings, and so on; but many follow Grice, 1957 ] in supposing that we could understand the intentional properties of these other entities as derived from the intentional properties of mental states (viz., the mental states of their producers). Of course, accepting this supposition leaves us with a puzzle about how the non-derivative bearers of intentional properties (mental states) could have these properties. In particular, intentional properties seem to some to be especially difficult to reconcile with a robust commitment to ontological naturalism - the view that the natural properties, events, and individuals are the only properties, events, and individuals that exist. Fodor puts this intuition nicely in this oft-quoted passage:
I suppose that sooner or later the physicists will complete the catalogue they've been compiling of the
ultimate and irreducible properties of things. When they do, the likes of _spin_, _charm_, and _charge_ will perhaps
appear upon their list. But _aboutness_ surely won't; intentionality simply doesn't go that deep.... If aboutness is
real, it must be really something else ([ Fodor, 1987 ], 97).
Some philosophers have reacted to this clash by giving up one of the two views generating the tension. For example, Churchland, 1981 ] opts for intentional irrealism in order to save ontological naturalism, while
Cole, David J. (ms). Natural language and natural meaning.   (Google)
Abstract: In Book II of the _Essay_, at the beginning of his discussion of language in Chapter II ("Of the Signification of Words"), John Locke writes that we humans have a variety of thoughts which might profit others, but that unfortunately these thoughts lie invisible and hidden from others. And so we use language to communicate these thoughts. As a result, "words, in their primary or immediate signification,stand for nothing but _the ideas in the mind of him that uses them_
Coulter, Jeff (1995). The informed neuron: Issues in the use of information theory in the behavioral sciences. Minds and Machines 5 (4):583-96.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Doyle, Anthony (1985). Is knowledge information-produced belief? Southern Journal of Philosophy 23:33-46.   (Google)
Dretske, Fred (1988). Bogdan on information: Commentary. Mind and Language 3:141-144.   (Google)
Dretske, Fred (1991). Dretske's replies. In Dretske and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Dretske, Fred (1981). Knowledge and the Flow of Information. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1236 | Annotation | Google)
Abstract: This book presents an attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form (experience) for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning (or belief content) by viewing meaning as a certain kind of information-carrying role
Dretske, Fred (1990). Putting information to work. In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google)
Dretske, Fred (2000). Perception, Knowledge and Belief: Selected Essays. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 44 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This collection of essays by eminent philosopher Fred Dretske brings together work on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind spanning thirty years. The two areas combine to lay the groundwork for a naturalistic philosophy of mind. The fifteen essays focus on perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Together, they show the interconnectedness of Dretske's work in epistemology and his more contemporary ideas on philosophy of mind, shedding light on the links which can be made between the two. The first section of the book argues the point that knowledge consists of beliefs with the right objective connection to facts; two essays discuss this conception of knowledge's implications for naturalism. The next section articulates a view of perception, attempting to distinguish conceptual states from phenomenal states. A naturalized philosophy of mind, and thus a naturalized epistemology, is articulated in the third section. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students, and will also be of interest to cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of biology
Dretske, Fred (1983). Precis of knowledge and the flow of information. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6:55-90.   (Cited by 36 | Annotation | Google)
Floridi, Luciano (2005). Is semantic information meaningful data? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):351-370.   (Cited by 51 | Google | More links)
Abstract: There is no consensus yet on the definition of semantic information. This paper contributes to the current debate by criticising and revising the Standard Definition of semantic Information (SDI) as meaningful data, in favour of the Dretske-Grice approach: meaningful and well-formed data constitute semantic information only if they also qualify as contingently truthful. After a brief introduction, SDI is criticised for providing necessary but insufficient conditions for the definition of semantic information. SDI is incorrect because truth-values do not supervene on semantic information, and misinformation (that is, false semantic information) is not a type of semantic information, but pseudo-information, that is not semantic information at all. This is shown by arguing that none of the reasons for interpreting misinformation as a type of semantic information is convincing, whilst there are compelling reasons to treat it as pseudo-information. As a consequence, SDI is revised to include a necessary truth-condition. The last section summarises the main results of the paper and indicates some interesting areas of application of the revised definition
Floridi, Luciano (2003). Two approaches to the philosophy of information. Minds and Machines 13 (4):459-469.   (Cited by 17 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1987). A situated grandmother. Mind and Language 2:64-81.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1986). Information and association. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 27 (July):307-323.   (Cited by 14 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Foley, Richard (1987). Dretske's 'information-theoretic' account of knowledge. Synthese 70 (February):159-184.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Frank, M. C. (2004). Against informational atomism. The Dualist 10.   (Google)
Gates, Gary (1996). The price of information. Synthese 107 (3):325-347.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Gjelsvik, Olav (1991). Dretske on knowledge and content. Synthese 86 (March):425-41.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Grandy, Richard E. (1987). Information-based epistemology, ecological epistemology and epistemology naturalized. Synthese 70 (February):191-203.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Grim, Patrick; St Denis, P. & Kokalis, T. (2004). Information and meaning: Use-based models in arrays of neural nets. Minds and Machines 14 (1):43-66.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Hardcastle, Valerie Gray (1994). Indicator semantics and Dretske's function. Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):367-82.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: In his Explaining Behavior, Fred Dretske uses a reliabilist theory of representation to try to vindicate the use of intentional explanation for behaviour against latter-day elitninativism. Although Dretske's indicator semantics turns on the notion of function, he himself never explicitly defines what function means. Dretske's reticence in discussing function may ultimately be an error, for, as I argue, his implicit understanding of what a function amounts to does not fit with data from op rant conditioning. Still, this need not be a deep flaw in Dretske and I offer one way in which we may patch up the notion of function via the changes known to occur with learning in the brain. Ultimately, I conclude that the only facts needed to explain behaviour are (1) the conditions in the world that are paired with neuronal circuit activation (as picked out by goals in some circumstances); and (2) what motor output that condition triggers
Heller, M. (1991). Indication and what might have been. Analysis 51 (October):187-91.   (Annotation | Google)
Hilbert, David R. (ms). Content, intention, and explanation.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Naturalistic theories of content and whether or not reason-giving explanations of human behavior are causal explanations have been central topics in recent philosophy of mind. Fred Dretske, in his book Explaining Behavior, attempts to construct a naturalistic theory of the contents of beliefs and desires that gives these mental states an important role in the causation of behavior. Even if Dretske is granted that the theory adequately accounts for individual behaviors the theory still faces problems in offering an adequate account of important features of extended sequences of behavior. Some sequences of behavior exhibit coherence in the sense that the elements of the sequence either contribute to the atttainment of a goal state or only make sense on the supposition that the goal state will be attained. Two ways of attaining coherence are distinguished. In chaining behavior coherence is guaranteed by the fit between the internal structure of the organism and the structure of the external environment. In other cases of coherence chaining is not available as an explanation. It is argued that Dretske
Hofmann, Frank (2001). The reference of de re representations. Grazer Philosophische Studien 62 (1):83-101.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Full understanding ofrepresentation requires both an accountofrepresentational content and of reference. Fred Dretske has proposed a powerful theory of representational content, the teleological theory of indicator functions. And he has indicated that he thinks an informational account of reference is basically correct. According to this account, reference is determined by a certain informational relation, the relation of carrying primary information about an object. However, a closer examination will show that the informational account cannot adequately deal with our intuitions about certain cases of illusion. In these cases, the informational account will lead to an unwelcome loss of the referential object. For reasons of causal underdetermination, a purely causal account of reference will not work either. So ultimately, the informational account has to be replaced by a mixed account that relies both on satisfaction (of representational content) and a causal relation. This means that the turn away from an informational theory of representational content to a teleological theory has to be accompanied by a corresponding turn away from the informational theory of reference to the mixed causal-satisfactional theory
Horowitz, Amir (1990). Dretske on perception. Ratio 3 (2):136-141.   (Google)
Israel, David J. (1988). Bogdan on information: Commentary. Mind and Language 3:123-140.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Israel, David J. & Perry, John (1990). What is information? In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Cited by 43 | Google | More links)
Jackendoff, Ray S. (1985). Information is in the mind of the beholder. Linguistics and Philosophy 8 (February):23-33.   (Cited by 7 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kamppinen, Matti (1988). Intentionality and information from an ontological point of view. Philosophia 18 (April):107-118.   (Google | More links)
Kistler, Max (2000). Source and Channel in the informational theory of mental content. Facta Philosophica 2:213-36.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Kulvicki, John (2004). Isomorphism in information-carrying systems. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (4):380-395.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Loewer, Barry M. (1987). From information to intentionality. Synthese 70 (February):287-317.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Lombardi, Olimpia I. (2005). Dretske, Shannon's theory, and the interpretation of information. Synthese 144 (1):23-39.   (Google | More links)
Lombardi, Olimpia I. (2004). What is information? Foundations of Science 9 (2):105-134.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The main aim of this work is to contribute tothe elucidation of the concept of informationby comparing three different views about thismatter: the view of Fred Dretske's semantictheory of information, the perspective adoptedby Peter Kosso in his interaction-informationaccount of scientific observation, and thesyntactic approach of Thomas Cover and JoyThomas. We will see that these views involvevery different concepts of information, eachone useful in its own field of application. This comparison will allow us to argue in favorof a terminological `cleansing': it is necessaryto make a terminological distinction among thedifferent concepts of information, in order toavoid conceptual confusions when the word`information' is used to elucidate relatedconcepts as knowledge, observation orentropy
Maloney, J. Christopher (1983). Dretske on knowledge and information. Analysis 43 (January):25-28.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
McLaughlin, Brian P. (1991). Belief individuation and Dretske on naturalizing content. In Dretske and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2001). What has Natural Information to Do with Intentional Representation? In D. Walsh (ed.), Evolution, Naturalism and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: "According to informational semantics, if it's necessary that a creature can't distinguish Xs from Ys, it follows that the creature can't have a concept that applies to Xs but not Ys." (Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert, p.32)
Morris, William E. (1990). Knowledge and the regularity theory of information. Synthese 82 (3):375-398.   (Google | More links)
Morris, William E. (1990). The regularity theory of information. Synthese 82:375-398.   (Annotation | Google)
O'Hair, S. G. (1969). A definition of informational content. Journal of Philosophy 66 (March):132-133.   (Google | More links)
Pineda, David (1998). Information and content. Philosophical Issues 9:381-387.   (Google | More links)
Putnam, Hilary (1986). Information and the mental. In Ernest LePore (ed.), Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Robinson, William S. (1983). Dretske's etiological view. Southwest Philosophical Studies 9:23-29.   (Google)
Savitt, Steven F. (1987). Absolute informational content. Synthese 70 (February):185-90.   (Cited by 2 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Sayre, Kenneth M. (1987). Cognitive science and the problem of semantic content. Synthese 70 (February):247-69.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Sayre, Kenneth M. (1986). Intentionality and information processing: An alternative model for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9:121-38.   (Cited by 15 | Google)
Skokowski, Paul G. (1999). Information, belief, and causal role. In L.S. Moss, J Ginzburg & M. de Rijke (eds.), Logic, Language, and Computation Vol 2. CSLI Press.   (Google | More links)
Stich, Stephen P. (1990). Building belief: Some queries about representation, indication, and function. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (4):801-806.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Sturdee, D. (1997). The semantic shuffle: Shifting emphasis in Dretske's account of representational content. Erkenntnis 47 (1):89-104.   (Google | More links)
Summerfield, Donna M. & Manfredi, Pat A. (1998). Indeterminacy in recent theories of content. Minds and Machines 8 (2):181-202.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Taylor, Kenneth A. (1987). Belief, information and semantic content: A naturalist's lament. Synthese 71 (April):97-124.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Usher, Matthew (2001). A statistical referential theory of content: Using information theory to account for misrepresentation. Mind and Language 16 (3):331-334.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Villanueva, Enrique (ed.) (1990). Information, Semantics and Epistemology. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 15 | Google)
Washington, Corey G. (2002). A conflict between language and atomistic information. Minds and Machines 12 (3):397-421.   (Google | More links)
Welbourne, Michael (1983). A cognitive thoroughfare. Mind 92 (July):410-413.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Winograd, Terry (1987). Cognition, attunement and modularity. Mind and Language 2:97-103.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Yourgrau, Palle (1987). Information retrieval and cognitive accessibility. Synthese 70 (February):229-246.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Zalabardo, Jos (1995). A problem for information-theoretic semantics. Synthese 105 (1):1-29.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)

2.3b Asymmetric-Dependence Accounts of Mental Content

Adams, Frederick R. & Aizawa, Kenneth (1997). Fodor's asymmetric causal dependency theory and proximal projections. Southern Journal of Philosophy 35 (4):433-437.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Adams, Frederick R. (online). Fodor's asymmetrical causal dependency theory of meaning.   (Google)
Adams, Frederick & Aizawa, Kenneth (1994). Fodorian Semantics. In Steven Stich & Ted Warfield (eds.), Mental Representation. Blackwell.   (Google)
Adams, Frederick R. & Aizawa, Kenneth (1993). Fodorian semantics, pathologies, and "Block's problem". Minds and Machines 3 (1):97-104.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Adams, Frederick R. & Aizawa, Kenneth (1992). 'X' means X: Semantics Fodor-style. Minds and Machines 2 (2):175-83.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Adams, Frederick R. & Aizawa, Kenneth (1994). 'X' means X: Fodor/warfield semantics. Minds and Machines 4 (2):215-31.   (Google | More links)
Antony, Louise M. & Levine, Joseph (1991). The nomic and the robust. In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Bernier, Paul (1993). Narrow content, context of thought, and asymmetric dependence. Mind and Language 8 (3):327-42.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Bickhard, Mark H. (1998). A Process Model of the Emergence of Representation. In G.L. Farre & T. Oksala (eds.), Emergence, Complexity, Hierarchy, Organization, Selected and Edited Papers From the ECHO III Conference. Acta Polytechnica Scandinavica.   (Cited by 20 | Google)
Abstract: Two challenges to the very possibility of emergence are addressed, one metaphysical and one logical. The resolution of the metaphysical challenge requires a shift to a process metaphysics, while the logical challenge highlights normative emergence, and requires a shift to more powerful logical tools -- in particular, that of implicit definition. Within the framework of a process metaphysics, two levels of normative emergence are outlined: that of function and that of representation
Boghossian, Paul A. (1991). Naturalizing content. In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 20 | Annotation | Google)
Cain, M. J. (1999). Fodor's attempt to naturalize mental content. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (197):520-26.   (Google | More links)
