Against Semantic Externalism and Zombies
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It is widely believed that the semantic contents of some linguistic and mental representations are determined by factors independent of a person’s bodily makeup. Arguments derived from Hilary Putnam’s seminal Twin Earth thought experiment have been especially influential in establishing that belief. I claim that there is a neglected version of the mind-body relation which undermines those arguments and also excludes the possibility of zombies. It has been neglected because it is counterintuitive but I show that it can nonetheless be intelligibly worked out in detail and all obvious objections met. This suggests that we may be faced with a choice between embracing a counterintuitive interpretation of the mind-body relation or accepting that a currently very promising theory in cognitive science, Prediction Error Minimization, faces a fundamental problem. Furthermore, blocking that threat entails that any physicalist/materialst theory of mind is freed from the spectre of zombie worlds. The proposal also makes the ideas of personal teleportation of mind uploading more plausible.