About this topic
Summary Teleological accounts of mental content seek to account for the contents of our mental states in terms of the biological functions of the mechanisms that produce and use those states, and/or the functions of those states themselves. Such accounts are naturalistic because they posit the scientifically respectable, non-semantic property of biological function to explain why our mental states have the contents that they have. The main objection to teleological accounts is that they are unable to attribute determinate functions to the mechanisms that produce and use mental states, and so are unable to attribute determinate contents to those states. The major proponents of teleological accounts offer contrasting responses to this objection, which turn on differences in their respective theoretical frameworks.
Key works Millikan 1984 is the initial statement of the most influential version of the teleological account, while Millikan 1989 provides a more accessible overview. Other key papers on this version of the account are collected in Millikan 1993Papineau 1984 and Papineau 1987 introduce a rival teleological account. The indeterminacy problem for such accounts, first raised in Fodor 1990, is addressed in Neander 1995 and Papineau 1998, which also offer contrasting responses to the problem. The main papers on the notion of biological function are collected in Ariew et al 2002, while views on the current state of play in the literature on teleological accounts can be found in Macdonald & Papineau 2006
Introductions A useful overview article on teleological accounts is Neander 2004, while a recent summary of the most influential version of the account is Millikan 1989. An accessible introduction to the rival version of the account can be found in Papineau 1987
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  1. A Teleosemantic Theory of Mental Conditionals.Brian Leahy - manuscript
    The purposes of this paper are first, to develop clearly the problem of mental conditionals for Millikan’s theory; second, to show why existing approaches to conditional semantics face serious challenges from a teleosemantic perspective; and third, to offer an account of the function of mental conditionals that meets the requirements of Millikan’s theory. We end up not only with a solution to a standing problem for teleosemantics, but also with a novel avenue for research in conditional semantics.
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  2. Why Go for a Computation-Based Approach to Cognitive Representation.Dimitri Coelho Mollo - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    The traditional view in (philosophy of) cognitive science is that computation in cognitive systems conceptually depends on representation: to compute is to manipulate representations. I argue that accepting the non-semantic teleomechanistic view of computation lays the ground for a promising alternative strategy, in which computation helps to explain and naturalise representation, rather than the other way around. I show that this computation-based approach to representation presents six decisive advantages over the traditional view. I claim that it can improve the two (...)
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  3. An Alternative to the Causal Theory of Perception.Todd Ganson - forthcoming - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-13.
    Proponents of the causal theory of perception have applied the theory to questions about which particular objects or events are perceived, which parts are perceived, and which properties are perceived. In each case they insist that successful perception is causally dependent on what is perceived. The causal theory rests on an important insight regarding the information-carrying role of perception. In order to succeed in this role, perception cannot be grounded in spurious correlations. But we can respect this insight without embracing (...)
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  4. Representation in Cognitive Science, by Nicholas Shea.Todd Ganson - forthcoming - Mind.
    Representation in Cognitive Science, by SheaNicholas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 292.
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  5. Explanation and Modality: On Why the Swampman is Still Worrisome to Teleosemanticists.Dongwoo Kim - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    In a series of papers, Papineau argues that the Swampman scenario is not even the start of an objection to teleosemantics as a scientific reduction of belief. It is against this claim that I want to argue here. I shall argue that our intuition about the scenario questions the adequacy of the conceptual foundations of teleosemantics, namely, success semantics and the etiological conception of biological function, on which the explanatory power of the theory rests. In the course of argument, some (...)
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  6. Kolors Without Colors, Representation Without Intentionality.Angela Mendelovici & David Bourget - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Over the past few decades, the dominant approach to explaining intentionality has been a naturalistic approach, one appealing only to non-mental ingredients condoned by the natural sciences. Karen Neander’s A Mark of the Mental (2017) is the latest installment in the naturalist project, proposing a detailed and systematic theory of intentionality that combines aspects of several naturalistic approaches, invoking causal relations, teleological functions, and relations of second-order similarity. In this paper, we consider the case of perceptual representations of colors, which (...)
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  7. Neuroscience and teleosemantics.Ruth Garrett Millikan - forthcoming - Synthese:1-9.
