Belief-attribution and Rationality: a Dilemma for Jerry Fodor
Introduction: beliefs and belief-ascriptions
In the present paper, I will assume that human beings do have beliefs and other propositional attitudes.1 With token physicalists generally, I will assume that an individual's beliefs - particular mental state tokens - are brain state tokens of the individual. Furthermore, I will distinguish beliefs, utterances whereby individuals express their beliefs, and belief-ascriptions or belief-reports whereby beliefs are attributed by one person to another.
Beliefs may represent states of affairs, and so may utterances whereby beliefs are expressed: Sarah's belief that London is pretty, as it might be, represents the fact that a particular city bears the property expressed by the English predicate "pretty". And so does the sentence she may utter to express her belief. The fact that Sarah has this belief - if she does - may explain why she does certain things, why e.g., she utters the French sentence "Londres est jolie" which means that London is pretty.
A belief-report - such as "Sarah believes that London is pretty" - is a (linguistic) representation of a belief (itself a mental representation of a state of affairs). Although Sarah may not speak a word of English, still she may hold a belief which an English speaker may report as the belief that London is pretty. The belief-ascriber would then use an English sentence to characterize the content of Sarah's belief. A belief-report is an utterance which expresses the belief-ascriber's belief about the ascribee's belief (about London, as it might be). Let us say that a person expresses her belief by making an assertion. So if Sarah, having learnt enough English and Roman history, were to utter the sentence "Cicero was a Roman orator" she would thereby express her belief that Cicero was a Roman orator.
Beliefs are paradigmatic psychological states with content ("propositional attitudes" as they have come to be called since Russell) and they play basically three roles. First, beliefs help explain what a person does intentionally. Second, a person B may derive indirectly information about aspects of the world not directly observable to her by forming a higher order belief about A's belief about some aspect of the world not directly observable by B. Finally, a person's beliefs are subject to evaluation for consistency and/or rationality. Assessment of a person's rationality involves primarily examination of the logical relationships between his or her beliefs.
1. Modes of Presentation and Frege's Constraint
On our unsophisticated conception of what it takes a person to be minimally rational, we would not take Sarah to be irrational were she to express her belief that, unlike Tully, Cicero was a Roman orator, by uttering the sentence "Cicero was a Roman orator but Tully was not" or "Cicero, not Tully, was a Roman orator", even though (we know that) Cicero was no other than Tully. What Sarah would thereby display is ignorance, not irrationality: she might well be rational and lack the knowledge that "Cicero" and "Tully" are two English names of one and the same Roman orator. Lacking a belief is not the same thing as holding two contradictory beliefs. Using the Fregean notion of a "mode of presentation" (which Frege himself called a Sinn), we might say that Sarah believes of Cicero that he was a Roman orator under one mode of presentation and she disbelieves it under another mode of presentation. However, on the same unsophisticated conception of rationality, Sarah would display irrationality were she to hold the belief she would normally and sincerely express by means of her utterance of "Cicero was and Cicero was not a Roman orator". Her linguistic behavior would then leave no room for a distinction between two modes of presentation of Cicero.
Now, there are, in the philosophical literature, two rival views of the proposition literally (or explicitly) expressed by the utterance of a sentence containing a singular term (such as a proper name, an indexical or a demonstrative pronoun): the Fregean view and the theory of direct reference (TDR). According to the former, the proposition explicitly expressed by the utterance of a sentence containing a singular term contains a mode of presentation of the referent of the singular term. According to the latter, the proposition explicitly expressed by the utterance of a sentence containing a singular term contains the referent itself. On the latter view, such an utterance expresses what D. Kaplan (1979: 387) calls a Russellian "singular proposition".
The Fregean notion of a mode of presentation has been designed to account for the linguistic and psychological intuition according to which a person may believe of one and the same object both that it has and that it does not have a given property. Indeed, modes of presentation obey what Schiffer (1978: 180 and 1992: 502-3) calls "Frege's Constraint":
First it says that a rational person x may both believe and disbelieve that a certain thing... y is such and such only if there are distinct modes m and m' such that x believes y to be such and such under m and disbelieves it to be such and such under m'. Then it says that there are distinct modes of presentation m and m' such that a rational person x believes y to be such and such under m and disbelieves y to be such and such under m' only if x fails to realize that m and m' are modes of presentation of one and the same thing. In other words, you cannot rationally believe and disbelieve something under one and the same mode of presentation, or under modes of presentation that you realize are modes of presentation of the same thing.
