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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 19, Issue 3, 2019

Dunja Jutronić
Pages 449-475

The Qua Problem and the Proposed Solutions

One basic idea of the causal theory of reference is reference grounding. The name is introduced ostensively at a formal or informal dubbing. The question is: By virtue of what is the grounding term grounded in the object qua-horse and not in the other natural kind whose member it is? In virtue of what does it refer to all horses and only horses? The problem is usually called the qua problem. What the qua problem suggests is that the causal historical theory in the final analysis depends on some kind of unexplained intentionality. This is a great problem since the whole project is an attempt to explain intentionality naturalistically. In this paper, I have two aims: (i) to discuss the most important attempts at solving the qua problem; and (ii) to evaluate the solutions. (i) I focus on the following attempts for the solution of the qua problem: Sterelny (1983), Richard Miller’s (1992), mentioning briefly more recent attempts by Ori Simchen (2012) and Paul Douglas (2018). I also concentrate on the attempts in mind and brain sciences as presented by Penelope Maddy (1983) and more recently by Dan Ryder (2004). (ii) In evaluating the solutions, I argue that when a metaphysical question “what is to name” is replaced/or identified with the question about the mechanism of reference, namely “in virtues of what does a word attach to a particular object”, then the final answer will/should be given by neurosemantics. The most promising attempt is Neander’s (2017), based on the teleological causal explanation of preconceptual content to which the conceptual can be developed, as Devitt and Sterelny suggested in their work (1999).

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