A content of a subject's mental state is narrow when it is determined by the subject's intrinsic properties: that is, when any possible intrinsic duplicate of the subject has a corresponding mental state with the same content. A content of a subject's mental state is..
In his latest book, The Elm and the Expert (1994), Fodor notoriously rejects the notion of narrow content as superfluous. He envisions a scientific intentional psychology that adverts only to broad content properties in its explanations. I argue that Fodor's change in view is only apparent and that his previous position (1985-1991) is extensionally equivalent to his "new" position (1994). I show that, despite what he says narrow content is for in his (1994), Fodor himself has previously never (...) appealed to the notion of narrow content in explaining Frege cases and cases involving the so-called deferential concepts. And for good reason: his notion of narrow content (1985-91) couldn't explain them. The only apparent change concerns his treatment of Twin Earth cases. However, I argue that the notion of broad content that his purely informational semantics delivers is, in some interesting sense, equivalent to the mapping notion of narrow content he officially gave up. For his pure informational semantics fails to avoid assigning disjunctive content to twins, since nomic covariations take care not only actual but also counterfactual contexts into account. I show that none of the attempts made by Fodor to block this consequence of his theory works. The present notion of broad content he now operates with is therefore in a position to take over all the important jobs that his previous notion of narrow content could do. (shrink)
The development of the semantic externalism in the 1970s was followed by a debate on the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge. Boghossian’s memory argument is one of the most important arguments against the compatibilist view. However, some compatibilists attack Boghossian’s argument by pointing out that his understanding of memory is internalistic. Ludlow and others developed the externalist view of memory to defend the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge. However, the externalist view of memory undermines the epistemic status of memory since (...) it gives memory a burden that is too heavy for it to carry. This paper argues that only if we take the content of memory to be narrow and take that of self-knowledge to be wide and replace Cartesian self-knowledge with contextually constrained self-knowledge, can the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge be effectively defended. (shrink)
This paper is a response to ‘Why Be Rational?’ by Niko Kolodny. Kolodny argues that we have no reason to satisfy the requirements of rationality. His argument assumes that these requirements have a logically narrow scope. To see what the question of scope turns on, this comment provides a semantics for ‘requirement’. It shows that requirements of rationality have a wide scope, at least under one sense of ‘requirement’. Consequently Kolodny's conclusion cannot be derived.
Abstract: In this article, the logic and functions of character-trait ascriptions in ethics and epistemology is compared, and two major problems, the "generality problem" for virtue epistemologies and the "global trait problem" for virtue ethics, are shown to be far more similar in structure than is commonly acknowledged. I suggest a way to put the generality problem to work by making full and explicit use of a sliding scale--a "narrow-broad spectrum of trait ascription"-- and by accounting for the various (...) uses of it in an inquiry-pragmatist account. In virtue theories informed by inquiry pragmatism, the agential habits and abilities deemed salient in explanations/evaluations of agents in particular cases, and the determination of what relevant domains and conditions an agent's habit or ability is reliably efficacious in, is determined by pragmatic concerns related to our evaluative epistemic practices. (shrink)
ONE way t0 defend narrow content is to produce a sentence 0f the form ‘S believes that P’, and show that this sentence is true 0f S if and 0nly if it is true 0f any duplicate from the skin in, any doppclgangcr, of S. N0toriously, this is hard to d0. Twin Earth examples are pervasivc.1 Another way to defend narrow content; is t0 show that Only 2. narrow notion can play thc causal explanatory r01c we require (...) 0f contcnt in 2. properly scicntiicm psychology 0r cognitive science. Notoriously, this is hard t0 d0. The considerations—mcthod010gicaI solipsism, the principle 0f autonomy, 0r what:cvcr—invokcd to show that a broad notion 0f content cannot.. (shrink)
