Affordances and situation semantics, the perfect match!?
Dr Nikolai Alksnis (La Trobe University)

April 12, 2017, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Philosophy program, La Trobe University

GS-212 (George Singer Building, Level 2, Room GS-212)
La Trobe University Plenty Road & Kingsbury Drive
Melbourne 3086
Australia

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Abstract

This talk will examine the debate over situation semantics conducted by Jerry Fodor and Jon Barwise. Fodor’s (1986, 1994) critique is regarded as a definitive blow to the information realist theory of situation semantics developed by Barwise and Perry (1980). The focus of this talk will not be on Fodor’s well known disjunction and naturalization problems, rather, I will revitalise a lesser discussed critique: that if you want a theory of information, in the way situation semantics does, then you “can’t get out of doing psychology.” Chemero has recently responded to this demand with his affordances 2.0, which combines the idea of directly perceiving actions (affordances) with situation semantics (that information is always situation relative and available to be directly picked-up). However, following Fodor’s critique we will find his criticism still holds with this new combination. Again, by bringing out less discussed aspects of Fodor’s critique, I will argue that the problems he raises against information realist theories still stand. What this critique does is expose the difficulties of inserting semantics, or meaning, into these situations. Notably, this was not a line of critique Fodor followed as he was aware it applied to his own theory of mind.

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