For Thursday, read Sawyer, “There Is No Viable Notion of Narrow Content.” De re: of the object or thing itself. “Joe believes Samuel Clemens was a great writer” can be true, de re, even if Joe doesn’t know that Mark Twain was Samuel Clemens. De dicto: related to the dictum (the words) itself. Thus, if Joe doesn’t know that Mark Twain was Samuel Clemens, the attribution is false de dicto.
Burge’s social argument for content externalism Two subjects, one a physical duplicate of the other, could be in different psychological states solely in virtue of differences in local linguistic practices. Thus, content externalism is true of at least some of our psychological states.
In more detail: The extension-conditions of ‘arthritis’ and the Twin-Earth term ‘arthritis’ differ. Cognitive contents determine extension conditions. Thus, the cognitive content associated with the two terms differs. Therefore, I shouldn’t use the English term ‘arthritis’ to characterize Twin-Alf’s cognitive content.
Burgean Diagnosis External social practices partly determine extension conditions and, therefore, cognitive content. De dicto propositional attitude ascriptions attribute to thinkers the “cognitive contents” distinctively associated with the public-language terms used to attribute propositional attitudes.
A distinction P. 6. Weak consumerism v. strong consumerism The central difference concerns uniqueness – the idea that each public language term has a single cognitive content associated with it.
Segal’s arguments against strong consumerism A single term in public language can be associated with different cognitive contents, which is inconsistent with strong consumerism. (See, e.g., the case of ‘Paderewski’.)
Against weak consumerism Alf does not mean the same thing by ‘arthritis’ and ‘arthrite’. Alf means arthritis when he uses ‘arthrite’. So, Alf does not mean arthritis when he uses ‘arthritis’. Thus, the extension conditions of Alf’s concept expressed by ‘arthritis’ are not socially determined (if he’s not expressing the concept that experts express when they use ‘arthritis’, why think the experts’ concept partly determines the extension conditions of Alf’s concept?)
Thus, there’s no positive reason to think that the truth-values of (1) and (2) on p. 5 do not match. Also, there is a positive reason to think that Alf and twin-Alf’s concepts play the same role in their psychological lives (their cognitive economies). Thus, cognitive content is not socially determined.
Critical Questions To what extent does Segal’s argument depend on his assumption about rationality? Should this be construed only as an attack on Burge’s particular argument, not on social externalism in general? Should we take this as an attack on externalism about one sort of mental content (cognitive content) but not another (the sort that contributes to truth-conditions)?