A major obstacle to formulating a broad-content intentional psychology is the occurrence of ''Frege cases'' - cases in which a person apparently believes or desires Fa but not Fb and acts accordingly, even though "a" and "b" have the same broad content. Frege cases seem to demand narrow-content distinctions to explain actions by the contents of beliefs and desires. Jerry Fodor ( The elm and the expert: Mentalese and its semantics , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994) argues that an (...) explanatorily adequate broad-content psychology is nonetheless possible because Frege cases rarely occur in intentional-explanatory contexts, and they are not systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that demands intentional explanation. Thus, he claims, behaviors associated with Frege cases can be considered ceteris-paribus exceptions to broad-content intentional laws without significantly decreasing the explanatory power of intentional psychology. I argue that Frege cases are plentiful and systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that requires intentional explanation, specifically in the explanation of why certain actions are not performed. Consequently, Frege-case behaviors cannot be construed as ceteris-paribus exceptions to intentional laws without significantly eroding the explanatory power of intentional psychology and reducing the rationality of the agent. Fodor thus fails to save broad-content psychology from the prima facie objections against it based on Frege cases. (shrink)
In everyday life, we typically explain what people do by attributing mental states such as beliefs and desires. Such mental states belong to a class of mental states that are _intentional_, mental states that have content. Hoping that Johnny will win, and believing that Johnny will win are of course rather different mental states that can lead to very different behaviour. But they are similar in that they both have the same content : what is being hoped for and believed (...) is the very same thing. According to the thesis of externalism that has been defended most notably by Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge, not all of the contents of our mental states are determined by our intrinsic properties. Instead, the contents of our beliefs and desires are often determined in part by our relations to the environment. They are, so to speak, "wide" contents that are "not in our heads." Although externalism is accepted by most philosophers, many have argued that mental states with wide contents must also have a kind of content wholly determined by the intrinsic properties of the individuals who are in those states. This kind of content is called "narrow content". The aim of this paper is to distinguish between three rather different motivations for postulating narrow content. I argue that, given a certain conception of narrow content that I shall explain below, none of these three motivations succeed in establishing the existence of narrow content. (shrink)
Discussion of Fodor's doctrine of 'methodological solipsism' and Stich's principle of autonomy' has been concerned to show that these principles are incompatible with psychological theories which appeal to states with content (e.g. beliefs and desires). Concern with these issues, and the subsequent attempt to develop a notion of 'narrow' content which is solipsistic or autonomous, has, I believe, obscured a more fundamental issue: No theory which satisfies these principles would ever be able to explain behavior under descriptions which are (...) in fact important to psychology. But I do not simply argue that there are descriptions under which psychological theories will not in fact explain behavior; I argue that descriptions under which psychological theories do explain behavior are not compatible with solipsistic principles. I develop several thought experiments to demonstrate this. (shrink)
Narrow mental content is a kind of mental content that does not depend on an individual's environment. Narrow content contrasts with “broad” or “wide” content, which depends on features of the individual's environment as well as on features of the individual. It is controversial whether there is any such thing as narrow content. Assuming that there is, it is also controversial what sort of content it is, what its relation to ordinary or “broad” content is, and how (...) it is determined by the individual's intrinsic properties. (shrink)
