How to argue against (some) theories of content

Iyyun 55 (July):265-286 (2006)
Michael Antony
University of Haifa
An argument is offered against three naturalistic theories of intentional content: causal-covariation theories, teleological theories, and certain versions of conceptual role semantics. The strategy involves focusing on a normative problem regarding the practice of associating content expressions (e.g., that-clauses) with internal entities (states, symbol structures, etc.). The problem can be expressed thus: Which content expressions are the right ones to associate with internal entities? I argue, first, that an empirical solution to this problem—what I call the Normative Problem—will follow naturally from a descriptive-explanatory account of the practice of associating content expressions with internal entities; and second, that the empirical solution will be accepted and adopted within cognitive science. Naturalistic theories of content also entail solutions to the Normative Problem, and such theories are shown to be false by showing that their solutions to the Normative Problem are inconsistent with the empirical solution coming out of cognitive science.
Keywords Content  Intentional  Metaphysics  Naturalism  Semantics  Teleology
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