On the empirical psychology of success semantics for pragmatic representations
Em: Philosophical Psychology
Psychology’s emphasis on empirical investigation has long benefited from conceptual developments taking place in its intellectual community, but also from cognate areas in Philosophy. This paper explores the implications for empirical psychology of a recent conceptual proposal advanced within the philosophy of perception by Bence Nanay. In particular, Nanay proposes that “pragmatic representations”, i.e., perceptual representations of the properties of objects necessary for the successful completion of actions, are the rightful target for a success semantics. A success semantics is, roughly speaking, a theory of contents according to which the truth conditions of representations are to be identified with the success conditions of actions guided by the representations. The problem arises for Nanay’s proposal in that the empirical scrutiny of the contents of a pragmatic representation requires that one first ascertains their content, but it is not at all clear whether this could possibly be done given the non-linguistic character of pragmatic representations on the one hand, and the linguistic character of third-personal verbal data acquired through an heterophenomenological methodology on the other. This and other concerns raise worries about the empirical scrutability of Nanay’s proposal.