As AI systems become increasingly competent language users, it is an apt moment to consider what it would take for machines to understand human languages. This paper considers whether either language models such as GPT-3 or chatbots might be able to understand language, focusing on the question of whether they could possess the relevant concepts. A significant obstacle is that systems of both kinds interact with the world only through text, and thus seem ill-suited to understanding utterances concerning the concrete (...) objects and properties which human language often describes. Language models cannot understand human languages because they perform only linguistic tasks, and therefore cannot represent such objects and properties. However, chatbots may perform tasks concerning the non-linguistic world, so they are better candidates for understanding. Chatbots can also possess the concepts necessary to understand human languages, despite their lack of perceptual contact with the world, due to the language-mediated concept-sharing described by social externalism about mental content. (shrink)
Ever since the publication of Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, there’s been a raging debate in philosophy of language over whether meaning and thought are, in some sense, normative. Most participants in the normativity wars seem to agree that some uses of meaningful expressions are semantically correct while disagreeing over whether this entails anything normative. But what is it to say that a use of an expression is semantically correct? On the so-called orthodox construal, it is to say (...) that it doesn’t result in a factual mistake, that is, in saying or thinking something false. On an alternative construal it is instead to say that it doesn’t result in a distinctively linguistic mistake, that is, in misusing the expression. It is natural to think that these two construals of semantic correctness are simply about different things and not in competition with each other. However, this is not the common view. Instead, several philosophers who subscribe to the orthodox construal have argued that the alternative construal of correctness as use in accordance with meaning doesn’t make any sense, partly because there are no clear cases of linguistic mistakes (Whiting 2016, Wikforss 2001). In this paper I develop and defend the idea that there’s a distinctively linguistic notion of correctness as use in accordance with meaning and argue that there are clear cases of linguistic mistakes. (shrink)
Eliminativism is a position most readily associated with the eliminative materialism of the Churchlands, denying that there are such things as propositional states. This position has created much controversy, despite the fact that intentionality has long been seen as perhaps the core problem for naturalistic philosophy. There is a more radical interpretation of eliminativism, however, denying not only mental states, such as beliefs and desires, but also intentionality (i.e., aboutness) on a global level. This position traces its contemporary origin back (...) to Quine, but has generally been assumed to undermine naturalism or, worse, to be incoherent by the majority of philosophers who maintain that there clearly are things or mental states that are about others. In a recent paper, Hutto and Satne (2015a) offer an update that tries to revive John Haugeland’s baseball analogy from his influential 1990 review paper The Intentionality All-Stars on the state of the game to argue that the failure of Neo-Cartesians, Neo- Behaviorists, and Neo-Pragmatists should urge us to make them work together to naturalize content and “win the game.” But Hutto and Satne misunderstand what the game is ultimately about. The goal of the Intentionality All-Stars is not to naturalize content against eliminativism but to defend a naturalist “thirdperson” view of the problem against first-person phenomenalists. For this goal, a naturalist defense of global content eliminativism would equally enable them to emerge victorious. Revisiting Haugeland, I will offer my own analysis of the current state of play to argue that global content eliminativism has not received sufficient attention and deserves a more prominent place in the debate than it currently occupies. (shrink)
According to Sparse views of perceptual content, the phenomenal character of perceptual experience is exhausted by the experiential presentation of ‘low-level’ properties such as (in the case of vision) shapes, colors, and textures Whereas, according to Rich views of perceptual content, the phenomenal character of perceptual experience can also sometimes involve experiencing ‘high-level’ properties such as natural kinds, artefactual kinds, causal relations, linguistic meanings, and moral properties. An important dialectical tool in the debate between Rich and Sparse theorists is the (...) so-called ‘method of phenomenal contrast’. I explore how this method of phenomenal contrast interacts with the sort of content-externalism made familiar by Putnam. I show that the possibility of Twin Earth style cases places important restrictions on the range of properties that the method of phenomenal contrast could plausibly apply to. Moreover, these restrictions would apply to some paradigmatically low-level properties as well as to some of the frequently advanced high-level properties. I also draw some general lessons about the different ways one might conceive of the relation between phenomenal character and representational content. (shrink)
