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Some Varieties of Semantic Externalism in Duns Scotus's Cognitive Psychology

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According to Scotus, an intelligible species with universal content, inherent in the mind, is a partial cause of an occurrent cognition whose immediate object is the self-same species. I attempt to explain how Scotus defends the possibility of this causal activity. Scotus claims, generally, that forms are causes, and that inherence makes no difference to the capacity of a form to cause an effect. He illustrates this by examining a case in which an accident is an instrument of a substance in the production of a certain sort of effect. All that is required is that the accident is relevantly joined to the substance, whether or not it inheres in the substance. Since intelligible species are bearers of semantic content, it follows that non-inherent objects of thought can also be the bearers of such content. Such objects are included in the mind without inherence, and the boundary between the mind and external reality is to this extent broken down.

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre Dame


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