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Causal Theories of Mental Content

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Abstract

Causal theories of mental content (CTs) ground certain aspects of a concept's meaning in the causal relations a concept bears to what it represents. Section 1 explains the problems CTs are meant to solve and introduces terminology commonly used to discuss these problems. Section 2 specifies criteria that any acceptable CT must satisfy. Sections 3, 4, and 5 critically survey various CTs, including those proposed by Fred Dretske, Jerry Fodor, Ruth Garrett Millikan, David Papineau, Dennis Stampe, Dan Ryder, and the author himself. The final section considers general objections to the causal approach.

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