The article is an attempt at establishing a theoretical basis for a dialogue between phenomenology and contemporary philosophy, with regard to the problem of internalism-externalism. It is argued, according to Roman Ingarden, that one has to first of all put forward an adequate question about the problem, to be able to understand it appropriately. Moreover, the analysis is limited to the two forms of the internalism-externalism debate, namely semantics and the philosophy of the mind. Within Husserl’s phenomenology one can easily (...) point to basic intuitions that justify thesis that this philosophy refers to the internalism-externalism problem. Ultimately, by using phenomenological terminology, the article arrives at questions about possible internalism-or-externalism within Husserl’s phenomenological project. The questions, however, suggest that phenomenology can be neither clearly nor completely classified either as internalism or as externalism. (shrink)
Semantic externalism in the style of McDowell and Evans faces a puzzle formulated by Pryor: to explain that a sentence such as 'Jack exists' is only a posteriori knowable, despite being logically entailed by the seemingly logical truth 'Jack is self-identical', and hence being itself a logical truth and therefore a priori knowable. Free logics can dissolve the puzzle. Moreover, Pryor has argued that the existentially hedged 'If Jack exists, then Jack is self-identical', when properly formalised, is a logical truth (...) in a system of neutral free logic and therefore a priori knowable, while it does not entail that Jack exists. The latter holds also for negative free logic. In response, Yeakel has argued that on any system of neutral free logic existence hedges will either entail some unwanted existence claims or they will not entail some wanted existence claims. The dilemma also holds for any non-positive free logic. It will be shown that the extension of one of the systems of neutral free logic with a truth operator escapes Yeakel's dilemma, whereas no other non-positive free logic when extended with the truth operator does the same (or it breaks quantifier exchangeability). (shrink)
RESUMEN En este artículo analizo el reto que la tesis de la indeterminación referencial quineana supone para un conjunto concreto de teorías externistas de la referencia. En un primer momento, se presenta una distinción metasemántica entre teorías productivas e interpretativistas, indicando que la indeterminación permea a ambas. Posteriormente, se evalúan los intentos externistas de rebatir dicho problema al acentuar el rol sustantivo de los objetos externos en la fijación de la referencia señalando que, a pesar de todo, el problema persiste. (...) Finalmente, se analiza la concepción "internista" de la referencia quineana que, en principio, socava los argumentos externistas en torno a la referencia. ABSTRACT In this paper I analyze the challenge that the Quinean referential indeterminacy thesis poses to a specific set of externalist theories of reference. First, a metasemantic distinction between productive and interpretivist theories is presented, indicating that indeterminacy permeates both. Subsequently, externalist attempts to refute this problem by stressing the substantive role of external objects in the fixation of reference are evaluated, pointing out that the problem persists. Finally, the "internalist" conception of Quinean reference is analyzed, which, in principle, undermines the externalist arguments about reference. (shrink)
In this paper, I compare various theories of perception in relation to the question of the epistemological and ontological status of the qualities that appear in perceptual experience. I group these theories into two main views: quality externalism and quality internalism, and I highlight their contrasting problems in accounting for phenomena such as perceptual relativity, illusions and hallucinations. Then, I propose an alternative view, which I call qualitative relationism and which conceives of the subject and the object of perceptual experience (...) as essentially related to one another in a process of co-constitution out of fundamental qualities. I lend support to this view by drawing on Husserl’s genetic phenomenology, which I complement with a form of neutral monism. I argue that the investigation of the temporal structure of perceptual experience leads us to find at its heart a qualitative process that is more fundamental than the two relata of perception and that gives rise to them. Then, I extend this account of perception into a general theory of intentionality and experience and I develop its implications into a neutral monist metaphysics. (shrink)
We might wonder whether there is a difference between experiencing an artwork and simply daydreaming. If the latter, would it be a matter of art communicating something or simply providing a backdrop for personal reverie? According to some influential key texts in philosophy, there is a difference. And it matters because our capacity for communicating the kind of thing art communicates, is a capacity linked to the possibility of not feeling alienated from the world and each other. In this chapter (...) we focus on The weather project, which was a site specific installation Olafur Eliasson created at the Tate Modern in 2003. And to consider how this artwork communicates, we adopt a key concept from Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory: “aesthetic ideas”. (shrink)
Accounting for qualia in the natural world is a difficult business, and it is worth understanding why. A close examination of several theories of mind—Behaviorism, Identity Theory, Functionalism, and Integrated Information Theory—will be discussed, revealing shortcomings for these theories in explaining the contents of conscious experience: qualia. It will be argued that in order to overcome the main difficulty of these theories the senses should be interpreted as physical detectors. A new theory, Grounded Functionalism, will be proposed, which retains multiple (...) realizability while allowing for a scientifically based approach toward accounting for qualia in the natural world. (shrink)
