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Reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay

References and Further Reading 1. Interacting with natural kinds is a necessary but not sufficient condition for meaning Putnam 1975, 246; Putnam 1981, 66; Sawyer 1998 529; Nuttecelli 2003, 172; Norris 2003, 153; Korman, 2006 507. To show this, Putnam insists that Frege accounts for the sense, intension, or meaning of our terms by making two assumptions: The meaning of our terms for example, natural kind terms is constituted by our being in a certain psychological state.

The meaning of such terms determines its extension Putnam 1975, 219. Putnam imagines that somewhere there is a Twin Earth. Earthlings and Twin Earthlings are exact duplicates down to the last molecule and have the same behavioral histories.

Even so, there is one difference: Putnam then imagines it is the year is 1750, before the development of chemistry on either planet. In this time, no experts knew of the hidden structure of water or of its twin, twater.

Natural kind externalism, then, is the position that the meanings of natural kind terms are not determined by psychological states, but are determined by causal interactions with the natural kind itself that is, kinds with certain structural properties. Propositional attitude contents, it seems, are also not in our heads. Social externalism is the position that our attitude contents for example, beliefs, intentions, and so forth depend essentially on the norms of our social environments.

To argue for social externalism, Burge introduces a subject named Bert. Bert has a number of beliefs about arthritis, many of which are true, but in this case, falsely believes that he has arthritis in his thigh. Burge then imagines a counterfactual subject — let us call him Ernie. Ernie is physiologically and behaviorally the same as Bert non-intentionally describedbut was raised in a different linguistic community.

When Ernie visits reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay doctor and mentions arthritis, he is not corrected.

Although Bert and Ernie have always been physically and behaviorally the same, they differ in their contents. Unlike Putnam, Burge does not restrict his externalism to natural kinds, or even to obvious social kinds.

We could have used an artifact term, an ordinary natural kind word, a color adjective, a social role term, a term for a historical style, an abstract noun, an action verb, a physical movement verb, or any of other various sorts of words Burge 1979, 79. In other papers, Burge launches similar thought experiments to extend his externalism to cases where we have formed odd theories about artifacts for example, where we believe sofas to be religious artifactsto the contents of our percepts for example, to our perceptions of, say, cracks or shadows on a sidewalkand even to our memory contents Burge 1985, 1986, 1998.

Other externalists—William Lycan, Michael Tye, and Jonathan Ellis among them—rely on similar thought experiments to extend externalism to the contents of our phenomenal states, or seemings Lycan 2001; Tye 2008; Ellis 2010.

Externalism, then, can seem to generalize to all contents. The theoretical adjustments can then account for how natural kind term meanings can change or diminish the role of referents altogether Sainsbury 2007. Zemach, Mellor, Jackson, and others infer that Putnam should have cleaved to the first Fregean principle that our being in a certain psychological state constitutes meaning as well as to the second.

By combining both Fregean principles, earthlings and their twins, mean the same thing after all. However, Burge never clarifies how much understanding Bert needs to actually have arthritis. Burge 1986, 702; Burge 2003a, 276. Bert and Ernie, it seems, have the same contents. According to these criticisms, the Twin Earth thought experiments seem to show that twins across planets, or in those raised in different linguistic communities, establish differing contents by importing questionable assumptions such as; that the causal theory of reference is true, that we refer to hidden structural properties, or dictate norms for ascribing contents.

Without these assumptions, the Twin Earth thought experiments can easily invoke internalist intuitions. When experimental philosophers tested such thought experiments, they elicited different intuitions.

Two Problems for Content Externalism a. However, as Paul Boghossian has argued, externalism may not be able to honor this apparent truism.

Boghossian imagines that we earthlings have slowly switched from Earth to Twin Earth, unbeknownst to us. As a result, he proposes that the externalist theory would not allow for discernment of whether contents refer to water or twater, to arthritis or tharthritis Boghossian 1989, 172; Boghossian 1994, 39.

As Burge sees the challenge, the problem is that "…[a] person would have different thoughts under the switches, but the person would not be able to compare the situations and note when and where the differences occurred Burge 1988, 653; Burge 1998, 354; Burge 2003a, 278.

