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Thinking without Words$
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José Luis Bermúdez

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195159691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159691.001.0001

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Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures Toward an Ontology

Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures Toward an Ontology

(p.64) 4 Ascribing Thoughts to Nonlinguistic Creatures Toward an Ontology
Thinking without Words

Jose Luis Bermudez

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains how a theorist might fix an ontology in a way that will allow the theorist to determine what objects a particular non-language-using creature is capable of thinking about—or, in other words, that will elucidate how the creature “carves up” its world into bounded individuals. Among other issues, it explores a version of successful semantics based on the idea that the content of a belief is its utility condition and the content of a desire its satisfaction-condition. Existing versions of success semantics generate a significant problem of indeterminacy. Success semantics originated with some fleeting comments by Frank Ramsey about the beliefs of a chicken in his 1927 article ‘Facts and Propositions’. He commented that the chicken's belief that a certain type of caterpillar is poisonous should be equated with the chicken's abstaining from eating such caterpillars on account of unpleasant experiences connected with them.

Keywords:   success semantics, Frank Ramsey, caterpillar, chicken, problem of indeterminacy

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