Cram, H-R. (1992). Fodor's causal theory of representation. Philosophical Quarterly 42 (166):56-70.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Fish, William C. (2000). Asymmetry in action. Ratio 13 (2):138-145.   (Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). A theory of content II. In Jerry A. Fodor (ed.), A Theory of Content. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1987). Meaning and the world order. In Psychosemantics. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google)
Gibson, Martha I. (1996). Asymmetric dependencies, ideal conditions, and meaning. Philosophical Psychology 9 (2):235-59.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor has proposed a causal theory of meaning based on the notion of a certain asymmetric dependency between the causes of a symbol's tokens. This theory is held to be an improvement on Dennis Stampe's causal theory of meaning and Fred Dretske's information theoretic account, because it allegedly solves what Fodor calls the “disjunction problem”, and does so without recourse to the kind of optimal (ideal) conditions to which Stampe and Dretske appeal. A series of counterexamples is proposed to Fodor's account, which, it is argued, can only be met by reintroducing that same appeal to optimal conditions that he had sought to eliminate. It is then argued that Fodor's notion of asymmetric dependence is not fundamental to the explanation of why a symbol means what it does: on the contrary, the symbol's meaning what it does is explanatorily prior to the obtaining of the asymmetry, so the asymmetry cannot be used to explain the symbol's meaning. Finally, it is argued that the “disjunction problem “ as it is defined by Fodor is not a genuine problem for causal theories of meaning
Gillett, Carl (2006). Samuel Alexander's emergentism. Synthese 153 (2):261-296.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Samuel Alexander was one of the foremost philosophical figures of his day and has been argued by John Passmore to be one of ‘fathers’ of Australian philosophy as well as a novel kind of physicalist. Yet Alexander is now relatively neglected, his role in the genesis of Australian philosophy if far from widely accepted and the standard interpretation takes him to be an anti-physicalist. In this paper, I carefully examine these issues and show that Alexander has been badly, although understandably, misjudged by most of his contemporary critics and interpreters. Most importantly, I show that Alexander offers an ingenious, and highly original, version of physicalism at the heart of which is a strikingly different view of the nature of the microphysical properties and associated view of emergent properties. My final conclusion will be that Passmore is correct in his claims both that Alexander is significant as one of the grandfather’s of Australian philosophy and that he provides a novel physicalist position. I will also suggest that Alexander’s emergentism is important for addressing the so-called ‘problem of mental causation’ presently dogging contemporary non-reductive physicalists
Gomila, Antoni (1994). Punctuate minds and Fodor's theory of content. In Analyomen 1. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.   (Google)
Jones, Todd (1991). Staving off catastrophe: A critical notice of Jerry Fodor's psychosemantics. Mind and Language 6:58-82.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Jylkkä, Jussi (2009). Why Fodor's theory of concepts fails. Minds and Machines 19 (1):25-46.   (Google)
Abstract: Fodor’s theory of concepts holds that the psychological capacities, beliefs or intentions which determine how we use concepts do not determine reference. Instead, causal relations of a specific kind between properties and our dispositions to token a concept are claimed to do so. Fodor does admit that there needs to be some psychological mechanisms mediating the property–concept tokening relations, but argues that they are purely accidental for reference. In contrast, I argue that the actual mechanisms that sustain the reference determining concept tokening relations are necessary for reference. Fodor’s atomism is thus undermined, since in order to refer with a concept it is necessary to possess some specific psychological capacities
Livingston, Kenneth R. (1993). What Fodor means: Some thoughts on reading Jerry Fodor's A Theory of Content and Other Essays. Philosophical Psychology 6 (3):289-301.   (Google)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor's Asymmetric Dependency Theory (ADT) of meaning is discussed in the context of his attempt to avoid holism and the relativism it entails. Questions are raised about the implications of the theory for psychological theories of meaning, and brief suggestions are offered for how to more closely link a theory of meaning to a theory of perception
Loar, Brian (1991). Can we explain intentionality? In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Maloney, J. Christopher (1990). Mental misrepresentation. Philosophy of Science 57 (September):445-58.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Manfredi, Pat A. & Summerfield, Donna M. (1992). Robustness without asymmetry: A flaw in Fodor's theory of content. Philosophical Studies 66 (3):261-83.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Mariano, Luciano B. (1999). Content naturalized. Philosophical Studies 96 (2):205-38.   (Google | More links)
Mendola, Joseph (2003). A dilemma for asymmetric dependence. Noûs 37 (2):232-257.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Accounts of mental content rooted in asymmetric dependence hold, crudely speaking, that the content of a mental representation is the cause of that representation on which all its other causes depend.1 To speak somewhat less crudely, such accounts, hereafter
Meyering, Theo C. (1997). Fodor's information semantics between naturalism and mentalism. Inquiry 40 (2):187-207.   (Google | More links)
Myin, Erik (1993). Some problems for Fodor's theory of content. Philosophica 50 (2):101-122.   (Google)
Palmquist, Steve (1992). Unknown. Indian Philosophical Quarterly 19.   (Google)
Abstract: At what stage in its development does a foetus become a living human being? When is it proper to refer to a network of pulsating neurons as a
Baker, Lynne Rudder (1991). Has content been naturalized? In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 18 | Google)
Baker, Lynne Rudder (1989). On a causal theory of content. Philosophical Perspectives 3:165-186.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Rupert, Robert D. (2000). Dispositions indisposed: Semantic atomism and Fodor's theory of content. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3):325-349.   (Google | More links)
Seager, William E. (1993). Fodor's theory of content: Problems and objections. Phiosophy of Science 60 (2):262-77.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Tolliver, Joseph T. (1988). Disjunctivitis. Mind and Language 3:64-70.   (Google)
Voltolini, Alberto (1995). Is meaning without actually existing reference naturalizable? Grazer Philosophische Studien 50:397-414.   (Google)
Abstract: As is well known, meaningful expressions denoting no actual entity represent a hard problem for any naturalistically inspired theory of meaning which tries to explain the expression's meaning in terms of the expression's cause. For, since the actual extension of one such expression is ex hypothesi empty, there is no actual candidate for the role of the expression's cause one can plausibly appeal to in order to assign it to the expression as its meaning. Faced with this problem, a naturalizer may be immediately tempted to claim that there are no lexically primitive extensionless expressions. Thus, for any expression whose extension is actually empty she can attempt to paraphrase it away along the well-honoured Russellian path. Although reluctantly, in his A Theory of Content (1990) Jerry Fodor has however argued that a naturalizer can resist the above temptation. Fodor indeed provides another naturalized informational theory of meaning for Mentalese expressions based on the notion of asymmetric dependence between causal relations. This theory is also basically a denotational theory of meaning, for according to it a lexically primitive expression means the entity it denotes. On the basis of this theory, he claims that the problem of the lexically primitive extensionless expressions can be solved while letting them run denotationally. In what follows, however, I will try to cast some doubts on Fodor's solution of the lexically primitive extensionless expressions without at the same time falling back in the Russellian trap. If there are lexically primitive expressions whose extension in the actual world is empty, their meaning can be still accounted for in terms which are both denotational and non-naturalistic. Suffice it that one appeals to the weak Meinongianism contained in the thesis that one can directly refer to possible but unactual entities by means of a suitable fixing-reference description
Wallis, Charles (1995). Asymmetric dependence, representation, and cognitive science. Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):373-401.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Warfield, Ted A. (1994). Fodorian semantics: A reply to Adams and Aizawa. Minds and Machines 4 (2):205-14.   (Google | More links)

2.3c Causal Accounts of Mental Content, Misc

Adams, Fred & Aizawa, Ken (online). Causal theories of mental content. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   (Google)
Abstract: Causal theories of mental content attempt to explain how thoughts can be about things. They attempt to explain how one can think about, for example, dogs. These theories begin with the idea that there are mental representations and that thoughts are meaningful in virtue of a causal connection between a mental representation and some part of the world that is represented. In other words, the point of departure for these theories is that thoughts of dogs are about dogs because dogs cause the mental representations of dogs
Aizawa, Kenneth (1994). Lloyd's dialectical theory of representation. Mind and Language 9 (1):1-24.   (Google | More links)
Buras, Todd (2009). An Argument against Causal Theories of Mental Content. American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):117-129.   (Google)
Abstract: Some mental states are about themselves. Nothing is a cause of itself. So some mental states are not about their causes; they are about things distinct from their causes. If this argument is sound, it spells trouble for causal theories of mental content—the precise sort of trouble depending on the precise sort of causal theory. This paper shows that the argument is sound (§§1-3), and then spells out the trouble (§4).
Cummins, Robert E. (1989). Representation and covariation. In Stuart Silvers (ed.), ReRepresentation. Kluwer.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Cummins, Robert E. (1997). The LOT of the causal theory of mental content. Journal of Philosophy 94 (10):535-542.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: hc thcsis of this paper is that thc causal themy of mental cantent (hcrcaftcr CT) is incompatible with an clcmcntary fact of pcrccptual psychology, namely, that thc detection 0f distal propcrtics generally requires thc mediation of a “the- 0ry.” I shall call this fact thc nontransducibility of distal properties (hcrcaftcr NTDP). The argument proceeds in two stages. Thc burden of stage 0nc is that, taken together, CT and thc language 0f thought hypothesis (hcrcaftcr LOT) arc incompatible with NTDP. The burden of stage two is that acceptance of CT rcquircs acceptance of LOT as well. It follows that CT is incompatiblc with NTDP. I organize things in this way in part bccausc it makcs the argument casicr t0 understand, and in part bccausc thc stage-two thcsis—that CT cntails LOT—has somc independcnt interest and is thcrcforc worth separating from thc rcst 0f thc argument. 1. STAGE ONE; THE CONJUNCTION OF CT AND LOT Is INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE NONTRANSDUCIBILITY OF DISTAL PROPERTIES Let us begin by clarifying some tcrms. By LOT, I mean the hypothesis that thc human schcmc 0f mental rcprcscmation satisfies the following conditions: (1) It has a finite number of semantically primitive expressions individuatcd syntactically
Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). Information and representation. In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Cited by 43 | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1984). Semantics, wisconsin style. Synthese 59 (June):231-50.   (Cited by 51 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Franklin, James, Symbolic connectionism in natural language disambiguation.   (Google)
Abstract: language into these formalisms. However, they make use of only small subsets of knowledge. This article will describe how to..
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1989). Misinformation. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):533-50.   (Cited by 51 | Annotation | Google)
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1991). Signal, decision, action. Journal of Philosophy 88 (12):709-22.   (Cited by 19 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Hogan, Melinda (1994). What is wrong with an atomistic account of mental representation. Synthese 100 (2):307-27.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Jacquette, Dale (1996). Lloyd on intrinsic natural representation in simple mechanical minds. Minds and Machines 6 (1):47-60.   (Google | More links)
Maloney, J. Christopher (1994). Content: Covariation, control, and contingency. Synthese 100 (2):241-90.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
McLaughlin, Brian P. (1987). What is wrong with correlational psychosemantics. Synthese 70 (February):271-286.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Ray, Greg (1997). Fodor and the inscrutability problem. Mind and Language 12 (3-4):475-89.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Baker, Lynne Rudder (2004). Rejoinder to Zimmerman. In Michael Peterson (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell.   (Google)
Rupert, Robert D. (2001). Coining terms in the language of thought: Innateness, emergence, and the lot of Cummins's argument against the causal theory of mental content. Journal of Philosophy 98 (10):499-530.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Robert Cummins argues that any causal theory of mental content (CT) founders on an established fact of human psychology: that theory mediates sensory detection. He concludes,
Rupert, Robert (2008). Causal theories of mental content. Philosophy Compass 3 (2):353–380.   (Google | More links)
Rupert, Robert D. (forthcoming). Causal Theories of Intentionality. In Hal Pashler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind. Sage.   (Google)
Stampe, Dennis W. (1990). Content, context, and explanation. In Enrique Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Blackwell.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Stampe, Dennis W. (1977). Towards a causal theory of linguistic representation. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2:42-63.   (Cited by 86 | Google)
Stampe, Dennis W. (1986). Verificationism and a causal account of meaning. Synthese 69 (October):107-37.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Viger, Christopher D. (2001). Locking on to the language of thought. Philosophical Psychology 14 (2):203-215.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: I demonstrate that locking on, a key notion in Jerry Fodor's most recent theory of content, supplemented informational atomism (SIA), is cashed out in terms of asymmetric dependence, the central notion in his earlier theory of content. I use this result to argue that SIA is incompatible with the language of thought hypothesis because the constraints on the causal relations into which symbols can enter imposed by the theory of content preclude the causal relations needed between symbols for them to serve as the elements of the medium of thought
Warmbrod, Ken (1992). Primitive representation and misrepresentation. Topoi 11 (1):89-101.   (Google)
Weitzman, Leora (1996). What makes a causal theory of content anti-skeptical? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (2):299-318.   (Google | More links)

2.3d Teleological Accounts of Mental Content

Abrams, Marshall (2005). Teleosemantics without natural selection. Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):97-116.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Ruth Millikan and others advocate theories which attempt to naturalize wide mental content (e.g. beliefs
Adams, Frederick R. & Aizawa, Kenneth (1997). Rock beats scissors: Historicalism fights back. Analysis 57 (4):273-81.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Agar, Nicholas (1993). What do frogs really believe? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):1-12.   (Cited by 10 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2007). An Input Condition for Teleosemantics? Reply to Shea (and Godfrey-Smith). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):436-455.   (Google)
Allen, Colin (2001). A tale of two froggies. In J. McIntosh (ed.), Naturalism, Evolution, and Intentionality (Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 27). University of Calgary Press.   (Google)
Abstract: There once was an ugly duckling. Except he wasn’t a duckling at all, and once he realized his error he lived happily ever after. And there you have an early primer from the animal literature on the issue of misrepresentation -- perhaps one of the few on this topic to have a happy ending. Philosophers interested in misrepresentation have turned their attention to a different fairy tale animal: the frog. No one gets kissed in this story and the controversial issue of self-recognition is avoided. There are simply some scientifically established facts about ways to get a frog to stick out its tongue. (Who would want to kiss a frog under those conditions, anyway?) Some frogs, it seems, are fairly indiscriminate about sticking out their tongues. Not just flies, but a whole slew of other things will go down the hatch if propelled at just the right velocity and range through a frog’s visual field, provoking a tongue-flicking response. Fortunately for us all, frogs seem to be a bit more discriminating about whom they will kiss. At first sight, the frog’s tongue-flicking response seems like an ideal starting point for those who wish to promote evolutionary or "teleological" theories of intentional content. The signals passed from the frog’s retina to the frog’s brain were undoubtedly honed by the deaths of untold millions of insects snagged by countless generations of amphibians. Those amphibian ancestors whose eyes generated signals that were more 1 reliable guides to the location of food in the environment did better at propagating their genes, all other things being equal, than their cohorts whose eye to brain signals were less reliable. The teleosemanticist identifies the content of frogs’ intracranial signals in terms of the environmental conditions that historically corresponded to successful tongue-flicking, namely the presence of frog food -- typically flies -- in tongue-flicking range. And their descendants live happily ever after. But this would not be a fairy tale unless there were something to pose a credible threat to this happy ending..
