The present paper has three aims. The first and foremost aim is to introduce into philosophy of mind and related areas (philosophy of language, etc) a discussion of Slow Earth, an analogue to the classic Twin Earth scenario that features a difference from aboriginal Earth that hinges on time instead of the distribution of natural kinds. The second aim is to use Slow Earth to call into question the central lessons often alleged to flow from consideration of Twin Earth, lessons (...) having to do with relations of minds to spatially definable boundaries of bodies such as skin or skull. The third aim is to suggest a puzzle for adherents of cognitive content externalism having to do with the metaphysical requirements on slow-switching, a hypothetical process whereby changes in the relations between subjects and their environments are followed by gradual changes in cognitive contents. (shrink)
In their monograph Narrow Content, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne argue that all versions of internalism about mental content are either false or "pointless" (roughly, of no interest). We overview Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne's main line of argument and suggest that, while largely correct, it does not touch the core internalist claim that mental states have internally determined contents. Instead of engaging with this claim, Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne attack a variety of stronger or weaker claims. The stronger claims fall prey to the Mirror (...) Man argument and other considerations. The weaker claims fall prey to the charge of pointlessness. But the core internalist view is left untouched. (shrink)
In their book, Narrow Content, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne attempt to argue against the claim that there is a kind of thought content which is both narrow and theoretically significant. However, their failure to distinguish indexical from non-indexical thought renders their arguments ineffective; a large class of the arguments they present are in fact irrelevant to the question of whether thought content is narrow. The unified treatment of thought content they advocate fails to capture the distinctively mental aspects of (...) indexical thought, and the kinds of indexical examples to which they appeal can tell us nothing very interesting about mental states. (shrink)
A centerpiece of Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne’s Narrow Content (OUP 2018) is the parameter proliferation argument. The authors consider a series of cleverly constructed cases of pairs of corresponding thoughts of qualitatively identical twins and argue that divergence in truth value for such thoughts forces the internalist to admit novel alethic parameters for semantic evaluation that are not independently motivated. I argue that the internalist will resist this argument by denying that such pairs of thoughts diverge in truth value. (...) I then argue that the construal of content presupposed by the argument should be rejected or amended by the internalist on independent grounds. I end in a more diagnostic vein by considering why parameter proliferation might have seemed pressing for internalism to begin with. (shrink)
This book discusses the two main construals of the explanatory goals of semantic theories. The first, externalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of a hermeneutic and interpretive explanatory project. The second, internalist conception, understands semantic theories in terms of the psychological mechanisms in virtue of which meanings are generated. It is argued that a fruitful scientific explanation is one that aims to uncover the underlying mechanisms in virtue of which the observable phenomena are made possible, and that a scientific (...) semantics should be doing just that. If this is the case, then a scientific semantics is unlikely to be externalist, for reasons having to do with the subject matter and form of externalist theories. It is argued that semantics construed hermeneutically is nevertheless a valuable explanatory project. (shrink)
A central claim in contemporary philosophy of mind is that the phenomenal character of experience is entirely determined by its content. This paper considers an alternative called Mode Intentionalism. According to this view, phenomenal character outruns content because the intentional mode contributes to the phenomenal character of the experience. I assess a phenomenal contrast argument in support of this view, arguing that the cases appealed to allow for interpretations which do not require positing intentional modes as phenomenologically manifest aspects of (...) experience. (shrink)
In Narrow Content, Hawthorne & Yli-Vakkuri provide an admirably clear and precise framework for understanding the debate between internalist and externalist theories of mental content. They also present a series of arguments against internalism. They identify two views — which they call 'thought-relativism' and 'quasi-internalism' — which seem to avoid their main line of argument. I discuss Hawthorne & Yli-Vakkuri's arguments against these two views, and explore a few different ways in which they might be developed.
