Chapter

<i>Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures</i> Modes of Presentation

Jose Luis Bermudez

in Thinking without Words

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195159691
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849598 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159691.003.0005

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures Modes of Presentation

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This chapter explores how a semantics can be provided for nonlinguistic thoughts in a way that both does justice to philosophical constraints on acceptable theories of content and provides the ethologist or developmental psychologist with a workable method of assigning content to the beliefs and desires of nonlinguistic creatures. The utility condition of a belief is a state of affairs construable in purely extensional terms. Determining an ontology can be no more than the first stage in resolving the problem of indeterminacy. A single state of affairs can be apprehended by a creature in many different ways, and in order to explain how its representations of the environment cause it to behave in the way it does, one can specify not simply the state of affairs it is representing but also how it apprehends that state of affairs.

Keywords: nonlinguistic creatures; modes of presentation; ontology; thoughts; problem of indeterminacy

Chapter.  11659 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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