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Episteme

Abstract

The twofold thesis of this paper is that Putnam is incorrect to accept the existence of narrow content mental states, and that Tyler Burge, in exposing this error, can explain why mental content is not in the hands of the individual. The author studies Burge’s extension of Putnam’s views on mental content, comparing the arguments made in “The Meaning of Meaning” with Burge’s “Individualism and the Mental”. Burge argues that if extension differs on Twin Earth, then so must intension differ—something that Putnam overlooks. Burge’s analysis of the Twin Earth logic and his own counterfactual thought experiment concerning the term arthritis demonstrate that social content always infects mental content, thereby making it impossible for Putnam to say that water can have the same narrow meaning in his Twin Earth example. A corollary to this argument, of course, is Burge’s position that “water” is not an indexical natural kind term.

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