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180221 SE Internalism vs. Externalism About Mental Content (2021W)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung
Di 30.11. 18:00-19:30 Digital


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 25 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch


Termine (iCal) - nächster Termin ist mit N markiert

Dienstag 12.10. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 19.10. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 09.11. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 16.11. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 23.11. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 07.12. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 14.12. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 11.01. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 18.01. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital
Dienstag 25.01. 18:00 - 19:30 Digital


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

• Content
Internalism about meaning (or 'semantic internalism') might be understood as the following claim: the fact that a competent speaker means that such and such by a sentence S does *not* entail any proposition about the external environment the speaker finds herself in. Put in simpler terms, what a speaker means by her words is a wholly 'internal' affair. In a similar vein, internalism about mental content (sometimes called 'individualism') might be understood as the thesis that true propositional attitude ascriptions – that is, true sentences of the form ‘X believes/desires/fears/… that p’ – do *not* entail any proposition about the external environment X finds herself in. Both theses go hand in hand with a claim of first-personal privileged access, according to which meanings, mental attitudes and their contents are wholly within the thinker’s ken.

Prompted by seminal work on semantics by Kripke, Putnam and Burge, the denial of both theses grew into one of the hallmarks of analytic philosophy. Externalism about meaning (also 'semantic externalism') and externalism about mental content (also 'anti-individualism') call for important revisions on classical positions regarding self-knowledge, apriori knowledge, the explanation of action, moral responsibility, and reasoning, the extent and acceptability of which is still a matter of intense debate.

• Goals
In this seminar, we will discuss the main motivations and arguments for internalism and externalism about meaning and mental content, aiming at a basic understanding of what is at stake in these debates. We will consider seminal texts by Frege, Kripke, Putnam and Burge, as well as some recent contributions about the consequences of these positions.

• Methods
Reading, interpretation and critical discussion of texts; reconstruction of arguments.

IMPORTANT: questions, reflections and essay may be submitted in German or English.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

• Active participation and attendance (including submission of questions and own reflections on assigned texts before the sessions)
• Short essay (± 6000 words) on a topic related to the seminar

IMPORTANT: questions, reflections and essay may be submitted in German or English.

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

• Active participation and attendance (30%)
• Essay (70%) (minimal grade: 5/10)


Presentations, slides and texts.


(To be updated during the seminar; not all listed references will be discussed in class.)
• N. Block (1991). What narrow content is not. In Barry M. Loewer & Georges Rey (eds.), Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics. Blackwell.
• P. Boghossian (1994). The Transparency of Mental Content. Philosophical Perspectives 8:33-50.
• P. Boghossian (1998). What the Externalist Can Know A Priori. Philosophical Issues 9:197-211.
• J. Brown (1995). The Incompatibility of Anti-individualism and Privileged Access. Analysis 55.3: 149–56.
• T. Burge (1979). Individualism and the mental. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122
• T. Burge (1982). Other bodies. In Andrew Woodfield (ed.), Thought and Object. Oxford University Press.
• K. Farkas (2003). What Is Externalism? Philosophical Studies 112(3): 187–208.
• G. Frege (1892). Über Sinn und Bedeutung. Zeitschrift für Philosophie Und Philosophische Kritik 100 (1):25-50.
• B. Gertler (2011). Self-Knowledge and the Transparency of Belief. In Anthony Hatzimoysis (ed.), Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
• J. Kallestrup (2011). Semantic Externalism. Routledge.
• S. Kripke (1980). Naming and Necessity. Harvard University Press.
• B. Loar (1988). Social Content and Psychological Content. In R. Grimm and D. Merrill (eds.), Contents of Thought (Tucson: University of Arizona Press), 99–110.
• M. McKinsey (2002). Forms of Externalism and Privileged Access. Philosophical Perspectives 16: 199–224.
• H. Putnam (1975). The meaning of ‘meaning’. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
• A. Srinivasan (2015). Normativity without Cartesian privilege. Philosophical Issues 25 (1):273-299.

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Letzte Änderung: Di 12.10.2021 17:48