Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maybe this was obvious to everyone else

If Fodor thinks that elements in the language of thought get their meaning from counterfactuals about assymetric dependence (HORSE means horse, not horse-or-cow-on-a-dark-night, because if tokenings of HORSE hadn't tracked horses they wouldn't have tended to track horses-or-cows-on-a-dark-night either), what does he say about Swampman?

Since Swampman is supposed to have come into being from random electrical activity, none of these counterfactuals about different response patterns which Swampman could have had seem well defined. Does Fodor say that Swampman wouldn't be thinking?

I guess Davidson (who came up with the example) bites this bullet. But it seems like the exact kind of intuitions that motivate accepting mental representation in the first place (you could have just the same phenomenology, if you were paralyzed so you had no dispositions to use any external language; surely this should suffice for you to count as having thoughts) rebel at the idea that Swampman wouldn't be thinking.

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