UserpicFodor v Clark, Again

Before I return to Fodor's objections to Clark and Chalmers' EMT, here, by way of an aside, is the real reason we should not endorse the claim that the sentences in Otto's notebook count as his beliefs. At least, I think it's the real reason, but I've been out all week with 'man-flu' and I might be deranged. Anyway, here it is. The sentences, by which I mean the concrete physical inscriptions in Otto's notebook, are tokens. But they are the wrong sorts of tokens to be identical with mental state tokens. Mental state tokens - dated, non-repeatable, mental occurrences - cannot be shared. The same mental state token cannot be possessed by more than one person or by the same person at more than one time. That is pretty much part of the meaning of 'token' - they come, they go, but they don't come back to reprise their role. However, the sentences in Otto's notebook are not like this. If Otto is using his book in the right way, and if his belief-token is identical with his sentence-token, then he can have the same belief-token at a different time - when he uses the book in the right way again. Inga can have the same belief-token, if she uses the book in the right way. So, too can I - if I can get my hands on the book, etc. Identifying a sentence-token with a belief-token makes no sense because it is not the right sort of token to be a belief-token.

What we - defenders of EMT - should say, I think, is pretty clear. It is Otto's token manipulation of the sentence in his book that is token-identical with part of token process of remembering/believing. His manipulation of the sentence at a later time is a distinct token process. So too is Inga's manipulation of the book, etc. The idea that the sentence in Otto's book is identical with his belief is not one that we should endorse. Or, to put the same point another way, we should endorse the process interpretation of EMT and reject the state interpretation. 

Return to Home