Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 119–136 | Cite as

Perceptual representations: a teleosemantic answer to the breadth-of-application problem

  • Peter Schulte


Teleosemantic theories of representation are often criticized as being “too liberal”, i.e. as categorizing states as representations which are not representational at all. Recently, a powerful version of this objection has been put forth by Tyler Burge. Focusing on perception, Burge defends the claim that all teleosemantic theories apply too broadly, thereby missing what is distinctive about representation. Contra Burge, I will argue in this paper that there is a teleosemantic account of perceptual states that does not fall prey to this problem, and that we can arrive at this account by combining some of Burge’s insights with a producer-oriented version of teleosemantics. The resulting theory turns out to be attractive and perfectly coherent. By contrast, the coherence of Burge’s own anti-teleosemantic approach becomes quite doubtful under closer examination—or so I will argue.


Teleosemantics Intentionality Perception Intentional explanations Animal behavior Animals minds 



I would like to thank Frank Hofmann, Fabian Hundertmark, Nikola Kompa, Christian Nimtz, Niko Strobach, Nicholas Shea and an anonymous referee for this journal for helpful comments on previous versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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