Anderson, Michael L. (2005). Representation, evolution and embodiment. [Journal (Paginated)] (in Press).   (Google)
Abstract: As part of the ongoing attempt to fully naturalize the concept of human being--and, more specifically, to re-center it around the notion of agency--this essay discusses an approach to defining the content of representations in terms ultimately derived from their central, evolved function of providing guidance for action. This 'guidance theory' of representation is discussed in the context of, and evaluated with respect to, two other biologically inspired theories of representation: Dan Lloyd's dialectical theory of representation and Ruth Millikan's biosemantics
Antony, Louise M. (1996). Equal Rights for Swamp-persons. Mind and Language 11 (1):70-75.   (Google)
Ariew, Andre; Cummins, Robert & Perlman, Mark (2002). Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2009). Biosemantics. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Ansgar Beckerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
L'Hôte, Crystal (forthcoming). Biosemantics: an evolutionary theory of thought. Evolution: Education and Outreach.   (Google)
Bauer, Mark (2009). Normativity without artifice. Philosophical Studies 144 (2):239-259.   (Google)
Abstract: To ascribe a telos is to ascribe a norm or standard of performance. That fact underwrites the plausibility of, say, teleological theories of mind. Teleosemantics, for example, relies on the normative character of teleology to solve the problem of “intentional inexistence”: a misrepresentation is just a malfunction. If the teleological ascriptions of such theories to natural systems, e.g., the neurological structures of the brain, are to be literally true, then it must be literally true that norms can exist independent of intentional and psychological agency. Davies, for one, has argued that such norms are impossible within a naturalistic worldview. Consequently, teleological theories of mind, for example, cannot be literally true. I will show, however, that the truth conditions on normative statements do not presuppose intentional and psychological agency and, further, that a selectional regime is one naturalistic mechanism that satisfies those truth conditions. Norms, then, exist in the world independent of intentional and psychological agency
Braddon-Mitchell, David & Jackson, Frank (2002). A pyrrhic victory for teleonomy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (3):372-77.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Braddon-Mitchell, David & Jackson, Frank (1997). The teleological theory of content. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (4):474-89.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Bridges, Jason (2006). Teleofunctionalism and psychological explanation. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 28 (September):359-372.   (Google | More links)
Charlton, William (1991). Teleology and mental states. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 17:17-32.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Clarke, Murray (1996). Darwinian algorithms and indexical representation. Philosophy of Science 63 (1):27-48.   (Google | More links)
Shea, Nicholas (2007). Consumers Need Information: supplementing teleosemantics with an input condition. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):404-435.   (Google)
Cruz, Joe (online). On teleosemantics and natural maps (comments on work by Rob Cummins et al.).   (Google)
Abstract: Let me begin by signaling my enthusiasm both for the specific case offered by Cummins et al. against teleosemantics and for the overall framework from which this work derives. If the first approximation of the idea is that there will be material implicit in a representation that can be exploited by a cognitive agent that later acquires the right abilities to extract this material, and if this material looks a great deal like content, then the teleosemanticist will find accommodating it challenging. Moreover, the distinction between representation and indication is intriguing and important, and the discussion of structural transformation and isomorphism is illuminating. While Cummins has been urging these themes for some time now, it seems to me that they have not been sufficiently appreciated in the literature
Cummins, Robert E.; Blackmon, James; Byrd, David; Lee, Alexa & Martin Roth, and (2006). Representation and unexploited content. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper, we introduce a novel difficulty for teleosemantics, viz., its inability to account for what we call unexploited content—content a representation has, but which the system that harbors it is currently unable to exploit. In section two, we give a characterization of teleosemantics. Since our critique does not depend on any special details that distinguish the variations in the literature, the characterization is broad, brief and abstract. In section three, we explain what we mean by unexploited content, and argue that any theory of content adequate to ground representationalist theories in cognitive science must allow for it.1 In section four, we show that teleosemantic theories of the sort we identify in section two cannot accommodate unexploited content, and are therefore unacceptable if intended as attempts to ground representationalist cognitive science. Finally, in section five, we speculate that the existence and importance of unexploited content has likely been obscured by a failure to distinguish representation from indication, and by a tendency to think of representation as reference
Davies, Paul S. (2001). The Excesses of Teleosemantics. In J. S. McIntosh (ed.), Naturalism, Evolution, and Intentionality (Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 27). University of Calgary Press.   (Google)
Dennett, Daniel C. (2002). Brian Cantwell Smith on evolution, objectivity, and intentionality. In Philosophy of Mental Representation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Google)
Dennett, Daniel C. (1988). Evolution, error and intentionality. In The Intentional Stance. MIT Press.   (Cited by 21 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: Sometimes it takes years of debate for philosophers to discover what it is they really disagree about. Sometimes they talk past each other in long series of books and articles, never guessing at the root disagreement that divides them. But occasionally a day comes when something happens to coax the cat out of the bag. "Aha!" one philosopher exclaims to another, "so that's why you've been disagreeing with me, misunderstanding me, resisting my conclusions, puzzling me all these years!"
Dennett, Daniel C. (1993). Evolution, teleology, intentionality. [Journal (Paginated)] 16 (2):89-391.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: No response that was not as long and intricate as the two commentaries combined could do justice to their details, so what follows will satisfy nobody, myself included. I will concentrate on one issue discussed by both commentators: the relationship between evolution and teleological (or intentional) explanation. My response, in its brevity, may have just one virtue: it will confirm some of the hunches (or should I say suspicions) that these and other writers have entertained about my views. For more closely argued defenses of my points, see Dennett 1990a,b,c; 1991a,b
Dennett, Daniel C. (1996). Granny versus mother nature - no contest. Mind and Language 11 (3):263-269.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Dretske, Fred (1986). Misrepresentation. In R. Bogdan (ed.), Belief: Form, Content, and Function. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 136 | Annotation | Google)
Dretske, Fred (2001). Norms, history, and the mental. In D. Walsh (ed.), Evolution, Naturalism and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Dretske, Fred (2006). Representation, teleosemantics, and the problem of self-knowledge. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Elder, Crawford (forthcoming). Mental Causation, Invariance, and Teleofunctional Content. The Monist.   (Google)
Elder, Crawford L. (1998). What sensory signals are about. Analysis 58 (4):273-276.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In ‘Of Sensory Systems and the “Aboutness” of Mental States’, Kathleen Akins (1996) argues against what she calls ‘the traditional view’ about sensory systems, according to which they are detectors of features in the environment outside the organism. As an antidote, she considers the case of thermoreception, a system whose sensors send signals about how things stand with themselves and their immediate dermal surround (a ‘narcissistic’ sensory system); and she closes by suggesting that the signals from many sensory systems may not in any familiar sense be about anything at all. Her presentation of the issues, however, overlooks resources available to ‘the traditional view’—or so I shall argue. Akins’s own thumbnail sketch of what is wrong with the traditional view is that it asks, concerning a given sensory system, ‘what is it detecting?’, when we should instead be asking ‘what is it doing?’ (352). Her point is that on the traditional view the function of a sensory system—what it's ‘for’—is to detect or indicate (values of) features of the outside environment. But at least on one version of the traditional view—namely Ruth Millikan’s—this would never be the sole or main proper function of a sensory system. (Akins does not list Millikan as a traditionalist, but Millikan fits squarely Akins’s description of them, since she believes in a naturalistic theory of aboutness and thinks it should begin with the senses.) For Millikan (1989, 1993), the proper function of a sensory system is in the first instance enabling behavioural systems—in the simplest case, motor routines—to perform their proper function. This they do, roughly, by switching on and steering the behavioural routines. Where features of the outside environment come in is as Normal (= assumed-by-the-design) conditions for the successful performance of the sensory system's proper function. That is, the only strategy for switching on and steering that is simple enough for evolution to have hit upon it, and reliable enough for evolution to have liked it, is a strategy which gears the steering to (values of) features of the outside environment. But as soon as one starts fleshing out the details of this story, one notices that they are probably quite different in the case of thermoreception from how they are with ‘distance’ senses such as vision and olfaction--a point which Akins overlooks..
Elder, Crawford L. (1998). What versus how in naturally selected representations. Mind 107 (426):349-363.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Empty judgements appear to be about something, and inaccurate judgements to report something. Naturalism tries to explain these appearances without positing non-real objects or states of affairs. Biological naturalism explains that the false and the empty are tokens which fail to perform the function proper to their biological type. But if truth is a biological 'supposed to', we should expect designs that achieve it only often enough. The sensory stimuli which trigger the frog's gulp-launching signal may be a poor guide to the signal's content. Teleosemantics should be anti-verificationist
Enc, Berent (2002). Indeterminacy of Function Attributions. In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology.   (Google)
Ferguson, Kenneth G. (2009). Meaning and the external world. Erkenntnis 70 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: Realism, defined as a justified belief in the existence of the external world, is jeopardized by ‘meaning rationalism,’ the classic theory of meaning that sees the extension of words as a function of the intensions of individual speakers, with no way to ensure that these intensions actually correspond to anything in the external world. To defend realism, Ruth Millikan ( 1984 , 1989a , b , 1993 , 2004 , 2005 ) offers a biological theory of meaning called ‘teleosemantics’ in which words, without requiring any contribution from the speaker’s intensions, are supposedly matched directly with their extensions by external norms. But even if one granted as a theoretical possibility that word meaning might possibly be stabilized through an external process, nonetheless, realists who wish to appeal to teleosemantics for a semantic proof of the external world must be capable of identifying these external norms, something that Millikan describes as highly fallible. Furthermore, because they can be aware of these norms only as these are internally represented, it would also be necessary for realists to verify that these internal representations accurately reflect the norms as they occur in the external world. But given that this is virtually the same stumbling block to realism found in meaning rationalism, it is concluded that teleosemantics is not likely to restore faith in this worldview
Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). A theory of content I. In Jerry A. Fodor (ed.), A Theory of Content. MIT Press.   (Annotation | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). Psychosemantics, or, where do truth conditions come from? In William G. Lycan (ed.), Mind and Cognition. Blackwell.   (Cited by 33 | Annotation | Google)
Forbes, Graeme (1989). Biosemantics and the normative properties of thought. Philosophical Perspectives 3:533-547.   (Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1995). Review of Millikan, White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice. Philosophical Psychology 8:305-309.   (Google)
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1994). A Continuum of Semantic Optimism. In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Mental Representation: A Reader. Blackwell.   (Google)
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1996). Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 134 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This book explains the relationship between intelligence and environmental complexity, and in so doing links philosophy of mind to more general issues about the relations between organisms and environments, and to the general pattern of 'externalist' explanations. The author provides a biological approach to the investigation of mind and cognition in nature. In particular he explores the idea that the function of cognition is to enable agents to deal with environmental complexity. The history of the idea in the work of Dewey and Spencer is considered, as is the impact of recent evolutionary theory on our understanding of the place of mind in nature
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (1992). Indication and adaptation. Synthese 92 (2):283-312.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (2004). Mental representation, naturalism, and teleosemantics. In David Papineau & Graham MacDonald (eds.), Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Abstract: The "teleosemantic" program is part of the attempt to give a naturalistic explanation of the semantic properties of mental representations. The aim is to show how the internal states of a wholly physical agent could, as a matter of objective fact, represent the world beyond them. The most popular approach to solving this problem has been to use concepts of physical correlation with some kinship to those employed in information theory (Dretske 1981, 1988; Fodor 1987, 1990). Teleosemantics, which tries to solve the problem using a concept of biological function, arrived in the mid 1980s with ground-breaking works by Millikan (1984) and Papineau (1984, 1987).<sup>1</sup>
Guirguis, Mazen M. (2004). On the reclamation of a certain swampman. Journal of Mind and Behavior 25 (2):79-95.   (Google)
Jacob, Pierre (2000). Can selection explain content? In Bernard Elevitch (ed.), Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, Volume 9. Philosophy Doc Ctr.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Jackson, Frank (2006). The epistemological objection to opaque teleological theories of content. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Joyce, Richard (2002). Moral realism and teleosemantics. Biology and Philosophy 16 (5):723-31.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In a recent article, William F. Harms (2000) argues in a novel way for a form of moral realism. He does not actually argue that moral realism is true, but rather that if morality is the product of natural selection
Juhl, Cory F. (2000). Teleosemantics, kripkenstein and paradox. In N. Shanks & R. Gardner (eds.), Logic, Probability and Science. Atlanta: Rodopi.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Keeley, Brian L. (1999). Fixing content and function in neurobiological systems: The neuroethology of electroreception. Biology and Philosophy 14 (3):395-430.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Kingsbury, Justine (2006). A proper understanding of Millikan. Acta Analytica 21 (40):23-40.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Ruth Millikan’s teleological theory of mental content is complex and often misunderstood. This paper motivates and clarifies some of the complexities of the theory, and shows that paying careful attention to its details yields answers to a number of common objections to teleological theories, in particular, the problem of novel mental states, the problem of functionally false beliefs, and problems about indeterminacy or multiplicity of function
Kingsbury, Justine (2008). Learning and selection. Biology and Philosophy 23 (4).   (Google)
Abstract: Are learning processes selection processes? This paper takes a slightly modified version of the account of selection presented in Hull et al. (Behav Brain Sci 24:511–527, 2001) and asks whether it applies to learning processes. The answer is that although some learning processes are selectional, many are not. This has consequences for teleological theories of mental content. According to these theories, mental states have content in virtue of having proper functions, and they have proper functions in virtue of being the products of selection processes. For some mental states, it is plausible that the relevant selection process is natural selection, but there are many for which it is not plausible. One response to this (due to David Papineau) is to suggest that the learning processes by which we acquire non-innate mental states are selection processes and can therefore confer proper functions on mental states. This paper considers two ways in which this response could be elaborated, and argues that neither of them succeed: the teleosemanticist cannot rely on the claim that learning processes are selection processes in order to justify the attribution of proper functions to beliefs
Kingsbury, Justine; Ryder, Dan & , Kenneth Williford (eds.) (forthcoming). Millikan and Her Critics. Blackwell.   (Google)
Lalor, Brendan (1998). Swampman, Etiology, and Content. Southern Journal of Philosophy 36:215-232.   (Google)
Lalor, Brendan J. (1998). Swampman, etiology, and content. Southern Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):215-232.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Levine, Joseph (1996). Swampjoe: Mind or simulation? Mind and Language 11 (1):86-91.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Lyons, William E. (1992). Intentionality and modern philosophical psychology, III--The appeal to teleology. Philosophical Psychology 5 (3):309-326.   (Google)
Abstract: This article is the sequel to 'Intentionality and Modern philosophical psychology, I. The modern reduction of intentionality,' (Philosophical Psychology, 3 (2), 1990) which examined the view of intentionality pioneered by Carnap and reaching its apotheosis in the work of Daniel Dennett. In 'Intentionality and modem philosophical psychology, II. The return to representation' (Philosophical Psychology, 4(1), 1991) I examined the approach to intentionality which can be traced back to the work of Noam Chomsky but which has been given its canonical treatment in the work of Jerry Fodor. In this article, the last in the series, I explore a very recent approach to intentionality which has been associated especially with the work of Ruth Garrett Millikan and Colin McGinn, and might, if the phrase were not so rebarbative, be called “the biologizing of intentionality'
Macdonald, Graham F. (1989). Biology and representation. Mind and Language 4:186-200.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Macdonald, Graham & Papineau, David (2006). Introduction: Prospects and problems for teleosemantics. In Graham Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 41 | Google)
Macdonald, Graham F. (1995). The biological turn. In C. Macdonald (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology: Debates on Psychological Explanation. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Macdonald, Graham & Papineau, David (eds.) (2006). Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Teleosemantics seeks to explain meaning and other intentional phenomena in terms of their function in the life of the species. This volume of new essays from an impressive line-up of well-known contributors offers a valuable summary of the current state of the teleosemantics debate
Matthen, Mohan P. (1988). Biological functions and perceptual content. Journal of Philosophy 85 (January):5-27.   (Cited by 38 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Perceptions "present" objects as red, as round, etc.-- in general as possessing some property. This is the "perceptual content" of the title, And the article attempts to answer the following question: what is a materialistically adequate basis for assigning content to what are, after all, neurophysiological states of biological organisms? The thesis is that a state is a perception that presents its object as "F" if the "biological function" of the state is to detect the presence of objects that are "F". The theory contrasts with causal/informational theories, and with internalist theories, for example those which assign content on the basis of introspected feel. Its advantages are that it permits perceptual error while at the same time allowing content to be expressed in terms of external properties. The argument of the paper is illustrated throughout by examples from biology and computational psychology.
Matthen, Mohan P. (2006). Teleosemantics and the consumer. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Argues that the meaning of perceptual states depends on certain simple "actions" of conditioning and habituation innately associated with them. A game theoretic account of the meaning of perceptual states is offered.
Matthen, Mohan (1997). Teleology and the product analogy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (1):21 – 37.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This article presents an analogical account of the meaning of function attributions in biology. To say that something has a function analogizes it with an artifact, but since the analogy rests on a necessary (but possibly insufficient) basis, function statements can still be assessed as true or false in an objective sense.
Mendola, Joseph (2006). Papineau on etiological teleosemantics for beliefs. Ratio 19 (3):305-320.   (Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1979). An evolutionist approach to language. Philosophy Research Archives 5.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2007). An input condition for teleosemantics? Reply to Shea (and Godfrey-smith). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):436–455.   (Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1989). Biosemantics. Journal of Philosophy 86 (July):281-97.   (Cited by 114 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1990). Compare and contrast Dretske, Fodor, and Millikan on teleosemantics. Philosophical Topics 18:151-61.   (Cited by 13 | Annotation | Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1984). Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories. MIT Press.   (Cited by 922 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2000). Naturalizing intentionality. In B. Elevith (ed.), Philosophy of Mind, Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy Volume 9. Philosopy Documentation Center.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1996). On swampkinds. Mind and Language 11 (1):103-17.   (Cited by 13 | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1995). Reply: A bet with Peacocke. In C. Macdonald (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology: Debates on Psychological Explanation. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1991). Speaking up for Darwin. In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 24 | Annotation | Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2005). The father, the son, and the daughter: Sellars, Brandom, and Millikan. Pragmatics and Cognition 13 (1):59-71.   (Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2002). Teleological Theories of mental content. In L. Nagel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Macmillan.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1986). Thoughts without laws: Cognitive science with content. Philosophical Review 95 (January):47-80.   (Cited by 48 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1997). Troubles with Wagner's reading of Millikan. Philosophical Studies 86 (1):93-96.   (Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2006). Useless content. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2004). Varieties of Meaning: The 2002 Jean Nicod Lectures. MIT Press.   (Cited by 34 | Google | More links)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2001). What has Natural Information to Do with Intentional Representation? In D. Walsh (ed.), Evolution, Naturalism and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: "According to informational semantics, if it's necessary that a creature can't distinguish Xs from Ys, it follows that the creature can't have a concept that applies to Xs but not Ys." (Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert, p.32)
Millikan, Ruth G. (1993). White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice. Cambridge: MIT Press.   (Cited by 290 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Neander, Karen (2007). Biological Approaches to Mental Representation. In Mohan Matthen & Christopher Stephens (eds.), Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier.   (Google)
Neander, Karen (2006). Content for cognitive science. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Neander, Karen (1996). Dretske's innate modesty. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (2):258-74.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Neander, Karen (1999). Fitness and the Fate of Unicorns. In Valerie Gray Hardcastle (ed.), Where Biology Meets Psychology. MIT Press.   (Google)
Neander, Karen (1995). Misrepresenting and malfunctioning. Philosophical Studies 79 (2):109-41.   (Cited by 50 | Google | More links)
Neander, Karen (1996). Swampman meets swampcow. Mind and Language 11 (1):118-29.   (Cited by 13 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Neander, Karen (2007). Teleological Theories of Mental Content: Can Darwin Solve the Problem of Intentionality? In Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Newton, Natika (1992). Dennett on intrinsic intentionality. Analysis 52 (1):18-23.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google)
Pachoud, Bernard (1999). The teleological dimension of perceptual and motor intentionality. In Naturalizing Phenomenology. Stanford: Stanford University Press.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Papineau, David (1996). Doubtful intuitions. Mind and Language 11 (1):130-32.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Papineau, David (2003). Is representation rife? Ratio 16 (2):107-123.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Papineau, David (1993). Philosophical Naturalism. Blackwell.   (Cited by 238 | Google)
Papineau, David (1984). Representation and explanation. Philosophy of Science 51 (December):550-72.   (Cited by 29 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Papineau, David (1987). Reality and Representation. B. Blackwell.   (Google)
Papineau, David (1998). Teleosemantics and indeterminacy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):1-14.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Papineau, David (1991). Teleology and mental states. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 65:33-54.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Papineau, David (1990). Truth and Teleology. In D. Knowles (ed.), Explanation and its Limits. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 10 | Annotation | Google)
Papineau, David (2001). The status of teleosemantics, or how to stop worrying about swampman. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (2):279-89.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Perlman, Mark (2002). Pagan teleology: Adaptational role and the philosophy of mind. In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Pickles, David (1989). Intentionality, representation, and function. Sussex University, Cognitive Science Research Paper 140.   (Annotation | Google)
Pietroski, P. M. (1992). Intentionality and teleological error. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):267-82.   (Annotation | Google)
Abstract: Theories of content purport to explain, among other things, in virtue of what beliefs have the truth conditions they do have. The desire for such a theory has many sources, but prominent among them are two puzzling (and related) facts that are notoriously difficult to explain: beliefs can be false, and there are normative constraints on the formation of beliefs.2 If we knew in virtue of what beliefs had truth conditions, we would be better positioned to explain how it is possible for an agent to believe that which is not the case. Moreover, we do not say merely of such an agent that he believes that p when p is not the case. We say the agent made a mistake, and often criticize him accordingly; we think agents ought not have false beliefs, and that such beliefs should be changed; etc. An adequate theory of content would, presumably, reveal the source of these normative facts about the mental lives of agents. Indeed, it is typically taken to be an adequacy constraint on a theory of content that it help explain the possibility of error and the "normativity" of content. Teleological theories of content promise to do just this
Potrc, Matjaz (1992). A naturalistic and evolutionary account of content. In The Turning Points of the New Phenomenological Era (Analecta Husserliana, XXXIV). Dordrecht: Kluwer.   (Google)
Price, Carolyn S. (1998). Determinate functions. Noûs 32 (1):54-75.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Price, Carolyn S. (2001). Functions in Mind: A Theory of Intentional Content. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this adventurous contribution to the project of combining philosophy and biology to understand the mind, Carolyn Price investigates what it means to say that mental states--like thoughts, wishes, and perceptual experiences--are about things in the natural world. Her insight into this deep philosophical problem offers a novel teleological account of intentional content, grounded in and shaped by a carefully constructed theory of functions. Along the way she defends her view from recent objections to teleological theories and indicates how it might be applied to notable problems in the philosophy of mind
Price, Carolyn S. (2000). General-purpose content. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (2):123-133.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I consider the objection, raised by Radu Bogdan, that a teleological theory of content is unable to ascribe content to a general-purpose, doxastic system. I begin by giving some attention to the notion of general-purpose representation, and suggest that this notion can best be understood as what I term "interest-independent" representation. I then outline Bogdan's objection in what I take to be its simplest form. I attempt to counter the objection by explaining how a teleologist might ascribe content in a particular case - the case of a perceptual judgement whose content is learned. I reject the idea that the teleologist can appeal to the way in which the subject has used the judgement, or its constituent concepts, in the past, on the grounds that it is possible for the subject to produce judgements and concepts that never help her to satisfy any of her interests. Instead, my account depends on the idea that the process of learning is regulated by a mechanism whose function is to produce a harmony between the information carried by perceptual judgements and the way in which they are used in inference
Ross, Don & Zawidzki, Tadeusz W. (1994). Information and teleosemantics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):393-419.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Rosenberg, Alexander (1989). Perceptual presentations and biological function: A comment on Matthen. Journal of Philosophy 86 (January):38-44.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Rountree, James (1997). The plausibility of teleological content ascriptions: A reply to Pietroski. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (4):404-20.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Paul Pietroski argues that evolutionary/teleological theories of content offer implausible content ascriptions in certain cases, and that this provides grounds for rejecting this class of theories. He uses a fictional example to illustrate. A close look at the example shows it fails to provoke the intuitions Pietroski is relying on - these require relatively sophisticated representers while his representers are simple, comparable to known actual organisms for which the required intuitions do not arise. Could Pietroski make his point with an amended example? I argue that the scenario required would be both evolutionarily unlikely, and such as to make intuitions unreliable
Rowlands, Mark (online). Teleosemantics. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.   (Google)
Rowlands, Mark (1997). Teleological semantics. Mind 106 (422):279-304.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Teleological theories of content are thought to suffer from two related difficulties. According to the problem of indeterminacy, biological function is indeterminate in the sense that, in the case of two competing interpretations of the function of an evolved mechanism, there is often no fact of the matter capable of determining which function is the correct one. Therefore, any attempts to construct content out of biological function entail the indeterminacy of content. According to the problem of transparency, statements of biological function are transparent in that a statement of the form 'the function of evolved mechanism M is to represent Fs' can be substituted salva veritate by a statement of the form 'the function of evolved mechanism M is to represent Gs' provided that the statement 'F iff G' is counterfactual supporting. Therefore, any attempt to construct content out of biological function must fail to capture the intensionality of psychological ascriptions. This paper argues that the teleological account is undermined by neither of these problems. Failure to appreciate this point stems from a conflation of two types of proper function - organismic and algorithmic - possessed by an evolved mechanism. These functions underwrite attributions of content to distinct objects. The algorithmic proper function of a mechanism underwrites attributions of content to the mechanism itself, while the organismic proper function of a mechanism underwrites attribution of content to the organism that possesses the mechanism. However the problems of indeterminacy and transparency arise only if the attributions of content attach to the same object
Koons, Robert C. (2000). Realism Regained: An Exact Theory of Causation, Teleology, and the Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Rupert, Robert D. (1999). Mental representations and Millikan's theory of intentional content: Does biology chase causality? Southern Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):113-140.   (Google)
Ryder, Dan (2006). On thinking of kinds: A neuroscientific perspective. In David Papineau & Graham MacDonald (eds.), Teleosemantics: New Philosophical Essays. Oup.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Ryder, Dan (2004). SINBaD neurosemantics: A theory of mental representation. Mind and Language 19 (2):211-240.   (Cited by 9 | Google)
Saidel, Eric (2001). Teleosemantics and the Epiphenomenality of Content. In J. S. McIntosh (ed.), Naturalism, Evolution, and Intentionality (Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 27). University of Calgary Press.   (Google)
Schroeder, Timothy (2001). Monsters Among Us. In J. S. McIntosh (ed.), Naturalism, Evolution, and Intentionality (Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 27). University of Calgary Press.   (Google)
Schroeder, Timothy (2004). New norms for teleosemantics. In Hugh Clapin (ed.), Representation in Mind. Elsevier.   (Google)
Sehon, Scott R. (1994). Teleology and the nature of mental states. American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (1):63-72.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Shapiro, Lawrence A. (1992). Darwin and disjunction: Foraging theory and univocal assignments of content. Philosophy of Science Association 1992:469-480.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Shapiro, Lawrence A. (1996). Representation from bottom to top. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):523-42.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Shani, Itay (2007). Teleonomic Functions and Intrinsic Intentionality: Dretske's Theory as a Test Case. Cognitive Systems Research 8 (1):15-27.   (Google)
Shea, Nicholas (2007). Consumers need information: Supplementing teleosemantics with an input condition. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):404–435.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The success of a piece of behaviour is often explained by its being caused by a true representation (similarly, failure falsity). In some simple organisms, success is just survival and reproduction. Scientists explain why a piece of behaviour helped the organism to survive and reproduce by adverting to the behaviour
Shea, Nicholas (2006). Millikan's contribution to materialist philosophy of mind. Matière Première 1:127-156.   (Google)
Abstract: One of the great outstanding problems in materialist philosophy of mind is the problem of how there can be space in the material world for intentionality. In the 1980s Ruth Millikan formulated a detailed theory according to which representations are physical particulars and their contents are complex relational properties of those particulars which can be specified in terms of respectable properties drawn from the natural sciences. In particular, she relied on the biological concept of the function of a trait, and the existence of historical conditions which enter into an evolutionary explanation of the operation of that trait. The present article is an introduction to this influential theory of intentionality
Shea, Nicholas (forthcoming). Millikan's Isomorphism Requirement. In Justine Kingsbury, Dan Ryder & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Millikan and Her Critics. Blackwell.   (Google)
Shea, Nicholas (2004). On Millikan. Wadsworth.   (Google)
Stegmann, Ulrich E. (2009). A consumer‐based teleosemantics for animal signals. Philosophy of Science 76 (5).   (Google)
Abstract: Ethological theory standardly attributes representational content to animal signals. In this article I first assess whether Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantic theory accounts for the content of animal signals. I conclude that it does not, because many signals do not exhibit the required sort of cooperation between signal‐producing and signal‐consuming devices. It is then argued that Kim Sterelny’s proposal, while not requiring cooperation, sometimes yields the wrong content. Finally, I outline an alternative view, according to which consumers alone are responsible for conferring representational status and determining content. I suggest that consumer‐based teleosemantics reconstruct the content of both cooperative and noncooperative signals and explain how a given trait can mean different things to different consumers. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.; e‐mail:
Sullivan, S. R. (1993). From natural function to indeterminate content. Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):129-37.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Tan, Ming (2002). The status of teleological theories of content. Philosophical Writings 21:25-37.   (Google)
Toribio, Josefa (1998). Meaning and other non-biological categories. Philosophical Papers 27 (2):129-150.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Neander, Karen (online). teleological theories of mental content. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   (Google)
Usher, Matthew (2004). Comment on Ryder's SINBAD neurosemantics: Is teleofunction isomorphism the way to understand representations? Mind and Language 19 (2):241-248.   (Google | More links)
Wagner, Steven J. (1996). Teleosemantics and the troubles of naturalism. Philosophical Studies 82 (1):81-110.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Walsh, Denis M. (2002). Brentano's chestnuts. In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions. Oxford University Press.   (Google | More links)
Wojtach, William T. (2009). Reconsidering perceptual content. Philosophy of Science 76 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: An important class of teleological theories cannot explain the representational content of visual states because they fail to address the relationship between the world, projected retinal stimuli, and perception. A different approach for achieving a naturalized theory of visual content is offered that rejects the traditional internalism/externalism debate in favor of what is termed “empirical externalism.” This position maintains that, while teleological considerations can underwrite a broad understanding of representation, the content of visual representation can only be determined empirically according to accumulated past experience. A corollary is that a longstanding problem concerning the indeterminacy of visual content is dissolved. *Received September 2006; revised November 2008. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Box 90999 LSRC, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708; e‐mail:
Zawidzki, Tadeusz W. (2003). Mythological content: A problem for Milikan's teleosemantics. Philosophical Psychology 16 (4):535-538.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: I pose the following dilemma for Millikan's teleological theory of mental content. There is only one way that her theory can avoid Gauker's [(1995) Review of Millikan's White queen psychology and other essays for Alice, Philosophical Psychology, 8, 305-309] charge that it relies on an unexplained notion of mapping or isomorphism between mental state and world. Mental content must be explained in terms of the mapping relation that is required for mental state producing and consuming mechanisms to perform their biologically proper functions, i.e. producing mental states that are consumed in systematically adaptive practical inferences. However, this proposal leads to unacceptably counterintuitive ascriptions of content to mythological beliefs and related desires: such beliefs and desires must "map onto" environmental states that make them adaptive, not onto the mythological states of affairs that (would) make them true or fulfilled. I conclude by discussing the merits and drawbacks of a potential solution to this problem: the view that the contents of mythological beliefs and desires are determined by the non-mythological concepts out of which they are constructed, rather than by the environmental states that make them adaptive. The affinities of this proposal with Pascal Boyer's recent theory of mythological concepts [(2001) Religion explained, New York: Basic Books] are also discussed

2.3e Inferentialist Accounts of Meaning and Content

Block, Ned (1986). Advertisement for a semantics for psychology. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10:615-78.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google)
Block, Ned (1997). Semantics, conceptual role. In Edward Craig (ed.), [Book Chapter] (Unpublished). Routledge.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: According to Conceptual Role Semantics ("CRS"), the meaning of a representation is the role of that representation in the cognitive life of the agent, e.g. in perception, thought and decision-making. It is an extension of the well known "use" theory of meaning, according to which the meaning of a word is its use in communication and more generally, in social interaction. CRS supplements external use by including the role of a symbol inside a computer or a brain. The uses appealed to are not just actual, but also counterfactual: not only what effects a thought does have, but what effects it would have had if stimuli or other states had differed. The view has arisen separately in philosophy (where it is sometimes called "inferential," or "functional" role semantics) and in cognitive science (where it is sometimes called "procedural semantics"). The source of the view is Wittgenstein (1953) and Sellars, but the source in contemporary philosophy is a series of papers by Harman (see his 1987) and Field (1977). Other proponents in philosophy have included Block, Horwich, Loar, McGinn and Peacocke (1992). In cognitive science, they include Woods (1981) and Miller and Johnson-Laird (1976). (See references in Block, 1987.)
Block, Ned (1988). Functional role and truth conditions. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61:157-181.   (Cited by 20 | Annotation | Google)
Block, Ned (1993). Holism, hyper-analyticity and hyper-compositionality. Mind and Language 8 (1):1-26.   (Cited by 28 | Google | More links)
Boghossian, Paul A. (1993). Does an inferential role semantics rest upon a mistake? Mind and Language 8 (1):27-40.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Boghossian, Paul A. (1994). Inferential-role semantics and the analytic/synthetic distinction. Philosophical Studies 73 (2-3):109-122.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Brandom, Robert B. (1994). Reasoning and representing. In M. Michael & John O'Leary-Hawthorne (eds.), Philosophy in Mind: The Place of Philosophy in the Study of Mind. Kluwer.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Brandom, Robert B. (1993). The social anatomy of inference. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):661-666.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Brigandt, Ingo (2004). Conceptual role semantics, the theory theory, and conceptual change. In Proceedings First Joint Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Barcelona, Spain.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The purpose of the paper is twofold. I first outline a philosophical theory of concepts based on conceptual role semantics. This approach is explicitly intended as a framework for the study and explanation of conceptual change in science. Then I point to the close similarities between this philosophical framework and the theory theory of concepts, suggesting that a convergence between psychological and philosophical approaches to concepts is possible. An underlying theme is to stress that using a non-atomist account of concepts is crucial for the successful study of conceptual development and change
Callaway, H. G. (2008). Meaning Without Analyticity: Essays on Logic, Language and Meaning. Cambridge Scholars.   (Google)
Abstract: Meaning without Analyticity draws upon the author’s essays and articles, over a period of 20 years, focused on language, logic and meaning. The book explores the prospect of a non-behavioristic theory of cognitive meaning which rejects the analytic-synthetic distinction, Quinean behaviorism, and the logical and social-intellectual excesses of extreme holism. Cast in clear, perspicuous language and oriented to scientific discussions, this book takes up the challenges of philosophical communication and evaluation implicit in the recent revival of the pragmatist tradition—especially those arising from its relation to prior American analytic thought. This volume continues the work of Callaway’s 1993 book, Context for Meaning and Analysis, building on the “turn toward pragmatism.”
Callaway, H. G. (1990). Review of Fodor, Psychosemantics. Erkenntnis 33 (2):251-59..   (Google)
Abstract: This is my expository and critical review of Jerry Fodor's Psychosemantics. See also Callaway 1992, Meaning Holism and Semantic Realism
Cummins, Robert E. (1992). Conceptual role semantics and the explanatory role of content. Philosophical Studies 65 (1-2):103-127.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Devitt, Michael (1993). Localism and analyticity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):641-646.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Dowell, J. L. (2006). Making it totally explicit. Philosophical Papers 35 (2):137-170.   (Google | More links)
Field, Hartry (1977). Logic, meaning, and conceptual role. Journal of Philosophy 74 (July):379-409.   (Cited by 119 | Annotation | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. & LePore, Ernest (1991). Why meaning (probably) isn't conceptual role. Mind and Language 6 (4):328-43.   (Cited by 47 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: It's an achievement of the last couple of decades that people who work in linguistic semantics and people who work in the philosophy of language have arrived at a friendly, de facto agreement as to their respective job descriptions. The terms of this agreement are that the semanticists do the work and the philosophers do the worrying. The semanticists try to construct actual theories of meaning (or truth theories, or model theories, or whatever) for one or another kind of expression in one or another natural language; for example, they try to figure out how the temperature could be rising compatibly with the substitutivity of identicals. The philosophers, by contrast, keep an eye on the large, foundational issues, such as: what's the relation between sense and denotation; what's the relation between thought and language; whether translation is determinate; and whether life is like a fountain. Every now and then the philosophers and the semanticists are supposed to get together and compare notes on their respective progress. Or lack thereof
Gozzano, Simone (2006). Functional role semantics and reflective equilibrium. Acta Analytica 21 (38):62-76.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper it is argued that functional role semantics can be saved from criticisms, such as those raised by Putnam and Fodor and Lepore, by indicating which beliefs and inferences are more constitutive in determining mental content. The Scylla is not to use vague expressions; the Charybdis is not to endorse the analytic/synthetic distinction. The core idea is to use reflective equilibrium as a strategy to pinpoint which are the beliefs and the inferences that constitute the content of a mental state. The beliefs and the inferences that are constitutive are those that are in reflective equilibrium in the process of attributing mental states to others
Greenberg, Mark & Harman, Gilbert (2007). Conceptual role semantics. In Ernest LePore & Barry Smith (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: CRS says that the meanings of expressions of a language or other symbol system or the contents of mental states are determined and explained by the way symbols are used in thinking. According to CRS one
Gross, Steven (ms). Review of Brandom's Articulating Reasons.   (Google)
Abstract: There is nothing in [the six chapters that make up the body of Articulating Reasons] that will come as a surprise to anyone who has mastered [Making It Explicit]. … I had in mind audiences that had perhaps not so much as dipped into the big book but were curious about its themes and philosophical consequences. (35–36)
Harman, Gilbert (1982). Conceptual role semantics. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 28 (April):242-56.   (Cited by 71 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Harman, Gilbert (1974). Meaning and semantics. In Milton K. Munitz & Peter K. Unger (eds.), Semantics and Philosophy. New York University Press.   (Cited by 23 | Google)
Harman, Gilbert (1987). (Nonsolipsistic) conceptual role semantics. In Ernest LePore (ed.), New Directions in Semantics. Academic Press.   (Google | More links)
Horowitz, Amir (1992). Functional role and intentionality. Theoria 58 (2-3):197-218.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Horst, Steven (ms). Goldilocks searches for a conceptual semantics.   (Google)
Abstract: This is a relatively breezy version of an exploration of some issues about how to provide a theory of concepts and conceptual semantics. I have also written more conventional versions of some of this material (without the Three Bears motif), though those are set in a broader context.
Jorgensen, Andrew Kenneth (2009). Holism, communication, and the emergence of public meaning: Lessons from an economic analogy. Philosophia 37 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Holistic accounts of meaning normally incorporate a subjective dimension that invites the criticism that they make communication impossible, for speakers are bound to differ in ways the accounts take to be relevant to meaning, and holism generalises any difference over some words to a difference about all, and this seems incompatible with the idea that successful communication requires mutual understanding. I defend holism about meaning from this criticism. I argue that the same combination of properties (subjective origins of value, holism among values, and ultimate publicity of value) is exhibited by monetary value and take the emergence of equilibrium prices as a model for the emergence of public meanings
Jorgensen, Andrew, Understanding as endorsing an inference.   (Google)
Abstract: Fodor & Lepore (2001) and Williamson (2003) attack the inferentialist account of concept possession according to which possessing or understanding a concept requires endorsing the inference patterns constitutive of its content. I show that Fodor & Lepore's concern – that the conception places an exorbitant epistemological demands on possessors of a concept – is met by Brandom's tolerance of materially bad nonconservative inferences. Such inferences themselves, as Williamson argues, present difficulties for the 'understanding as endorsement' conception. I show that, properly understood, Brandom's broad conception of inferential role, which encompasses social-perspectival inferential connections, has the resources to respond to Willianson's challenge
Kalderon, Mark Eli (2001). Reasoning and representing. Philosophical Studies 105 (2):129-160.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Laurier, Daniel (2005). Pragmatics, pittsburgh style. Pragmatics and Cognition 13 (1):141-160.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Lepore, Ernie & Fodor, Jerry (2001). Brandom's burdens: Compositionality and inferentialism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (2):465–481.   (Google | More links)
Loar, Brian (1982). Conceptual role and truth conditions. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23 (July):272-83.   (Cited by 23 | Annotation | Google)
Loewer, Barry M. (1982). The role of 'conceptual role semantics'. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23 (July):305-15.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google | More links)
McCullagh, Mark (2003). Do inferential roles compose? Dialectica 57 (4):431-38.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor and Ernie Lepore have argued that inferential roles are not compositional. It is unclear, however, whether the theories at which they aim their objection are obliged to meet the strong compositionality requirement they have in mind. But even if that requirement is accepted, the data they adduce can in fact be derived from an inferential-role theory that meets it. Technically this is trivial, but it raises some interesting objections turning on the issue of the generality of inferential roles. I explain how those objections can be met. Whether Fodor’s and Lepore’s strong compositionality requirement is justified or not, then, inferential-role theories do not have the problem that they claim to have identified.
McCullagh, Mark (2005). Inferentialism and singular reference. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):183-220.   (Google)
Abstract: Basic to Robert Brandom’s project in Making It Explicit is the demarcation of singular terms according to the structure of their inferential roles---rather than, as is usual, according to the kinds of things they purport to denote. But the demarcational effort founders on the need to distinguish extensional and nonextensional occurrences of expressions in terms of inferential roles; the closest that an inferentialist can come to drawing that distinction is to discern degrees of extensionality, and that is not close enough. The general moral applies as well to “two factor” theories of content: the notion of inferential role lacks the independence from the notion of denotation that many proponents of such theories have attributed to it.
McCullagh, Mark (2005). Motivating inferentialism. Southwest Philosophy Review 21 (1):77-84.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Robert Brandom has supported his inferentialist conception of semantic content by appealing to the claim that it is a necessary condition on having a propositional attitude that one appreciate the inferential relations it stands in. When we see what considerations can be given in support of that claim, however, we see that it doesn’t even motivate an inferentialist semantics. The problem is that that claim about what it takes to have a propositional attitude does nothing to show that its inferential relations are a feature of its content rather than of the relation that the subject stands in to that content---that is, the attitude.
McDowell, John (2005). Motivating inferentialism: Comments on making it explicit (ch. 2). Pragmatics and Cognition 13 (1):121-140.   (Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2000). Representations, targets and attitudes. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):103-111.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Montminy, Martin (2005). A non-compositional inferential role theory. Erkenntnis 62 (2):211-233.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: I propose a version of inferential role theory which says that having a concept is having the disposition to draw most of the inferences based on the stereotypical features associated with this concept. I defend this view against Fodor and Lepore
Penco, Carlo (forthcoming). Truth, charity and assertion. Peruvian Journal of Philosophy.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper I discuss the relation between truth and assertion, starting from an example by Leonard Linsky which has been used in the debate on definite description by Keith Donnellan and Saul Kripke. To treat the problem of the referential use of definite descriptions we need not only to take into account the contest of utterance, but also the context of reception, or the cognitive context. If the cognitive context is given the right relevance we may even accept the possibility to speak of "pragmatic ambiguity" as Donnellan did. However I will not give a definite answer to the debate between Donnellan and Kripke, but I will try to show that there is a moral to be drawn by the discussion: it is advisable to use truth attribution in a charitable way if we want to entertain conversation with people who have beliefs not necessarily similar to ours.
Peregrin, Jaroslav, Inferentialism and the compositionality of meaning.   (Google)
Abstract: Inferentialism, which I am going to present in detail in the following sections, is the view that meanings are, roughly, roles that are acquired by types of sounds and inscriptions in virtue of their being treated according to rules of our language games, roughly in the sense in which wooden pieces acquire certain roles by being treated according the rules of chess. The most important consequences are that (i) a meaning is not an object labeled (stood for, represented ...) by an expression; and that (ii) meaning is normative in the sense that to say that an expression means thus and so is to say that it should be used so and so. The founding father of inferentialism is Brandom (1994; 2000). (However, nothing in this paper hinges on the fact that the version of inferentialism defended here is identical with Brandom's). This position provokes two kinds of objections. First there are general objections towards the very normativity of meaning, which do not target especially inferentialism; these I have addressed elsewhere 1. Besides this, there are objection targeted more specifically at inferentialism. Probably the most discussed specimen of such objections is the objection - repeatedly raised especially by Jerry Fodor and Ernest LePore and others - to the effect that though meanings should be compositional, the compositionality of inferential roles is unattainable. This is the kind of objection I am going to deal with here 2. (Hand in hand with this objection then go various allegations of circularity of inferentialism, which we will also discuss.) To do this, I will exploit the long-standing comparison of language to chess, as it seems particularly helpful for making the inferentialist account of language plausible3. This comparison, to be sure, has its limits beyond which it may become severely misleading; but as long as we keep them in mind, it can serve us very well
Peregrin, Jaroslav (2006). Meaning as an inferential role. Erkenntnis 64 (1):1-35.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: While according to the inferentialists, meaning is always a kind of inferential role, proponents of other approaches to semantics often doubt that actual meanings, as they see them, can be generally reduced to inferential roles. In this paper we propose a formal framework for considering the hypothesis of the
Perlman, Mark (1997). The trouble with two-factor conceptual role theories. Minds and Machines 7 (4):495-513.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Schellenberg, Susanna (2006). Sellarsian perspectives on perception and non-conceptual content. In Mark Lance & Michael P. Wolf (eds.), The Self-Correcting Enterprise: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars. Rodopi.   (Google | More links)
Shapiro, Lionel (2004). Brandom on the normativity of meaning. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):141-60.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Brandom's "inferentialism"—his theory that contentfulness consists in being governed by inferential norms—proves dubiously compatible with his own deflationary approach to intentional objectivity. This is because a deflationist argument, adapted from the case of truth to that of correct inference, undermines the criterion of adequacy Brandom employs in motivating inferentialism. Once that constraint is abandoned, moreover, the very constitutive-explanatory availability of Brandom's inferential norms becomes suspect. Yet Brandom intertwines inferentialism with a separate explanatory project, one that in explaining the pragmatic significance of meaning-attributions does yield a convincing construal of the claim that the concept of meaning is normative.
Schellenberg, Susanna (2000). Begriff, gehalt, folgerung. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 48 (5):780-789.   (Google | More links)
Silverberg, Arnold (1992). Putnam on functionalism. Philosophical Studies 67 (2):111-31.   (Annotation | Google | More links)
Tirrell, Lynne (1999). Derogatory Terms: Racism, Sexism and the Inferential Role Theory of Meaning. In Kelly Oliver & Christina Hendricks (eds.), Language and Liberation: Feminism, Philosophy and Language,. SUNY Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Derogatory terms (racist, sexist, ethnic, and homophobic epithets) are bully words with ontological force: they serve to establish and maintain a corrupt social system fuelled by distinctions designed to justify relations of dominance and subordination. No wonder they have occasioned public outcry and legal response. The inferential role analysis developed here helps move us away from thinking of the harms as being located in connotation (representing mere speaker bias) or denotation (holding that the terms fail to refer due to inaccurate descriptive content). The issue is not bad attitudes or referential misfires. An inferential role semantic analysis of derogatory terms shows exactly what is at stake between those who argue that the terms should be eliminated (Absolutists) and those who claim they can be successfully rehabilitated (Reclaimers). The Reclaimer maintains, and the Absolutist denies, that certain contexts can detach the derogatory force from deeply derogatory terms. The article looks at these claims with respect to ‘nigger’ and ‘dyke,’ setting out the inferential role of each term and examining detachability potential. Explaining detachability in terms of linguistic commitments, this article also addresses the issue of whether such terms count as political discourse, and examines the implications of that issue.
Tirrell, Lynne (1989). Extending: The structure of metaphor. Noûs 23 (1):17-34.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This article shows how attention to extended metaphors provides the basis for a substantive account of what it is to understand a metaphor. Offering an analysis of extended metaphors modeled on an analysis of co-referential anaphoric chains, this article presents an account of how contexts makes metaphors. The analysis introduces the concept of expressive commitment, commitment to the viability and value of particular modes of discourse. Unlike literal interpretation, metaphorical interpretation puts the expressive commitment in the forefront of the interpretive process. The analogy between extended metaphors and anaphora provides a structure for describing what it is to interpret expressions metaphorically. It generates an account that explains the affinities and differences between extension and explication, and hence of the age-old problem of paraphrase. Further, the account allows for the open-endedness of metaphor without succumbing to the view that metaphor is non-cognitive. Finally, the account developed here underscores the role of expressive commitment in metaphorical interpretation.
Tomberlin, James E. (1988). Semantics, psychological attitudes, and conceptual roles. Philosophical Studies 53 (March):205-226.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Toribio, Josefa (1997). Twin pleas: Probing content and compositionality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):871-89.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Whiting, Daniel (online). Conceptual role semantics. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   (Google | More links)
Williams, Robert (2008). The price of inscrutability. Noûs 42 (4):600-641.   (Google | More links)
Warfield, Ted A. (1993). On a semantic argument against conceptual role semantics. Analysis 53 (4):298-304.   (Cited by 5 | Annotation | Google)
Whiting, Daniel (2006). Between primitivism and naturalism: Brandom's theory of meaning. Acta Analytica 21 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: Many philosophers accept that a naturalistic reduction of meaning is in principle impossible, since behavioural regularities or dispositions are consistent with any number of semantic descriptions. One response is to view meaning as primitive. In this paper, I explore Brandom’s alternative, which is to specify behaviour in non-semantic but normative terms. Against Brandom, I argue that a norm specified in non-semantic terms might correspond to any number of semantic norms. Thus, his theory of meaning suffers from the very same kind of problem as its naturalistic competitors. It is not sufficient, I contend, merely that some norms be introduced into one’s account but that they be specified using intensional, semantic notions on a par with that of meaning. In closing, I counter Brandom’s reasons for resisting such a position, the most significant of which is that it leaves philosophers with nothing constructive to say about meaning
Whiting, Daniel J. (2008). Conservatives and racists: Inferential role semantics and pejoratives. Philosophia 36 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract:  According to inferential role semantics (IRS), for any given expression to possess a particular meaning one must be disposed to make or, alternatively, acknowledge as correct certain inferential transitions involving it. As Williamson points out, pejoratives such as ‘Boche’ seem to provide a counter-example to IRS. Many speakers are neither disposed to use such expressions nor consider it proper to do so. But it does not follow, as IRS appears to entail, that such speakers do not understand pejoratives or that they lack meaning. In this paper, I examine recent responses to this problem by Boghossian and Brandom and argue that their proposed construal of the kind of inferential rules governing a pejorative such as ‘Boche’ is to be ruled out on the grounds that it is non-conservative. I defend the appeal to conservatism in this instance against criticism and, in doing so, propose an alternative approach to pejoratives on behalf of IRS that resolves the problem Williamson poses
Whiting, Daniel (2007). Inferentialism, representationalism and derogatory words. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (2):191 – 205.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In a recent paper, after outlining various distinguishing features of derogatory words, Jennifer Hornsby suggests that the phenomenon raises serious difficulties for inferentialism. Against Hornsby, I claim that derogatory words do not pose any insuperable problems for inferentialism, so long as it is supplemented with apparatus borrowed from Grice and Hare. Moreover, I argue, derogatory expressions pose difficulties for Hornsby's favoured alternative theory of meaning, representationalism, unless it too is conjoined with a similar Grice/Hare mechanism. So, the upshot of the discussion is that, contra Hornsby, focus on derogatory expressions alone does not provide grounds for deciding between competing theories of meaning, but nevertheless serves to highlight important features that any such theory must acknowledge and incorporate

2.3f Interpretivist Accounts of Meaning and Content

Andrews, Kristin (2002). Interpreting autism: A critique of Davidson on thought and language. Philosophical Psychology 15 (3):317-332.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson's account of interpretation purports to be a priori , though I argue that the empirical facts about interpretation, theory of mind, and autism must be considered when examining the merits of Davidson's view. Developmental psychologists have made plausible claims about the existence of some people with autism who use language but who are unable to interpret the minds of others. This empirical claim undermines Davidson's theoretical claims that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers and that one need not be a speaker in order to be a thinker. The falsity of these theses has consequences for other parts of Davidson's world-view; for example, it undermines his argument against animal thought
Bouma, H. K. (2006). Radical interpretation and high-functioning autistic speakers: A defense of Davidson on thought and language. Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):639-662.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson argues in "Thought and Talk" that all speakers must be interpreters of other speakers: linguistic competence requires the possession of intentional concepts and the ability to attribute intentional states to other people. Kristin Andrews (in Philosophical Psychology, 15) has argued that empirical evidence about autism undermines this theoretical claim, for some individuals with autism lack the requisite "theory of mind" skills to be able to interpret, yet are competent speakers. In this paper, Davidson is defended on the grounds that the high-functioning autistic individuals in question have a more robust theory of mind than has been acknowledged, and that this is sufficient for them to be interpreters of other speakers. It is argued, further, that Davidson's theory would remain intact even if one or more autistic speakers lacking a theory of mind were to exist, as he makes conceptual claims about thought and language that are not vulnerable to empirical counterexamples
Brueckner, Anthony L. (1991). The omniscient interpreter rides again. Analysis (October) 199 (October):199-205.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Byrne, Alex (1998). Interpretivism. European Review of Philosophy 3:199-223.   (Google)
Abstract: In the writings of Daniel Dennett and Donald Davidson we find something like the following bold conjecture: it is an a priori truth that there is no gap between our best judgements of a subject's beliefs and desires and the truth about the subject's beliefs and desires. Under ideal conditions a subject's belief-box and desire-box become transparent
Callaway, H. G. (ed.) (1993). Context for Meaning and Analysis, A Critical Study in the Philosophy of Language. Rodopi.   (Google)
Abstract: This book provides a concise overview, with excellent historical and systematic coverage, of the problems of the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition. Howard Callaway explains and explores the relation of language to the philosophy of mind and culture, to the theory of knowledge, and to ontology. He places the question of linguistic meaning at the center of his investigations. The teachings of authors who have become classics in the field, including Frege, Russell, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, and Putnam are critically analyzed. I share completely his conviction that contemporary Anglo-American philosophy follows the spirit of the enlightenment in insisting on intellectual sincerity, clarity, and the willingness to meet scientific doubts or objections openly. --Professor Henri Lauener, Editor of Dialectica.
