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Dispositions Indisposed: Semantic Atomism and Fodor’s Theory of Content

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Abstract:

According to Jerry Fodor's atomistic theory of content, subjects' dispositions to token mentalese terms in counterfactual circumstances fix the contents of those terms. I argue that the pattern of counterfactual tokenings alone does not satisfactorily fix content; if Fodor's appeal to patterns of counterfactual tokenings has any chance of assigning correct extensions, Fodor must take into account the contents of subjects' various mental states at the times of those tokenings. However, to do so, Fodor must abandon his semantic atomism. And while Fodor has recently qualified his atomism, the cognitively holistic nature of dispositions continues to undermine his view.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0114.00108

Affiliations: Humanities Divisions, Tacoma and Highline Community Colleges

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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