Information and content

In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Information and Computing. Blackwell (2002)
Jonathan Cohen
University of California, San Diego
Mental states differ from most other entities in the world in having semantic or intentional properties: they have meanings, they are about other things, they have satisfaction- or truth-conditions, they have representational content. Mental states are not the only entities that have intentional properties - so do linguistic expressions, some paintings, and so on; but many follow Grice, 1957 ] in supposing that we could understand the intentional properties of these other entities as derived from the intentional properties of mental states. Of course, accepting this supposition leaves us with a puzzle about how the non-derivative bearers of intentional properties could have these properties. In particular, intentional properties seem to some to be especially difficult to reconcile with a robust commitment to ontological naturalism - the view that the natural properties, events, and individuals are the only properties, events, and individuals that exist. Fodor puts this intuition nicely in this oft-quoted passage: " I suppose that sooner or later the physicists will complete the catalogue they've been compiling of the ultimate and irreducible properties of things. When they do, the likes of _spin_, _charm_, and _charge_ will perhaps appear upon their list. But _aboutness_ surely won't; intentionality simply doesn't go that deep.... If aboutness is real, it must be really something else. " Some philosophers have reacted to this clash by giving up one of the two views generating the tension. For example, Churchland, 1981 ] opts for intentional irrealism in order to save ontological naturalism, while
Keywords Content  Information  Stalnaker, R
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