This essay explores the place of coconstrual relations, such as antecedent-anaphor relations, in a theory of grammar informed by minimalist architecture. It has been argued that the logical space created by minimalist theorizing should favor an account of coconstrual derived from the tree-building operations of narrow syntax (Agree, feature theory, Merge and its subcase, Remerge), dispensing with rules or conditions that evaluate constructed trees. On such an account, it is argued, the explanatory power of narrow syntax is enhanced (...) and the role of the interpretive component can be circumscribed. However, if coconstrual cannot be reduced to the derivational relations of narrow syntax, then we must be prepared to reevaluate the role of syntax-sensitive interpretive rules, balancing the need for such rules against any complication of narrow syntax mechanisms just to account for coconstrual. It will be argued that dependent identity relations, the form of coconstrual that is sensitive to syntactic configurations, must be interpreted from the output of narrow syntax and are not expressed within narrow syntax at all. This result unburdens narrow syntax of a class of relations that bring theoretical and empirical complications, while providing a more elegant account of coconstrual in a broader conception of the interpretive interface. (shrink)
If psychology requires a taxonomy that categorizes mental states according to their causal powers, the common sense method of individuating mental states (a taxonomy by intentional content) is unacceptable because mental states can have different intentional content, but identical causal powers. This difference threatens both the vindication of belief/desire psychology and the viability of scientific theories whose posits include intentional states. To resolve this conflict, Fodor has proposed that for scientific purposes mental states should be classified by their narrow (...) content. Such a classification is supposed to correspond to a classification by causal powers. Yet a state's narrow content is also supposed to determine its (broad) intentional content whenever that state is 'anchored' to a context. I examine the two most plausible accounts of narrow content implicit in Fodor's work, arguing that neither account can accomplish both goals. (shrink)
1. In the course of his philosophical development, Jerry Fodor has indicated two sorts of non-broad (i.e., non-truthconditional) content of mental representations, namely content of mental state types opaquely taxonomized (de dicto content: DDC) and narrow content (NC) qua mapping function from contexts (of thought) to broad contents. According to the former conceptualization, mental state tokens which are truth-conditionally identical may be such that they cannot both truthfully ascribed to one and the same subject at the same time, for (...) they differ in their respective DDC. In Fodor's own example, Oedipus' thoughts that he will marry Jocasta and that he will marry Mum are truth-conditionally identical, but different as far their DDC is concerned; one cannot indeed truthfully ascribe both thoughts to him simultaneously1. According to the latter conceptualization instead, mental state tokens of molecularly identical twins placed in different environments (such as Earth and Twin-Earth) are such that, although they differ in their truth-conditions, they share the same NC2. For instance, these twins respectively think that water quenches thirst and that twater (a liquid similar to water but its chemical composition) quenches thirst. Although these thoughts thus differ in broad content, they have the same NC: had the Twin-Earthling twin been brought up on Earth rather than on Twin-Earth where he actually lives, he would have thought that water quenches thirst rather than that twater quenches thirst3. According to Fodor's picture, both concepts are invoked for the purpose of psychology in order to account for one and the same thing, namely subjects' behavior. On the one hand, difference in behavior of a subject whose thought-tokens have the same truth-conditions may be ascribed to difference in the DDC of these tokens4. On the other hand, identity in behavior between two molecularly identical subjects whose thought-tokens have different truth-conditions is explained in terms of the NC- identity of these tokens5.. (shrink)
Fodor’s Informational Semantics states that the content of a representation depends on the counterfactual relation between the representation and the represented. However, his theory suffers from the psychological explanation problem and the indeterminacy problem raised by twin cases. In response to these problems, Fodor has introduced narrow content and a mixed theory of content that combines a historical account with the counterfactual account. In The Elm and the Expert, he drops both of them for the reason that twin cases (...) are nomologically impossible. I argue that Fodor underestimates the persistence of the problems raised by twin cases. Consequently, I contend that Fodor has to keep both the narrow content and the historical account. (shrink)
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.. (shrink)
We consider two axioms of second-order arithmetic. These axioms assert, in two different ways, that infinite but narrow binary trees always have infinite paths. We show that both axioms are strictly weaker than Weak König's Lemma, and incomparable in strength to the dual statement (WWKL) that wide binary trees have paths.
