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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To see this, it helps to start with the crude causal theory of content and to see how the problem of error arises for it.

Millikan excludes such background conditions on the grounds that they do not explain the success of the systems that consume the representation. A further possible response is to question whether it is the role of content ascriptions to rationalize behavior as famously claimed by Davidson and Dennett Roughly, Dretske suggests that R s represent C s iff R s were recruited for indicating C s and for causing a bodily movement, M.

The possibility of misrepresentation also connects with Chisholm’s concern with non-existent objects because a capacity to misrepresent amounts to a basic capacity to represent non-existent objects. In the former case, the proposal might be that the relevant isomorphism is one that cognitive systems were adapted to exploit. There is, however, an asymmetry, to which the second requirement appeals. Sign in with your library card.

Pietroski argues that biting the bullet is radically revisionist in this case. Meme selection, conditioning or some other forms of learning and neural selection are considered to be relevant kinds of selection by some biosfmantics of teleosemantics. For example, no unicorns were ever indicated by UNICORNs, the presence of a unicorn was never a Normal condition for the performance of the proper function of a consumer of UNICORNs, and the desire to find a unicorn has never been satisfied so that the conditions involved in the satisfaction of this desire could not have contributed to selection of the mechanisms that produce desires of the type.

The precise tense would depend on the nature of the relevant consequence etiology, the causal history that explains X being there because of its effect, Z.

What is the Physical? It stems from the fact that organic systems are selected for complex causal roles, as indicated earlier. One version of the problem, often attributed to Brentano but perhaps more correctly attributed to Roderick Chisholmconcerns thoughts about non-existent objects. Consider, for instance, some theories that are clearly intended as alternatives to teleosemantics, such as Fodor’s b asymmetric dependency theory or theories that appeal to convergence under ideal epistemic conditions see Rey for an outline.


Imagine a simple detection device that normally goes into a RED-state in response to red. Intuitively, we want to say that they might know nothing of snorf, he says.

Sellars left biowemantics the University of Pittsburgh midway through Millikan’s doctorate, she stayed at Yale and earned her PhD in If the Normal conditions for the functions of various systems that consume a representation in an individual routinely coincide one might wonder if the Normal conditions for the functions of producing systems will also coincide and, if so, why we need to focus on consumers in particular.

If the RED-state has the content there is red then, if RED could be tokened sometimes when nothing red is present, a token Millikkan could represent a non-existent instantiation of red. Several responses are possible. Most of the points that follow have been touched on in earlier sections.

University of Minnesota Press, 81— In relation to this last point, one can ask if some content ascriptions are suitable for some theoretical purposes and others for others. Fodor and his criticsCambridge, MA: If those who favor methodological invidualism are correct, teleological theories of content do not provide us with a good scientific way to individuate psychological states Fodor It also needs to account for the normative nature of mental representation. However, the problem is that crumpled paper is included in the extension as soon as it causes a CAT to be tokened and so, on this theory, there is no logical space for the possibility of error since mollikan errors are transformed into non-errors by their very occurrence.

Bioaemantics psychologists and some philosophers believe that some complex concepts are somehow composed out of or are anyway learned through the use of simpler concepts.

Plausibly, the function of the magnetesomes is to direct the bacteria to anaerobic conditions. To milpikan how we grasp meanings, we might turn to psychological theories of concept possession and introspective access to conceptual structures. So explaining how content is determined and how the possibility of error are accommodated are not separate tasks. Hearts cannot be selected for pumping blood by natural selection unless some hearts pump blood. According to these theories, a teleological theory directly accounts for the contents of just the representational simples and combinatorial processes are in addition involved in determining the content of more complex representations.

Recall that, while hearts produce thumping sounds when they are functioning properly, they do not have the function to produce thumping sounds; it is a side effect of their proper functioning. In the case of Millikanit is unclear whether there is a genuine as opposed to terminological disagreement with the substance of the preceding paragraph.


Teleological Theories of Mental Content (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

It is not possible to describe all extant theories but some different approaches are sketched, along with a brief review of some of their strengths and weaknesses. Papineau can respond by agreeing that some concessions to a combinatorial semantics have to be made.

An alternative response rejects the argument. It might be intuitive to attribute functions to their eye-analogs. So desires have the function of causing us, in collaboration with our beliefs, to bring about certain conditions, conditions that enhanced the fitness of people in the past who had these desires. However, it seems to this author that Millikan’s emphasis here does not put the emphasis in the right place for her theory.

According to Fodor, we can equally well say that the function of the device is to detect flies and that its function is to detect small, dark, moving things. If the causal powers of the properties differ, they can play different roles in selection histories.

His problem, then, is this. Price offers a detailed teleological theory that is similar to Millikan’s.

Teleological Theories of Mental Content

One is to maintain that Swampman can have a red sensation without it seeming to him that he sees something red. In the absence of any variation, the trait retains its function if it is still adaptive. The greatest challenge to those offering modest theories will be to explain how complex concepts can be composed out of or derived from simpler concepts. There are at least three things involved. 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.

First, a response is offered to an argument that is intended to block all informational versions of teleosemantics. From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy links.

If normal or proper functioning is analyzed in terms of an etiological theory, which says that a system functions normally or properly only if all of its parts possess the dispositions for which they were selected, then these theories would qualify as teleological theories of mental content under the characterization provided in the first paragraph of this section.