This is a critical review of Herman Cappelen’s Fixing Language (2018), an excellent and thought-provoking introduction to a hot topic in metaphilosophy: conceptual engineering, which defines the process of evaluating and improving/revising our representational devices (popularly known as concepts). Here, I first present an overview of the book, summarizing his General Theory of conceptual engineering. Second, I point out some limits of the General Theory, in particular the putative consequence of his semantic externalism, the Lack of Control thesis. According to (...) it, the processes behind changes in meaning are too complex and amorphous for revisionary projects to be generally successful. However, I claim that a proper investigation of Lack of Control demands us to look at the sciences, especially the social sciences, something absent in Cappelen’s book. Furthermore, I remember that many conceptual engineers do not put forward large-scale revisions, but rather local ones – i.e., restricted to specific scientific and institutional contexts, and therefore more feasible and potentially relevant. (shrink)
Near the end of 'Naming the Colours', Lewis (1997) makes an interesting claim about the relationship between linguistic and mental content; we are typically unable to read the content of a belief off the content of a sentence used to express that belief or vice versa. I call this view autonomism. I motivate and defend autonomism and discuss its importance in the philosophy of mind and language. In a nutshell, I argue that the different theoretical roles that mental and linguistic (...) content play suggest these kinds of content should be understood as sensitive to different things. (shrink)
Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne have recently presented a thought experiment—Mirror Man—designed to refute internalist theories of belief and content. We distinguish five ways in which the case can be interpreted and argue that on none does it refute internalism.
In this paper, I argue that an adequate meta-semantic framework capable of accommodating the range of projects currently identified as projects in conceptual engineering must be sensitive to the fact that concepts (and hence projects relating to them) fall into distinct kinds. Concepts can vary, I will argue, with respect to their direction of determination, their modal range, and their temporal range. Acknowledging such variations yields a preliminary taxonomy of concepts and generates a meta-semantic framework that allows us both to (...) accommodate the full range of cases and to identify a proper subset of concepts for special ameliorative consideration. Ignoring such variations, in contrast, leads to a restricted meta-semantic framework that accommodates only a subset of the particular projects while generating implausible accounts of others. (shrink)
According to the Self-Location Thesis, certain types of visual experiences have self-locating and so first-person, spatial contents. Such self-locating contents are typically specified in relational egocentric terms. So understood, visual experiences provide support for the claim that there is a kind of self-consciousness found in experiential states. This paper critically examines the Self-Location Thesis with respect to dynamic-reflexive visual experiences, which involve the movement of an object toward the location of the perceiving subject. The main aim of this paper is (...) to offer an alternative interpretation of these cases which resists attributing them self-locating content, arguing for a replacement of the de se component with a non-conceptual equivalent of the indexical ‘here’. In its final section, the paper also considers an extension of the h-replacement account to cases of visual kinesthesis. (shrink)
Action-based theories of cognition place primary emphasis upon the role that agent-environment coupling plays in the emergence of psychological states. Prima facie, mental imagery seems to present a problem for some of these theories because it is understood to be stimulus-absent and thus thought to be decoupled from the environment. However, mental imagery is much more multifaceted than this “naïve” view suggests. Focusing on a particular kind of imagery, comparative mental imagery generation, this paper demonstrates that although such imagery is (...) stimulus-absent, it is also stimulus-sensitive. Exhibiting stimulus-sensitivity is sufficient for a process to qualify as coupled to the environment. The notion of variant coupling is explicated as the coupling of a cognizer’s perceptual system to variant environmental information. By demarcating the categories of stimulus-absent and stimulus-sensitive cognition, and variant and invariant coupling, this paper expands the conceptual apparatus of action-based theories, suggesting not only a way to address the problem that comparative mental imagery generation presents, but perhaps a way to account for other forms of imagery too. (shrink)
I offer an explicit account of the underdetermination thesis as well as of the many challenges it poses to scientific realism; a way to answer to these challenges is explored and outlined, by shifting attention to the content of theories. I argue that, even if we have solid grounds (as I contend we do) to support that some varieties of the underdetermination thesis are true, scientific realism can still offer an adequate picture of the aims and achievements of science.
