Holistic narrow content?

Il Cannocchiale 2:197-209 (1997)
Authors
Alberto Voltolini
Università degli Studi di Torino
Abstract
In the course of his philosophical development, Jerry Fodor has indicated two sorts of non-broad (i.e., non-truthconditional) content of mental representations, namely content of mental state types opaquely taxonomized (de dicto content: DDC) and narrow content (NC) qua mapping function from contexts (of thought) to broad contents. According to the former conceptualization, mental state tokens which are truth-conditionally identical may be such that they cannot both truthfully ascribed to one and the same subject at the same time, for they differ in their respective DDC. In Fodor's own example, Oedipus' thoughts that he will marry Jocasta and that he will marry Mum are truth-conditionally identical, but different as far their DDC is concerned; one cannot indeed truthfully ascribe both thoughts to him simultaneously1. According to the latter conceptualization instead, mental state tokens of molecularly identical twins placed in different environments (such as Earth and Twin-Earth) are such that, although they differ in their truth-conditions, they share the same NC2. For instance, these twins respectively think that water quenches thirst and that twater (a liquid similar to water but its chemical composition) quenches thirst. Although these thoughts thus differ in broad content, they have the same NC: had the Twin-Earthling twin been brought up on Earth rather than on Twin-Earth where he actually lives, he would have thought that water quenches thirst rather than that twater quenches thirst3. According to Fodor's picture, both concepts are invoked for the purpose of psychology in order to account for one and the same thing, namely subjects' behavior. On the one hand, difference in behavior of a subject whose thought-tokens have the same truth-conditions may be ascribed to difference in the DDC of these tokens4. On the other hand, identity in behavior between two molecularly identical subjects whose thought-tokens have different truth-conditions is explained in terms of the NC- identity of these tokens5..
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