Swampman, Teleosemantics and Kind Essences

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One powerful and influential approach to mental representation analyses representa- tion in terms of biological functions, and biological functions in terms of histories of natural selection. This “teleosemantic” package, however, faces a familiar challenge. Surely representation depends only on the present-day structures of cognitive systems, and not on their historical provenance. “Swampman” drives the point home. Suppose a bolt of lightning creates an intrinsic duplicate of a human being in a steamy tropic swamp; will not this creature be representing its surroundings, despite its lack of any selectional history? In this paper I shall answer this challenge by showing how a proper appreciation of the structure of natural kinds in general, and of mental representation in particular, implies that selectional histories are indeed built into the nature of mental representation. In particular, I shall address a recent argument by Peter Schulte against this general line of argument.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Issue number509
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2022


  • Representation
  • Teleosemantics
  • Natural kinds
  • Essences
  • Swampman


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