Callaway, H. G. (1985). Meaning without Analyticity (Reprinted in Callaway, 2008 Meaning without Analyticity). Logique et Analyse 109 (March):41-60.   (Google)
Abstract: In a series of interesting and influential papers on semantics, Hilary Putnam has developed what he calls a “post-verificationist” theory of meaning. As part of this work, and not I think the most important part, Putnam defends a limited version of the analytic-synthetic distinction. In this paper I will survey and evaluate Putnam’s defense of analyticity and explore its relationship to broader concerns in semantics. Putnam’s defense of analyticity ultimately fails, and I want to show here exactly why it fails. However, I will also argue that this very failure helps open the prospect of a new optimism concerning the theory of meaning, a theory of meaning finally liberated from the dead weight of the notions of analyticity and necessary truth. Putnam’s work, in fact, makes valuable contributions to such a theory.
Callaway, H. G. & van Brakel, J. (1996). No Need to Speak the same Language? Review of Ramberg, Donald Davidson's Philosophy of Language. Dialectica, Vol. 50, No.1, 1996, pp. 63-71..   (Google)
Abstract: The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The weakness comes in a certain unevenness. While generally convincing and well written, the book has low points which may leave the reader confused or unconvinced. Davidson is the hero in this book, and our hero is sometimes over idealized.
Callaway, H. G. (1988). Semantic competence and truth-conditional semantics. Erkenntnis 28 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: Davidson approaches the notions of meaning and interpretation with the aim of characterizing semantic competence in the syntactically characterized natural language. The objective is to provide a truth-theory for a language, generating T-sentences expressed in the semantic metalanguage, so that each sentence of the object language receives an appropriate interpretation. Proceeding within the constraints of referential semantics, I will argue for the viability of reconstructing the notion of linguistic meaning within the Tarskian theory of reference. However, the view proposed here involves a revision of Davidson’s con-ception of the object of semantic investigation. Taking (idealized) language-theories as the proper object of semantic characterization, provides solutions to outstanding problems in Davidson’s views, better approximates the practice in standard model-theoretic semantics, and incorporates the elements of semantic competence sought for in tradi¬tional theories of lexical analysis. Sources of evidence beyond those emphasized by Davidson will be invoked in order to allow for the selection of interpre¬tive T-sentences. In the final section, possible Quinean objections will be considered.
Davidson, Donald (1974). Belief and the basis of meaning. Synthese 27 (July-August):309-323.   (Cited by 98 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1067 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Now in a new edition, this volume updates Davidson's exceptional Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984), which set out his enormously influential philosophy of language. The original volume remains a central point of reference, and a focus of controversy, with its impact extending into linguistic theory, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. Addressing a central question--what it is for words to mean what they do--and featuring a previously uncollected, additional essay, this work will appeal to a wide audience of philosophers, linguists, and psychologists
Davidson, Donald (1973). Radical interpretation. Dialectica 27:314-328.   (Cited by 198 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1994). Radical interpretation interpreted. Philosophical Perspectives 8:121-128.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Davidson, Donald (1993). Reply to Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore's Is Radical Interpretation Possible?. In Reflecting Davidson, Stoecker, Ralf. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.   (Google)
Davidson, Donald (1980). Toward a unified theory of meaning and action. Grazer Philosophische Studien 11:1-12.   (Cited by 18 | Google)
Davidson, Donald (1989). The conditions of thought. In The Mind of Donald Davidson. Netherlands: Rodopi.   (Google)
Davidson, Donald (2001). What thought requires. In Joao Branquinho (ed.), The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Engel, Pascal (1988). Radical interpretation and the structure of thought. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 88:161-177.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1993). Is radical interpretation possible? In Reflecting Davidson, Stoecker, Ralf. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. & LePore, Ernest (1994). Is radical interpretation possible? Philosophical Perspectives 8:101-119.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Gauker, Christopher (1988). Objective interpretationism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (June):136-51.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Gauker, Christopher (1986). The principle of charity. Synthese 69 (October):1-25.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Genova, Anthony C. (1991). Craig on Davidson: A thumbnail refutation. Analysis (October) 195 (October):195-198.   (Google)
Gerrans, Philip (2004). Cognitive architecture and the limits of interpretationism. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 11 (1):42-48.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Glezer, Tal (2005). Conversation and Conservation. Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly 54.   (Google)
Gl, (2006). Triangulation. In E. Lepore & B. Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, ed. E. Lepore/B. Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2006, 1006-1019
Cook, John R. (2009). Is Davidson a Gricean? Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review/Revue canadienne de philosophie 48 (3):557-575.   (Google)
Abstract: In his recent collection of essays, Language, Truth and History (2005), Donald Davidson appears to endorse a philosophy of language which gives primary importance to the notion of the speaker’s communicative intentions, a perspective on language not too dissimilar from that of Paul Grice. If that is right, then this would mark a major shift from the formal semanticist approach articulated and defended by Davidson in his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (1984). In this paper, I argue that although there are many similarities between these two thinkers, Davidson has not abandoned his earlier views on language
Jackman, Henry (1996). Radical interpretation and the permutation principle. Erkenntnis 44 (3):317-326.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Jorgensen, Andrew (2008). Lewis's synthesis. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (1):77 – 84.   (Google | More links)
Klein, Peter D. (1986). Radical interpretation and global skepticism. In Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 8 | Google)
Kriegel, Uriah (forthcoming). Cognitive Phenomenology as the Basis of Unconscious Content. In T. Bayne & M. Montague (eds.), Cognitive Phenomenology. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I call potentialism, inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology.
Kukla, Rebecca (2000). How to get an interpretivist committed. Protosociology 14:180-221.   (Google)
Laurier, Daniel (2001). Non-conceptually contentful attitudes in interpretation. Sorites 13 (October):6-22.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
LePore, Ernest (ed.) (1986). Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 72 | Google)
Lewis, David (1974). Radical interpretation. Synthese 27 (July-August):331-344.   (Cited by 77 | Google | More links)
Malpas, Jeff E. (1991). Holism and indeterminacy. Dialectica 47:47-58.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Manning, Richard N. (1995). Interpreting Davidson's omniscient interpreter. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (3):335-374.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Manning, Richard N. (2003). Interpretation, reasons, and facts. Inquiry 46 (3):346-376.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Donald Davidson argues that his interpretivist approach to meaning shows that accounting for the intentionality and objectivity of thought does not require an appeal, as John McDowell has urged it does, to a specifically rational relation between mind and world. Moreover, Davidson claims that the idea of such a relation is unintelligible. This paper takes issue with these claims. It shows, first, that interpretivism, contra Davidson's express view, does not depend essentially upon an appeal to a causal relation between events in the world and speakers' beliefs. Second, it shows that interpretivism essentially, if implicitly, depends upon interpreters' appealing to facts taken in in perception, and that such facts are suited to provide a rational connection between mind and world. The paper then argues that none of Davidson's legitimate epistemological arguments tell against the idea that experience, in the form of the propositional contents of perception, can play a role in doxastic economy. Finally, it argues that granting experience such a role is consistent with Davidson's coherentist slogan that nothing can count as a reason for holding a belief except another belief
McCulloch, Gregory (1998). Intentionality and interpretation. In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Contemporary Issues in the Philosophy of Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
McCarthy, Timothy (2002). Radical Interpretation and Indeterminacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: McCarthy develops a theory of radical interpretation--the project of characterizing from scratch the language and attitudes of an agent or population--and applies it to the problems of indeterminacy of interpretation first described by Quine. The major theme in McCarthy's study is that a relatively modest set of interpretive principles, properly applied, can serve to resolve the major indeterminacies of interpretation
Mcginn, Colin (1986). Radical interpretation and epistemology. In Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 9 | Google)
Moran, Richard A. (1994). Interpretation theory and the first-person. Philosophical Quarterly 44 (175):154-73.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Pettit, Philip (1994). Towards interpretation. Philosophia 23 (1-4):157-170.   (Google | More links)
Picardi, Eva (1989). Davidson on assertion, convention and belief. In The Mind of Donald Davidson. Netherlands: Rodopi.   (Google)
Preyer, Gerhard (1998). Interpretation and rationality: Steps from radical interpretation to the externalism of triangulation. Protosociology 11:245-260.   (Google)
Putnam, Hilary (1987). Computational psychology and interpretation theory. In Artificial Intelligence. St Martin's Press.   (Cited by 13 | Google)
Ramberg, B. (2004). Naturalizing idealizations: Pragmatism and the interpretivist strategy. Contemporary Pragmatism 1 (2):1-63.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Rawling, Piers (2003). Radical interpretation. In Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Saka, Paul (2007). Spurning charity. Axiomathes.   (Google | More links)
Sinclair, Robert (2002). What is radical interpretation? Davidson, Fodor, and the naturalization of philosophy. Inquiry 45 (2):161-184.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor and Ernest Lepore have recently criticized Davidson's methodology of radical interpretation because of its apparent failure to reflect how actual interpretation is achieved. Responding to such complaints, Davidson claims that he is not interested in the empirical issues surrounding actual interpretation but instead focuses on the question of what conditions make interpretation possible. It is argued that this exchange between Fodor and Lepore on one side, and Davidson on the other, cannot be viewed simply as a naturalist reaction to non-naturalist philosophical inquiry. Through a careful excavation of the hidden assumptions and commitments underlying this debate, we recognize a more serious disagreement over the intellectual obligations of naturalism; a position with a firm hold on current philosophical imaginations. In the process, we gain a new appreciation for how such commitments shape these naturalist positions, and recognize that any resolution to this specific debate will require careful attention to the divergent commitments that are its real source
Smith, Barry C. (2006). Davidson, interpretation and first-person constraints on meaning. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (3):385-406.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: International Journal of Philosophical Studies 0967-2559 (print)/1466-4542 (online) Original Article
Stenius, Erik (1976). Comments on Donald Davidson's paper Radical Interpretation. Dialectica 30:35-60.   (Google)
Taschek, William W. (2002). Making sense of others: Donald Davidson on interpretation. Harvard Review of Philosophy 10:27-40.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Tumulty, Maura (2006). Davidson's fear of the subjective. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):509-532.   (Google)
Williams, Robert (2008). The price of inscrutability. Noûs 42 (4):600-641.   (Google | More links)
Verheggen, Claudine (2007). Triangulating with Davidson. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (226):96-103.   (Google | More links)
Weir, Alan (online). Indeterminacy of translation.   (Google)
Abstract: in Ernest Lepore and Barry C. Smith (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Chapter Eleven, pp. 233-249
Williams, J. Robert G. (2007). Eligibility and inscrutability. Philosophical Review 116 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Inscrutability arguments threaten to reduce interpretationist metasemantic theories to absurdity. Can we find some way to block the arguments? A highly influential proposal in this regard is David Lewis’ ‘eligibility’ response: some theories are better than others, not because they fit the data better, but because they are framed in terms of more natural properties. The purposes of this paper are (1) to outline the nature of the eligibility proposal, making the case that it is not ad hoc, but instead flows naturally from three independently motivated elements; and (2) to show that severe limitations afflict the proposal. In conclusion, I pick out the element of the eligibility response that is responsible for the limitations: future work in this area should therefore concentrate on amending this aspect of the overall theory
Williams, Robert (2008). Gavagai again. Synthese 164 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Quine (1960, Word and object. Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press, ch. 2) claims that there are a variety of equally good schemes for translating or interpreting ordinary talk. ‘Rabbit’ might be taken to divide its reference over rabbits, over temporal slices of rabbits, or undetached parts of rabbits, without significantly affecting which sentences get classified as true and which as false. This is the basis of his famous ‘argument from below’ to the conclusion that there can be no fact of the matter as to how reference is to be divided. Putative counterexamples to Quine’s claim have been put forward in the past (see especially Evans 1975; 1975, Journal of Philosophy, LXXII(13), 343–362. Reprinted in McDowell (Ed.), Gareth Evans: Collected papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press.), and various patches have been suggested (e.g. Wright (1997, The indeterminacy of translation. In C. Wright & B. Hale (Eds.), A companion to the philosophy of language (pp. 397–426). Oxford: Blackwell)). One lacuna in this literature is that one does not find any detailed presentation of what exactly these interpretations are supposed to be. Drawing on contemporary literature on persistence, the present paper sets out detailed semantic treatments for fragments of English, whereby predicates such as ‘rabbit’ divide their reference over four-dimensional continuants (Quine’s rabbits), instantaneous temporal slices of those continuants (Quine’s rabbit-slices) and the simple elements which compose those slices (undetached rabbit parts) respectively. Once we have the systematic interpretations on the table, we can get to work evaluating them
Williams, J. Robert G. (2008). Permutations and Foster problems: Two puzzles or one? Ratio 21 (1):91–105.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: How are permutation arguments for the inscrutability of reference to be formulated in the context of a Davidsonian truth-theoretic semantics? Davidson (1979) takes these arguments to establish that there are no grounds for favouring a reference scheme that assigns London to “Londres”, rather than one that assigns Sydney to that name. We shall see, however, that it is far from clear whether permutation arguments work when set out in the context of the kind of truth-theoretic semantics which Davidson favours. The principle required to make the argument work allows us to resurrect Foster problems against the Davidsonian position. The Foster problems and the permutation inscrutability problems stand or fall together: they are one puzzle, not two

2.3g Naturalizing Mental Content, Misc

Aizawa, Kenneth & Adams, Frederick R. (2005). Defending non-derived content. Philosophical Psychology 18 (6):661-669.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Alfano, Mark (forthcoming). Nietzsche, naturalism, and the tenacity of the intentional. International Studies in Philosophy.   (Google)
Abstract: In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche demands that “psychology shall be
recognized again as the queen of the sciences.” While one might cast a dubious glance at the “again,” many of Nietzsche’s insights were indeed psychological, and many of his arguments invoke psychological premises. In Genealogy, he criticizes the “English psychologists” for the “inherent psychological absurdity” of their theory of the origin of good and bad, pointing out the implausibility of the claim that the utility of unegoistic
actions would be forgotten. Tabling whether this criticism is valid, we see Nietzsche’s methodological naturalism here: moral claims should be grounded in empirical psychological claims. Later in Genealogy, Nietzsche advances his own naturalistic account of the origins of good, bad, and evil.