No philosopher I know of denies that something like Frege's notion of a mode of presentation of the referent of a singular term is involved in a person's thought about an object. However, what distinguishes the advocate of TDR from Frege and neo-Fregeans is that the former, unlike the latter, holds that the proposition explicitly expressed by the utterance of a sentence containing a singular term, unlike the thought expressed, contains no mode of presentation of the referent.
2. Fodor's Three Assumptions
My goal in the present paper is to examine a view of belief-ascriptions recently defended by Jerry Fodor in a short paper, "Substitution Arguments and the Individuation of Beliefs" (SAIB for short). Fodor's view of belief-attribution bears a strong family resemblance to TDR according to which the propositional contribution of a singular term is always its referent, not some mode of presentation of the referent. Always, that is in all contexts, including contexts of propositional attitude attributions such as "Sarah believes that Cicero was a Roman orator". I will argue that Fodor faces a dilemma: either he must revise his Formality Condition or he must weaken his rejection of Content Holism - or he must do both. In order to do so, I shall first lay out the three major assumptions which underlie Fodor's view of scientific psychology.
2.1. The Language of Thought Hypothesis
One of Fodor's great ambitions is to naturalize content (or intentionality), that is to offer sufficient conditions for some symbol to be a representation or to have content. His strategy is twofold: first, he wishes to reduce all non mental contents to mental contents. This first semantic reduction proceeds in two steps: first step, reduce the semantic properties of linguistic symbols to the contents of propositional attitudes; second step, reduce the contents of propositional attitudes to the semantic properties of mental symbols - which, of course, presupposes the existence of a language of thought.
Once non-mental content has been reduced to the semantic properties of mental symbols, then reduce the latter to the notion of information (or nomic dependencies between properties) via what he calls the Causal Asymmetric Dependence Condition. Suppose that the tokening of my mental symbol 'horse' (my concept of a horse) nomically depends on horses or on the instantiation of the property of being a horse. Then my 'horse' symbol would nomically depend on horses (or on the property of being a horse). Sometimes my 'horse' symbol is prompted by a donkey (something which instantiates the property of being a donkey). What the Causal Asymmetric Dependence Condition says is that all non-horse caused 'horse' symbols (such as my donkey-caused 'horse' symbol) asymmetrically depend on my horse-caused 'horse' symbols. If horses did not cause me to token my 'horse' symbol, donkeys (and other things) would not cause me to token my 'horse' symbol either. However, the converse is not true: my horse-caused 'horse' symbols do not so depend on my non-horse caused 'horse' symbols. The Causal Asymmetric Dependence Condition on content seems to state in non-semantic terms sufficient conditions for a symbol to possess some semantic property. It is, I think, clear how Fodor's approach to the naturalization of mental content pushes him towards an atomistic theory of content and away from Content Holism.
2.2. Intentional Realism
Common sense, I believe, assumes that propositional attitudes can be causes of intentional actions. Furthermore, my belief that the cup in front of me contains tea (together with my desire for a sip of tea) may cause me to pick up the cup in virtue of its content. I will call Intentional Realism the view that intentional behavior falls under ceteris paribus psychological intentional laws: intentional behavior can be nomologically explained by psychological intentional laws. The antecedent of such laws will typically refer to (or quantify over) the content of an agent's propositional attitude and its consequent will mention the agent's behavior. So I do something intentionally because (among other things) of what I believe. For an advocate of Intentional Realism, the connection between what I believe and what I do (when I do what I do because I believe something) is covered by a ceteris paribus psychological intentional law.
2.3. The Formality Condition
According to the second step of the semantic reduction alluded to in 2.1., the content of a propositional attitude reduces to the semantic property of a symbol of the Language of Thought. Now, Fodor assumes that semantic properties of symbols are not causally efficacious per se. Only syntactic properties of symbols are. Mental processes are purely formal (or syntactic) operations on mental symbols. In other words, mental symbols undergo causal processes in virtue of their syntactic, not their semantic, properties. This assumption is known as the Formality Condition. It is characteristic of the so-called Computational Theory of the Mind.5
If you wonder how the Formality Condition is consistent with Intentional Realism, you are like Stich (1983: 188). The reason the two views are consistent is that psychological intentional laws and cognitive processes do not belong to the same level. The Formality Condition applies to mental processes. Intentional Realism applies to psychological laws. The latter are supposed to be "implemented" by the former in much the same way that biochemical processes implement Mendel's laws of inheritance of hereditary features.6
Now, importantly for my present purpose, Fodor takes Intentional Realism to be inconsistent with what he calls (Fodor 1987: 56) Content Holism, "the idea that the identity - specifically, the intentional content - of a propositional attitude is determined by the totality of its epistemic liaisons", where proposition q is an epistemic liaison of proposition p for an agent A if A takes the truth of q to be relevant to the semantic assessment of p. So he rejects Content Holism and espouses Content Atomism or what he calls the "denotational" theory of content.
