Abstract for Steward’s Talk

What is ‘content’? And what is it for a mind to be such as to traffic in it? Computational models of cognition, Fregean conceptions of thought, truth-(and hence proposition-) focused ideas about meaning; and anti-foundationalist conceptions of epistemology, have all played their part in establishing the widespread idea that minds are intrinsically such as to be contentful. In this talk, I shall examine recent arguments put forward by Dan Hutto and Erik Myin for the claim that many indisputably mental capacities of animals, including many quite sophisticated human ones, can be fully understood without any invocation of the notion of content; and consider them in the context of the opposing view, recently forcefully argued for by Tyler Burge, that having a real psychology (as opposed to some other form of animal sensitivity) requires the possession of distinctively representational states.