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. (shrink)
Perceptual representations are either correct or incorrect. Their correctness depends on their content and on the way the world is. Teleosemantics delivers compelling explanations of why our perceptual representations have contents, whereby it assigns the notion of "function" a central explanatory role. The author of this thesis engages in the search for a theory of function suited for this purpose. After a detailed evaluation of the selected effects theory and dispositional theories, the author argues that a synthesis is best suited (...) to be used by teleosemantics. (shrink)
Teleosemantic theories aim to naturalize mental representation through the use of functions, typically based on past selection processes. However, the historical dependence of these theories has faced severe criticism, leading some philosophers to develop ahistorical alternatives. -/- This paper presents a new dilemma for all ahistorical teleosemantic theories, focusing in particular on the theories proposed by Timothy Schroeder and Bence Nanay. These theories require certain dispositions in the producers or consumers of mental representations. But the appeal to dispositions puts the (...) proponents in an undesirable position: mental content is either overly dependent on current circumstances or ultimately dependent on historical factors. (shrink)
Virtue Reliabilism holds that knowledge is a cognitive achievement—an epistemic success that is creditable to the cognitive abilities of the knowing subject. Beyond this consensus, there is much disagreement amongst proponents of virtue reliabilism about the conditions under which the credit-relation between an epistemic success and a person’s cognitive abilities holds. This paper aims to establish a new and attractive view of this crucial relation in terms of difference-making. We will argue that the resulting theory, Difference-Making Virtue Epistemology, can deal (...) with cases of epistemic luck and testimonial knowledge while revealing the common core of knowledge and other achievements. (shrink)
In her book “Are Mental Disorders Brain Disorders?” (2022), Anneli Jefferson proposes that brain processes that always realize mental dysfunctions are brain dysfunctions. This paper explores possible interpretations of two underdeveloped aspects of this thesis. First, it argues that “realization” should be interpreted as partial rather than full realization. Second, it argues that the “always” should only quantify over biologically normal situations. Taken together, these changes can account for the fact that some psychological dysfunctions are partially realized by functional mechanisms, (...) for the existence of psychological dysfunctions due to mismatches rather than brain dysfunctions, and for the fact that brain dysfunctions do not cease to be brain dysfunctions just because they can be compensated. (shrink)
Der These des erweiterten Geistes zufolge befinden sich manche mentalen Repräsentationen außerhalb der körperlichen Grenzen der Wesen, zu denen sie gehören. Einer der stärksten Einwände gegen diese These stellt das Argument der Nichtabgeleitetheit von Frederick Adams, Ken Aizawa und Jerry Fodor dar. Dieses Argument setzt voraus, dass genuine mentale Repräsentationen nichtabgeleitete Gehalte haben – ihre semantischen Eigenschaften sind also nicht durch Absichten, Wünsche oder Konventionen konstituiert. Repräsentationen mit nichtabgeleitetem Gehalt finden sich jedoch, so das Argument weiter, nur innerhalb der körperlichen (...) Grenzen mentaler Wesen. Ich werde dafür argumentieren, dass das Argument der Nichtabgeleitetheit scheitert, da es insbesondere bei Tieren externe Repräsentationen gibt, deren Gehalt nichtabgeleitet ist. Dies folgt jedenfalls aus der aussichtsreichsten Theorie nichtabgeleiteter Repräsentationen, der Teleosemantik, und es gibt gute Gründe anzunehmen, dass auch andere naturalistische Gehaltstheorien dieselbe Implikation haben. (shrink)
The contents of representations in non-human animals, human core cognition, and perception cannot precisely be characterized by sentences of a natural language. However, this fact does not stop us from giving imprecise characterizations of these contents through natural language. In this paper, I develop an account of the precision of content characterizations by appealing to possible-world semantics combined with set and measurement theory.