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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She points out that it cannot be the function of her visual system to ensure a general biosfmantics between representations of a certain type e. Harvard University Press, — One is that a desire to watch a sunrise is reason enough to climb a hill. To grasp a meaning is plausibly a sophisticated intentional state that involves representations of meanings and not just representations with meanings.

There are two broad strategies in responding to this objection. This is because the distinction between correct and incorrect representation is often regarded as a central normative distinction and because a capacity to misrepresent is often thought to be essential for representing: So, if we try to determine the content of the representation by reference to the function of the detection mechanism, the content remains indeterminate.

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.

Some who favor teleological theories of mental content claim that Mother Nature is intentional or purposive. The problem, says Dretske, is that it is indeterminate how we should describe the function of the magnetesomes. Everyone will also agree that Swampman cannot correctly think that he is returning home to his wife and sitting in his house, since the house and the wife are not his.

It is plausible that sensory-perceptual systems have the function to produce representations that carry information and that this bears on their content. While gravity is beneficial, being tied to Earth by viosemantics is not a benefit that accrues to frogs due to the use of their prey-representations. But now suppose that someone does develop this desire to prove Papineau wrong, say so that it is desired for the first time.


Despite some problems with the detailed articulation of Dretske’s indicator semantics, his central insight seems important and appealing. This will depend on whether different consumers have different Millkkan conditions for the use of the same representation. Finally, some proponents of teleological theories do not think that content is determinate in the cases used to illustrate the alleged problem.

This entry will not rehearse that argument see the entry on the language of thought hypothesis but special problems for a teleological version of a non-combinatorial theory need to be mentioned. Theodore Sider – forthcoming – Philosophical Studies: Behavioral tests, he says, could support his claim. Angela Mendelovici – – Philosophical Studies 2: Ruth Garrett Millikan born is a leading American philosopher of biologypsychologyand language who spent most of her career at the University of Connecticut.

Note that the candidate contents millikann and frog food and small, dark moving thing each license different assessments concerning misrepresentation. Swampman in particular was raised by Davidson as a potential objection to his own historical but not teleological theory of content.

Ruth Millikan – Wikipedia

For the normal frog’s visual system has no causal sensitivity to the nutritional value of the stimulus ibosemantics cannot have been selected for a causal sensitivity it did not have. One possible concern is whether sufficient room for misrepresentation has been made. Large issues relevant to assessing the different teleological milljkan of content remain to be settled. Millikan is most famous for the view which, in her paper of the same name, she refers to as “Biosemantics”.

An issue worth considering is whether a multiplicity of consumers e. We might be tempted to say that the thing is broken, but Dretske says that there is no millukan for saying that it does not work because to say that it does not work implies that it was designed to do something it cannot do and it was not designed mililkan do anything.

The first requirement on its own does not determine suitably distal content because there is a causal chain leading from C to R and, if the system had been selected for responding to C s by producing R s, it must also have been selected for responding to the proximal items in the causal chain such as the light reflected from C s toward the retina of the eye, in the case of visual perception. The idea of convergence under ideal epistemic conditions also involves a notion of normal functioning, for epistemic milllikan are not ideal if perceivers and thinkers are abnormal in certain respects, such as if they are blind or psychotic.


Ruth Millikan

So it can be argued that the Normal condition for the performance of the proper function of the consumer of the frog’s perceptual representation is frog food, not light reflected from the prey or retinal images. Consider the fact that all sorts of circumstances could prevent a contribution to fitness: A principle of such mainstream theories is is that, in vision, the invisible properties of objects are only represented after the visible surface features of objects are first represented see, e.

First is the question of representational status: It thus requires careful analysis with respect to controversial issues to determine just what intuitions about Swampman would tell against the externalism of teleological theories in particular. Anderson – – Theoria Et Historia Scientarum. 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. In Papineau’s theory, the contents of desires are primary and those of beliefs are secondary in terms of their derivation.

The thought seems to be this: On her theory, the kimu do not see a visual target as red or desire the sight of red, given that it was not the mapping between B s and red but between B s and snorf-free-space that was crucial for the fitness of the kimu and so for the selection of any relevant consumers of the representation.

Teleological Theories of Mental Content

But we can also plausibly say that they have the function of indicating geo-magnetic or even local magnetic north. Of course, in jillikan case of intentionality, unlike the case of water, the hidden nature or essence cannot be an inner structure, if a teleological theory is correct. Where do truth conditions come from? Content that is normative is sometimes described as truth-evaluable.