On the Likelihood of Finding a Satisfactory Naturalistic Explanation of Mental Representation

Dissertation, University of Miami (2001)

The conditions of adequacy for a naturalistic explanation of mental representation were examined, as well as the likelihood of such conditions being met. In particular, Fred Dretske's promising information-theoretic naturalism was considered as an attempt at meeting these conditions. Dretske's thought was traced from his Knowledge and the Flow of Information through his Naturalizing the Mind . It was claimed that Dretske's theory faces insurmountable difficulties, particularly concerning giving a purely naturalistic explanation of representing functions. Other, similar attempts at naturalizing mental representation face similar difficulties. It was concluded that it is not at all clear that such an explanation is achievable, even in principle, and that projects such as Dretske's should be abandoned.
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