According to Lynne Rudder Baker’s Practical Realism, we know that we have beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes independent of any scientific investigation. Propositional attitudes are an indispensable part of our everyday conception of the world and not in need of scientific validation. This paper asks what is the nature of the attitudes such that we may know them so well from a commonsense perspective. I argue for a self-ascriptivist view, on which we have propositional attitudes in virtue of ascribing (...) them to ourselves. On this view, propositional attitudes are derived representational states, deriving their contents and their attitude types from our self-ascriptions. (shrink)
The view that a mental state is “transparent” is the view that the mental state is such that we cannot direct our attention directly towards the mental state, and that instead, when we try to do so, we attend to something in the external world rather than the mental state itself. Results from the study of internal attention put transparency views under a pressure that has so far been entirely unacknowledged in the literature. I focus on Garavan (1998) study of (...) switching the focus of internal attention from one mental count to another mental count. I argue that Garavan’s results are evidence that we can direct our attention to occurrent thought, contra Alexander Byrne’s (2008, 2018) claim that occurrent thought is actually transparent. (shrink)
This dissertation defends the view that concepts encode causal information and, for the first time, applies this view to a range of topics in the philosophy of language and social philosophy. In my first chapter (“Cognitive Essentialism and the Structure of Concepts”), I survey the current empirical and theoretical literature on causal-essentialist theories of concepts. In my second chapter (“Meaning Externalism and Causal Model Theory”), I propose an account of natural kind concepts according to which they encode statistical information of (...) features of a natural kind, and represents these features as causally related to each other. I show that this internalist model of concepts correctly predicts intuitions about Putnam’s twin earth scenario and Kripke’s conceivability cases that historically motivated philosophers of language to accept externalist accounts of meaning. The defended theory of concepts also informs topics that go beyond traditional issues in philosophy of language. In my third chapter (“An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs”), I defend the view that slurs are, too, a species of kind terms: slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. This explains both the peculiar linguistic behavior of slurs and slurs’ dehumanizing effects. In my fourth chapter, I build on this insight, showing that the explicit language in and around pornography depicts women as ‘kinds’ or ‘breeds’ that are naturally made to enjoy certain sexual acts, and argue that this deterministic picture of women dehumanizes them. (shrink)
The subject of mental processes or mental states is usually assumed to be an individual, and hence the boundaries of mental features – in a strict or metaphorical sense – are naturally regarded as reaching no further than the boundaries of the individual. This chapter addresses various philosophical developments in the 20th and 21st century that questioned this natural assumption. I will frame this discussion by fi rst presenting a historically infl uential commitment to the individualistic nature of the mental (...) in Descartes’ theory. I identify various elements in the Cartesian conception of the mind that were subsequently criticized and rejected by various externalist theories, advocates of the extended mind hypothesis and defenders of embodied cognition. Then I will indicate the main trends in these critiques. (shrink)
