The Elm and the Expert
Jerry A. Fodor, 1994

Referential Semantics
The back cover says that "This book is largely a reconsideration of the arguments that are supposed to ground the consensus that 'referential semantics cannot support a robust account of intentional explanation'". We can only assume that there really is such a consensus, which is not at all clear (except perhaps among Fodor supporters). But whether there is or not, let us suppose that arguments stated here really do ground such a position. And let us, for the moment, put aside the remainder of the book which does not reconsider those arguments. We then have a book which argues that "referential semantics cannot support a robust account of intentional explanation".

Our tasks then are to discover what referential semantics and intentional explanation are and what this book says about them. For example, do we want RS to support a weaker account of IE? If we disagree with the basic premise, and presumably many computationalists will, do we then discount IE or modify our RS? I am guessing that RS has to go. I suspect that RS is what Jackendoff refers to when he says that Fodor insists that reference must consider objects in the real world as opposed to being solely concerned with internal brain states.

These are the trains of thought I will try to follow as this review proceeds. Stay tuned.


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