New Ideas in Psychology 40 (94-102) (2016)

Marcin Miłkowski
Polish Academy of Sciences
In this paper, I focus on a problem related to teleological theories of content namely, which notion of function makes content causally relevant? It has been claimed that some functional accounts of content make it causally irrelevant, or epiphenomenal; in which case, such notions of function could no longer act as the pillar of naturalized semantics. By looking closer at biological questions about behavior, I argue that past discussion has been oriented towards an ill-posed question. What I defend is a Very Boring Hypothesis: depending on the representational phenomenon and the explanatory question, different aspects might be important, and it is difficult to say a priori which ones these might be. There are multiple facets to biological functionality and causality relevant for explaining representational phenomena, and ignoring them will lead to unmotivated simplifications. In addition, accounting for different facets of functionality helps dispense with intuition-based specifications of cognitive phenomena.
Keywords function  representation  causal relevance
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,289
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

The Hard Problem Of Content: Solved (Long Ago).Marcin Miłkowski - 2015 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 41 (1):73-88.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Does Representational Content Arise From Biological Function?Richard J. Hall - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:193 - 199.
Causal Relevance and Thought Content.Kirk A. Ludwig - 1994 - Philosophical Quarterly 44 (176):334-353.
Teleological Semantics.Mark Rowlands - 1997 - Mind 106 (422):279-304.
Good Reasoning and Cognitive Architecture.Scott Sturgeon - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (1):88-101.
Individuation and Explanation in Cognitive Psychology.Andrew Lee Aavatsmark - 1999 - Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
Account for Macro-Level Causation.David K. Henderson - 1994 - Synthese 101 (2):129-156.
Function, Modality, Mental Content.Bence Nanay - 2011 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (2):84-87.
Representational Content in Cognitive Psychology.Lawrence Andrew Shapiro - 1992 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
Mental Causation: The Causal Efficacy of Content.Sungsu Kim - 2001 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison


Added to PP index

Total views
39 ( #273,873 of 2,445,030 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,173 of 2,445,030 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes