Acta Analytica

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 23–40 | Cite as

A proper understanding of Millikan

  • Justine Kingsbury
Language And Mind


Ruth Millikan’s teleological theory of mental content is complex and often misunderstood. This paper motivates and clarifies some of the complexities of the theory, and shows that paying careful attention to its details yields answers to a number of common objections to teleological theories, in particular, the problem of novel mental states, the problem of functionally false beliefs, and problems about indeterminacy or multiplicity of function.


Millikan teleosemantics teleology content proper function 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Fodor, J. A. 1975: The Language of Thought. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Fodor, J. A. 1990: “A Theory of Content I: The Problem,” in A Theory of Content and Other Essays. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 51–87.Google Scholar
  3. Fodor, J. A. 1991: “Replies.” In Loewer and Rey (eds) 1991, 255–319.Google Scholar
  4. Godfrey-Smith, P. 1988: Review of Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 66, 556–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Godfrey-Smith, P. 1989: “Misinformation.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 19, 533–550.Google Scholar
  6. Griffiths, P. 1993: “Functional Analysis and Proper Functions.” British Journal of the Philosophy of Science 44, 409–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Millikan, R. 1984: Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  8. Millikan, R. 1986: “Thoughts Without Laws; Cognitive Science With Content.” Philosophical Review 95, 47–80, reprinted in Millikan 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Millikan, R. 1989: “Biosemantics.” Journal of Philosophy 86, 281–297, reprinted in Millikan 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Millikan, R. 1990: “Compare and Contrast Dretske, Millikan and Fodor on Teleosemantics.” Philosophical Topics 18, 151–161, reprinted in Millikan 1995.Google Scholar
  11. Millikan, R. 1995: White Queen Psychology and Other Essays for Alice. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  12. Neander, K. 1991: “Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analyst’s Defense.” Philosophy of Science 58, 168–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Papineau, D. 1987: Reality and Representation. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Papineau, D. 1993: Philosophical Naturalism. Basil Blackwell, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  15. Papineau, D. 1998: “Teleosemantics and Indeterminacy.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76, 1998, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Price, Carolyn, 2001: Functions in Mind: A Theory of Intentional Content. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  17. Sterelny, K. 1990: The Representational Theory of Mind. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. Taylor, S., Collins, R., Skokan, L. and Aspinwall, L., 1989: “Maintaining Positive Illusions in the Face of Negative Information: Getting the Facts Without Letting Them Get To You.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 8, 114–129.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justine Kingsbury
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations