Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fodorian Naturalistic Semantics and Double Disjunctivitis :: Philosophy

Fodorian Naturalistic Semantics and Double Disjunctivitis ABSTRACT: Direct Informational Semantics, according to which [X]s represent (express/mean) X if ‘Xs cause [X]s’ is a law, and Fodorian naturalistic semantics both suffer from double disjunctivitis. I argue that robustness, properly construed, characterizes both represented properties and representing symbols: two or more properties normally regarded as non-disjunctive may each be nomologically connected to a non-disjunctive symbol, and two or more non-disjunctive symbols may each be nomologically connected to a property. This kind of robustness bifurcates the so-called disjunction problem into a Represented-Disjunction Problem, of which Fodor was aware, and a Representer-Disjunction Problem, of which he was on the whole oblivious. Fodor fails to solve these problems: his solution to the former, the Asymmetric Dependence Condition, presupposes a successful solution to the latter, while possible responses that Fodor might make to the latter either beg the former or cannot be met or else flout the Naturalistic Requirement and the Atomistic Requirement. Even setting the Representer-Disjunction Problem aside, the Represented-Disjunction Problem does not get solved, because the robustness involving phonological/orthographic sequences (tokens and types) guarantees that nothing can meet the Asymmetrical Dependence Condition. Indeed there is a serious problem of individuating phonological/orthographic tokens and types in a manner that satisfies Fodor’s expectations. This is made manifest by the presence of orthographic tokens embedded in larger tokens. I. Fodor’s Naturalization Proposal and the Represented-Disjunction Problem The specific task which the naturalization project is designed to accomplish is to construct an information-based semantic theory that articulates (I) an atomistic and (II) naturalistic — i.e., in non-intentional, non-semantic terms — sufficient condition for a syntactically primitive predicate to express a property. (1) For convenience (I) will be referred to as the Atomistic Requirement and (II) as the Naturalistic Requirement. Now if Direct Informational Semantics were correct, "tamarao" would express the disjunctive property tamarao or thump because, under certain conditions, a thump and a tamarao are each sufficient for its tokening. Thus a tokening of a symbol would be ipso facto true. There would be no accounting for the fact that meaning is robust:’ "cow" tokens get caused in all sorts of ways, and they all mean cow for all that’. (2) I shall refer to this problem (3) as the Represented-Disjunction Problem, considering that it figures on the repres ented side. Fodor proposes to solve the Represented-Disjunction Problem without abandoning the main thrust of the information-theoretic account. His proposal (FP) is that "X" means X if: (4)

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