This paper presents a framework for analysing perceptual Twin Earth thought experiments. Visual content normally has an analogue character, and it is argued in this paper that this sets certain constraints on the extent to which Twin Earth thought experiments can be successful. The argumentation in the paper is developed by using examples from visual spatial content. It is argued that visual spatial content can only be “twin-earthed” in a very limited way. Whereas the metrics of space can be twin-earthed, (...) visual experience has a structure that means that it can only be the vehicle for representing entities with geometrical structures. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are two distinct kinds of senses, immediate senses and reflective senses. Immediate senses are what we are immediately aware of when we are in an intentional mental state, while reflective senses are what we understand of an intentional mental state's (putative) referent upon reflection. I suggest an account of immediate and reflective senses that is based on the phenomenal intentionality theory, a theory of intentionality in terms of phenomenal consciousness. My focus is on the immediate (...) and reflective senses of thoughts and the concepts they involve, but it also applies to other mental instances of intentionality. (shrink)
Geach points out that some pairs of beliefs have a common focus despite there being, apparently, no object at that focus. For example, two or more beliefs can be directed at Vulcan even though there is no such planet. Geach introduced the label ‘intentional identity’ to pick out the relation that holds between attitudes in these cases; Geach says that ’[w]e have intentional identity when a number of people, or one person on different occasions, have attitudes with a common focus, (...) whether or not there actually is something at that focus’. In this paper, I propose a novel theory of intentional identity, the triangulation theory, and argue that it has considerable advantages over its principal rivals. My approach centers on agents’ metarepresentational beliefs about what it takes for intentional attitudes to be about particular objects. (shrink)
This paper concerns Kripke’s puzzle about belief. I have two goals in this paper. The first is to argue that two leading approaches to Kripke’s puzzle, those of Lewis and Chalmers, are inadequate as they stand. Both approaches require the world to supply an object that the relevant intentional attitudes pick out. The problem is that there are cases which, I argue, exhibit the very same puzzling phenomenon in which the world does not supply an object in the required way. (...) The second goal is to draw out a more general lesson about Kripke’s puzzle. I argue that Kripke’s puzzle should be understood as intimately related to a phenomenon known as ‘intentional identity’, and that an adequate account of Kripke’s puzzle should be extensible to cases in which the relevant attitudes are empty. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that propositionalism is what generates a tension between referentialism and harmony. Harmony can be preserved if we replace propositionalism by centred referentialism, according to which referential thoughts and utterances about an object have descriptive contents that must be evaluated relative to a world centred on that object at the relevant time. By disentangling truth-conditions and contents, this move allows us to dissolve the tension between referentialism and descriptivism. The view that emerges has three main components: (...) the truth-conditions of a referential utterance or thought involves its referent ; its reference is determined by causal relations of acquaintance in the context of use ; and its cognitive value is fully explained by associated descriptions or truth-conditional contents. (shrink)
If there is content that we reason on, cognitive content, it is in the head and accessible to reasoning mechanisms. This paper discusses the phenomenal theory of cognitive content, according to which cognitive contents are the contents of phenomenal consciousness. I begin by distinguishing cognitive content from the closely associated notion of narrow content. I then argue, drawing on prior work, that the phenomenal theory can plausibly account for the cognitive contents of many relatively simple mental states. My main focus (...) in this paper is the question whether the phenomenal theory can account for the apparently abstract and complex cognitive contents of "high-level" thoughts. It might seem dubious that the theory can account for such cognitive contents, because cognitive phenomenology is too scarce and too thin. However, I argue there are in fact few abstract or complex cognitive contents, so the phenomenal theory's predictions are correct. This position explains some apparently irrational behavior that is otherwise hard to explain, and it makes sense of the central role of inner speech and other forms of consciousness in reasoning. (shrink)
Gertler has proposed a new problem concerning the criterion for the distinction between internalism and externalism about the mental content, in an attempt to show that the technical terms, “internalism,” and “externalism,” are seriously vague. The idea behind Gertler’s argument is that any criterion for such a distinction has to appeal to the notion of “intrinsic to the thinker” while this concept is, for her, descriptively and normatively vague and problematic. In this paper, I will first introduce the internalism-externalism debate (...) in the philosophy of mind, and then elaborate Gertler’s problem. After explicating Gertler’s proposed criteria, I will finally seek to uncover and elaborate her wrong presuppositions and methodological errors. (shrink)
Some use the need to explain communication, agreement, and disagreement to argue for two-dimensional conceptions of belief content. One prominent defender of an account of this sort is David Chalmers. Chalmers claims that beliefs have two kinds of content. The second dimension of belief content, which is tied to what beliefs pick out in the actual world, is supposed to help explain communication, agreement, and disagreement. I argue that it does not. Since the need to explain these phenomena is the (...) main stated motivation for the addition of the second dimension of belief content, my arguments also undermine the motivation for Chalmers’ two-dimensional account of belief content and theories like it. (shrink)
Can there be 'narrow' mental content, that is entirely determined by the goings-on inside the head of the thinker? This book argues not, and defends instead a thoroughgoing externalism: the entanglement of our minds with the external world runs so deep that no internal component of mentality can easily be cordoned off.