    Correctly understood, teleosemantics is the claim that “representation” is a function term. Things are called “representations” if they have a certain kind of function or telos and perform it in a certain kind of way. This claim is supported with a discussion and proposals about the function of a representation and of how representations perform that function. These proposals have been retrieved by putting together current descriptions from the literature on neural representations with earlier explorations of the features common to (...)
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  8. Comment on Artiga’s “Teleosemantics and Pushmi-Pullyu Representations”.Ruth Garrett Millikan - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-9.
    “Teleosemantics and Pushmi-Pullyu Representations” argues that core teleosemantics, particularly as defined in Millikan :281–297, 1989, White queen psychology and other essays for Alice, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1993, Philosophical perspectives, Ridgeview Publishing, Alascadero, 1996, Varieties of meaning, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2004–2008), seems to imply that all descriptive representations are at the same time directive and that directives are at the same time descriptive, hence that all representations are pushmi-pullyu representations. A pushmi-pullyu representation is at once indicative and imperative, telling both what (...)
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  9. Beyond Black Dots and Nutritious Things: A Solution to the Indeterminacy Problem.Marc Artiga - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (3):471-490.
    The indeterminacy problem is one of the most prominent objections against naturalistic theories of content. In this essay I present this difficulty and argue that extant accounts are unable to solve it. Then, I develop a particular version of teleosemantics, which I call ’explanation-based teleosemantics’, and show how this outstanding problem can be addressed within the framework of a powerful naturalistic theory.
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  10. Should the Teleosemanticist Be Afraid of Semantic Indeterminacy?Karl Bergman - 2021 - Mind and Language.
    The teleosemantic indeterminacy problem has generated much discussion but no consensus. One possible solution is to accept indeterminacy as a real feature of some representations. I call this view “indeterminacy realism.” In this paper, I argue that indeterminacy realism should be treated as a serious option. By drawing an analogy with vagueness, I try to show that accepting the reality of indeterminacy would not be catastrophic for teleosemantics. I further argue that there are positive reasons to endorse indeterminacy realism. I (...)
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  11. Function and Representational Content Through Tinbergen’s Levels of Analysis.James Brooks - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-12.
    Teleosemantics attempts to explain the content of mental representations through an appeal to functions, and typically attributes function to selection history. The narrowest cases focus on only evolutionary fitness benefit through natural selection, while broader theories have come to accept multiple levels of selection, including those over the course of a lifetime such as neural selection. The precise way to define function has given rise to many debates over the content of hypothetical mental representations. In this paper, I argue that (...)
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  12. Directive Content.Patrick Butlin - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102:2-26.
    Representations may have descriptive content, directive content, or both, but little explicit attention has been given to the problem of distinguishing representations of these three kinds. We do not know, for instance, what determines whether a given representation is a directive instructing its consumer to perform some action or has descriptive content to the effect that the action in question has a certain value. This paper considers what it takes for a representation to have directive content. The first part of (...)
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  13. Teleosemantics and the Hard Problem of Content.Stephen Francis Mann & Ross Pain - 2021 - Philosophical Psychology 34.
    Hutto and Myin claim that teleosemantics cannot account for mental content. In their view, teleosemantics accounts for a poorer kind of relation between cognitive states and the world but lacks the theoretical tools to account for a richer kind. We show that their objection imposes two criteria on theories of content: a truth-evaluable criterion and an intensionality criterion. For the objection to go through, teleosemantics must be subject to both these criteria and must fail to satisfy them. We argue that (...)
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  14. Signals Are Minimal Causes.Marc Artiga - 2020 - Synthese 198 (9):8581-8599.
    Although the definition of ‘signal’ has been controversial for some time within the life sciences, current approaches seem to be converging toward a common analysis. This powerful framework can satisfactorily accommodate many cases of signaling and captures some of its main features. This paper argues, however, that there is a central feature of signals that so far has been largely overlooked: its special causal role. More precisely, I argue that a distinctive feature of signals is that they are minimal causes. (...)
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  15. The explanatory breadth of pushmi-pullyu representations.Mark Bauer - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (3):1-23.
    The pushmi-pullyu representation is a non-conjunctive representation with both descriptive and directive contents. Introduced by Millikan, the PPR is supposed to aid in explaining how organisms adapt behavior to environmental variance in the absence of intermediate inference. Until recently, it has led an uncontroversial theoretical life. However, Artiga has suggested that the PPR postulate conflicts with Millikan-style teleosemantics and, as a consequence, the PPR postulate should probably be set aside. I suggest here that the theoretical motivations for the PPR are (...)
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  16. Representation and the active consumer.Patrick Butlin - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4533-4550.
    One of the central tasks for naturalistic theories of representation is to say what it takes for something to be a representation, and some leading theories have been criticised for being too liberal. Prominent discussions of this problem have proposed a producer-oriented solution; it is argued that representations must be produced by systems employing perceptual constancy mechanisms. However, representations may be produced by simple transducers if they are consumed in the right way. It is characteristic of representations to be consumed (...)
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  17. A Role for Representations in Inflexible Behavior.Todd Ganson - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18.
    Representationalists have routinely expressed skepticism about the idea that inflexible responses to stimuli are to be explained in representational terms. Representations are supposed to be more than just causal mediators in the chain of events stretching from stimulus to response, and it is difficult to see how the sensory states driving reflexes are doing more than playing the role of causal intermediaries. One popular strategy for distinguishing representations from mere causal mediators is to require that representations are decoupled from specific (...)
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  18. Teleosemantics and tetrachromacy.Brian Porter - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-22.
    Teleosemantics explains mental representation in terms of etiological history: a mental state’s representational contents are the result of natural selection, or some other selection process. Critics have argued that the “swampman” thought experiment poses a counterexample to teleosemantics. In several recent papers, Papineau has argued that a merely possible swampman cannot serve as a counterexample to teleosemantics, but has acknowledged that actual swampmen would pose a problem for teleosemantics. In this paper, I argue that there are real-world cases of swampman-like (...)
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  19. Why mental content is not like water: reconsidering the reductive claims of teleosemantics.Peter Schulte - 2020 - Synthese 197 (5):2271-2290.
    According to standard teleosemantics, intentional states are selectional states. This claim is put forward not as a conceptual analysis, but as a ‘theoretical reduction’—an a posteriori hypothesis analogous to ‘water = H2O’. Critics have tried to show that this meta-theoretical conception of teleosemantics leads to unacceptable consequences. In this paper, I argue that there is indeed a fundamental problem with the water/H2O analogy, as it is usually construed, and that teleosemanticists should therefore reject it. Fortunately, there exists a viable alternative (...)
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  20. Can Truth‐Conditional Theorists of Content Do Without ‘That’‐Clause Ascriptions?Lionel Shapiro - 2020 - Analytic Philosophy 61 (1):1-27.
    Hartry Field has proposed a fundamental division of theories of linguistic and mental content into those that do, and those that don’t, give a central role to ‘that’-clause ascriptions. Here I investigate the commitments of theories that (in accord with Field’s position) deny ‘that’-clause ascriptions a central role, but (in contrast to Field’s position) give truth conditions a central role. Such non-oblique truth-conditionalism promises significant advantages. However, the stance is costlier than it may appear. Non-oblique truth-conditionalists, I argue, must renounce (...)
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  21. A Study and Explanation of the Teleological Theory of Mental Content with Emphasis on the Views of Dretske and Millikan.Mahdi Zakeri & Hossein Esfandiar - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 21 (4):81-102.
    One of the issues of Philosophy of Mind is the intentionality of the mind. The topic of this article is the study of the two related aspects of this issue, i.e. the possibility of intentionality and how mind content is determined in the Teleological Theory of Mental Content. According to this theory, the natural evolution of a living organism and the teleological functions based on this determines mental content and one can present a natural and physical explanation of intentionality and (...)
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  22. Emergence of Public Meaning From a Teleosemantic and Game Theoretical Perspective.Karim Baraghith - 2019 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):23-52.
    The generalized theory of evolution suggests that evolutionary algorithms apply to biological and cultural processes like language alike. Variation, selection and reproduction constitute abstract and formal traits of complex, open and often self-regulating systems. Accepting this basic assumption provides us with a powerful background methodology for this investigation: explaining the emergence and proliferation of semantic patterns, that become conventional. A teleosemantic theory of public (conventional) meaning (Millikan 1984; 2005) grounded in a generalized theory of evolution explains the proliferation of public (...)
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  23. Semantic Essentialism and Populations.Mark Bauer - 2019 - Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1):59-68.
