Tappenden, P. Int Ontology Metaphysics (2011) 12: 125. doi:10.1007/s12133-011-0081-7
The contemporary popularity of semantic externalism has arisen from so-called Twin Earth thought experiments which suggest that the representational content of a natural kind term cannot be wholly determined by processes within a speaker's body. Such arguments depend on the intuition that the extensions of natural kind terms cannot have changed as the result of the scientific investigation of natural kinds' constitutions. I demonstrate that this externalist intuition depends on an assumption about the mentality of isomorphic doppelgangers which has never been questioned but which is nonetheless arguably false. I develop an alternative view of the instantiation of mind which entails a revision of our understanding of the constitution of environmental objects. The picture seems to be fully coherent despite its oddity and I can find no good reason to reject it. The conclusion must be that the case for semantic externalism is thus less compelling than is often supposed.
Semantic externalismTwin earthDoppelgangerNatural kindSet theory