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Free Content THE REFERENCE OF DE RE REPRESENTATIONS

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Abstract:

Full understanding ofrepresentation requires both an accountofrepresentational content and of reference. Fred Dretske has proposed a powerful theory of representational content, the teleological theory of indicator functions. And he has indicated that he thinks an informational account of reference is basically correct. According to this account, reference is determined by a certain informational relation, the relation of carrying primary information about an object. However, a closer examination will show that the informational account cannot adequately deal with our intuitions about certain cases of illusion. In these cases, the informational account will lead to an unwelcome loss of the referential object. For reasons of causal underdetermination, a purely causal account of reference will not work either. So ultimately, the informational account has to be replaced by a mixed account that relies both on satisfaction (of representational content) and a causal relation. This means that the turn away from an informational theory of representational content to a teleological theory has to be accompanied by a corresponding turn away from the informational theory of reference to the mixed causal-satisfactional theory.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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