Bridging the Gap: A Reply to Hutto and Satne

Philosophia 43 (3):639-649 (2015)
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Daniel D. Hutto and Glenda Satne expose, and suggest a way to resolve, what they see as an “essential tension” which has plagued what they take to be the most promising approach to the nature of contentful states, that is, the neo-pragmatist approach. According to this approach, an adequate account of content essentially appeals to the notion of a social practice. This paper is a critical assessment of their proposal. On their view, the tension stems from the fact that participation in a social practice seems to require that, in order to participate in one, an individual must have contentful states. This entails that participation in social practices cannot explain the origin of contentful states. They argue that the tension dissipates once contentless forms of intentionality come into view. I show that the tension cannot be addressed in the way in which they suggest, for the intermediate steps between primitive intentionality and contentful intentionality cannot in fact fully be accounted for. Nevertheless, Hutto and Satne shed valuable light on the location and scope of the gap in the transition between mindlessness and contentful mindedness.



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Olivia Sultanescu
Concordia University

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Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Problems of rationality.Donald Davidson (ed.) - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Subjective, intersubjective, objective.Donald Davidson - 1996 - In Philosophy. Bristol: Thoemmes. pp. 555-558.

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