The semantic shuffle: Shifting emphasis in Dretske's account of representational content [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Erkenntnis 47 (1):89-104 (1997)
In Knowledge and the Flow of Information, Fred Dretske explains representational content by appealing to natural indication: a mental representation has its content in virtue of being a reliable natural indicator of a particular type of state of the world. His account fails for several reasons, not the least of which is that it cannot account for misrepresentation. Recognizing this, Dretske adds a twist in his more recent work on representational content (sketched in 'Misrepresentation' and elaborated in Explaining Behavior): a mental representation acquires its semantic content when the fact that it naturally indicates some type of state of the world acquires explanatory relevance. This shift in emphasis from natural indication to function (and, so, to behaviour) is intended to address the disjunction problem. Whether or not it succeeds (I argue that it does not), new problems emerge as a direct result of the shift to emphasis on behaviour. First, although Dretske appeals to appropriate response behaviours for particular types of representations, it is not at all clear that such behaviours exist. Second, Dretske's theory cannot account for representations that never figure in the behaviour of the organism of which they are a part. In response to these problems, I suggest two possible routes to recovery: one, an appeal to implicit beliefs (or dispositions); and, two, an appeal to compositionality. Although it seems clear that Dretske must enlist one of these options if he is to formulate a successful causal naturalist theory of representational content, given his theoretical commitments, neither option is readily available to him
|Keywords||Content Language Representation Semantics Dretske, F|
|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
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Wayne Wright (2003). McDowell, Demonstrative Concepts, and Nonconceptual Representational Content. Disputation 14 (14):1 - 16.
Valerie Gray Hardcastle (1994). Indicator Semantics and Dretske's Function. Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):367-82.
Frederick R. Adams (1991). Causal Contents. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell
Olav Gjelsvik (1991). Dretske on Knowledge and Content. Synthese 86 (March):425-41.
B. Hassrick (1995). Fred Dretske on the Explanatory Role of Semantic Content. Conference 6 (1):59-66.
Terence E. Horgan (1991). Actions, Reasons, and the Explanatory Role of Content. In Brian P. McLaughlin (ed.), Dretske and His Critics. Blackwell
Donna M. Summerfield & Pat A. Manfredi (1998). Indeterminacy in Recent Theories of Content. Minds and Machines 8 (2):181-202.
Frank Hofmann (2001). The Reference of de Re Representations. Grazer Philosophische Studien 62 (1):83-101.
S. R. Sullivan (1993). From Natural Function to Indeterminate Content. Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):129-37.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads87 ( #47,374 of 1,796,164 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #285,580 of 1,796,164 )
How can I increase my downloads?