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2.4. The Nature of Contents (The Nature of Contents on PhilPapers)

See also:

2.4a Fregean and Russellian Contents

Zimmerman, Aaron Z. (2006). Self-verification and the content of thought. Synthese 149 (1):59-75.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Burge follows Descartes in claiming that the category of conceptually self-verifying judgments includes (but is not restricted to) judgments that give rise to sincere assertions of sentences of the form, 'I am thinking that p'. In this paper I argue that Burge’s Cartesian insight is hard to reconcile with Fregean accounts of the content of thought. Burge's intuitively compelling claim that cogito judgments are conceptually self-verifying poses a real challenge to neo-Fregean theories of content.

2.4b Indexical Contents

Bach, Kent, Content, indexical.   (Google)
Abstract: it is red. What enables this thought to latch onto that particular object? It cannot be how the Ferrari looks, for this could not distinguish one Ferrari from another just like it. In general, how a thought represents something cannot determine which thing it represents. What a singular thought latches onto seems to depend also on features of the context in which the thought occurs. This suggests that its content is essentially indexical, contextually variable much as the content of an utterance like 'I am hungry' depends on who utters it and when (see DEMONSTRATIVES AND INDEXICALS ). The indexical model of singular thought is not limited to thoughts about individuals one perceives, like the Ferrari driving by, but applies also to thoughts about individuals one remembers or has been informed of, like an old bicycle or Christopher Columbus. In each case, a certain contextual relation, based on perception, memory, or communication, connects thought to object
Egan, Andy (ms). De gustibus non disputandum est (at least, not always).   (Google)
Castañeda, Hector-Neri (1967). Omniscience and indexical reference. Journal of Philosophy 64 (7):203-210.   (Google | More links)
Chien, A. J. (1985). Demonstratives and belief states. Philosophical Studies 47 (2).   (Google)
Corazza, Eros (2004). Essential indexicals and quasi-indicators. Journal of Semantics 21 (4):341-374.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper I shall focus on Castaneda's notion of quasi-indicators and I shall defend the following theses: (i) Essential indexicals (‘I’, ‘here’ and ‘now’) are intrinsically perspectival mechanisms of reference and, as such, they are not reducible to any other mechanism reference...
Harcourt, Edward (1999). Frege on 'I', 'now', 'today' and some other linguistic devices. Synthese 121 (3).   (Google)
Abstract:   In this paper, I argue against an influential view of Frege''s writings on indexical and other context-sensitive expressions, and in favour of an alternative. The centrepiece of the influential view, due to (among others) Evans and McDowell, is that according to Frege, context-sensitiveword-meaning plus context combine to express senses which are essentially first person, essentially present tense and so on, depending on the context-sensitive expression in question. Frege''s treatment of indexicals thus fits smoothly with his Intuitive Criterion of difference of sense. On my view, by contrast, Frege stuck by the view which he held in his unpublished 1897 Logic, namely that the senses expressed by the combination of context-sensitive word-meaning and context could just as well be expressed by means of non-context-sensitive expressions: being first person, present tense and so on are properties, in Frege''s view, only of language, not of thought. Given the irreducibility of indexicals – a phenomenon noticed by Castañeda, Perry and others – Frege''s treatment of indexicals thus turns out to be inconsistent with the Intuitive Criterion. I argue that Frege was not aware of the inconsistency because he was not aware of the irreducibility of indexicals. This oversight was possible because the source of Frege''s interest in indexicals, as inother context-sensitive expressions, differed from that of contemporary theorists. Whereas contemporary theorists are most often interested in indexicals (and in Frege''s treatment of them) because they are interested in the indexical versions of Frege''s Puzzle and their relation to psychological explanation, Frege himself was interested in them because they pose a prima facie threat to his general conception of thoughts. The only indexical expression Frege''s view of which the above account does not cover is I insofar as it is associated with special and primitive senses, but Frege did not introduce such senses with a view to explaining theirreducibility of I his real reason for introducing them remains obscure
Kapitan, Tomis (1999). Quasi-indexical attitudes. Sorites 11:24-40.   (Google)
Abstract: Indexicals are inevitably autobiographical, even when we are not talking about ourselves. For example, if you hear me say, "That portrait right there is beautiful," you can surmise not only that I ascribe beauty to an object of my immediate awareness but also something about my spatial relation to it. Again, if I praise you directly within earshot of others by using the words, "You did that very well!," my concern need not be to cause them to think the exact thought I have; they might not be in a position to address you as you and I might not care what they think of your performance. My purpose is to get them to ascribe to me an attitude that I express with a second-person indexical, to convince them that I am an encouraging and supportive person inasmuch as I addressed someone with words of praise. Indexicals are autobiographical not only because they issue from a speaker--all utterances do--but because they reveal something about the speaker's orientation toward and encounter with objects in a way that non-indexical language fails to do. For this reason, care must be taken in reporting indexically-expressed thoughts. Suppose the Chair of my Department informs me, (1)I am upset about the Dean's report. I cannot relate what he said by reiterating his words within indirect discourse, viz., (2)The Chair said that I am upset about the Dean's report. Because 'I' expresses speaker's reference, my assertion of (2) would cause a hearer to misconstrue who is said to be upset.i Alternatively, the sentence, (3)The Chair said that the Chair is upset about the Dean's report
