Teleological Theories of Mental Content

Karen Neander

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Teleological Theories of Mental Content

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This article is about the philosophical problem of intentionality. Neo-Darwinian selection theory can be used to solve the problem. The norms that apply to mental representation can be reduced to functional norms. The theories that are based on this idea are known as teleological theories of mental content. The philosophical problem of intentionality is related to but different from the psychological one. Ordinary functionalism is presented as endorsing two main theses: mental states and they are individuated by their “functional roles.” Teleofunctionalism endorses both analogous and homologous psychological categories. The reason that teleofunctionalism holds as a theory of mental content is that content is normative. A second motivation for teleosemantics is the nature of cognitive neuroscience as it forms a bridge between the natural sciences and the so-called interpretive fields of inquiry. The aim of the teleosemantic theories sketched above is to explain how content is determined in terms of nonmental phenomena.

Keywords: intentionality; functionalism; mental; neuroscience; teleosemantic

Article.  14179 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Science

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