The paper offers a reading of “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” and related writings by the famous Japanese haiku poet of the 17 century, Basho. Employing the Heideggerian distinction between earth and world, the interpretation of Basho suggests that prose narrative, represented by Basho’s travelogue or account of his journey by foot through Japan, inserts nature (earth) within the scope of everyday human concerns (world). The reading suggests that it is in the poetic interludes, the haiku pieces (...) that interrupt the story of the trip with pristine word images of a natural object or scene, that nature unfolds on its own terms, i.e. as a world unto itself. (shrink)
A longstanding problem with the study of empathy is the lack of a clear and agreed upon definition. A trend in the recent literature is to respond to this problem by advancing a broad and all-encompassing view of empathy that applies to myriad processes ranging from mimicry and imitation to high-level perspective taking. I argue that this response takes us in the wrong direction and that what we need in order to better understand empathy is a narrower conceptualization, not a (...) broader one. I propose that empathy be conceptualized as a complex, imaginative process through which an observer simulates another person's situated psychological states while maintaining clear self–other differentiation. I defend my view through an examination of three processes: emotional contagion, a process of self-oriented perspective taking that I call “pseudo-empathy,” and empathy proper. Drawing on recent findings in social neuroscience, I highlight the differences among these processes and discuss conceptual, empirical, and normative reasons for keeping them theoretically and conceptually distinct. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is often presented as a new movement that avoids many of the difficulties that face traditional philosophy. This article distinguishes two views of experimental philosophy: a narrow view in which philosophers conduct empirical investigations of intuitions, and a broad view which says that experimental philosophy is just the colocation in the same body of (i) philosophical naturalism and (ii) the actual practice of cognitive science. These two positions are rarely clearly distinguished in the literature about experimental philosophy, (...) both pro and con. The article argues, first, that the broader view is the only plausible one; discussions of experimental philosophy should recognize that the narrow view is a caricature of experimental philosophy as it is currently done. It then shows both how objections to experimental philosophy are transformed and how positive recommendations can be provided by adopting a broad conception of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Wide-scopers argue that the detachment of intuitively false ‘ought’ claims from hypothetical imperatives is blocked because ‘ought’ takes wide, as opposed to narrow, scope. I present two arguments against this view. The first questions the premise that natural language conditionals are true just in case the antecedent is false. The second shows that intuitively false ‘ought’s can still be detached even WITH wide-scope readings. This weakens the motivation for wide-scoping.
Intentional states represent. Belief represents how we take things to be; desire represents how we would like things to be; and so on. To represent is to make a division among possibilities; it is to divide the possibilities into those that are consistent with how things are being represented to be and those that are not. I will call the possibilities consistent with how some intentional state represents things to be, its content. There is no suggestion that this is the (...) only legitimate notion of content, but for anyone who takes seriously the representational nature of intentional states, it must be one legitimate and central notion of content. To discover that DNA has a double helix structure is to make a selection from the various possible structures. (shrink)
This paper looks at the question of what form the requirements of practical rationality take. One common view is that the requirements of rationality are wide-scope, and another is that they are narrow-scope. I argue that the resolution to the question of wide-scope versus narrow-scope depends to a significant degree on what one expects a theory of rationality to do. In examining these expectations, I consider whether there might be a way to unify requirements of both forms into (...) a single theory of rationality, and what the difficulties involved in doing so can teach us about the foundations of practical rationality. (shrink)
A traditional view maintains that thought, while expressed in language, is non-linguistic in nature and occurs in non-linguistic beings as well. I assess this view against current theories of the evolutionary design of human grammar. I argue that even if some forms of human thought are shared with non-human animals, a residue remains that characterizes a unique way in which human thought is organized as a system. I explore the hypothesis that the cause of this difference is a grammatical way (...) of structuring semantic information, and I present evidence that the organization of grammar precisely reflects the organization of a specific mode of thought apparently distinctive of humans. Since there appears to be no known non-grammatical structuring principle for the relevant mode of thought, I suggest that grammar is that principle, with no independent ?Language of Thought? needed. (shrink)
