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Social Externalism and Conceptual Diversity


Social externalism is a thesis about the individuation-conditions of thoughts. Actually, the thesis applies only to a special category of ‘trained’ thoughts, thoughts which issue from trained thinking. It isn't that the thinker of such a thought has to have had special training about the subject-matter. It is rather that he or she needs to have acquired certain basic linguistic skills and values. For trained thoughts are thoughts whose contents are tailored to the demands of communication. Social externalism, as I understand it, says that people who are competent in a public language are equipped to have certain thoughts whose contents are fixed (in part) by the lexical semantic norms of their language.

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K. Bach 1988. ‘Burge's New Thought Experiment: Back to the Drawing Room’, Journal of Philosophy 85, 8897

T. Burge 1979. ‘Individualism and the Mental’ in P. French , T. Uehling and H. K. Wettstein (eds.), Midwest Studies in Philosophy Vol IV: Studies in Metaphysics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

T Burge 1982. ‘Two Thought Experiments Reviewed’, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23, 284–93

T Burge 1986. ‘Intellectual Norms and Foundations of Mind’, Journal of Philosophy 83, 697720

T. Crane 1991. ‘All the Difference in the World’, The Philosophical Quarterly 41, 125

J. Fodor 1982. ‘Cognitive Science and the Twin Earth Problem’, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23, 98118

S. Patterson 1990. ‘The Explanatory Role of Belief Ascriptions’, Philosophical Studies 59, 313–32

A. Woodfield 1996. ‘Which Theoretical Concepts Do Children Use?Philosophical Papers 25, 120

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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