    A core feature of teleosemantic proposals has been to rely on selective history to justify semantic functional classification. Recently, Nanay and Bauer have offered ahistorical teleosemantic proposals intended to bypass the numerous criticisms arising from the dependence on history. However, part of the attraction of the traditional reliance on history is that it seemingly allowed teleosemantics to mesh with biological practice. For example, Millikan, a key advocate for the selective historical approach, argues that biological kind identity rests on historical relations. (...)
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  24. Communities of Judgment : Towards a Teleosemantic Theory of Moral Thought and Discourse.Karl Bergman - 2019 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
    This thesis offers a teleosemantic account of moral discourse and judgment. It develops a number of views about the function and content of moral judgments and the nature of moral discourse based on Ruth Millikan’s theory of intentional content and the functions of intentional attitudes. Non-cognitivists in meta-ethics have argued that moral judgments are more akin to desires and other motivational attitudes than to descriptive beliefs. I argue that teleosemantics allows us to assign descriptive content to motivational attitudes and hence (...)
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  25. Do Constancy Mechanisms Save Distal Content?Justin Garson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):409-417.
    In this journal, Schulte develops a novel solution to the problem of distal content: by virtue of what is a mental representation about a distal object rather than a more proximal cause of that representation? Schulte maintains that in order for a representation to have a distal content, it must be produced by a constancy mechanism, along with two other conditions. I raise three objections to his solution. First, a core component of Schulte's solution is just a restrictive version of (...)
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  26. What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter.Justin Garson - 2019 - Cambridge University Press.
    The biological functions debate is a perennial topic in the philosophy of science. In the first full-length account of the nature and importance of biological functions for many years, Justin Garson presents an innovative new theory, the 'generalized selected effects theory of function', which seamlessly integrates evolutionary and developmental perspectives on biological functions. He develops the implications of the theory for contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of medicine and psychiatry, the philosophy of biology, and biology itself, (...)
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  27. Teleosemantics, Selection and Novel Contents.Justin Garson & David Papineau - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):36.
    Mainstream teleosemantics is the view that mental representation should be understood in terms of biological functions, which, in turn, should be understood in terms of selection processes. One of the traditional criticisms of teleosemantics is the problem of novel contents: how can teleosemantics explain our ability to represent properties that are evolutionarily novel? In response, some have argued that by generalizing the notion of a selection process to include phenomena such as operant conditioning, and the neural selection that underlies it, (...)
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  28. Explaining How to Perceive the New: Causal-Informational Teleosemantics and Productive Response Functions.Fabian Hundertmark - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5335-5350.
    According to Karen Neander’s causal-informational teleosemantics, the contents of perceptual states depend on the etiological response functions of sensory-perceptual systems. In this paper, I argue that this theory is, despite its virtues, unable to explain how humans and other animals are capable of perceiving properties with which no sensory-perceptual system has ever been confronted. After rejecting Neander’s own proposal in terms of second-order similarity and a proposal inspired by Ruth Millikan in terms of simplicity, I offer a solution which equates (...)
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  29. A Mark of the Mental: In Defense of Informational Teleosemantics, by Karen Neander. [REVIEW]Manolo Martínez - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2019.
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  30. Review of A Mark of the Mental. [REVIEW]Angela Mendelovici & David Bourget - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):378-385.
    Karen Neander's A Mark of the Mental is a noteworthy and novel contribution to the long-running project of naturalizing intentionality. The aim of the book is to “solve the part of Brentano’s problem that is within reach” (3). Brentano's problem is the problem of explaining intentionality; the part of this problem that is supposedly within reach is that of explaining nonconceptual sensory-perceptual intentionality; and Neander aims to solve it via an informational teleosemantic theory. In this review, we provide a chapter-by-chapter (...)
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  31. Pictures, Plants, and Propositions.Alex Morgan - 2019 - Minds and Machines 29 (2):309-329.
    Philosophers have traditionally held that propositions mark the domain of rational thought and inference. Many philosophers have held that only conceptually sophisticated creatures like us could have propositional attitudes. But in recent decades, philosophers have adopted increasingly liberal views of propositional attitudes that encompass the mental states of various non-human animals. These views now sit alongside more traditional views within the philosophical mainstream. In this paper I argue that liberalized views of propositional attitudes are so liberal that they encompass states (...)
