Thirty questions

Here are thirty questions relevant to the project themes (see tab above). I hope they give a flavour of some of the topics that we’ll be covering over the next five years.

C1: The explanatory role of content. 

(Q1) Does the representational properties of propositional attitudes (beliefs and desires) have a genuine explanatory role?

(Q2) Is the essential explanatory role of linguistic content to be found in communication?

(Q3) Do non-propositional representational mental states have an indispensable explanatory role?

(Q4) Must the content of subsentential expressions be directly appealed to in the account of communication?

(Q5) Does the fact that the communication directly explains mental states open space for an anti-realist account of linguistic content?


S1: Full and partial belief

(Q6) What is the relation between all-or-nothing belief/disbelief/agnosticism and degrees of belief?

(Q7) Given a probabilistic model of ideal practical rationality, what explanatory role is left for all-or-nothing beliefs?


C2: Grounding representation.

(Q8) Is there a tenable headfirst strategy for grounding representation—grounding mental content prior to and independently of linguistic content?

(Q9) Should the naturalising projects of the 80s (teleological and indicator semantics)  be abandoned as direct reductive theories of content, and their resources salvaged for other projects?

(Q10)Is an interpretationist theory of mental content available, based on target data concerning mentalese sentences held-true  (/-to-degree-d)?

(Q11) Is an interpretationist theory of mental content, based on target data concerning indication relations involving mentalese sentences output by the perceptual module.

(Q12) Should the interpretationist buy into knowledge-maximization, rather than truth-maximization?

(Q13)Can a Lewisian convention-based interpretationism associate fine-grained content with natural language sentences?

(Q14) How should the elements of interpretation-selection be articulated? (1) Informativeness.

(Q15) How should the elements of interpretation-selection be articulated? (2) Accuracy.

(Q16) How should the elements of interpretation-selection be articulated? (3) Simplicity.


S2: Norms and Representation. 

(Q17) What is the relation between doxastic reasons and rationality: between aiming to believe the true and the requirement to be consistent?

(Q18) Can a reductive/naturalistic story about content underwrite this normativity?


C3: Representational media.

(Q19) Are there reasons for denying that words can be understood as audial or graphic types (following Kaplan), nor mentalese words as neurological types (following Stich)?

(Q20) Can causal-historical individuation of natural language words explain Kripkean phenomena?

(Q21) Can natural language words be individuated teleologically?

(Q22) Can one redeploy the 80s naturalistic traditional as an account of mentalese word-individuation?

(Q23) Will teleological individuation of the media of representation allow principled cosntraints on admissible target data for an interpretationist project?


S3: Phenomenal character

(Q24) Is the orthodox hostility to resemblance-based explanations of perceptual content justified?

(Q25) Would it be costly to give up the representation-based explanation of phenomenal character, in order to reverse the direction of explanation?


C4: Knowing what is represented. 

(Q26) Does an interpretationist account of mental content undermine first-person access to their own thoughts?

(Q27) Is there reason to think that understanding involves a person-level doxastic attitude to facts about representation?

(Q28) Can accordance to context-change potential serve to articulate the nebulous idea of “immersion in linguistic practice”?

(Q29) Should one take a split approach to understanding: with some vocabulary, the aim is for mere competence; whereas for others the aim is for person-level linguistic mastery?

(Q30) Can interpretationism be combined with an adequate first-person epistemology, to underwrite the picture of linguistic understanding that has emerged?


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