A Theory of Practical Meaning

Philosophical Topics 45 (2):65-96 (2017)
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This essay is divided into two parts. In the first part (§2), I introduce the idea of practical meaning by looking at a certain kind of procedural systems — the motor system — that play a central role in computational explanations of motor behavior. I argue that in order to give a satisfactory account of the content of the representations computed by motor systems (motor commands), we need to appeal to a distinctively practical kind of meaning. Defending the explanatory relevance of semantic properties in a computationalist explanation of motor behavior, my argument concludes that practical meanings play a central role in an adequate psychological theory of motor skill. In the second part of this essay (§3), I generalize and clarify the notion of practical meaning, and I defend the intelligibility of practical meanings against an important objection.
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First archival date: 2016-11-03
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