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  32. Naturalizing the Content of Desire.Peter Schulte - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):161-174.
    Desires, or directive representations, are central components of human and animal minds. Nevertheless, desires are largely neglected in current debates about the naturalization of representational content. Most naturalists seem to assume that some version of the standard teleological approach, which identifies the content of a desire with a specific kind of effect that the desire has the function of producing, will turn out to be correct. In this paper I argue, first, that this common assumption is unjustified, since the standard (...)
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  33. Teleosemantik weitergedacht. Über Grundlagen, Probleme, neue Entwicklungen.Peter Schulte & Fabian Hundertmark - 2019 - Information Philosophie 3:18-31.
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  34. Nonfunctional Semantics in Plant Signaling.Mark Bauer - 2018 - Southwest Philosophy Review 34 (1):199-208.
    Teleosemantics is the view that semantic classification is a species of functional classification. While it is plausible, I think, that there are semantic functions in the natural world, I want to suggest that not all semantic states are functional. An assumption commonly endorsed by the teleosemantist is that there is a distinction between accidental or incidental contributory effects and functions. However, endorsing that distinction, I will suggest, implies the theoretical possibility of nonfunctional semantics. In fact, plant-to-plant signaling might be an (...)
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  35. Strategic Content: Representations of Epistemic Modality in Biosemantics.Gunnar Björnsson - 2018 - Theoria 84 (3):259-277.
    A central idea in Ruth Millikan’s biosemantics is that a representation’s content is restricted to conditions required for the normal success of actions that it has as its function to guide. This paper raises and responds to a problem for this idea. The problem is that the success requirement seems to block us from saying that epistemic modal judgments represent our epistemic circumstances. For the normal success of actions guided by these judgments seems to depend on what is actually the (...)
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  36. Categorical Desires and the Badness of Animal Death.Matt Bower & Bob Fischer - 2018 - Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (1):97-111.
    One way to defend humane animal agriculture is to insist that the deaths of animals aren’t bad for them. Christopher Belshaw has argued for this position in the most detail, maintaining that death is only bad when it frustrates categorical desires, which he thinks animals lack. We are prepared to grant his account of the badness of death, but we are skeptical of the claim that animals don’t have categorical desires. We contend that Belshaw’s argument against the badness of animal (...)
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  37. The Senses as Signalling Systems.Todd Ganson - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):519-531.
    A central goal of philosophy of perception is to uncover the nature of sensory capacities. Ideally, we would like an account that specifies what conditions need to be met in order for an organism to count as having the capacity to sense or perceive its environment. And on the assumption that sensory states are the kinds of things that can be accurate or inaccurate, a further goal of philosophy of perception is to identify the accuracy conditions for sensory states. In (...)
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  38. Sensory Malfunctions, Limitations, and Trade-Offs.Todd Ganson - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1705-1713.
    Teleological accounts of sensory normativity treat normal functioning for a species as a standard: sensory error involves departure from normal functioning for the species, i.e. sensory malfunction. Straightforward reflection on sensory trade-offs reveals that normal functioning for a species can exhibit failures of accuracy. Acknowledging these failures of accuracy is central to understanding the adaptations of a species. To make room for these errors we have to go beyond the teleological framework and invoke the notion of an ideal observer from (...)
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  39. Review of Karen Neander’s A Mark of the Mental: In Defense of Informational Teleosemantics. [REVIEW]Justin Garson - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (4):726-734.
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  40. Whose Purposes? Biological Teleology and Intentionality.Javier González de Prado Salas - 2018 - Synthese 195 (10):4507-4524.
    Teleosemantic theories aspire to develop a naturalistic account of intentional agency and thought by appeal to biological teleology. In particular, most versions of teleosemantics study the emergence of intentionality in terms of biological purposes introduced by Darwinian evolution. The aim of this paper is to argue that the sorts of biological purposes identified by these evolutionary approaches do not allow for a satisfactory account of intentionality. More precisely, I claim that such biological purposes should be attributed to reproductive chains or (...)
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  41. Mind and Function – Teleosemantics Beyond Selected Effects.Fabian Hundertmark - 2018 - Dissertation, Universität Bielefeld
    Perceptual representations are either correct or incorrect. Their correctness depends on their content and on the way the world is. Teleosemantics delivers compelling explanations of why our perceptual representations have contents, whereby it assigns the notion of "function" a central explanatory role. The author of this thesis engages in the search for a theory of function suited for this purpose. After a detailed evaluation of the selected effects​ theory and dispositional theories, the author argues that a synthesis is best suited (...)
