<i>Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures</i> Toward an Ontology

Jose Luis Bermudez

in Thinking without Words

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195159691
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849598 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures Toward an Ontology

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This chapter explains how a theorist might fix an ontology in a way that will allow the theorist to determine what objects a particular non-language-using creature is capable of thinking about—or, in other words, that will elucidate how the creature “carves up” its world into bounded individuals. Among other issues, it explores a version of successful semantics based on the idea that the content of a belief is its utility condition and the content of a desire its satisfaction-condition. Existing versions of success semantics generate a significant problem of indeterminacy. Success semantics originated with some fleeting comments by Frank Ramsey about the beliefs of a chicken in his 1927 article ‘Facts and Propositions’. He commented that the chicken's belief that a certain type of caterpillar is poisonous should be equated with the chicken's abstaining from eating such caterpillars on account of unpleasant experiences connected with them.

Keywords: success semantics; Frank Ramsey; caterpillar; chicken; problem of indeterminacy

Chapter.  11875 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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