Five Puzzles For Externalism About Semantic And Mental Content

Jason Ford


Externalism about semantic and mental content (also known as anti- individualism) is the dominant view in the philosophy of language and mind. My aim in this paper is to reveal unnoticed tensions within the externalist camp, which, if unresolved, might imperil the standard externalist account. The first puzzle presents the case of a person whose whole life consists of fast switches between two worlds. The other four puzzles put pressure on externalism by pitting physical factors against social factors. I will consider several possible responses to each of the puzzles, and discuss their costs — perhaps some externalists will be willing to pay some of those prices, perhaps not.


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