Matthen, Mohan (2010). Is memory preservation? Philosophical Studies 148 (1).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: I want to know whether I consumed the Canada Health recommended portion of fruits and vegetables yesterday. I try to remember, and I conclude that I ate five servings of fruits and vegetables during the course of the day. Presumably, propositions like the following figure in my calculations: 1. For lunch yesterday, I ate a grilled tomato with my hamburger. Usually, the remembered image of eating the tomato will figure in the provenance of remembering 1
Perry, John (ms). Self-notions.   (Google)
Abstract: ”Self-beliefs” are beliefs of the sort one ordinarily has about oneself, and expresses with the first person. These contrast with the beliefs one has in ”Casta˜neda cases,” in which one has a belief about oneself without knowing it. This paper advances an account of the nature of self-belief. According to this account, self-belief is a special case of interacting with things via notions that serve as repositories for information about objects with certain important relations to the knower, and as motivators for actions the success of which is dependent on the object in that relation to the agent. Identity is such a relation, and ”self-notions” play this special role: they are the repositories for information gained in normally self-informative ways, and the motivators of types of action whose success normally depends on facts about the agent. Self-beliefs involve such self-notions, while the beliefs that one has about oneself in Casta˜neda cases do not
Perry, John (1979). The problem of the essential indexical. Noûs 13 (December):3-21.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Perry, John (1993). The Problem of the Essential Indexical: And Other Essays. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: A collection of twelve essays by John Perry and two essays he co-authored, this book deals with various problems related to "self-locating beliefs": the sorts of beliefs one expresses with indexicals and demonstratives, like "I" and "this." Postscripts have been added to a number of the essays discussing criticisms by authors such as Gareth Evans and Robert Stalnaker. Included with such well-known essays as "Frege on Demonstratives," "The Problem of the Essential Indexical," "From Worlds to Situations," and "The Prince and the Phone Booth" are a number of important essays that have been less accessible and that discuss important aspects of Perry's views, referred to as "Critical Referentialism," on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind
Spencer, Cara (ms). Is there a problem of the essential indexical?   (Google)
Abstract: Some time ago, John Perry argued that the content of an indexical belief, that is, a belief expressible with a sentence containing an indexical or demonstrative, cannot be a proposition. I consider several of his arguments for this view, and show that they can be extended to show that belief expressible with other non-indexical expressions such as natural kind terms and proper names presents the very same problem for the traditional picture. I then suggest that if indexical belief has any special status, this is not because it has a special kind of content, but rather because action is impossible if agents do not have indexical belief
Spencer, Cara (ms). Shared indexical belief.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I take issue with the familiar view that the problem of the essential indexical is a merely technical problem, which can be solved through a straightforward revision of the familiar model of belief content. (The familiar model just says that the content of belief is a proposition.) I do not object to these technical fixes, but I think they leave some questions unanswered. Specifically, they deny us an attractive account of what it is for different people to completely agree on their conception of what the world is like, according to which complete agreement consists in having beliefs with the same propositional content, but they do not give us anything to replace it with. Here, I consider whether we can say anything general about the relation between my beliefs and your beliefs (including, of course, our indexical beliefs), when you and I completely agree about what the world is like
Zong, Desheng (forthcoming). Retention of Indexical Belief and the Notion of Psychological Continuity. The Philosophical Quarterly.   (Google)
Abstract: A widely accepted view in the discussion of personal identity is that the notion of psychological continuity expresses a one-many or many-one relation. I argue that the belief is unfounded. Briefly: a notion of psychological continuity expresses a one-many or many-one relation only if it includes as a constituent psychological properties whose relation with their bearer is one-many or many-one; but the relation between an indexical psychological state (a psychological state with indexical content) and its bearer in which it is first tokened is not a one-many or many-one relation. It follows that not all types of psychological continuity may take a one-many or many-one form. Since the Lockean account of personal identity relies on the availability of a notion of psychological continuity featuring indexical psychological states, the conclusion of this paper cast strong doubt on the plausibility of the Lockean theory.

