On the relationship between naturalistic semantics and individuation criteria for terms in a language of thought

Synthese 117 (1):95-131 (1998)
Naturalistically minded philosophers hope to identify a privileged nonsemantic relation that holds between a mental representation m and that which m represents, a relation whose privileged status underwrites the assignment of reference to m. The naturalist can accomplish this task only if she has in hand a nonsemantic criterion for individuating mental representations: it would be question-begging for the naturalist to characterize m, for the purpose of assigning content, as 'the representation with such and such content'. If we individuate mental representations using the tools of dynamical systems theory, we find that a given mental representation, characterized nonsemantically, emerges in the cognitive system as the result of causal interactions between the subject and her environment. At least for the most basic of our mental representations, I argue that the dynamical systems-based approach to individuation increases the plausibility of a theory that assigns reference as a function of the subject's causal history
Keywords Individuation  Language  Metaphysics  Naturalism  Semantics  Term  Thought
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005077508102
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Julian Kiverstein (2012). The Meaning of Embodiment. Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (4):740-758.

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