3. Frege's Puzzle and Belief-ascriptions
Consider utterances of sentences (1) and (2) which differ from each other in that in (2) "Cicero" is replaced by the coreferential name "Tully":
(1) Cicero was a Roman orator.
(2) Tully was a Roman orator.
On TDR, an utterance of (1) expresses the same proposition as an utterance of (2). Now, consider an utterance of (3) and an utterance of (4):
(3) Sarah believes that Cicero was a Roman orator.
(4) Sarah believes that Tully was a Roman orator.
Sentence (1) is a syntactic constituent of (3) and (2) is a constituent of (4). According to TDR, both singular terms "Cicero" and "Tully" contribute nothing other than their respective referent to the propositions respectively expressed by an utterance of (3) and by an utterance of (4). Now, since "Cicero" and "Tully" have the same referent, the proposition expressed by an utterance of (3) is no other than the proposition expressed by an utterance of (4).
In "On Sense and Reference", Frege advances the following argument against TDR:
(Ia) If an utterance of (1) and an utterance of (2) did express the same proposition, then belief-ascriptions (3) and (4) ought to have always the same truth-value (for a given assignment of referent to "Cicero" and "Tully").
(IIa) (3) and (4) may have different truth-values.
(IIIa) Conclusion: an utterance of (1) and an utterance of (2) do not express the same proposition.
Frege concludes that the contribution of a singular term to the proposition expressed by the utterance of a sentence containing it is its sense (Sinn) or the mode of presentation of its referent.
4. Salmon's response
In his book, Frege's Puzzle, Salmon (1986), who argues for TDR, rejects premiss (IIa) of the Fregean argument. In favor of premiss (IIa), common sense has it that Sarah, a perfectly rational person, could well assent to the proposition expressed by an utterance of (1) or she could express that proposition by uttering (1). Concomitantly, she might rationally dissent from the proposition expressed by an utterance of (2) and rationally utter the negation of the proposition expressed by an utterance of (2).
In such a situation, common sense would unhesitantly say that this is a case in which an utterance of (3) is true and an utterance of (4) is false. Salmon claims that, if the proposition expressed by an utterance of (3) is true, then so is the proposition expressed by an utterance of (4). On his view, even though Sarah might give all conceivable evidence that, although she holds true the proposition expressed by an utterance of (1), she does not hold true the proposition expressed by an utterance of (2), nonetheless utterances of (3) and (4) have the same truth-value. So if (3) expresses a truth, then so must (4). On Salmon's view then, given that Sarah holds true the proposition expressed by an utterance of (1), she is committed to holding true the proposition expressed by an utterance of (2). If she does not, then she must be confused, not quite rational.
Salmon's strategy is twofold. On the one hand, Salmon holds that the logical form of the proposition explicitly expressed by either belief-ascription (3) or (4) is:
( m) BEL (Sarah, p, m)
where "BEL" is a three place predicate, "p" is the Russellian singular proposition (expressible by an utterance of either (1) or (2)) and "m" is the mode of presentation of the singular proposition (which is no other than the mode of presentation of the singular term). So the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of either (3) or (4) contains an existential quantification over modes of presentation of Cicero. It does not refer to any mode of presentation of Cicero.
On the other hand, Salmon holds that, in addition to the unique proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of either (3) or (4), reference is made to particular modes of presentation of Cicero in what is communicated by utterances of (3) and (4). What is communicated by an utterance is richer than the proposition the utterance explicitly expresses for it includes what is implicitly communicated. What is communicated by an utterance of (3) and what is communicated by an utterance of (4) contain a reference to a particular mode of presentation of Cicero.7 But the mode of presentation of Cicero referred to by what is communicated by (3) differs from the mode of presentation of Cicero referred to by what is communicated by (4).