2.4c Intentional Objects

Adams, Frederick R.; Fuller, Gary & Stecker, Robert A. (1993). Thoughts without objects. Mind and Language 8 (1):90-104.   (Cited by 13 | Google)
Blumson, Ben (2009). Images, intentionality and inexistence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):522-538.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Clark, Michael (1965). Intentional objects. Analysis 25 (January):123-128.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Crane, Tim (2006). Brentano's concept of intentional inexistence. In Mark Textor (ed.), The Austrian Contribution to Analytic Philosophy. Routledge.   (Google)
Abstract: Franz Brentano’s attempt to distinguish mental from physical phenomena by employing the scholastic concept of intentional inexistence is often cited as reintroducing the concept of intentionality into mainstream philosophical discussion. But Brentano’s own claims about intentional inexistence are much misunderstood. In the second half of the 20th century, analytical philosophers in particular have misread Brentano’s views in misleading ways.1 It is important to correct these misunderstandings if we are to come to a proper assessment of Brentano’s worth as a philosopher and his position in the history of philosophy. Good corrections have been made in the recent analytic literature by David Bell (1990), Dermot Moran (1996), and Barry Smith (1994) among others. But there is also another, more purely philosophical lesson to be learned from the proper understanding of Brentano’s views on this matter. This is that Brentano’s struggles with the concept of intentionality reveal a fundamental division between different ways of thinking about intentionality, an division which Brentano himself does not make fully clear. Making the nature of this division explicit is the aim of this paper
Crane, Tim (2001). Intentional objects. Ratio 14 (4):298-317.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Is there, or should there be, any place in contemporary philosophy of mind for the concept of an intentional object? Many philosophers would make short work of this question. In a discussion of what intentional objects are supposed to be, John Searle
Dowling, Eric (1970). Intentional objects, old and new. Ratio 12 (December):95-107.   (Google)
Fitch, Gregory (1990). Thinking of something. Noûs 24 (December):675-696.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Gorman, Michael (2006). Talking about intentional objects. Dialectica 60 (2):135-144.   (Google | More links)
Kriegel, Uriah (2007). Intentional inexistence and phenomenal intentionality. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):307-340.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: How come we can represent Bigfoot even though Bigfoot does not exist, given that representing something involves bearing a relation to it and we cannot bear relations to what does not exist?This is the problem of intentional inexistence. This paper develops a two-step solution to this problem, involving (first) an adverbial account of conscious representation, or phenomenal inten- tionality, and (second) the thesis that all representation derives from conscious representation (all intentionality derives from phenomenal intentionality). The solution is correspondingly two-part: we can consciously represent Bigfoot because consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather instantiating a certain non-relational (“adverbial”) property of representing Bigfoot-wise; and we can non-consciously represent Bigfoot because non-consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather bearing a relation to conscious representations of Bigfoot
Kriegel, Uriah (2008). The dispensability of (merely) intentional objects. Philosophical Studies 141 (1):79-95.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The ontology of (merely) intentional objects is a can of worms. If we can avoid ontological commitment to such entities, we should. In this paper, I offer a strategy for accomplishing that. This is to reject the traditional act-object account of intentionality in favor of an adverbial account. According to adverbialism about intentionality, having a dragon thought is not a matter of bearing the thinking-about relation to dragons, but of engaging in the activity of thinking dragon-wise
