Synthese 198 (6):5335-5350 (2019)

According to Karen Neander’s causal-informational teleosemantics, the contents of perceptual states depend on the etiological response functions of sensory-perceptual systems. In this paper, I argue that this theory is, despite its virtues, unable to explain how humans and other animals are capable of perceiving properties with which no sensory-perceptual system has ever been confronted. After rejecting Neander’s own proposal in terms of second-order similarity and a proposal inspired by Ruth Millikan in terms of simplicity, I offer a solution which equates functions with manifestations of dispositions that made a difference to evolutionary success. My suggestion is able to generate determinate and plausible contents for new perceptual states while still preserving the idea that etiological functions explain evolutionary success.
Keywords Teleosemantics  Mental representation  Perception  Functions  Explanation  Disposition
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02406-3
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Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.

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