Comment on Artiga’s “Teleosemantics and Pushmi-Pullyu Representations”

Erkenntnis 88 (1):1-9 (2021)
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Abstract

“Teleosemantics and Pushmi-Pullyu Representations” (call it “TP-PR,” this journal 2014 79.3, 545–566) argues that core teleosemantics, particularly as defined in Millikan (Language, thought and other biological categories, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1984, J Philos 86(6):281–297, 1989, White queen psychology and other essays for Alice, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1993, Philosophical perspectives, Ridgeview Publishing, Alascadero, 1996, Varieties of meaning, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2004–2008), seems to imply that all descriptive representations are at the same time directive and that directives are at the same time descriptive, hence that all representations are pushmi-pullyu representations. A pushmi-pullyu representation is at once indicative and imperative, telling both what the case is and what to do about it. The usefulness at all of the notion of a pushmi-pullyu representation is then questioned. I have recently found several new papers, dissertations, discussions, in which TP-PR is treated as definitive. However, the conclusions of TP-PR rest on misunderstandings of my position, so although the date is late, clarification seems still to be in order. I will indicate a few significant corrections that need to be made to TP-PR’s description of my position (originally called “biosemantics”) and explain central features of biosemantics that are omitted in TP-PR’s description of basic teleosemantics and which are incompatible with the main argument and conclusions of TP-PR. I will try to clarify and explain the value of the notion of a pushmi-pullyu representation.

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