A Challenge to Externalist Representationalism: Analysing Georges Rey's Account and Salvaging his Project
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In "A Narrow Representationalist Account of Qualitative Content" and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind, Georges Rey challenges the tradition of combining externalism and representationalism about mental states. Specifically, his challenge takes the form of an internalist representationalist account of states with qualitative content. I examine his account, and find it problematic on the grounds that it fails to appropriately account for the substantiality and determinacy of qualitative content. However, I propose a solution to this problem in the form of an alternative view. This view compromises several aspects of Rey's view, most importantly in virtue of being a weak externalist position rather than internalist one. Yet, in keeping with Rey's project, this alternative view challenges the traditional combination of representationalism and externalism. It is a view on which mental states with qualitative contents are only indirectly individuated by elements in the external world. Mental states are not, as on a standard representationalist account, individuated by elements in the external world that they represent. While I conclude that Rey's view is incorrect, I salvage his project.