Boghossian argues that since externalism seems to imply that we cannot discern whether our contents refer to water or twater, arthritis or tharthritis, then we do not have privileged access to the proper contents. Either the approach for understanding privileged access is in need of revision for example, restricting the scope of our claims to certain a priori truthsor externalism is itself false.

Indeed, our first-order thoughts that is, about objects completely determine the second-order ones Burge 1988, 659.

However, as Max de Gaynesford and others have argued, when considering switching cases, one cannot assume that such enabling conditions are satisfied. Since we may be incorrect about such enabling conditions, and may be incorrect about reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay first-order attitude contents as well, then we may be incorrect about our reflective contents too de Gaynesford 1996, 391.

Kevin Falvey and Joseph Owens have responded that although we cannot discern among first order contents, doing so is unnecessary. If we were suddenly switched from Earth to Twin Earth, or back again, our contents would not typically change immediately.

Because there is such a potential to be mistaken about enabling conditions, perhaps we do need to know them after all. Since such a switch is not relevant, they say, our enabling conditions that is, conditions over time are what we take them to be, such that we have privileged access to our first-order contents, and to our reflections on these Warfield 1997, 283; Sawyer 1999, 371. However, as Peter Ludlow has argued, externalists cannot so easily declare switching cases to be irrelevant Ludlow 1995, 48; Ludlow 1997, 286.

Reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay many externalists concede, relevant switching cases are easy to devise. Moreover, externalists cannot both rely on fictional Twin Earth thought experiments to generate externalist intuitions yet also object to equally fictional switching cases launched to evoke internalist intuitions.

Either all such cases of logical possibility are relevant or none of them are McCulloch 1995, 174. Michael McKinsey, Jessica Brown and others offer another set of privileged access objections to externalism. According to externalism, they say, we do have privileged access to our contents for example, to those expressed by water or twater, or arthritis or tharthritis. Given such access, we should be able to infer, by conceptual implication, that we are living in a particular environment for example, on a planet with water and arthritis, on a planet twater and tharthritis, and so forth.

Externalism, then, should afford us a priori knowledge of our actual environments McKinsey 1991, 15; Brown 1995, 192; Boghossian 1998, 208. Since privileged access to our contents does not afford us a priori knowledge of our environments the latter always remaining a posterioriexternalism implies that we possess knowledge we do not have.

Externalists, such as Burge, Brian McLaughlin and Michael Tye, Anthony Brueckner, and others have proposed that privileged access to our contents does not afford any a priori knowledge of our environments.

Since we can be mistaken about natural kinds in our actual environment for example, we may even discover that there are no kinds the facts must be discovered. Although external items individuate contents, our privileged access to those contents does not afford us a priori knowledge of our environments such details always remaining a posteriori.

Externalists must explain how this possibility does not compromise their position, or they must abandon externalism Boghossian 1998, 210; Segal 2000, 32, 55; Besson 2012, 420. Some externalists, Sarah Sawyer and Bill Brewer among them, have responded to this privilege access objection by suggesting that, assuming externalism is true, we can only think about objects by the causal interaction we have with them. Since this is so, privileged access to our contents allows us to infer, by conceptual implication, that those very objects exist in our actual environments.

In other words, externalism affords us a priori knowledge of our environments after all Sawyer 1998, 529-531; Brewer 2000, 416. Perhaps this response is consistent, but it requires privileged access to our contents by itself determine a priori knowledge of our environments. When explaining behavior, psychologists typically cite local contents as causes of our behavior. Psychologists typically ascribe twins the same mental causes and describe twins as performing the same actions Fodor 1987, 30; McGinn 1982, 76-77; Jacob 1992, 208, 211.

However, according to externalism, contents are individuated in relation to different distal objects. Since twins across planets relate to different objects, they have different mental causes, and so should receive different explanations. Yet as Fodor and McGinn note, since the only differences between twins across planets are the relations they bear to such objects, those objects are not causally relevant.