Malcolm, Norman (1993). The mystery of thought. In Josep-Maria Terricabras (ed.), A Wittgenstein Symposium. Amsterdam: Rodopi.   (Google)
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 & Levy, Edwin (1984). Teleology, error, and the human immune system. Journal of Philosophy 81 (7):351-372.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The authors attempt to show that certain forms of behavior of the human immune system are illuminatingly regarded as errors in that system's operation. Since error-ascription can occur only within the context of an intentional/teleological characterization of the system, it follows that such a characterization is illuminating. It is argued that error-ascription is objective, non-anthropomorphic, irreducible to any purely causal form of explanation of the same behavior, and further that it is wrong to regard all errors of the immune system as due to malfunction or maladaptation.
McGinn, Colin (2004). The objects of intentionality. In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Melden, Abraham I. (1940). Thought and its objects. Philosophy of Science 7 (October):434-441.   (Google | More links)
Montague, Michelle (2009). The Content of Perceptual Experience. In B. McLaughlin & A. Beckermann (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind.   (Google)
Rosenkrantz, Gary S. (1990). Reference, intentionality, and nonexistent entities. Philosophical Studies 58 (1-2):165-171.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Rozeboom, William W. (1962). Intentionality and existence. Mind 71 (January):15-32.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Voltolini, Alberto (2006). Are there non-existent intentionalia? Philosophical Quarterly 56 (224):436-441.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In his recent book on the philosophy of mind,1 Tim Crane has maintained that intentional objects are to be conceived as schematic entities, having no particular intrinsic nature. I take this metaphysical thesis as fundamentally correct. Yet in this paper I want to cast some doubts on whether this thesis prevents intentionalia, especially nonexistent ones, from belonging to the general inventory of what there is, as Crane seems to think. If my doubts are grounded, Crane’s treatment of intentionalia may further be freed from a certain tension that seems to affect it, namely the fact that he appeals to nonexistent intentionalia in order to individuate intentional states and at the same time he attempts at dispensing with them
Voltolini, Alberto (1991). Objects as intentional and real. Grazer Philosophische Studien 41:1-32.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Abstract: In a recent paper, G. Küng has maintained that in addition to what he considers the three standard theories concerning the relationship between an intentional and a "corresponding" real object, a case might be made for a fourth. According to this new theory, the intentional and the real object are simply one and the same thing, in the sense that should it exist, the intentional object is the real object1. In this paper, I hope to show that Küng is right when he says that this theory is preferable to the others, because of its greater explanatory power and because it avoids the perplexities which those theories give rise to. I hold, however, that the thesis of the identity of the intentional and the real object stands in fundamental need of being completed to make it really convincing. Indeed, an objection to it immediately comes to mind: how is it possible for an intentional object - something apparently mental or subjective - to be identical with a real one, generally considered mindindependent or objective? I think that it is only through an appropriate ontological move that a definite answer to this problem may be provided. In actual fact, Küng attempts to support its version of the theory with a Meinongian ontology, according to which objects as such are beyond being and non-being2. It seems to me, however, that in dealing with the above problem, Küng does not employ such an ontology satisfactorily. But whether this is or not the case, I will hereafter try to show that the thesis of the identity of the intentional and the real object may be retained if we also attempt to outline an anti-realist ontology different from the ultra-realist doctrine of Meinong's - namely, an ontology of objects as basically objects of discourse

