David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Mind 106 (422):279-304 (1997)
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
|Keywords||Content Epistemology Indeterminacy Semantics Teleology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Helen de Cruz & Johan de Smedt (2012). Evolved Cognitive Biases and the Epistemic Status of Scientific Beliefs. Philosophical Studies 157 (3):411-429.
Manolo Martínez (2013). Teleosemantics and Indeterminacy. Dialectica 67 (4):427-453.
Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2013). Reformed and Evolutionary Epistemology and the Noetic Effects of Sin. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (1):49-66.
Mark Rowlands (forthcoming). Arguing About Representation. Synthese:1-18.
Mark Bauer (2009). Normativity Without Artifice. Philosophical Studies 144 (2):239-259.
Similar books and articles
Donna M. Summerfield & Pat A. Manfredi (1998). Indeterminacy in Recent Theories of Content. Minds and Machines 8 (2):181-202.
Robert M. Chapman (1999). Function and Content Words Evoke Different Brain Potentials. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (2):282-284.
Stathis Psillos (2011). The Idea of Mechanism. In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press 771--788.
Mohan P. Matthen (1988). Biological Functions and Perceptual Content. Journal of Philosophy 85 (January):5-27.
Raffaella De Rosa (2007). A Teleological Account of Cartesian Sensations? Synthese 156 (2):311 - 336.
Raffaella De Rosa (2007). A Teleological Account of Cartesian Sensations? Synthese 156 (2):311-336.
S. R. Sullivan (1993). From Natural Function to Indeterminate Content. Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):129-37.
Denis M. Walsh (1998). Wide Content Individualism. Mind 107 (427):625-652.
Richard J. Hall (1990). Does Representational Content Arise From Biological Function? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:193 - 199.
Justine Kingsbury (2006). A Proper Understanding of Millikan. Acta Analytica 21 (40):23-40.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads58 ( #58,900 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?