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De se attitudes and computation

Hamilton Fairley, N. (2021) De se attitudes and computation. Theoria, 87 (1). pp. 207-229. ISSN 1755-2567

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/theo.12241


There has been debate between those who maintain that indexical expressions are not essential and those who maintain that such indexicals cannot be dispensed with without an important loss of content. This version of the essentialist view holds that thoughts must also have indexical elements. Indexical thoughts appear to be in tension with the computational theory of mind (CTM). In this case we have the following inconsistent triad: (i) De se thoughts are essential. (ii) De se thoughts are indexical, they have a (Kaplanian) character. (iii) Computations can only take the syntactic type into account, they cannot take tokens into account. If (iii) is correct, then it seems we cannot make sense of a thought which uses a character such that its referent could vary from tokening to tokening. I argue that (iii) need not cause a problem, while maintaining the CTM. I claim that computations need not be sensitive to the features of a tokened symbol in the way that character demands. This job may be performed by a non‐modular part of the mind. Resolving the triad in this way provides a reason to accept that indexicals in thought are possible.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:81918


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