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  42. Biosemantics and Words That Don't Represent.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 2018 - Theoria 84 (3):229-241.
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  43. Delusions and Beliefs: A Philosophical Inquiry.Kengo Miyazono - 2018 - Routledge.
    What sort of mental state is a delusion? What causes delusions? Why are delusions pathological? This book examines these questions, which are normally considered separately, in a much-needed exploration of an important and fascinating topic, Kengo Miyazono assesses the philosophical, psychological and psychiatric literature on delusions to argue that delusions are malfunctioning beliefs. Delusions belong to the same category as beliefs but - unlike healthy irrational beliefs - fail to play the function of beliefs. Delusions and Beliefs: A Philosophical Inquiry (...)
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  44. Mindless Accuracy: On the Ubiquity of Content in Nature.Alex Morgan - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5403-5429.
    It is widely held in contemporary philosophy of mind that states with underived representational content are ipso facto psychological states. This view—the Content View—underlies a number of interesting philosophical projects, such as the attempt to pick out a psychological level of explanation, to demarcate genuinely psychological from non-psychological states, and to limn the class of states with phenomenal character. The most detailed and influential theories of underived representation in philosophy are the tracking theories developed by Fodor, Dretske, Millikan and others. (...)
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  45. On the Use and Abuse of Teleology for Life: Intentionality, Naturalism, and Meaning Rationalism in Husserl and Millikan.Jacob Rump - 2018 - Humana Mente 11 (34).
    Both Millikan’s brand of naturalistic analytic philosophy and Husserlian phenomenology have held on to teleological notions, despite their being out of favor in mainstream Western philosophy for most of the twentieth century. Both traditions have recognized the need for teleology in order to adequately account for intentionality, the need to adequately account for intentionality in order to adequately account for meaning, and the need for an adequate theory of meaning in order to precisely and consistently describe the world and life. (...)
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  46. Perceiving the World Outside: How to Solve the Distality Problem for Informational Teleosemantics.Peter Schulte - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):349-369.
    Perceptual representations have distal content: they represent external objects and their properties, not light waves or retinal images. This basic fact presents a fundamental problem for ‘input-oriented’ theories of perceptual content. As I show in the first part of this paper, this even holds for what is arguably the most sophisticated input-oriented theory to date, namely Karen Neander's informational teleosemantics. In the second part of the paper, I develop a new version of informational teleosemantics, drawing partly on empirical psychology, and (...)
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  47. Constancy Mechanisms and the Normativity of Perception.Zed Adams & Chauncey Maher - 2017 - In Zed Adams & Jacob Browning (eds.), Giving a Damn: Essays in Dialogue with John Haugeland. Cambridge, MA: MIT Pres.
    In this essay, we draw on John Haugeland’s work in order to argue that Burge is wrong to think that exercises of perceptual constancy mechanisms suffice for perceptual representation. Although Haugeland did not live to read or respond to Burge’s Origins of Objectivity, we think that his work contains resources that can be developed into a critique of the very foundation of Burge’s approach. Specifically, we identify two related problems for Burge. First, if (what Burge calls) mere sensory responses are (...)
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  48. Ahistorical Teleosemantics: An Alternative to Nanay.Mark Bauer - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (2):158-176.
    The dominant view in teleosemantics is that semantic functions are historically determined. That reliance on history has been subject to repeated criticism. To sidestep such criticisms, Nanay has recently offered an ahistorical alternative that swaps out historical properties for modal properties. Nanay's ahistorical modal alternative suffers, I think, serious problems of its own. I suggest here another ahistorical alternative for teleosemantics. The motivation for both the historical view and Nanay's is to provide a naturalistic basis to characterize some item as (...)
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  49. A Generalized Selected Effects Theory of Function.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):523-543.
    I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory (GSE) of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects (SE) theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce; differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE (...)
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  50. ‘Steps’ to Agency: Gregory Bateson, Perception, and Biosemantics.Peter Harries-Jones - 2017 - Biosemiotics 10 (2):211-228.
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