Content-externalism is the view that a subject’s relations to a context can play a role in individuating the content of her mental states. According to social content-externalists, relations to a socio-linguistic context can play a fundamental individuating role. Åsa Wikforss has suggested that ‘social externalism depends on the assumption that individuals have an incomplete grasp of their own concepts’ (Wikforss 2004, p. 287). In this paper, I show that this isn’t so. I develop and defend an argument for social content-externalism (...) which does not depend on this assumption. The argument is animated by strands of thought in the later work of Wittgenstein. In addition to demonstrating that social externalists are not necessarily committed to thinking that a subject can have thoughts involving concepts which she incompletely understands, this argument is important insofar as it: (1) supports a form of content-externalism with extended scope; (2) avoids the controversy surrounding the claim that subjects can think with concepts which they incompletely understand; and (3) situates Wittgenstein’s later work with respect to contemporary debates about content-externalism. (shrink)
We have been left with a big challenge, to articulate consciousness and also to prove it in an artificial agent against a biological standard. After introducing Boltuc’s h-consciousness in the last paper, we briefly reviewed some salient neurology in order to sketch less of a standard than a series of targets for artificial consciousness, “most-consciousness” and “myth-consciousness.” With these targets on the horizon, we began reviewing the research program pursued by Jun Tani and colleagues in the isolation of the formal (...) dynamics essential to either. In this paper, we describe in detail Tani’s research program, in order to make the clearest case for artificial consciousness in these systems. In the next paper, the third in the series, we will return to Boltuc’s naturalistic non-reductionism in light of the neurorobotics models introduced (alongside some others), and evaluate them more completely. (shrink)
This paper exposes a common mistake concerning the division of linguistic labor. I characterize the mistake as an overgeneralization from natural kind terms; this misleads philosophers about which terms are subject to the division of linguistic labor, what linguistic labor is, how linguistic labor is divided, and how the extensions of non-natural kind terms subject to the division of linguistic labor are determined. I illustrate these points by considering Sally Haslanger’s account of the division of linguistic labor for social kind (...) terms and raising an objection to it. Then, I draw on Tyler Burge’s work to characterize a conception of the division of linguistic labor that avoids the mistaken overgeneralization and grounds 1–4 above in social norms and practices. (shrink)
Several lines of reasoning have been proposed to show the incompatibility of content externalism with justification internalism. In this paper I examine two such lines of reasoning, which both rely on the general idea that since content externalism is incompatible with certain aspects of the alleged privileged character of self-knowledge, it would tend to undermine justification internalism as well. I shall argue that both lines of reasoning, as they stand, lack plausibility, though the core idea of the second line can (...) be reconstructed into a new argument which shows considerable promise. In particular, relying upon the reliability constraint on knowledge, I shall argue that the so-called ‘two-concept’ version of content externalism is incompatible with ‘the transparency of sameness of content’, and thereby would also undermine justification internalism. (shrink)
This paper provides an externalist account of talk and thought that clearly distinguishes the two. It is argued that linguistic meanings and concepts track different phenomena and have different explanatory roles. The distinction, understood along the lines proposed, brings theoretical gains in a cluster of related areas. It provides an account of meaning change which accommodates the phenomenon of contested meanings and the possibility of substantive disagreement across theoretical divides, and it explains the nature and value of conceptual engineering in (...) a way that addresses recent prominent concerns. (shrink)
Content externalism implies first, that there is a distinction between concepts and conceptions, and second, that there is a distinction between thoughts and states of mind. In this paper, I argue for a novel theory of self-knowledge: the partial-representation theory of self-knowledge, according to which the self-ascription of a thought is authoritative when it is based on a con-scious, occurrent thought in virtue of which it partially represents an underlying state of mind.
