Dispositions indisposed: Semantic atomism and Fodor's theory of content

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3):325-349 (2000)
According to Jerry Fodor’s atomistic theory of content, subjects’ dispositions to token mentalese terms in counterfactual circumstances fix the contents of those terms. I argue that the pattern of counterfactual tokenings alone does not satisfactorily fix content; if Fodor’s appeal to patterns of counterfactual tokenings has any chance of assigning correct extensions, Fodor must take into account the contents of subjects’ various mental states at the times of those tokenings. However, to do so, Fodor must abandon his semantic atomism. And while Fodor has recently qualified his atomism, the cognitively holistic nature of dispositions continues to undermine his view
Keywords Atomism  Content  Disposition  Epistemology  Semantics  Fodor, J
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DOI 10.1111/1468-0114.00108
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