Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The representational theory of mind (RTM) construes propositional attitude tokenings as formal processes defined over semantically interpreted symbol structures. According to the RTM, mental representations have their causal roles in virtue of their syntax.;In the thesis I evaluate the prospects for a theory of mind that (i) individuates mental states by reference to their contents and (ii) construes mental processes as syntactic processes. I examine and criticize a number of recent proposals, notably those of Fodor and Burge, for the individuation of mental states by their contents. I conclude that the arguments, on both sides, that allege to show that psychological theories must employ some antecedently specified notion of content are inconclusive. I then go on to criticize the central tenet of the RTM--that syntactic descriptions rather than semantic descriptions, capture the intrinsic casual properties of the mind--arguing that this doctrine is based on the mistaken belief that propositional attitudes must be construed as relational states to satisfy plausible adequacy conditions on a theory of mind. I conclude the thesis with a sketch of a non-relational construal of propositional attitudes which, I argue, seems at least as likely to satisfy the aforementioned adequacy conditions.



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