Is narrow content the same as content of mental state types opaquely taxonomized?
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Analyomen 2, Volume III: Philosophy of Mind, Practical Philosophy, Miscellanea. Hawthorne: De Gruyter (1997)
Jerry Fodor now holds (1990) that the content of mental state types opaquely taxonomized (de dicto content: DDC) is determined by the 'orthographical' syntax + the computational/functional role of such states. Mental states whose tokens are both orthographically and truth-conditionally identical may be different with regard to the computational/functional role played by their respective representational cores. This make them tantamount to different contentful states, i.e. states with different DDCs, insofar as they are opaquely taxonomized. Indeed they cannot both be truthfully ascribed to a single subject at the same time. Some years ago (1987), Fodor postulated a notion of mental content which also went beyond that of a mental state's truth-conditions. States whose tokens differ in their truth-conditions, or broad content, might, he claimed, still share a narrow content (NC), which was causally responsible for the shared behavior of the subjects of these states. For instance, two molecularly identical individuals, living in environments in all respects the same, except for the chemical substance of the phenomenically indistinguishable liquids filling their respective lakes and rivers, would behave similarly when having truth-conditionally different thoughts regarding those liquids. According to Fodor, this sameness of behavior was causally dependent on the sameness of the NC of the two individuals' truth-conditionally different thoughts. Now, this way of individuating mental states is still of interest for semantics. Indeed, NC allows one contextually to fix the broad content of a mental state token. Echoing Kaplan's notion of character,1 Fodor explained NC as a function that mapped contexts (of thought) onto broad contents. NC was thus invoked by Fodor mainly in order to account for sameness of intentional behavior. But DDC also plays a role in explaining intentional behavior, precisely by explaining why a subject whose thought-tokens have identical truthconditions may behave differently..
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