So an utterance of (3) and an utterance of (4) explicitly express the same true (let us suppose) general proposition, which contains an existential quantification over modes of presentation of Cicero. In addition, an utterance of (3) conveys implicitly the true proposition that Sarah recognizes the singular proposition under the mode of presentation of Cicero associated with "Cicero" and an utterance of (4) implicitly conveys the false proposition that Sarah recognizes the same singular proposition under the mode of presentation associated with "Tully".
Salmon's account is strongly revisionistic: if Salmon is right, then ordinary usage errs in supposing that an utterance of (3) can express a true proposition, and an utterance of (4) a false proposition. Suppose Sarah gives all conceivable evidence that she holds false the proposition expressed by an utterance of (2). This would suggest that an utterance of (4) is false. Then (5) would seem to express a true proposition:
(5) Sarah does not believe that Tully was a Roman orator.
Intuitively, (5) seems to deny what (4) asserts. Salmon assumes a distinction between the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of (4) and what is overall communicated by an utterance of (4). Salmon seems therefore to face the following dilemma. He may either suppose that what is denied by an utterance of (5) is the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of (4) or the overall content communicated by an utterance of (4).
Suppose he chooses the first possibility. On his view, the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of either (3) or (4) is the true general proposition to the effect that there exists a mode of presentation of Cicero under which Sarah believes that Cicero is a Roman orator. Suppose then that he takes the view that the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of (5) is false, not true. Remember: Salmon had the resources to argue that although an utterance of (4) is true (if an utterance of (3) is), still an utterance of (4) may misleadingly convey the false information that Sarah believes that Cicero was a Roman orator under the mode of presentation of Cicero associated with "Tully". However, it is hard to see how Salmon could explain how by expressing a literally false proposition, an utterance of (5) may simultaneously communicate overall what we take to be true information.
Suppose Salmon chooses the second possibility. He may assume that what is denied by (5) is not the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of (4) but the overall content communicated by an utterance of (4). The hard problem then faced by Salmon would be to explain how something which was merely communicated by, and was not part of the proposition explicitly expressed by, an utterance of (4), becomes, in virtue of the presence of the negation (in 5)), part of the proposition explicitly expressed by an utterance of (5) - part of the truth-conditions of an utterance of (5).8
5. Fodor's Account
In SAIB, Fodor considers a variant of Frege's argument against TDR:
(Ib) The content expressed by a complex expression is a function of the contents of its constituents.
(IIb) The content of an expression is its denotation.
(IIIb) Two expressions with the same content can always be substituted one for the other salva veritate without altering the truth-value of the more complex expression.
(IVb) As examples (3) and (4) show, two expressions with the same denotation are not always substitutable one for the other in a complex expression without altering the truth-value of the complex expression.
(Vb) Frege concludes that the culprit is assumption (IIb) and that the content of an expression does not reduce to its denotation.
Because he wants at all costs to avoid Content Holism, Fodor's goal is to protect (IIb) from Frege's argument, i.e., to show that the non-substitutability salva veritate of coreferential expressions in belief contexts is compatible with the assumption that they have the same content. Since the context in which the substitution is performed is a belief context, Fodor's defense of the denotational theory depends on a theory of belief attributions. Before arguing for his theory, Fodor refines his theory of belief-states as presented in his 1987 book, Psychosemantics. Believing is now treated as a four place relation between (a) a person, (b) a proposition (or content), (c) a vehicle (or mental symbol) and (d) a functional role.
The propositional content is what in other contexts Fodor and other philosophers call broad content. The vehicle is a symbol token; it has therefore syntactic and semantic properties. Two vehicle tokens belong to distinct types either if they are syntactically different or if they express different contents. Two vehicle tokens belonging to two distinct types can - just as symbols of public languages - express one and the same proposition. Fodor's main innovation resides in his insertion of the functional role as one of the parameters of the belief relation. The functional role (of the vehicle) is its inferential role in a belief system: "its causal role in (certain) mental processes" (SAIB: 168). Two vehicle tokens belonging to one and the same type will have distinct functional roles if they belong to different belief systems. Conversely (cf. SAIB, Note 8: 176), two vehicle tokens belonging to two distinct types (with distinct syntactic or semantic properties) may have one and the same functional role: they may contribute to the tokening of one and the same belief within two distinct belief systems.
Since believing is a four place relation, on Fodor's view, a person may entertain two different belief-states towards one and the same propositional content. The difference in belief-state will come from a difference between either the vehicles or the functional roles. The Fodorian view does not have the revisionist implications of Salmon's.