2.4d Object-Dependent Contents

Crawford, Sean (1998). In defence of object-dependent thoughts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (2):201-210.   (Google | More links)
Levine, Joseph (1988). Demonstrating in mentalese. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 69 (September):222-240.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Longworth, Guy (2003). Where should we look for the mind? Think 5.   (Google)
Marques, Teresa (2006). On an Argument of Segal's Against Singular Object-Dependent Thoughts. Disputatio 2 (26).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper discusses and criticizes Segal’s 1989 argument against singular object-dependent thoughts. His argument aims at showing that object-dependent thoughts are explanatorily redundant. My criticism of Segal’s argument has two parts. First, I appeal to common anti-individualist arguments to the effect that Segal’s type of argument only succeeds in establishing that object-dependent thoughts are explanatorily redundant for those aspects of subjects’ behaviour that do not require reference to external objects. Secondly, Segal’s view on singular thoughts is at odds with his view on the semantics of proper names, which favours the singularity and object-dependency of the truth-conditions of sentences in which they occur. In particular, his views are at odds with a position he holds, that truth-conditional semantics can adequately account for all aspects of speakers’ linguistic competence in the use of proper names.
McDowell, John (1990). Peacocke and Evans on demonstrative content. Mind 99 (394):255-266.   (Google | More links)
Montague, Michelle (2009). The Content of Perceptual Experience. In B. McLaughlin & A. Beckermann (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind.   (Google)
Peacocke, Christopher (1991). Demonstrative content: A reply to John McDowell. Mind 100 (1):123-133.   (Google | More links)

2.4e Two-Dimensionalism about Content

13 / 45 entries displayed

Balog, Katalin (2001). Commentary on Frank Jackson's from metaphysics to ethics. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (3):645–652.   (Google)
Abstract: Discussion of Frank Jackson’s a priori entailment thesis – which he employs to connect metaphysics and conceptual analysis. In From Metaphysics to Ethics. (2001) he develops this thesis within the two-dimensional framework and also proposes a formal argument for the existence of a priori truths. I argue that the two-dimensional framework doesn’t provide independent support for the a priori entailment thesis since one has to build into the framework assumptions as strong as the thesis itself.
Brogaard, Berit (forthcoming). The missing dimension: Two-dimensional approaches to matters epistemic. Philosophy Compass.   (Google)
Abstract: I. Standard Semantics According to what we might call
Chalmers, David J. (online). Probability and propositions.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: What are the objects of belief? That is, what are the things we believe, when we believe that it is sunny outside and that Nietzsche is dead? Usually these things are taken to be propositions. But the nature of propositions is itself contested. What is a proposition, such that it can serve as an object of belief?
Chalmers, David J. (2002). The components of content. In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 46 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: [[This paper appears in my anthology _Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings_ (Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 608-633. It is a heavily revised version of a paper first written in 1994 and revised in 1995. Sections 1, 7, 8, and 10 are similar to the old version, but the other sections are quite different. Because the old version has been widely cited, I have made it available (in its 1995 version) at
Chalmers, David (manuscript). The components of content (1995 version). .   (Google)
Abstract: (1) Is content in the head? I believe that water is wet. My twin on Twin Earth, which is just like Earth except that H2O is replaced by the superficially identical XYZ, does not. His thoughts concern not water but twin water: I believe that water is wet, but he believes that twin water is wet. It follows that that what a subject believes is not wholly determined by the internal state of the believer. Nevertheless, the cognitive similarities between me and my twin are striking. Is there some wholly internal aspect of content that we might share?
Chalmers, David J. (2003). The nature of narrow content. Philosophical Issues 13 (1):46-66.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A content of a subject's mental state is narrow when it is determined by the subject's intrinsic properties: that is, when any possible intrinsic duplicate of the subject has a corresponding mental state with the same content. A content of a subject's mental state is..
Haukioja, Jussi (2006). Semantic externalism and A Priori self-knowledge. Ratio 19 (2):149-159.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The argument known as the 'McKinsey Recipe' tries to establish the incompatibility of semantic externalism (about natural kind concepts in particular) and _a priori _self- knowledge about thoughts and concepts by deriving from the conjunction of these theses an absurd conclusion, such as that we could know _a priori _that water exists. One reply to this argument is to distinguish two different readings of 'natural kind concept': (i) a concept which _in fact _denotes a natural kind, and (ii) a concept which _aims_ to denote a natural kind. Paul Boghossian has argued, using a _Dry Earth _scenario, that this response fails, claiming that the externalist cannot make sense of a concept aiming, but failing, to denote a natural kind. In this paper I argue that Boghossian's argument is flawed. Borrowing machinery from two-dimensional semantics, using the notion of 'considering a possible world as actual', I claim that we can give a determinate answer to Boghossian's question: which concept would 'water' express on Dry Earth?
Jackson, Frank (1994). Armchair metaphysics. In John O'Leary-Hawthorne & Michaelis Michael (eds.), Philosophy in Mind. Kluwer.   (Google)
Prosser, Simon (forthcoming). The two-dimensional content of consciousness. Philosophical Studies 136:319--349.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper I put forward a representationalist theory of conscious experience based on Robert Stalnaker
Sawyer, Sarah (2007). There is no viable notion of narrow content. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell.   (Google)
Schiffer, Stephen R. (online). Mental content and epistemic two-dimensional semantics.   (Google)
Schiffer, Stephen R. (2003). Two-dimensional semantics and propositional attitude content. In The Things We Mean. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Stalnaker, Robert (1990). Narrow content. In C. Anthony Anderson & Joseph Owens (eds.), Propositional Attitudes: The Role of Content in Logic, Language, and Mind. Stanford: CSLI.   (Cited by 27 | Annotation | Google)

