More questions for causal theories
In fact, I question I have is how any specification of causal relations can entail the existence of meaning at all. Let us say a bird is hardwired to let out a certain squawk when a something approximately the shape of a hawk is nearby. There is a regular causal relation between the appearance of a hawk and the occurrence of the squawk. In one sense we can say that the squawk is about the hawk. Something could, of course, touch off the “hawk” signal and the subsequent evasive action without being a hawk. It does not mean that the bird has the ability to distinguish a hawk from various non-hawks. Expecting fire when one sees smoke is not the same as inferring fire from smoke. We say “smoke means fire,” but what this amounts to is that smoke and fire are constantly conjoined in experience. We quite often experience smoke before we experience fire, but it turns out upon examination of the causal relations that fire causes smoke and not vice-versa. We say “smoke means fire,” but that means that smoke and fire are conjoined in our experience. The “meaning” is imposed by human understanding, not in the world as it is in itself.