Wide content individualism

Mind 107 (427):625-652 (1998)
Wide content and individualist approaches to the individuation of thoughts appear to be incompatible; I think they are not. I propose a criterion for the classification of thoughts which captures both. Thoughts, I claim, should be individuated by their teleological functions. Where teleological function is construed in the standard way - according to the aetiological theory - individuating thoughts by their function cannot produce a classification which is both individualistic and consistent with the principle that sameness of wide content is sufficient for sameness of psychological state. There is, however, an alternative approach to function, the relational theory, which is preferable on independent grounds. A taxonomy of thoughts based on these functions reconciles wide content with individualism. One consequence of individuating thoughts in this way is that intentional content is context sensitive. I discuss some of the implications of context sensitive content
Keywords Content  Epistemology  Individualism  Psychology  Thought
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DOI 10.1093/mind/107.427.625
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