2.4f The Nature of Contents, Misc

Bourget, David (2010). The representational theory of consciousness. Dissertation, Australian National University   (Google)
Abstract: A satisfactory solution to the problem of consciousness would take the form of a simple yet fully general model which specifies the precise conditions under which any given state of consciousness occurs. Science has uncovered numerous correlations between consciousness and neural activity, but it has not yet come anywhere close to this. We are still looking for the Newtonian laws of consciousness. One of the main difficulties with consciousness is that we lack a language in which to formulate illuminating generalizations about it. Philosophers and scientists talk about "what it’s like", sensations, feelings, and perceptual states such as seeing and hearing. This language does not allow a precise articulation of the internal structures of conscious states and their inter-relations. It is inadequate to capture relations of the kind we are looking for between conscious states and physical states. In this thesis I refine and defend a theory of consciousness which promises to solve this regimentation problem: the representational theory of consciousness. I argue that the representational theory can solve the regimentation problem and smooth out other important obstacles to a fruitful study of consciousness. I also make a case for the theory independently of its payoffs, and I discuss the leading opposing theories at some length. In the rest of this introduction, I will clarify what I mean by "consciousness", provide an initial characterization of the representational theory, and outline my project in more detail
Brogaard, Berit, Centered worlds and the content of perception: Short version.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on the day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual..
Chalmers, David J. (online). Probability and propositions.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: What are the objects of belief? That is, what are the things we believe, when we believe that it is sunny outside and that Nietzsche is dead? Usually these things are taken to be propositions. But the nature of propositions is itself contested. What is a proposition, such that it can serve as an object of belief?
Gerken, Mikkel (2007). A false dilemma for anti-individualism. American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (4):329-42.   (Google)
Lasersohn, Peter (2007). Expressives, perspective and presupposition. Theoretical Linguistics 33 (2):223-230.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: I compare Potts’ use of a ‘‘judge’’ parameter in semantic interpretation with the use of a similar parameter in Lasersohn (2005). The latter technique portrays the content of expressives as constant across speakers, while Pott’s technique does not. The idea that the content of expressives is a kind of presupposition is also briefly defended, and a technical problem in the ‘‘dynamics’’ of Pott’s formalism is pointed out.
Matthen, Mohan & Levy, Edwin (1984). Teleology, error, and the human immune system. Journal of Philosophy 81 (7):351-372.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The authors attempt to show that certain forms of behavior of the human immune system are illuminatingly regarded as errors in that system's operation. Since error-ascription can occur only within the context of an intentional/teleological characterization of the system, it follows that such a characterization is illuminating. It is argued that error-ascription is objective, non-anthropomorphic, irreducible to any purely causal form of explanation of the same behavior, and further that it is wrong to regard all errors of the immune system as due to malfunction or maladaptation.