An Input Condition for Teleosemantics? Reply to Shea (and Godfrey-Smith)
Millikan (Ruth Garrett)
Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LXXV No. 2, September
Paper - Abstract

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Author's Introduction

  1. In his essay "Consumers Need Information: Supplementing Teleosemantics with an Input Condition" (this issue) Nicholas Shea argues, with support from the work of Peter Godfrey-Smith (1996), that teleosemantics, as David Papineau (1987) and I (1984, 2004) have articulated it, cannot explain why "content attribution can be used to explain successful behavior."
  2. This failure is said to result from defining the intentional contents of representations by reference merely to historically normal conditions for success of their "outputs," that is, their uses by interpreting or consuming mechanisms, bypassing the more traditional focus, of those who would naturalize intentional content, on causal or informational inputs.
  3. Shea proposes to "add an input condition to teleosemantics," requiring that simple representations must carry "correlational information."
  4. I am grateful to Shea for his paper, as it presents me with an opportunity to clarify two fairly central features of my position on intentional content, one of which seems to have been overlooked in the literature (Millikan, 1993a), the other of which I have stated previously only in a confusing way (Millikan, 2004, Chapters 3-4).
    1. The first clarification concerns the general form that I take explanation by reference to intentional states have.
    2. The second concerns my description of "locally recurrent natural information," why this kind of information is needed in place of Shea's "correlational information" to explain what feeds simple representational systems, and why no reference to natural information is needed to account for the success of behaviors by reference to the truth representations that motivate them.

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