Semantic content

Liz, Manuel
 Incorporated contributions
Liz (8/11/09)
 Usage domain
contenú sémantique
 German semantischer Inhalt

Semantic content, conceptual content, propositional content and cognitive content are synonymous in many contexts. It is a kind of content directly valuable in semantic terms (as having a reference, a sense, some truth values, etc.). It is a content made of concepts. Moreover, it is a content identifiable with a certain proposition. In addition, it is a kind of content able of having cognitive relevance. It makes a difference in the premises, or consequences, of our theoretical or practical reasoning.  

The three kinds of entities able of having semantic content are linguistic items, actions and psychological entities. Sentences and certain parts of sentences of natural languages may bear semantic content. Actions, in particular speech acts, also would have semantic content. Finally, the mental states that are usually called “propositional attitudes” (beliefs, desires, memories, etc.) also would have semantic content.

It is very difficult to determine whether the semantic content in each one of those three cases can be independent of the semantic content of the other ones. Both the so called Gricean program and informational accounts of semantic content make any semantic content dependent on the semantic content that we can find in some mental states, and the semantic content of mental states dependent on objective informational relations.

  • DRETSKE, F. (1980) Knowledge and the Flow of Information, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • FODOR, J. (1987) Psychosemantics, The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • FODOR, J. (1990) A Theory of Content and Other Essays, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • DRETSKE, F. (1988) Explaining Behaviour. Reasons in a World of Causes, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • --------- (1997) Naturalizing the Mind, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • GRICE, H. (1957) “Meaning”, Philosophical Review, 68.
  • --------- (1969) “Utterer’s Meaning and Intentions”, Philosophical Review, 78.
  • LEPORE, E. & B. Smith (2006) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language, Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  • MILLIKAN, R. (1984) Language, Thought and Other Biological Cathegories, Cambridge, MIT Press.
  • SEARLE, J. (1969) Speech Acts. An Essay in the Philosophy of Language, Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • --------- (1979) Expression and Meaning, Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press.
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Manuel Liz (8/11/2009)
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