On the other hand, suppose that all I know is that John wants to meet the girl next door where “wants to” is construed transparently; i.e., all I know is that it’s true of the girl next door that John wants to meet her [where construed transparently, ie non-opaquely, its not true someone can want to drink that and not want to drink poison, if that is poison. They only think they want to drink that, but they dont.] Then there is little or nothing that I can predict about how John is likely to proceed. And this is not just because rough and ready psychological generalizations want ceteris paribus clauses to fill them in; it’s also for the deeper reason that I can’t infer from what I know about John to any relevant description of the mental causes of his behavior. For example, I have no reason to predict that John will say such things as “I want to meet the girl who lives next door” since, let John be as cooperative and as truthful as you like, and let him be utterly a native speaker, still, he may believe that the girl he wants to meet languishes in Latvia. In which case, “I want to meet the girl who lives next door” is the last thing it will occur to him to say.”
Fodor is pointing out some reasons that, mostly, talk of wants (and also believes) should be construed opaquely (in the first way above).
Start your paper by laying out Putnams argument that water as used by us Earthlings refers to H2O. Do this as clearly and succinctly as you can, in your own words. Then explain Fodors reasoning and discuss how someone who accepts it should describe the case in this prompt. On Twin Earth, did you get the water you wanted? If Fodor is right, does that entail that Putnams analysis of the case gets something important wrong? What do you think?
Next weigh in some more. What analysis of the case do think is right? Please explain two reasons you think this. If you think neither is, and there is something confused happening, explain two reasons why you think that. If you think the whole dispute is pointless, give two reasons explaining why you think that.
This paper is not devilishly hard (you neednt dive deep into Fodors paper). The trick is to sit and think for a bit, to plan, before you write. Writing it all in one go will be harder, than sitting down and hammering out the bits you are clear on, and then playing around with Fodors point about want. How do you think construing want and believe opaquely affects Putnams arguments? Does doing so suggest a particular description of the case in the prompt? What matters here is clearly arguing for your claims. There is no trick question here. In the case in the prompt, did you get what you wanted, what you asked for, what you believed you were asking for?
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