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Teleosemantics and Tetrachromacy

Porter, Brian (2019) Teleosemantics and Tetrachromacy. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Teleosemantics explains mental representation in terms of etiological history: a mental state’s representational contents are the result of natural selection, or some other selection process. Critics have argued that the “swampman” thought experiment poses a counterexample to teleosemantics. In several recent papers, Papineau has argued that a merely possible swampman cannot serve as a counterexample to teleosemantics, but has acknowledged that actual swampmen would pose a problem for teleosemantics. In this paper, I argue that there are real-world cases of swampman-like representation, in the form of functional tetrachromacy. People with functional tetrachromacy are born with four types of cones in each eye, rather than the usual three, and as a result can represent a wider variety of colors than the average person. I argue that the functional tetrachromat’s additional color representations are not the result of a selection process. Functional tetrachromacy is therefore a real-world case of mental representation without an etiological history, and therefore poses a genuine counterexample to teleosemantics.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Porter, Brianbporter@gradcenter.cuny.edu0000-0002-6185-4072
Keywords: Teleosemantics; tetrachromacy; mental representation; philosophy of mind; color perception
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
Depositing User: Mr. Brian Porter
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2019 03:32
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2019 03:32
Item ID: 16692
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
Date: 5 December 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16692

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