One of the most important problems of twentieth century analytic philosophy concern the place of the mind – and in particular, of consciousness and intentionality – in a physical universe. Brian Loar’s essays in the philosophy of mind in this volume include his major contributions in this area. His central concern was how to understand consciousness and intentionality from the subjective perspective, and especially, how to understand subjectivity in a physical universe. He was committed to the reality and reliability of (...) the subjective perspective; and he found that subjective phenomena like intentionality and consciousness are, in a certain sense, ineliminable and irreducible to objective ones. At the same time he believed that intentionality and consciousness are grounded in the physical. One of his great contributions was showing how to reconcile these two positions by being a conceptual and explanatory anti-reductionist about both consciousness and intentionality but a metaphysical reductionist nonetheless. He had a deep commitment to both physicalism and to the reality and significance of the subjective point of view. (shrink)
Many philosophers have used premises about concepts and rationality to argue that the protagonists in the various Twin Earth thought experiments do not have the concepts that content externalists say they have. This essay argues that this popular internalist argument is flawed in many different ways, and more importantly it cannot be repaired in order to cast doubt on externalism.
The central problem addressed by this thesis is how narrow content can be genuinely representational and relate to the individuation of mental representations. A second problem relates to the explanatory role of narrow content. The challenge facing the proponent of narrow content is that externalism is the standard position with regard to representation, individuation, and explanation, and it is often held that narrow content is either incoherent or explanatorily redundant. To this end, I defend a version of a two-component theory (...) of content which accepts that wide content is relatively uncontroversial but holds that narrow content has an important role to play. The thesis is divided into two main parts. In part one I focus on the problem of representation and the individuation of mental representations. In Chapter 1 I consider two of the main accounts of wide content from Putnam and Fodor and show that in each case there is a notion of narrow content that is compatible with the externalist approach to representation. In particular, I discuss versions of narrow content associated with two-dimensionalism and radical internalism, among other views, and highlight important objections to these existing accounts of narrow content. In response to these problems, I defend a pluralistic view of narrow content according to which there are two main forms of narrow representation, and contend that this account can be systematically supported by understanding the supervenience claim made by the internalist, the kinds of properties represented by mental representations, and the nature of the underlying mental representations that bear narrow content. I then show that this account of narrow content has the resources to respond to a common objection to narrow content. In support of this approach to narrow content I show in Chapter 2 that internalism is consistent with recent work on concepts, and in particular with concept pluralism – the view that concepts are comprised of a variety of conceptual structures. I argue that such conceptual structures can be coherently individuated by the narrow contents outlined in Chapter 1, giving rise to an internalist version of concept pluralism. I support the internalist construal of concept pluralism by identifying problems with externalist versions and responding to objections to narrow content. In Chapter 3 I develop an extended critique of social externalism, and accounts of perceptual psychology, both of which purport to have anti-internalist consequences for the individuation and nature of mental representations and provide a challenge to the account of narrow content and mental representations developed in Chapters 1 and 2. In part two, I defend the explanatory role of narrow content. In Chapter 4 I contend that the truth conditions of propositional attitude ascriptions may relate to the narrow contents expressed by attitude ascribing sentences. To show this, I defend a Fregean theory of attitude ascriptions and consider two objections to Fregean accounts that would block the relevant semantic role of narrow content. In addition, I show how this account provides a basis for rejecting two externalist arguments that rely on assumptions about the nature and role of attitude ascriptions. I contrast this account with existing internalist accounts, and show how it provides a response to Soames’ Perfect Earth objection. In Chapter 5 I critically assess two existing accounts of the role of narrow content in psychological explanations of behaviour, focusing on objections raised in connection with proximal causes and explanatory generality and causal relevance. In response to these objections, I develop an alternative approach which appeals to the rational role of reasons, and contend that only narrow content can provide a suitably rational explanation of behaviour. I show how this provides a response to the objections raised, and how the appeal to reasons provides a basis for rejecting Fodor’s more recent externalist account of behaviour. (shrink)
