Synthese 117 (1):95-131 (1998)

Robert D. Rupert
University of Colorado, Boulder
Naturalistically minded philosophers hope to identify a privileged nonsemantic relation that holds between a mental representation m and that which m represents, a relation whose privileged status underwrites the assignment of reference to m. The naturalist can accomplish this task only if she has in hand a nonsemantic criterion for individuating mental representations: it would be question-begging for the naturalist to characterize m, for the purpose of assigning content, as 'the representation with such and such content'. If we individuate mental representations using the tools of dynamical systems theory, we find that a given mental representation, characterized nonsemantically, emerges in the cognitive system as the result of causal interactions between the subject and her environment. At least for the most basic of our mental representations, I argue that the dynamical systems-based approach to individuation increases the plausibility of a theory that assigns reference as a function of the subject's causal history
Keywords Individuation  Language  Metaphysics  Naturalism  Semantics  Term  Thought
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005077508102
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References found in this work BETA

Readings in Philosophy of Psychology.Ned Block (ed.) - 1980 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications.David K. Lewis - 1972 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):249-258.
Special Sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.

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Citations of this work BETA

Representation and Mental Representation.Robert D. Rupert - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):204-225.
Causal Theories of Mental Content.Robert D. Rupert - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (2):353–380.
Cognitive Systems and the Supersized Mind. [REVIEW]Robert D. Rupert - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (3):427 - 436.

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