From Fodor's standpoint, one can distinguish more or less specific belief attributions according to whether they aspire to capture, besides the content, the vehicle, of the belief. A vehicle-specific attribution will by assumption be more specific than an attribution which ambitions merely to capture the content. According to Fodor, the norms guiding an ascriber in his or her specification of the vehicle are less constraining than the norms guiding the specification of content (in the sense that the former are subject to more pragmatic considerations than the latter):
the embedded formula must express the very proposition that the 'believes' tpredicate attributes. I think, however, that it is otherwise with the specification of the vehicle: here everything is slippery and pragmatic. Roughly, what's required is a degree of isomorphism to the vehicle that is appropriate to the purposes at hand; and there isn't any purpose-independent specification of how much isomorphism is enough (SAIB: 171).
Let us represent the less specific attribution (the merely content-specific attribution) by means of a formula such as (A1):
(A1) ( x)( y)((x = a vehicle & y = a role) & (BEL (Sarah, P, x, y)))
where "P" refers to the content expressible by an utterance of (1) "Cicero was a Roman orator". Such a formula, which refers to the propositional content, contains an existential generalization over both vehicles and functional roles, neither of which is specified. Such a formula bears affinity to what is traditionally called a de re attribution; it captures so-called broad content. We can represent a more specific attribution aiming at specifying the vehicle too by (A2):
(A2) ( y)((y = a role) & (BEL (Sarah, P, c, y)))
where "c" refers to the vehicle (or mental symbol) in Sarah's head - a symbol "isomorphic" to the English sentence (1) "Cicero was a Roman orator". Such a formula, which refers both to the content and to the vehicle, still generalizes over functional roles. It is closer than (A1) to what is traditionally called a de dicto attribution and it delivers more specific information about the belief-state than (A1).
Suppose an utterance like (3) or (4) is taken to be as little specific as possible - specifying no more than the (broad) content of Sarah's belief on the model of the double existential quantification over vehicles and functional roles (contained in (A1)). On this interpretation, an utterance of (3) and an utterance of (4) contain no means of referring to the vehicle. The referential expressions have their ordinary references: they are mutually substitutable salva veritate in (3) and (4). And it is possible to hold true both an utterance of (3) and an utterance of (4). Let us now interpret an utterance of (3) as a more specific attribution aimed at specifying the content and the vehicle of Sarah's belief-state. In this case, we could represent respectively (3) and (4) on the model of the simple existential quantification (over functional roles) contained in (A2). :
(3') ( y)((y = a role) & (BEL (Sarah, P, c, y)))
where "c" refers to the vehicle in Sarah's head "isomorphic" to the English sentence (1) "Cicero was a Roman orator".
(4') ( y)((y = a role) & (BEL (Sarah, P, t, y)))
where "t" refers to the vehicle in Sarah's head "isomorphic" to the English sentence (2) "Tully was a Roman orator". On this more specific interpretation, in spite of the fact that "Cicero" and "Tully" are coreferential (or in spite of the fact that an utterance of (1) and an utterance of (2) have the same truth-value), (3') would be a true formula and (4') would be a false formula.
6. Fodor's Dilemma
It follows that Fodor's theory is not open to the objections I voiced earlier against Salmon's. However, its strength might well turn out to be a weakness from within the general perspective of Fodor on scientific psychology as encapsulated by the three assumptions recapitulated above. Consider the fact that Fodor allows two vehicle-specific attributions to be representable by two logical formulae with distinct truth-values. He thereby concedes that the semantics of vehicle-specific belief attributions is not strictly compositional: the content of an attribution - its truth-value - is not just a function of the contents (the denotations) of its constituents. It also depends on a non-semantic aspect of one or more of its constituents - non-semantic at least by Fodor's standards according to which all of the content of a belief-state resides in the proposition independent both of the syntactic properties of the vehicle and of its functional role. The difference between the truth-value of (3') and (4') can be attributed to a difference between the syntactic properties of the mental symbols (or the vehicles) in Sarah's head respectively "isomorphic" to "Cicero" and to "Tully". From Fodor's standpoint on scientific psychology, one can assume that the explanatory success of a belief-ascription depends on the ability of the ascription to refer jointly to the intentional content and to the syntactic properties of the vehicle whose semantic property is the content referred to in the ascription, since according to the Formality Condition, the causal properties of a mental symbol are its syntactic properties.
