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From Content-Externalism to Vehicle-Externalism1

  • Crystal L’hote (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0012217312000443
  • Published online: 28 September 2012
Abstract

ABSTRACT: Consensus has it that Putnam-Burge style arguments for content-externalism do not strengthen the case for vehicle-externalism, i.e., the thesis that some mental states include as their parts notebooks, iPhones, and other extra-bodily phenomena. Rowlands and Sprevak, among others, argue that vehicle-externalism gets stronger support from Clark and Chalmers’s parity principle and functionalism, generally. I contest this assessment and thereby give reason to reconsider the support that content-externalism provides the extended mind thesis: although content-externalism does not entail vehicle-externalism, as Rowlands argues, neither does functionalism. The functionalist cannot reject the content-externalist argument for vehicle-externalism on these grounds without undercutting her own.

RÉSUMÉ : Le consensus veut que l’argument de Putnam-Burge concernant l’externalisme sémantique ne permette pas d’étayer l’argument de l’externalisme des véhicules, c’est-à-dire la thèse selon laquelle certains états mentaux ont pour partie prenante des cahiers de notes, iPhones et autres phénomènes extra-corporels. Rowlands et Sprevak, parmi d’autres, soutiennent que l’externalisme des véhicules trouve un meilleur appui dans le principe de parité, et plus généralement, dans le fonctionnalisme de Clark et Chalmers. Je conteste cette conclusion en invitant à repenser l’appui que l’externalisme sémantique peut apporter à la thèse de l’esprit étendu. Rowlands soutient que l’externalisme sémantique n’implique pas l’externalisme des véhicules; l’argument vaut pour le fonctionnalisme. Le fonctionnaliste ne peut nier la thèse de l’externalisme sémantique sans affaiblir sa propre argumentation.

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I thank the generous participants at the 2009 Cognitive Systems and Extended Mind conference at the University of Osnabrueck for their comments on an early version on this paper, especially Robert Rupert and Ken Aizawa. Any persisting confusion is wholly my own. I also owe thanks to John Izzi for his assistance in the preparation of this manuscript and to the Office of the VPAA at St. Michael’s College for a summer research fellowship that facilitated a project of which this work is a part.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

F. Adams and K. Aizawa 2008 The Bounds of Cognition. Wiley-Blackwell.

F. Adams and K. Aizawa 2001The Bounds of Cognition.” Philosophical Psychology 14: 4364.

T. Burge 1979Individualism and the Mental.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4: 73121.

A. Clark 2008 Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A. Clark 2005Intrinsic Content, Active Memory, and the Extended Mind.” Analysis 65: 111.

D. Davidson 1987Knowing One’s Own Mind.” Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60: 441–48.

S. Hurley 1998Vehicles, Contents, Conceptual Structure and Internalism.” Analysis 58: 16.

R. Millikan 1989Biosemantics.” Journal of Philosophy 86: 281–97.

R. Rupert 2009 Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

P. Snowdon 1981Perception, Vision and Causation.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81: 175–92.

M. Sprevak 2009Extended Cognition and Functionalism.” The Journal of Philosophy 106: 503527.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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