Philosophy of mind and cognitive science have recently become increasingly receptive to the hypothesis of extended cognition, according to which external artifacts such as our laptops and smartphones can—under appropriate circumstances—feature as material realizers of a person's cognitive processes. We argue that, to the extent that the hypothesis of extended cognition is correct, our legal and ethical theorizing and practice must be updated by broadening our conception of personal assault so as to include intentional harm toward gadgets that have been (...) appropriately integrated. We next situate the theoretical case for extended personal assault within the context of some recent ethical and legal cases and close with critical discussion. (shrink)
On the dominant interpretation, Ockham is an externalist about mental content. This reading is founded principally on his theory of intuitive cognition. Intuitive cognition plays a foundational role in Ockham’s account of concept formation and judgment, and Ockham insists that the content of intuitive states is determined by the causal relations such states bear to their objects. The aim of this paper is to challenge the externalist interpretation by situating Ockham’s account of intuitive cognition vis-à-vis his broader account of efficient (...) causation. While there can be no doubt that intuitive states are causally individuated, I argue that, given Ockham’s broader theory of efficient causation (on which causation turns out to be an internal relation), this very fact entails that the content of such states is determined by factors internal (rather than external) to the states themselves. (shrink)
Words change meaning over time. Some meaning shift is accompanied by a corresponding change in subject matter; some meaning shift is not. In this paper I argue that an account of linguistic meaning can accommodate the first kind of case, but that a theory of concepts is required to accommodate the second. Where there is stability of subject matter through linguistic change, it is concepts that provide the stability. The stability provided by concepts allows for genuine disagreement and ameliorative change (...) in the context of conceptual engineering. (shrink)
We examine some of the ramifications of extended cognition for virtue epistemology by exploring the idea within extended cognition that it is possible to decentralize cognitive agency such that cognitive agency includes socio-cultural practices. In doing so, we first explore the (seemingly unquestioned) assumption in both virtue epistemology and extended cognition that cognitive agency is an individualistic phenomenon. A distributed notion of cognitive agency alters the landscape of knowledge attribution in virtue epistemology. We conclude by offering a pragmatic notion of (...) cognitive agency, where the situation sets the benchmarks for whether cognitive agency is individualistic or socio-culturally distributed. (shrink)
The theory of object-dependent singular thought is outlined and the central motivation for it, turning on the connection between thought content and truth conditions, is discussed. Some of its consequences for the epistemology of thought are noted and connections are drawn to the general doctrine of externalism about thought content. Some of the main criticisms of the object-dependent view of singular thought are outlined. Rival conceptions of singular thought are also sketched and their problems noted.
Two aspects of cognitive coupling, as brought forward in the Extended Mind Hypothesis, are discussed in this paper: how shall the functional coupling between the organism and some entity in his environment be spelled out in detail? What are the paradigmatic external entities to enter into that coupling? These two related questions are best answered in the light of an aetiological variety of functionalist argument that adds historical depth to the “active externalism” promoted by Clark and Chalmers and helps to (...) counter some of the core criticisms levelled against this view. Under additional reference to conceptual parallels between the Extended Mind Hypothesis and a set of heterodox theories in biology—environmental constructivism, niche construction, developmental systems theory—an argument for the grounding of environmentally extended cognitive traits in evolved biological functions is developed. In a spirit that seeks to integrate extended functionalism with views from cognitive integration and complementarity, it is argued that instances of environmental coupling should be understood as being constitutive to cognitive functions in either of two distinct ways. It is further argued that the historically and systematically prior environmental counterparts in that coupling are features of the natural environment. Language and linguistically imbued artefacts are likely to have descended from more basic relations that have an extension over the environment. (shrink)
The Internet is an important focus of attention for those concerned with issues of extended cognition. In particular, the application of active externalist theorizing to the Internet gives rise to the notion of Internet-extended cognition: the idea that the Internet can form part of an integrated nexus of material elements that serves as the realization base for human mental states and processes. The current review attempts to survey a range of issues and controversies that arise in respect of the notion (...) of Internet-extended cognition. These include the issue of whether the Internet, as a technological system, is able to support real-world cases of cognitive extension. It also includes issues concerning the cognitive and epistemic impacts of the Internet. Finally, the review highlights a range of issues and concerns that have not been the focus of previous philosophical attention. These include issues of ‘network-extended cognitive bloat’, ‘conjoined minds’, and an entirely new form of cognitive extension that goes under the heading of ‘human-extended machine cognition’. Together, these issues serve to highlight the value and importance of Internet-extended cognition to contemporary philosophical debates about the extended mind. In particular, the notion of Internet-extended cognition has the potential to highlight points of philosophical progress that are not easily revealed by the kind of technologically low-grade cases that tend to animate the majority of philosophical discussions in this area. (shrink)
