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Why mental content is not like water: reconsidering the reductive claims of teleosemantics


Schulte, Peter (2020). Why mental content is not like water: reconsidering the reductive claims of teleosemantics. Synthese, 197(5):2271-2290.

Abstract

According to standard teleosemantics, intentional states are selectional states. This claim is put forward not as a conceptual analysis, but as a ‘theoretical reduction’—an a posteriori hypothesis analogous to ‘water = H2O’. Critics have tried to show that this meta-theoretical conception of teleosemantics leads to unacceptable consequences. In this paper, I argue that there is indeed a fundamental problem with the water/H2O analogy, as it is usually construed, and that teleosemanticists should therefore reject it. Fortunately, there exists a viable alternative to the water/H2O model which avoids the fundamental problem, while explaining the a posteriori character of teleosemantics equally well.

Abstract

According to standard teleosemantics, intentional states are selectional states. This claim is put forward not as a conceptual analysis, but as a ‘theoretical reduction’—an a posteriori hypothesis analogous to ‘water = H2O’. Critics have tried to show that this meta-theoretical conception of teleosemantics leads to unacceptable consequences. In this paper, I argue that there is indeed a fundamental problem with the water/H2O analogy, as it is usually construed, and that teleosemanticists should therefore reject it. Fortunately, there exists a viable alternative to the water/H2O model which avoids the fundamental problem, while explaining the a posteriori character of teleosemantics equally well.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Philosophy, General Social Sciences
Language:English
Date:1 May 2020
Deposited On:07 Jan 2020 11:01
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 12:43
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0039-7857
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-018-1808-6

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