Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (2):158-176 (2017)

Mark Bauer
University of Colorado Denver
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 possessing a function independent of its actual performance and, thereby, provide a grip on intentional inexistence and misrepresentation. I suggest that attending to the logic of mechanistic explanation suffices to provide the sought for naturalistic basis. The key advantage to the approach offered here is its relative parsimony: unlike its alternatives, it requires no substantive existential commitments, for example, commitments to natural selection, copying relations, or fitness-enhancing modal properties, to naturalize semantic content.
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DOI 10.1111/sjp.12220
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
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