One of the principal presuppositions in the extended mind account of Clark and Chalmers establishes that extended and non-extended cognitive systems have somehow the same structure and that the distinctions between them can only be superficial. In contrast, this work presents some arguments for the idea that it is possible to find fundamental differences between both, mainly on the basis that a criterion that does not include the notion of knowledge is not strong enough to define cognitive processes. A brief (...) analysis on the non-transitivity of trust and the notion of causal dependence between information and cognitive systems might be helpful to support this position. It will be argued that the counterfactual block which supports the extended mind building does not seem to be firm. (shrink)
The paper analyses theoretical presuppositions of the predominant form of semantic naturalism in contemporary analytic philosophy. The aim is to show that irrespective of the fact that the doctrine of semantic naturalism is grounded in ontological and epistemological naturalism, and is developed on the basis of semantic externalism, this conception of foundational semantics rests on internalist premises, and therefore should be construed as Cartesian. Theories and their interrelations that are assumed by semantic naturalism are explicated by relying on the tripartite (...) interpretation of “the problem of intentionality”. The Cartesian aspects of the assumed theories – and thus of the form of semantic naturalism that is analysed – are then specified in the context of Hilary Putnam’s version of semantic externalism. (shrink)
The Content Skeptic argues that a subject could not have introspective knowledge of a thought whose content is individuated widely. This claim is incorrect, relying on the tacit assumption that introspective knowledge differs significantly from other species of knowledge. The paper proposes a reliabilist model for understanding introspective knowledge according to which introspective knowledge is simply another species of knowledge, and according to which claims to introspective knowledge are not, as suggested by the Content Skeptic, defeated by the mere possibility (...) of error. This way of understanding introspective knowledge affords a robust theory of privileged access consistent with semantic externalism. (shrink)
The paper offers some preliminary and rather unsystematic reflections about the question: Do Beliefs Have Their Contents Essentially? The question looks like it ought to be important, yet it is rarely discussed. Maybe that’s because content essentialism, i.e., the view that beliefs do have their contents essentially, is simply too obviously and trivially true to deserve much discussion. I sketch a common-sense argument that might be taken to show that content essentialism is indeed utterly obvious and/or trivial. Somewhat against this, (...) I then point out that a “sexy” conclusion that is sometimes drawn from Putnam-Burge-style externalist arguments, namely that our mental states are not in our heads, presupposes content essentialism — which suggests that the view is not entirely trivial. Moreover, it seems intuitively that physicalists should reject the view: If beliefs are physical states, how could they have their propositional contents essentially? I distinguish three readings of the title question. Content essentialism does seem fairly obvious on the first two, but not so on the third. I argue that the common-sense argument mentioned earlier presupposes one of the first two readings but fails to apply to the third, on which ‘belief’ refers to belief-state tokens. That’s because ordinary belief individuation is silent about belief-state tokens. Token physicalists, I suggest, should indeed reject content essentialism about belief-state tokens. What about token dualists? One might think they ought to embrace content essentialism about belief-state tokens. I end with puzzling why this should be so. (shrink)
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.
Based on an endorsement of the hypothesis of extended cognition, this paper proposes a criticism of the representationalist assumptions that still pertain to these contemporary models of cognition. I first rehearse some basic problems akin to any representationalist model of cognition, before proposing some more specific arguments directed against the necessity, the plausibility, and the coherence of the marriage between extended cognition and contemporary representationalism. Extended and distributed models of cognition have the resources to get rid of representationalism, and they (...) should better do it. Their adherence to representationalism might be an by-product of the extended character of the scientific study of cognition. (shrink)
After a brief summary of Andy Clark's book, Supersizing the Mind I address Clark's approach to language which I argue to be inadequate. Clark is criticized for reifying language, thus neglecting that it is an interpersonal activity, not a stable system of symbols. With a starting point in language as a social phenomenon, I suggest an ecological approach to the extended mind hypothesis, arguing against Clark's assumption that the extended mind is necessarily brain-centered.