Three motivations for narrow content

Joe Y. F. Lau
University of Hong Kong
In everyday life, we typically explain what people do by attributing mental states such as beliefs and desires. Such mental states belong to a class of mental states that are _intentional_, mental states that have content. Hoping that Johnny will win, and believing that Johnny will win are of course rather different mental states that can lead to very different behaviour. But they are similar in that they both have the same content : what is being hoped for and believed is the very same thing. According to the thesis of externalism that has been defended most notably by Hilary Putnam and Tyler Burge, not all of the contents of our mental states are determined by our intrinsic properties. Instead, the contents of our beliefs and desires are often determined in part by our relations to the environment. They are, so to speak, "wide" contents that are "not in our heads." Although externalism is accepted by most philosophers, many have argued that mental states with wide contents must also have a kind of content wholly determined by the intrinsic properties of the individuals who are in those states. This kind of content is called "narrow content". The aim of this paper is to distinguish between three rather different motivations for postulating narrow content. I argue that, given a certain conception of narrow content that I shall explain below, none of these three motivations succeed in establishing the existence of narrow content.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 34,562
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Content Internalism About Indexical Thought.Michael Pelczar - 2009 - American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (2):95 - 104.
Narrow Content.Robert Stalnaker - 1990 - In C. Anthony Anderson & Joseph Owens (eds.), Propositional Attitudes: The Role of Content in Logic, Language, and Mind. Stanford: Csli.
The Nature of Narrow Content.David J. Chalmers - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):46-66.
Two Routes to Narrow Content: Both Dead Ends.Pat A. Manfredi - 1993 - Philosophical Psychology 6 (1):3-22.
Externalism About Mental Content.Joe Lau - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Names, Contents, and Causes.Frederick R. Adams & Gary Fuller - 1992 - Mind and Language 7 (3):205-21.
The Psycho-Physical Laws of Intentionality.J. T. Whyte - 1990 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (3):295 – 304.
Narrow Mental Content.Curtis Brown - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
17 ( #338,153 of 2,268,353 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature