World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tyler Burge

Tyler Burge (; born 1946; Ph.D., Princeton University, 1971) is a Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. Burge has made contributions to several areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, epistemology, philosophy of language, and the history of philosophy. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1993[1] and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy since 1999.[2] He was the recipient of the 2010 Jean Nicod Prize.[3]

In the history of philosophy, he has published articles on the philosophy of Gottlob Frege. A collection of his writings on Frege, along with a substantial introduction and several postscripts by the author, has been published (Burge, 2005). In epistemology, he has written on such topics as self-knowledge and the warrant to testimony. He is perhaps most well known for his contributions to the philosophy of mind, including his views on de re belief and, most notably, anti-individualism with respect to mental content, which is also known as externalism, the view that the content of one's thoughts depends partly on the external environment. A festschrift devoted mostly to Burge's work on anti-individualism, including extensive replies from Burge to the contributors, has also appeared (Hahn and Ramberg 2003). Since 1978, three of Burge's articles have been chose as among "the ten best" of the year by The Philosopher's Annual.[4]


  • Anti-individualism 1
  • Origins of Objectivity 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • References and further reading 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Burge has argued for anti-individualism. In Burge’s words, anti-individualism is a theory that asserts the following: “individuating many of a person or animal’s mental kinds … is necessarily dependent on relations that the person bears to the physical, or in some cases social, environment".[5] This view, and some variants, has been called "content externalism", or just "externalism." Burge favors "anti-individualism" over this terminology, in part because he considers the central issue to be what individuates content, rather than where contents may be located, as "externalism" may suggest. (Burge 2003, 435-6).

The patient’s belief that arthritis is in his thigh depends on conventional meaning as determined by the linguistic community.

Burge argues in a similar fashion that a person’s beliefs are dependent on the physical world. In his thought experiment he attempted to demonstrate that all thoughts and beliefs have wide contents. Whereas Burge argued for removing our beliefs from our minds, Putnam removed all meanings.

In “The Meaning of Meaning” (1975), Putnam had argued that the meaning of a natural kind term such as “water” depends on the nature of the physical world. Burge argues that the difference in the thoughts is attributable to the difference between the nature of stuffs in the respective physical environments. As with the "arthritis" thought experiment, dependence of thought on the physical environment is a conclusion that is supposed to follow purely from reflection on the cases in the thought experiment.

Burge has extended the thesis of anti-individualism into the realm of the theory of vision, arguing that the contents of representations posited by a computational theory of vision, such as that pioneered by

  • "Externalism about Mental Content" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • "Narrow Mental Content" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Burge, Tyler (November 1988). "Individuation and Self-Knowledge" (PDF). The Journal of Philosophy 85 (11): p. 650. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^


  • Bell, David & Cooper, Neil (eds.). 1990. The Analytic Tradition, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Fodor, Jerry. 1991. "A Modal Argument for Narrow Content". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 88, No. 1, pp. 5–26.
  • Haaparanta, Leila & Hintikka, Jaakko (eds.). 1986. Frege Synthesized. Boston: D. Reidel.
  • Hahn, Martin and Bjørn Ramberg (eds.). 2003. Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • McKinsey, Michael. 1991. "Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access". Analysis 51: 9-16.
  • Maria J. Frapolli and Esther Romero (eds.). 2003. Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind: Essays on Tyler Burge, CSLI Publications, ISBN 1-57586-346-4.

References and further reading

  • 1977. "Belief De Re". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74, No. 6, pp. 338–362.
  • 1979. "Sinning against Frege". The Philosophical Review, Vol. 88, No. 3, pp. 398–432.
  • 1979. "Individualism and the Mental". Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4: 73-121.
  • 1982. "Other Bodies". In Woodfield, Andrew, ed., Thought and Object. New York: Oxford.
  • 1986. "Individualism and Psychology." Philosophical Review 45: 3-45.
  • 1986. "Frege on Truth". in Haaparanta & Hintikka (1986).
  • 1986. "Intellectual Norms and Foundations of Mind". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 83, No. 12, pp.  697-720.
  • 1988. "Individualism and Self-Knowledge". The Journal of Philosophy 85: 649-663.
  • 1989. "Individuation and Causation in Psychology". Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 70: 303-322.
  • 1990. "Frege on Sense and Linguistic Meaning". in Bell & Cooper (1990).
  • 1992. "Frege on Knowing the Third Realm". Mind, Vol. 101, pp. 633–650.12, pp.  697-720.
  • 1993. "Content Preservation". The Philosophical Review, Vol. 102, No. 4, pp. 457–488.
  • 2003. "Reply to Loar". In Hahn and Ramberg (1991).
  • 2003. "Perceptual Entitlement". Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 67, pp. 503–548.
  • 2003. "Memory and Persons". The Philosophical Review, Vol. 112, No. 3, pp. 289–337.


  • 2005. Truth, Thought, Reason: Essays on Frege. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-927853-9.
  • 2007. Foundations of Mind. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-921623-1.
  • 2010. Origins of Objectivity. Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-958140-5.
  • 2013. Cognition Through Understanding: Self-Knowledge, Interlocution, Reasoning, Reflection. Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-967203-5.



Burge published his first book-length monograph in 2010, offering a philosophical account of perception heavily informed by empirical psychology.[6] The book was described by one reviewer as "an absolutely terrific work, conceived and executed at a scale and level of ambition rarely seen in contemporary philosophy. The book's primary aim is to contribute a theory of perception; more broadly, however, it also delivers a subtle and nuanced query into the place of distinctively psychological capacities in the natural order."[7]

Origins of Objectivity
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.