Phenomenal intentionality is supposed to be a kind of directedness of the mind onto the world that is grounded in the conscious feel of mental life. This book of new essays explores a number of issues raised by the notion of phenomenal intentionality.
According to an attractive account of belief, our beliefs have centered content. According to an attractive account of communication, we utter sentences to express our beliefs and share them with each other. However, the two accounts are in conflict. In this paper I explore the consequences of holding on to the claim that beliefs have centered content. If we do in fact express the centered content of our beliefs, the content of the belief the hearer acquires cannot in general be (...) identical to the content the speaker expresses. I sketch an alternative account of communication, the Recentering model, that accepts this consequence and explains how expressed and acquired content are related. (shrink)
So-called 'Frege cases' pose a challenge for anyone who would hope to treat the contents of beliefs (and similar mental states) as Russellian propositions: It is then impossible to explain people's behavior in Frege cases without invoking non-intentional features of their mental states, and doing that seems to undermine the intentionality of psychological explanation. In the present paper, I develop this sort of objection in what seems to me to be its strongest form, but then offer a response to it. (...) I grant that psychological explanation must invoke non-intentional features of mental states, but it is of crucial importance which such features must be referenced. -/- It emerges from a careful reading of Frege's own view that we need only invoke what I call 'formal' relations between mental states. I then claim that referencing such 'formal' relations within psychological explanation does not undermine its intentionality in the way that invoking, say, neurological features would. The central worry about this view is that either (a) 'formal' relations bring narrow content in through back door or (b) 'formal' relations end up doing all the explanatory work. Various forms of each worry are discussed. The crucial point, ultimately, is that the present strategy for responding to Frege cases is not available either to the 'psycho-Fregean', who would identify the content of a belief with its truth-value, nor even to someone who would identify the content of a belief with a set of possible worlds. It requires the sort of rich semantic structure that is distinctive of Russellian propositions. There is therefore no reason to suppose that the invocation of 'formal' relations threatens to deprive content of any work to do. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss a view of de re thoughts that can be naturally endorsed in the wake of Russell's account. This is the view that a thought is about the very thing (res) rather than a mere characterization of it if and only if it is constitutively tied, if not to the existence, at least to the identity of its object and the thinker knows which/who the object of his/her thought is. Faced with the challenge of accommodating far (...) from uncommon cases of mistaken identity or substantial confusion on the part of the subject, I argue that the integrity of the view can be preserved and that the restrictions set on its truth by the advocates of the two-component picture and the anti-essentialists can be lifted. (shrink)
Semantic externalism is the view that the meanings of referring terms, and the contents of beliefs that are expressed by those terms, are not fully determined by factors internal to the speaker but are instead bound up with the environment. The debate about semantic externalism is one of the most important but difficult topics in philosophy of mind and language, and has consequences for our understanding of the role of social institutions and the physical environment in constituting language and the (...) mind. In this long-needed book, Jesper Kallestrup provides an invaluable map of the problem. Beginning with a thorough introduction to the theories of descriptivism and referentialism and the work of Frege and Kripke, Kallestrup moves on to analyse Putnam’s Twin Earth argument, Burge’s arthritis argument and Davidson’s Swampman argument. He also discusses how semantic externalism is at the heart of important topics such as indexical thoughts, epistemological skepticism, self-knowledge, and mental causation. Including chapter summaries, a glossary of terms, and an annotated guide to further reading, _Semantic Externalism_ an ideal guide for students studying philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
It's unclear what narrow content is interpersonally shared for concepts that don't originate from core cognition yet are still definitionally and interpretationally primitive. A primary concern is that for these concepts, one cannot draw a principled distinction between inferences that are content determining and those that aren't. The lack of a principled distinction imperils an account of interpersonally shared concepts.