Three cheers for methodological naturalism, but it was not Nietzsche’s innovation, and he did not pioneer its application to morality. The list of moral naturalists who appealed to psychology arguably includes Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Bentham, and Mill, among many others. If Nietzsche’s naturalism is to be worth the candle of contemporary scholarship, it must involve more than the methodological naturalism that predated him by centuries and to which he made no serious contribution. Nietzsche’s key contribution to naturalism is not his adherence to its methodology, but his discovery of certain psychological facts. In particular, he realized that mental states are not ordinary dyadic relations between a subject and an intentional content. Nietzsche discovered the tenacity of intentional states: when an intentional state loses its object (because the subject realizes the object does not exist, because the object is forbidden, or because of something else), a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. As Nietzsche puts it Genealogy, “Man would rather will the void than be void of will.” Nietzsche relies on the tenacity thesis in his explanation of the origin of bad conscience: “All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward […. They turn] against [their] possessors.” When hostility towards others becomes impossible, hostility does not disappear; instead, its object is replaced.
Alfano, Mark (forthcoming). The Tenacity of the Intentional Prior to the Genealogy. Journal of Nietzsche Studies.   (Google)
Abstract: I have argued elsewhere that the psychological aspects of Nietzsche’s later works are best understood from a psychodynamic point of view. Nietzsche holds a view I dubbed the tenacity of the intentional (T): when an intentional state loses its object, a new object replaces the original; the state does not disappear entirely. In this essay I amend and clarify (T) to (T``): When an intentional state with a sub-propositional object loses its object, the affective component of the state persists without a corresponding object, and that affect will generally be redeployed in a state with a distinct object. I then trace the development of the tenacity thesis through Nietzsche’s early and middle works. Along the way, I discuss a number of related topics, including the scope of the tenacity thesis (does it apply to all intentional states?), the reflexive turn one often finds in Nietzsche’s examples (why does he so often say the new object is oneself?), and the relations among will to power, drives, and the tenacity of the intentional.
Alward, Peter (2009). The inessential quasi-indexical. Philosophical Studies 145 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: As Perry originally formulated things, the primary casualty of the problem of the essential indexical was the analysis of belief as a two-place relation between a subject and a proposition.1 Strictly speaking, of course, Perry argued that the problem he identified undermined the “doctrine of propositions” which consists of this analysis of belief together with the claims that the truth-values of propositions are independent of contextual parameters (other than worlds) and that propositions are individuated more finely than truth-conditions.2 But he went on to assert that the only adequate solution to the problem involved the rejection of the “propositional-relation” (let‟s call it) analysis of belief.3 The central aim of this paper is to defend a version of the propositional-relation analysis from Perry‟s criticisms
Anderson, Michael L. & Rosenberg, Gregg H. (online). Content and action: The guidance theory of representation.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: b>. The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. The guidance theory offers a way of fixing representational content that gives the causal and evolutionary history of the subject only an indirect (non-necessary) role, and an account of representational error, based on failure of action, that does not rely on any such notions as proper functions, ideal conditions, or normal circumstances. Moreover, because the notion of error is defined in terms of failure of action, the guidance theory meets the
Antony, Michael V. (2006). How to argue against (some) theories of content. Iyyun 55 (July):265-286.   (Google)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1993). The pragmatic psyche. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (1):157-158.   (Google)
Brook, Andrew & Stainton, Robert J. (1997). Fodor's new theory of content and computation. Mind and Language 12 (3-4):459-74.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Buras, Todd (2009). An Argument against Causal Theories of Mental Content. American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):117-129.   (Google)
Abstract: Some mental states are about themselves. Nothing is a cause of itself. So some mental states are not about their causes; they are about things distinct from their causes. If this argument is sound, it spells trouble for causal theories of mental content—the precise sort of trouble depending on the precise sort of causal theory. This paper shows that the argument is sound (§§1-3), and then spells out the trouble (§4).
Churchland, Paul M. & Churchland, Patricia S. (1983). Stalking the wild epistemic engine. Noûs 17 (March):5-18.   (Cited by 27 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Collins, Mike (2009). The Nature and Implementation of Representation in Biological Systems. Dissertation, City University of New York   (Google)
Abstract: I defend a theory of mental representation that satisfies naturalistic constraints. Briefly, we begin by distinguishing (i) what makes something a representation from (ii) given that a thing is a representation, what determines what it represents. Representations are states of biological organisms, so we should expect a unified theoretical framework for explaining both what it is to be a representation as well as what it is to be a heart or a kidney. I follow Millikan in explaining (i) in terms of teleofunction, explicated in terms of natural selection. To explain (ii), we begin by recognizing that representational states do not have content, that is, they are neither true nor false except insofar as they both “point to” or “refer” to something, as well as “say” something regarding whatever it is they are about. To distinguish veridical from false representations, there must be a way for these separate aspects to come apart; hence, we explain (ii) by providing independent theories of what I call f-reference and f-predication (the ‘f’ simply connotes ‘fundamental’, to distinguish these things from their natural language counterparts). Causal theories of representation typically founder on error, or on what Fodor has called the disjunction problem. Resemblance or isomorphism theories typically founder on what I’ve called the non-uniqueness problem, which is that isomorphisms and resemblance are practically unconstrained and so representational content cannot be uniquely determined. These traditional problems provide the motivation for my theory, the structural preservation theory, as follows. F-reference, like reference, is a specific, asymmetric relation, as is causation. F-predication, like predication, is a non-specific relation, as predicates typically apply to many things, just as many relational systems can be isomorphic to any given relational system. Putting these observations together, a promising strategy is to explain f-reference via causal history and f-predication via something like isomorphism between relational systems. This dissertation should be conceptualized as having three parts. After motivating and characterizing the problem in chapter 1, the first part is the negative project, where I review and critique Dretske’s, Fodor’s, and Millikan’s theories in chapters 2-4. Second, I construct my theory about the nature of representation in chapter 5 and defend it from objections in chapter 6. In chapters 7-8, which constitute the third and final part, I address the question of how representation is implemented in biological systems. In chapter 7 I argue that single-cell intracortical recordings taken from awake Macaque monkeys performing a cognitive task provide empirical evidence for structural preservation theory, and in chapter 8 I use the empirical results to illustrate, clarify, and refine the theory.
Cummins, Robert E. (2002). Haugeland on representation and intentionality. In Hugh Clapin (ed.), Philosophy of Mental Representation. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: Haugeland doesn’t have what I would call a theory of mental representation. Indeed, it isn’t clear that he believes there is such a thing. But he does have a theory of intentionality and a correlative theory of objectivity, and it is this material that I will be discussing in what follows. It will facilitate the discussion that follows to have at hand some distinctions and accompanying terminology I introduced in Representations, Targets and Attitudes (Cummins, 1996; RTA hereafter). Couching the discussion in these terms will, I hope, help to identify points of agreement and disagreement between Haugaland and myself. In RTA, I distinguished between the target a representation has on a given occasion of its application, and its content. RTA takes representation deployment to be the business of intenders: mechanisms whose business it is to represent some particular class of targets. Thus, on standard stories about speech perception, there is a mechanism (called a parser) whose business it is to represent the phrase structure of the linguistic input currently being processed. When this intender passes a representation R to the consumers of its products, those consumers will take R to be a representation of the phrase structure of the current input. There is no explicit vocabulary to mark the target-content distinction in ordinary language. Expressions like "what I referred to," "what I meant," and the like, are ambiguous. Sometimes they mean targets, sometimes contents. Consider the following dialogue
Cummins, Robert E. (1989). Meaning and Mental Representation. MIT Press.   (Cited by 204 | Annotation | Google)
Cummins, Robert E. (1996). Representations, Targets, and Attitudes. MIT Press.   (Cited by 139 | Google)
Abstract: "This is an important new Cummins work.
Cummins, Robert E. (2000). Reply to Millikan. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):113-127.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Dennett, Daniel C. (2001). Intentionality. In Richard L. Gregory (ed.), Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 37 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Intentionality is _aboutness_. Some things are about other things: a belief can be about icebergs, but an iceberg is not about anything; an idea can be about the number 7, but the number 7 is not about anything; a book or a film can be about Paris, but Paris is not about anything. Philosophers have long been concerned with the analysis of the phenomenon of intentionality, which has seemed to many to be a fundamental feature of mental states and events
Dennett, Daniel C. (1991). Ways of establishing harmony. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell.   (Cited by 10 | Annotation | Google)
Devitt, Michael (1991). Naturalistic representation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42 (3).   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Dretske, Fred (1986). Aspects of cognitive representation. In Myles Brand & Robert M. Harnish (eds.), The Representation of Knowledge and Belief. University of Arizona Press.   (Cited by 8 | Annotation | Google)
Dunlop, Charles E. M. (2004). Mentalese semantics and the naturalized mind. Philosophical Psychology 17 (1):77-94.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In a number of important works, Jerry Fodor has wrestled with the problem of how mental representation can be accounted for within a physicalist framework. His favored response has attempted to identify nonintentional conditions for intentionality, relying on a nexus of casual relations between symbols and what they represent. I examine Fodor's theory and argue that it fails to meet its own conditions for adequacy insofar as it presupposes the very phenomenon that it purports to account for. I conclude, however, that the ontological commitments of intentional psychology survive within a broader conception of naturalism than the one adopted by Fodor
Eliasmith, Chris (2000). How Neurons Mean: A Neurocomputational Theory of Representational Content. Dissertation, Washington University in St. Louis   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Questions concerning the nature of representation and what representations are about have been a staple of Western philosophy since Aristotle. Recently, these same questions have begun to concern neuroscientists, who have developed new techniques and theories for understanding how the locus of neurobiological representation, the brain, operates. My dissertation draws on philosophy and neuroscience to develop a novel theory of representational content
Field, Hartry (1994). Deflationist views of meaning and content. Mind 103 (411):249-285.   (Cited by 73 | Google | More links)
Fisher, Justin C. (online). Representational content and the keys to success.   (Google)
Abstract: I consider the question of whether success-linked theories of content
Garrett, Don (2006). Hume's naturalistic theory of representation. Synthese 152 (3):301-319.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Hume is a naturalist in many different respects and about many different topics; this paper argues that he is also a naturalist about intentionality and representation. It does so in the course of answering four questions about his theory of mental representation: (1) Which perceptions represent? (2) What can perceptions represent? (3) Why do perceptions represent at all? (4) Howdo perceptions represent what they do? It appears that, for Hume, all perceptions except passions can represent; and they can represent bodies, minds, and persons, with their various qualities. In addition, ideas can represent impressions and other ideas. However, he explicitly rejects the view that ideas are inherently representational, and he implicitly adopts a view according to which things (whether mental or non-mental) represent in virtue of playing, through the production of mental effects and dispositions, a significant part of the causal and/or functional role of what they represent. It is in virtue of their particular functional roles that qualitatively identical ideas are capable of representing particulars or general kinds; substances or modes; relations; past, present, or future; and individuals or compounds
Geisz, Steven F. (2009). Turning representation inside out: An adverbial approach to the metaphysics of language and mind. Philosophical Forum 40 (4):437-471.   (Google)
Abstract: In order to resolve problems about the normative aspects of representation without having to (1) provide a naturalized theory of intentional/semantic properties, (2) accept non-natural intentional/semantic properties into our worldview, or (3) eliminate intentionality, this article questions a basic assumption about the metaphysics of representation: that representation involves representation-objects. An alternative, nonreifying approach to the metaphysics of representation is introduced and developed in detail. The argumentative strategy is as follows. First, an adverbial view of linguistic representation is introduced. Two potential objections are identified and considered. To respond to these objections, relationships between physical form and linguistic/representational form are examined. In the process, two ways of idealizing away from the heterogeneous details of actual language use are introduced: idealization toward homogeneity and idealization toward complete heterogeneity. I argue that an adverbial view of linguistic representation both allows for and requires that we idealize toward complete heterogeneity and that doing so has important implications for (1) our understanding of the relationship between physical form and representational form and (2) property attribution in general. These implications provide further indirect support for the alternative metaphysics of representation developed here
Greenberg, Mark (2005). A new map of theories of mental content. Noûs 39 (1):299-320.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Gross, Steven, The nature of semantics: On Jackendoff's arguments.   (Google)
Abstract: Jackendoff defends a mentalist approach to semantics that investigates con- ceptual structures in the mind/brain and their interfaces with other structures, including specifically linguistic structures responsible for syntactic and phono- logical competence. He contrasts this approach with one that seeks to charac- terize the intentional relations between expressions and objects in the world. The latter, he argues, cannot be reconciled with mentalism. He objects in par- ticular that intentionality cannot be naturalized and that the relevant notion of object is suspect. I critically discuss these objections, arguing in part that Jackendoff’s position rests on questionable philosophical assumptions
Jackman, Henry (online). Conventionalism, objectivity, and constitution.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: John Haugeland has recently attempted to provide a naturalistic account of intentionality that explains how we can (collectively) misidentify objects in the world in terms of the interplay of two types of 'recognitional' skill. Nevertheless, it is argued here that his inegalitarian conception of the two sorts of skill leaves him with a quasi-conventionalist account of our relation to the world which lacks the more robust sort of objectivity that a more holistic theory could provide
Jackman, Henry (1998). James' pragmatic account of intentionality and truth. Transactions Of The Charles S Peirce Society 34 (1):155-181.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: William James presents a preference-sensitive and future-directed notion of truth that has struck many as wildly revisionary. This paper argues that such a reaction usually results from failing to see how his accounts of truth and intentionality are intertwined. James' forward-looking account of intentionality (or "knowing") compares favorably the 'causal' and 'resemblance-driven' accounts that have been popular since his day, and it is only when his remarks about truth are placed in the context of his account of intentionality that they come to seem as plausible as they manifestly did to James
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Rosenberg, Gregg H. & Anderson, Michael L., A brief introduction to the guidance theory of representation.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Recent trends in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science can be fruitfully characterized as part of the ongoing attempt to come to grips with the very idea of homo sapiens--an intelligent, evolved, biological agent--and its signature contribution is the emergence of a philosophical anthropology which, contra Descartes and his thinking thing, instead puts doing at the center of human being. Applying this agency-oriented line of thinking to the problem of representation, this paper introduces the Guidance Theory, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. We offer a brief account of the motivation for the theory, and a formal characterization
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