46 Pages Posted: 9 May 2013
Date Written: May 7, 2013
How is semantic content possible? How can parts of the world refer to other parts? On what grounds (if any) can we claim that simple mechanisms, such as thermometers, thermostats, clocks and rulers etc., refer to features of the world in virtue of their causal powers rather than our intentional practices with respect to them?
I introduce Sloman's Tarskian-inspired 'loop-closing theory' in order to answer these questions. Loop-closing theory reduces a subset of semantic properties to the causal properties of control systems. I develop Sloman's acccount by specifying a metalanguage to describe the causal structure of loop-closing models, and I identify and define a control system's manipulable feature, which is a subset of the world necessarily present for control success. Loop-closing theory identifies the referential content of a control system's information-bearing substates with the manipulable feature. I conclude by applying loop-closing semantics to some illustrative test cases, such as the semantic properties of memory addressing in CPUs, the referential content of bacterial magnetosomes, the problem of misrepresentation, and connections to Ramsay-Whyte success semantics.
Keywords: theory of content, representation, naturalized semantics, control theory
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