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on the (...) day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
There is a strong consensus among analytic philosophers that Husserl is an internalist and that his internalism must be understood in conjunction with his methodological solipsism. This paper focuses on Husserl's early work the, Logical Investigations , and explores whether such a reading is justified. It shows that Husserl is not a methodological solipsist: He neither believes that meaning can be reduced to the individual, nor does he assign an explanatory role for meaning to the subject. Explanatory priority is assigned (...) to objects which have an intrinsic property independently of any access or attitude we may have to them. Although not a methodological solipsist, there are nonetheless internalist elements to Husserl's thought: He believes that we can think of non-existent objects and his account of indexicals and demonstratives shows that there are two kinds of meaning: one is context independent and internally individuated, the other is partly determined by context and so externally individuated. The paper leaves it open whether this is sufficient to mark Husserl out as an internalist. However, even if he were considered as such, we can be sure of one thing, namely, that his internalism would not be a species of methodological solipsism. (shrink)
Frank Jackson often writes as if his descriptivist account of public language meanings were just plain common sense. How else are we to explain how different speakers manage to communicate using a public language? And how else can we explain how individuals arrive at confident judgments about the reference of their words in hypothetical scenarios? Our aim in this paper is to show just how controversial the psychological assumptions behind in Jackson’s semantic theory really are. First, we explain how Jackson’s (...) theory goes well beyond the commonsense platitudes he cites in its defence. Second, we sketch an alternative explanation of those platitudes, the jazz model of meaning, which we argue is more psychologically realistic. We conclude that the psychological picture presupposed by Jackson’s semantic theory stands in need of a much more substantial defence than he has so far offered. (shrink)
Conceptual atomists argue that most of our concepts are primitive. I take up three arguments that have been thought to support atomism and show that they are inconclusive. The evidence that allegedly backs atomism is equally compatible with a localist position on which concepts are structured representations with complex semantic content. I lay out such a localist position and argue that the appropriate position for a non-atomist to adopt is a pluralist view of conceptual structure. I show several ways in (...) which conceptual pluralism provides an advantage in satisfying the empirical and philosophical demands on a theory of conceptual structure and content. (shrink)
Narrow mental content is a kind of mental content that does not depend on an individual's environment. Narrow content contrasts with “broad” or “wide” content, which depends on features of the individual's environment as well as on features of the individual. It is controversial whether there is any such thing as narrow content. Assuming that there is, it is also controversial what sort of content it is, what its relation to ordinary or “broad” content is, and how it is determined (...) by the individual's intrinsic properties. (shrink)
This is an attack on the very notion of narrow content. In particular, I argue against two-factor theories of mental content, Chalmers's epistemic two-dimensional account of narrow content and Segal's truth-conditional account of narrow content.
