The problem with ‘veridicality’ as a criterion for ‘successful’ perception is that veridicality is an ideal that has no counterpart in the real world.  I would prefer something along the lines of ‘actionable’ to replace ‘veridical’, the idea being that good enough is good enough, and it is unnecessary to set an unattainable standard against which to measure successful representation.

Veridicality is recognized as an idealized standard.  Fodor noted that water includes stuff that may be cloudy and the stuff that is in polluted lakes.  Scientists tell us that jade is a disjunction.  Jade can be either of two minerals, jadeite and nephrite, with distinct chemical compositions.  In nature, bulk water, even H2O water, is a mixture of molecules formed of the three isotopes of hydrogen—hydrogen, deuterium, and tritium—and the pure forms of all three isotopic kinds of H2O have different physical and biological characteristics, e.g., pure deuterium water freezes at a different temperature and is poisonous.

What would be the standard of veridicality for a perception of something as water?  Surely, one would like it to be that water is present; and that pushes matters onto the (middle level) concept WATER, but the semantics of WATER then cannot be that WATER is H2O tout court.  So, we have to abandon the idea that WATER is anything but water.

We can empirically examine stuff that we agree to be water (or jade), and scientists can study the stuff and explicate the discernible variations among things that we successfully perceive to be that stuff.  I don’t think this is a intolerable.  It relieves us from having to posit a world filled with ideal exemplars that we have to conceptualize through a glass darkly.

Put another way, concepts and their formation are as much a product of evolution as is whatever ability there is to perceive stuff as of particulars of such concepts.  This is as it should be.  The organisms (us) we are interested in are the product of the interactions of organisms (our ancestors) with their environment.  That the outcome of billions of years of interaction is systems whose pitifully underdetermined proximal inputs provide them with generally actionable information about the external environment just goes to show that evolution–a really stupid process by just about any criteria I can think of—has remarkable consequences.

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