The trouble with two-factor conceptual role theories

Minds and Machines 7 (4):495-513 (1997)
Two-Factor conceptual role theories of mental content are often intended to allow mental representations to satisfy two competing requirements. One is the Fregean requirement that two representations, like public language expressions, can have different meanings even though they have the same reference (as in the case of ‘morning star’ and ‘evening star’). The other is Putnam's Twin-earth requirement that two representations or expressions can have the same conceptual role but differ in meaning due to differing references. But I argue that the hidden agenda behind these theories is to make misrepresentation possible. A simple, one-factor conceptual role theory (like the "crude causal theory" Fodor describes) falls prey to the disjunction problem. If every use or application of a concept is meaning-determining, then there can be no misuse of that concept. Each use will partially determine its meaning, and, use which is covered in the meaning cannot be a misuse, error, or misrepresentation. I argue that the referential factor in two-factor conceptual role theories is what is supposed to make misrepresentation possible. But it fails to do so, because when the two factors do not determine the same meaning, there is no non-question-begging way to have one of them take precedence and force meaning to align with one factor and deviate from the other
Keywords Concept  Role  Science  Semantics  Block, N  Harman, G
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1008214913305
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,392
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
Alistair M. C. Isaac (2013). Objective Similarity and Mental Representation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (4):683-704.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

52 ( #93,767 of 1,924,687 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #211,823 of 1,924,687 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.