BIOSEMANTICS. C ausal or informational theories of the . BIOSEMANTICS. senting (indicating RUTH GARRETT MILLIKAN. University of Connecticut/. The term ‘biosemantics’ has usually been applied only to the theory of mental Ruth Garrett Millikan is Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy. Millikan: Biosemantics. Martín Abreu Zavaleta. June 18, 1 False representations. Millikan, like Dretske, Chisholm and Brentano, thinks that what.

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In the case of Millikanit is unclear whether there is a genuine as opposed to terminological disagreement with the substance of the preceding paragraph.

A teleological theory of content can be combinatorial, for it can maintain that the content of a representation that expresses a proposition is determined by the separate histories of the representations for the conceptual constituents of the proposition and, perhaps, by the selection history of the syntactic rules that apply to their syntactic relations.

Lycan ed Mind and Cognition, a Reader, Oxford: Dretske further points out that, even if a creature has several routes by which it can detect a given distal feature e. In early writings, Millikan sometimes seems to hold a similar view and some objections initially raised against her theory are based on this interpretation of her view see, e.

Those who favor teleological theories of content usually favor an etiological theory of functions, according to which an item’s function is determined by its history of selection or by past selection of things of that type. The system can be selected for the one disposition that it has but it cannot be selected for the disposition that it does not have.

If it represents the stimulus as small, dark and moving, it does not. If it is to have the content catso that all and only cats are in its extension, it must be that if it were used to label a non-cat e.

Ruth Millikan – Biosemantics « « Uberty

They might, consistent with this, differ in their cognitive roles. It was by detecting small, dark moving things that the frog got fed. Now we turn to some objections that have been raised against the general idea of teleosemantics. Large issues relevant to assessing the different teleological theories of content remain to be settled.


In view of all of this, bbiosemantics present section can do little more than offer a few remarks about how some versions of teleosemantics make some inroads on the issue. biosemantids

What is the Physical? A theory of content aims among other things to tell us why this representation has that content; it aims to say why it is a thought about blossoms forming rather than about the sun shining or pigs flying or nothing at all.

Added to PP index Total downloads 1, 1, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 57 6, of 2, How can I increase my downloads? Simon Prosser – – Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 1: Enhanced bibliography for this entry at PhilPaperswith links to its database. University of Minnesota Press, —93; reprinted in H.

While teleological theories biosemantis mental content come in a variety of forms, they all share the idea that the norms that underwrite these evaluations depend, in part at least, on functions. Ruth Millikan University of Biosemxntics. In this case, one relevant consumer of the frog’s sensory-perceptual representation might be the frog’s digestive system.

So, if we try to determine the content of the representation by reference to the function of the detection mechanism, the content remains indeterminate. According to Millikan, the frog’s visual representation represents frog food, since it was only when there was frog food where the frog snapped that the frog was fed and so it was only then that the frog’s digestive system contributed to the selection of systems of that type through the use of the representation.

It is enough, on her theory, that R s mapped on to C s often enough for the representation’s consumers millikzn have so to speak benefited from that mapping. Lieb Richard P. Open access to the SEP is made possible by a world-wide funding initiative. This parallels the claim regarding water and XYZ. Sign in with your library card. For instance, it is unclear how it renders malfunction possible, given the first requirement.

Perhaps this is wrong. Nicholas Shea – – Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 2: Others cannot affect fitness in any suitably selective way because, although they have an impact, their impact is too non-specific: Along similar lines, it can be argued that it is only an epistemological and not a genuine metaphysical possibility that Swampman might have intentionality.


A second bisoemantics of combinatorial process that might be involved operates at the level of single concepts and their associated conceptions. However, this aspect of Millikan’s theory is not much developed. As proponents of teleological theories point out, there is an apparent need for other historical kinds in biology e. Its function is the complex causal role for which it was selected. The function of X is Z if and only if, Z is a consequence result of X s being there, X is there because it does results in Z.

So all of this would seem to be the trait’s function. In that case, the objection remains in force. But it seeming to him that he is seeing something red is presumably an intentional state. More importantly, perhaps, it seems to entail that human REDs will misrepresent if tokened at something not-red, as could happen in red-green color blindness, in color contrast illusions or in unusual viewing conditions.

Some have already been touched on in previous sections. Millikan sometimes speaks as if they are different sub-systems and sometimes as if they are different time-slices of the same system, before and after the representation is biosemsntics.

Teleological Theories of Mental Content

We return biosejantics this issue in a moment. We will, however, need to resolve related content indeterminacy problems for human mental states. Those who offer teleological theories of mental content agree that the relevant notion of function permits the possibility of malfunction; it allows that a token trait could have a function to do Z even if it lacks the disposition to do Z.

On Millikan’s theory, a representation, Rcan biosemmantics some environmental feature, Ceven if it was never entirely reliable that if there was an R then there was a C.