Are mental representations underdeterminacy-free?

Synthese:1-22 (forthcoming)
Abstract
According to some views, natural language suffers from underdeterminacy, but thought doesn’t. According to the underdeterminacy claim, sentence types underdetermine the truth-conditions of sentence tokens. In particular, the semantics of a predicate type seems to underdetermine the satisfaction conditions of its tokens. By contrast, mental representation-types are supposed to determine the truth-conditions of its tokens. In this paper I critically examine these mixed views. First, I argue that the arguments supporting the indispensability of including in one’s theory mental representations that are free of the underdeterminacy exhibited by natural language are not sound. As a result, the possibility that mental representation-types are as underdetermined as natural language sentence-types has not been ruled out. Second, I argue that Carston’s ad hoc concept-types are as underdetermined as word-types. I finish by arguing that mental representations are also underdetermined in a second sense—mental representation-tokens only determine a partial function from possible worlds to truth-values.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1494-9
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Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
Language, Thought and Compositionality.Jerry A. Fodor - 2001 - Mind and Language 16 (1):1-15.

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