January 11, 2019


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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The relevant representation is recruited by conditioning to indicate the distal feature rather than the disjunction of more proximal features, because there is no milpikan time-invariant disjunction of more proximal stimuli that it has millijan function of indicating.

This problem is avoided by a teleological theory that aims to directly account for the contents of just the representational simples, on the assumption that no representational simple expresses an empty concept.

This type of combinatorial process is thought to play a role bbiosemantics is roughly analogous to the role of a grammar in a spoken language, or a role that is roughly analogous to the principles of map-formation in cartography or pictorial composition in picturing. Proponents of teleological theories do not believe that referential content is narrow.

Millikan gives an extensive treatment of concepts.

Ruth Millikan

She argues that we need to distinguish between the properties represented and the properties that cause representations. Millikan earned her AB from Oberlin College in Everyone will probably agree that, at tSwampman cannot remember his past life since at most he could only have pseudo-memories of Davidson’s.

So, most teleological theories of mental content do not entail that, if Bill thinks that Mavis knows that today is Tuesday then Bill must be thinking about the teleological functions of Mavis’s representation producing or using systems. A mere appeal to consumers would seem to shift the problem without solving it.

The idea is that we can recognize instances of a kind on the basis of the superficial appearances of things of the kind, while remaining ignorant of their essential nature. A second kind of combinatorial process that might be involved operates at the level biosmantics single concepts and their associated conceptions.

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 biosemantifs 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.


Biossmantics those who favor methodological invidualism are correct, teleological theories of content do not provide us with a good scientific way to individuate bioesmantics states Fodor For instance, it is unclear that what we desire is always what is beneficial to fitness. Proponents of teleological theories of content generally understand such functions to be what the thing with the function was selected for, either by ordinary natural selection or by some other natural process of selection.

The normative nature of content poses a problem for naturalistic theories but those who propose teleological theories of mental content think that this problem is tractable. The theory described in the next section is arguably a variant of a type 1 theory but some of the theories described in later sections are not. He illustrates the problem with the case of ocean-dwelling anaerobic bacteria that have tiny magnets magnetesomes that are attracted to magnetic north, which serve to direct the bacteria downwards into the relatively oxygen-free sediment on the ocean floor.

We can ask questions about each of these three places in the representation relation. The resemblance between Davidson and Swampman is nothing but a stupendous coincidence.

A further argument against indicator-semantics involves the claim that something qualifies as a representation only if it is used as a representation.

This seems to reject the Language of Thought hypothesis, according to which thought employs a combinatorial semantics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice. She has claimed that attention to the consumers is crucial for solving a certain functional indeterminacy problem, a claim to be mkllikan in section 4. One reason is that formulations of classical functionalism often spoke of the characteristic or normal causal roles of mental states.

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He speaks of states acquiring a function to indicate by being selected or recruited for indicating. 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. An issue worth considering is whether a multiplicity of consumers e. Many psychologists and some philosophers believe that some complex concepts are somehow composed out of or are anyway learned through the use of simpler concepts.

Rather, the decision about Swampman’s intentionality should be driven by the theory of content that best accounts for the real kind. Here we connect with another important issue that lies outside of the scope of this entry. To a mllikan extent, Millikan’s theory has been responsible for the great interest, both positive and negative, that philosophers have shown in this general class of theories.


Why does CAT count as a representation? This appears to be the view of Cumminssee esp. Those who try to dislodge any remaining intuitions against teleological theories argue that biosemanticw appearance of design can be misleading.

Biosemantics – Oxford Handbooks

Garson argues that the notion of selection should be loosened so that differential retention without differential replication could count as selection, in which case neural selection could count as a form of selection that could underwrite the functions that underwrite content. As Pietroski wants to describe the case, B s have the content red or there is some red and the kimu enjoy the sight or red and seek out the sight of red things.

According to Neander the configuration of visible features is the right style of visual content to ascribe for the purpose of mainstream scientific explanations of an anuran’s visual capacities. Note that this does not depend on these features of the environment being co-extensional.

Ruth Millikan – Biosemantics « « Uberty

We should also keep in mind that serious work on naturalistic theories of content has only been going on for decades rather than centuries and that, on a philosophical timescale, that is quite a short time. It might be a difference in representational vehicle, or in other words, the two might be different predicates denoting giosemantics same property.

Those who favor modest teleo-functional theories would also emphasize that conceptual atomism is highly controversial. Readers who would like to read more on this and other theories of function could turn to several volumes of readings that have appeared: To round out this survey of views, we return to informational theories, to look at some more recent work that is broadly in the tradition of Stampe and Dretske. According to biosemwntics isomorphism theory, biosrmantics is a matter of mirroring the relations among the elements in the represented domain in the relations among elements in the representing domain.