More on the Interactive Indexing Semantic Theory

Minds and Machines 20 (3):455-474 (2010)
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This article further explains and develops a recent, comprehensive semantic naturalization theory, namely the interactive indexing (II) theory as described in my 2008 Minds and Machines article Semantic Naturalization via Interactive Perceptual Causality (Vol. 18, pp. 527–546). Folk views postulate a concrete intentional relation between cognitive states and the worldly states they are about. The II theory eliminates any such concrete intentionality, replacing it with purely causal relations based on the interactive theory of perception. But intentionality is preserved via purely abstract propositions about the world that index, or correlate with, appropriate cognitive states. Further reasons as to why intentionality must be abstract are provided, along with more details of an II-style account of representation, language use and propositional attitudes. All cognitive representation is explained in terms of classification or sorting dispositions indexed by appropriate propositions. The theory is also related to Fodor’s representational theory of mind, with some surprisingly close parallels being found in spite of the purely dispositional basis of the II theory. In particular, Fodor’s insistence that thinking about an item cannot be reduced to sorting dispositions is supported via a novel two-level account of cognition—upper level propositional attitudes involve significant intermediate processing of a broadly normative epistemic kind prior to the formation of sorting dispositions. To conclude, the weak intentional realism of the II theory—which makes intentional descriptions of the world dispensable—is related to Dennett’s ‘intentional stance’ view, and distinguished from strong (indispensable) intentional realist views. II-style dispositions are also defended.
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The Intentional Stance.Dennett, Daniel C.

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