Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2023-24: Session 28

Biologically Autonomous Teleosemantics

Carl B. Sachs (Marymount University)


14 June 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Teleosemantics remains one of the more promising approaches to naturalizing semantic content. Two long-standing objections to teleosemantics are the normativity objection and the intensionality objection. The normativity objection states that the proper functioning of a cognitive state can only be understood in terms of whether states of that kind are normal or abnormal in a population. The intensionality objection states that teleosemantics can only account for tracking and mapping relations, which are themselves purely extensional. I shall argue that the normativity objection can be addressed by grounding cognitive functions in the organizational approach to biological autonomy, rather than as traits distributed across populations. This approach does not solve the intensionality objection, but it does show that the two objections can be addressed separately.