Now, consider a ceteris paribus commonsense psychological generalization such as "If a person X forms the perceptual belief that a 400 kgs bull is galloping onto her, other things being equal, she will acquire the desire (or the intention) to distance herself from the bull's trajectory". The antecedent of such a generalization contains a belief-ascription which, from Fodor's point of view, is analyzable as a relation between a person X, proposition P (that a 400 kgs bull is galloping onto the person X), a vehicle and a functional role. The consequent contains a desire-attribution analyzable as a relation between the person referred to in the antecedent, the proposition Q (that X locate herself at a respectable distance from the trajectory of the bull referred to in the antecedent), a vehicle and a functional role.
Unlike vehicle-specific attributions such as (3') and (4') whose truth-value and explanatory role depend - besides reference to content - upon the syntactic properties of the vehicle, the explanatory success of the generalization may depend upon the functional role of the attributed belief. The generalization will successfully explain the behavior of a person who prefers to maximize the distance between herself and the 400 kgs bull galloping onto her. But a person may believe that she is on the trajectory of a 400 kgs bull without believing to be herself that person. Or perhaps one should say that a person may believe of (or about) herself that she is on the trajectory of a bull without believing that she is such a person. Imagine a complicated system of mirrors by means of which a person sees herself on the trajectory of a 400 kgs galloping bull without realizing that she is that person.
Alternatively, a person may believe that a 400 kgs bull is galloping onto her and nonetheless prefer to stay still on this trajectory because her belief system includes the belief that the soul of a person trampled to death by a bull will go straight to Heaven and, other things being equal, she prefers for her soul to go straight to Heaven. A person whose belief system includes the belief that the soul of a person whose body has been trampled to death by a bull will go straight to Heaven and whose preference system includes the preference that her soul go straight to Heaven may have the belief that a 400 kgs bull is galloping towards her. She may have, according to Fodor, a belief with the same intentional content as the belief of a person who does not believe that the soul of a person whose body has been trampled to death will go straight to Heaven. The vehicle by means of which the person X (who believes that the soul of a person whose body has been trampled to death by a bull will go straight to Heaven) believes that a 400 kgs bull is galloping onto her may be a mental symbol token of the same type as the vehicle by means of which a person Y (who does not believe that the soul of a person whose body has been trampled to death by a bull will go straight to Heaven) believes that a 400 kgs bull is galloping onto her. The difference between the belief-states of X and Y when they both believe that a 400 kgs bull is galloping towards them comes from the insertion of two vehicle tokens of the same type within two distinct belief systems.
In these conditions, Fodor's theory of belief-ascriptions seems to face the following dilemma: either Fodor takes functional role to be an ingredient of the causal role of the vehicle; or he takes it to be an ingredient of the content of the vehicle. First alternative: Fodor assumes that the inferential potential of a belief (the belief that a 400 kgs bull is galloping towards the person having this belief) contributes to the causal role of the belief. In this case, he must concede that the causal role of a mental representation (a vehicle) does not reduce, contrary to the Formality Condition, to purely syntactic properties. Perhaps, Fodor could distinguish a narrow causal role (possessed by a symbol in virtue of its syntactic properties) and a broad causal role (attributed to the functional role of the symbol). The latter, not the former, might depend upon the doxastic environment of the vehicle. But this would imply a broadening (or a liberalization) of the Formality Condition. Second alternative: Fodor denies that the functional role of a symbol has causal efficacy and he takes functional role to be an ingredient of the content of the mental symbol. In this case, he must give up a purely denotational (atomistic) theory of content and revise his rejection of Content Holism. On my own view, what Fodor ought to do is both.9
1. This assumption is more controversial than it may sound at first since some philosophers (such as Churchland 1989) deny it.
2. Schiffer (1992: 502-3).
3. See Fodor 1990a. Intentional Realism too pushes him towards Content Atomism and way from Content Holism.
4. See Fodor 1987 (ch. 1 and 3).
5. The locus classicus is Fodor 1981b. See also Fodor 1987 (ch. 1).
6. Cf. Jacob 1991a.
7. Salmon assumes that the content implicitly communicated by an utterance is generated via Gricean mechanisms.
8. The last two paragraphs were prompted by remarks by Récanati. I have criticized Salmon in detail in Jacob 1991b.
9. I am grateful to the organizers of the NISTADS Workshop on Rationality in Cognitive Science and Social Science and to the different participants.
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