Asymmetric dependencies, ideal conditions, and meaning

Philosophical Psychology 9 (2):235-59 (1996)
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
Keywords Asymmetry  Causation  Epistemology  Meaning  Fodor, J
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09515089608573182
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,661
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

23 ( #128,632 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #369,877 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.