In this highly original monograph, Nicholas Georgalis proposes that the concept of minimal content is fundamental both to the philosophy of mind and to the philosophy of language. He argues that to understand mind and language requires minimal content -- a narrow, first-person, non-phenomenal concept that represents the subject of an agent's intentional state as the agent conceives it. Orthodox third-person objective methodology must be supplemented with first-person subjective methodology. Georgalis demonstrates limitations of a strictly third-person methodology in the study (...) of mind and language and argues that these deficiencies can be corrected only by the incorporation of a first-person methodology. Nevertheless, this expanded methodology makes possible an objective understanding of the subjective. Georgalis argues against the conflation of consciousness and subjectivity with phenomenal experience. Consequently, and contrary to common belief, he argues that consciousness without phenomenality is as strongly implicated in intentionality as it is in phenomenal states. He proposes a broader understanding of the "hard problem" of consciousness, arguing that there is an "explanatory gap problem" for both phenomenal and intentional states. His theory provides a framework that renders the vexing relations between mental and brain states comprehensible. Georgalis also argues for novel explanations of the phenomenal and of representation -- explanations that follow from the core concept of minimal content. Treating the topics of meaning and reference, he introduces a first-person concept of intended reference derivative from minimal content that resolves various problems in the philosophy of language. Eschewing ontology, Georgalis proposes his theory as a means to make sense of, analyze, and relate issues in the philosophies of mind and language. The concept of minimal content, he argues, plays a necessary, pivotal, unifying, and foundational role in advancing our understanding of these issues. (shrink)
Internalism about mental content holds that microphysical duplicates must be mental duplicates full-stop. Anyone particle-for-particle indiscernible from someone who believes that Aristotle was wise, for instance, must share that same belief. Externalism instead contends that many perfectly ordinary propositional attitudes can be had only in certain sorts of physical, sociolinguistic, or historical context. To have a belief about Aristotle, for instance, a person must have been causally impacted in the right way by Aristotle himself (e.g., by hearing about him, or (...) reading some of his works).An interesting third view, which I call. (shrink)
David Lewis's account of intentionality is a version of what he calls 'global descriptivism'. The rough idea is that the correct interpretation of one's total theory is the one (among the admissible interpretations) that come closest to making it true. I give an exposition of this account, as I understand it, and try to bring out some of its consequences. I argue that there is a tension between Lewis's global descriptivism and his rejection of a linguistic account of the intentionality (...) of thought. I distinguish some different senses in which Lewis's theory might permit, or be committed to, a kind of holism about intentional content, and I consider the sense in which Lewis's account might be said to be an internalist account, and the motivation for this kind of internalism. (shrink)
There has been recent dispute between Putnam and Searle over whether meanings are “in the head”. Putnam makes use of Twin-Earth thought experiments to show that our mental states alone cannot determine what we refer to (and thus “mean”) and that we rely also on external factors, which are not “in the head”. This suggests to me that we in some way mean more than we actually know. Searle on the other hand makes use of what he calls “Intentional contents”, (...) “conditions of satisfaction”, and “self-referentiality”, to show that meanings can be said to be in the head. It seems to me that an internalist account as we find it in Husserl or Searle is closer to what is going on when we mean something. (shrink)
A content of a subject's mental state is narrow when it is determined by the subject's intrinsic properties: that is, when any possible intrinsic duplicate of the subject has a corresponding mental state with the same content. A content of a subject's mental state is..
This paper argues that Twin Earth twins belong to the same psychological natural kind, but that the reason for this is not that the causal powers of mental states supervene on local neural structure. Fodor’s argument for this latter thesis is criticized and found to rest on a confusion between it and the claim that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect the causal powers of the mental states that have them. While it is true that Putnamian (...) and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect causal powers, it is false that no relational psychological properties do. Examples of relational psychological properties that do affect causal powers are given and psychological laws are sketched that subsume twins in virtue of them instantiating these relational properties rather than them sharing the narrow contents of their thoughts. (shrink)