As Jacob says, the difference between twin contents and behavior seems to drop out as irrelevant Jacob 1992, 211. Externalism, then, seems to violate principles of scientific psychology, rendering mental causation and psychological explanation mysterious Fodor 1987, 39; McGinn 1982, 77.

Externalists, such as Burge, Robert van Gulick, and Robert Wilson have responded that, when considering mental causation and psychological explanation, local causes are important. There is still good reason to individuate contents between planets by the relation twins bear to distal and different objects Burge 1989b, 309; Burge 1995, 231; van Gulick 1990; 156; Wilson 1997, 141.

Externalists have also noted that any relations we bear to such objects may yet be causally relevant to behavior, albeit indirectly Adams, Drebushenko, Fuller, and Stecker 1990, 221-223; Peacocke 1995, 224; Williamson 2000, 61-64.

However, as Fodor, Chalmers, and others have argued, our relations to such distal and different objects are typically not causal but only conceptual Fodor 1991b 21; Chalmers 2002a, 621.

Assuming this is so, psychologists do not yet have any reason to prefer externalist recommendations for the individuation of content, since these practices do not distinguish the causal from the conceptual aspects of our contents. Putnam and Burge utilize Twin Earth thought experiments to argue for natural kind and social externalism, respectively, which they extend to externalism about artifacts, percepts, memories, and phenomenal properties.

More recently, Gareth Evans and John McDowell, Ruth Millikan, Donald Davidson, Andy Clark and David Chalmers have developed four more types of externalism — which do not primarily rely upon Twin Earth thought experiments, and which differ in their motivations, scopes and strengths.

Gareth Evans, John McDowell adapt neo-Fregean semantics to launch a version of externalism for demonstrative thoughts for example, this is my cat.

Internalism and Externalism in the Philosophy of Mind and Language

Such failed demonstrative thoughts appear to have contents, but in fact, do not Evans 1981, 299, 302; McDowell 1986, 146; McCulloch 1989, 211-215. Evans and McDowell conclude that when we express demonstrative thoughts, our contents about them are individually dependent on the objects they represent.

In response, some philosophers have questioned whether there is any real difference between our successful and failed demonstrative thoughts that is, rendering the latter mock thoughts.

Demonstrative thoughts, successful or not, seem to have the same contents and we seem to behave the same regardless Segal 1989; Noonan 1991. Other externalists — notably David Papineau and Ruth Garrett Millikan — employ teleosemantics to argue that contents are determined by proper causes, or those causes that best aid in our survival.

Millikan claims that improperly caused thoughts may feel the same as genuine thoughts, but have no place in this system. Therefore, contents are, one and all, dependent on only proper causes.

However, some philosophers have responded that the prescribed contents can be produced in aberrant ways and aberrant contents can be produced by proper causes. Contents and their proper causes may be only contingently related to one another Fodor 1990. Donald Davidson offers a third form of externalism that relies on our basic linguistic contact with the world, on the causal history of the contents we derive from language, and the interpretation of those contents by others.

Davidson insists that …in the simplest and most basic cases, words and sentences derive their meaning from the objects and circumstances in whose presence they were learned Davidson 1989, 44; Davidson, 1991; 197.

In such cases, we derive contents from the world directly; this begins a causal history where we can manifest the contents. An instantly created swampman — a being with no causal history — could not have the contents we have, or even have contents at all Davidson 1987, 19.

Since our contents are holistically related to each other as interpreters, we must find each other to be correct in most things. Interpretations, however, change what our contents are and do so essentially Davidson 1991, 211.

Davidson concludes that our contents are essentially dependent on our basic linguistic contact with the world, our history of possessing such contents, and on how others interpret us. In response, some philosophers have argued that simple basic linguistic contact with the world, from which we derive specific contents reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay, may not be possible.

A causal history may not be relevant to our having contents and the interpretations by others may have nothing to do with content Hacker 1989; Leclerc 2005. When certain kinds of objects for example, notebooks, mobile phones, and so forth are engaged to perform complex tasks, reflexive transparency mental content and externalism essay objects change the vehicles of our contents as well as how we process information.

When processing information, we come to rely upon objects for example, phonessuch that they literally become parts of our minds, parts of our selves Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2010.