Our knowledge of the human brain and the influence of pharmacological substances on human mental functioning is expanding. This creates new possibilities to enhance personality and character traits. Psychopharmacological enhancers, as well as other enhancement technologies, raise moral questions concerning the boundary between clinical therapy and enhancement, risks and safety, coercion and justice. Other moral questions include the meaning and value of identity and authenticity, the role of happiness for a good life, or the perceived threats to humanity. Identity and (...) authenticity are central in the debate on psychopharmacological enhancers. In this paper, I first describe the concerns at issue here as extensively propounded by Carl Elliott. Next, I address David DeGrazia’s theory, which holds that there are no fundamental identity-related and authenticity-related arguments against enhancement technologies. I argue, however, that DeGrazia’s line of reasoning does not succeed in settling these concerns. His conception of identity does not seem able to account for the importance we attach to personal identity in␣cases where personal identity is changed through enhancement technology. Moreover, his conception of authenticity does not explain the reason why we find inauthentic values objectionable. A broader approach to authenticity can make sense of concerns about changes in personal identity by means of enhancement technologies. (shrink)
In this paper I present an original and relatively conciliatory solution to one of the central contemporary debates in the theory of rationality, the debate about the proper formulation of rational requirements. I begin by offering my own version of the “symmetry problem” for wide scope rational requirements, and I show how this problem necessitates the introduction of a normative concept other than the traditional notions of reason and requirement. I then sketch a theory of rational commitment , showing how (...) this notion solves the symmetry problem as I’ve presented it. I also show that the concept of rational commitment is one we already appeal to in common sense discourse, and that it is necessary for vindicating comparative judgments of rationality. (shrink)
Millikan and Wilson argue, for different reasons, that the essential reference to the environment in adaptationist explanations of behavior makes (psychological) individualism inconsistent with evolutionary psychology. I show that their arguments are based on misinterpretations of the role of reference to the environment in such explanations. By exploring these misinterpretations, I develop an account of explanation in evolutionary psychology that is fully consistent with individualism. This does not, however, constitute a full-fledged defense of individualism, since evolutionary psychology is only one (...) explanatory paradigm among many in psychology. (shrink)
This paper argues that Rawls’ principles of justice provide a normative foundation for stakeholder theory. The principles articulate (at an abstract level) citizens’ rights; these rights create interests across all aspects of society, including in the space of economic activity; and therefore, stakeholders – as citizens – have legitimate interests in the space of economic activity. This approach to stakeholder theory suggests a political interpretation of Boatright’s Moral Market approach, one that emphasizes the rights/place of citizens. And this approach to (...) stakeholder theory – in terms of citizens – raises a further question, what rights and obligations do economic agents have, beyond those attached to their roles as citizens? Rawls would reject additional rights and obligations of this sort for two reasons, one tied to freedom and one tied to pluralism. Rawls’ work therefore presses us to re-conceptualize the place of ethical claims in the economic context. (shrink)
Williamson (2000) [Knowledge and its Limits, Oxford: Oxford University Press] argues that attempts to substitute narrow mental states or narrow/environmental composites for broad and factive mental states will result in poorer explanations of behavior. I resist Williamson.
In a number works Jerry Fodor has defended a reductive, causal and referential theory of cognitive content. I argue against this, defending a quasi-Fregean notion of cognitive content, and arguing also that the cognitive content of non-singular concepts is narrow, rather than wide.
I argue that game theoretic explanations of human actions make implausible epistemological assumptions. A logical analysis of game theoretic explanations shows that they do not conform to the belief-desire framework of action explanation. Epistemic characterization theorems (specifying sufficient conditions for game theoretic solution concepts to obtain) are argued to be the canonical way to make game theory conform to that framework. The belief formation practices implicit in epistemic characterization theorems, however, disregard all information about players except what can be found (...) in the game itself. And such a practice of belief formation is, I show, implausible. (shrink)
This article systematically challenges Kripke's modal argument and Soames's defence of this argument by arguing that, just like descriptions, names can take narrow or wide scopes over modalities, and that there is a big difference between the wide scope reading and the narrow scope reading of a modal sentence with a name. Its final conclusions are that all of Kripke's and Soames's arguments are untenable due to some fallacies or mistakes; names are not “rigid designators”; if there were (...) rigid designators, description(s) could be rigidified to refer fixedly to objects; so names cannot be distinguished in this way from the corresponding descriptions. A descriptivist account of names is still correct; and there is no justification for Kripke's theory of rigid designation and its consequences. (shrink)
The first thesis is that beliefs play a role in explaining behavior. This is reasonably uncontroversial, though it has been controverted. Why did I raise my arm? Because I wanted to emphasize a point, and believed that I could do so by raising my arm. The belief that I could emphasize a point by raising my arm is central to the most natural explanation of my action.
In a survey of his views in the philosophy of mind, David Lewis criticizes much recent work in the field by attacking an imaginary opponent, Strawman. His case against Strawman focuses on four central theses which Lewis takes to be widely accepted among contemporary philosophers of mind. These theses concerns (1) the language of thought hypothesis and its relation to folk psychology, (2) narrow content, (3) de se content, and (4) rationality. We respond to Lewis, arguing (among other things) (...) that he underestimates Strawman’s theoretical resources in a variety of important ways. (shrink)