Turning representation inside out: An adverbial approach to the metaphysics of language and mind

Philosophical Forum 40 (4):437-471 (2009)
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Abstract

In order to resolve problems about the normative aspects of representation without having to (1) provide a naturalized theory of intentional/semantic properties, (2) accept non-natural intentional/semantic properties into our worldview, or (3) eliminate intentionality, this article questions a basic assumption about the metaphysics of representation: that representation involves representation-objects. An alternative, nonreifying approach to the metaphysics of representation is introduced and developed in detail. The argumentative strategy is as follows. First, an adverbial view of linguistic representation is introduced. Two potential objections are identified and considered. To respond to these objections, relationships between physical form and linguistic/representational form are examined. In the process, two ways of idealizing away from the heterogeneous details of actual language use are introduced: idealization toward homogeneity and idealization toward complete heterogeneity. I argue that an adverbial view of linguistic representation both allows for and requires that we idealize toward complete heterogeneity and that doing so has important implications for (1) our understanding of the relationship between physical form and representational form and (2) property attribution in general. These implications provide further indirect support for the alternative metaphysics of representation developed here.

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Steven Geisz
University of Tampa

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