, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 125-136
Date: 05 Aug 2011

A Metaphysics for Semantic Internalism

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Abstract

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.