Christopher Maloney offers an explanation of the fundamental nature of thought. He posits the idea that thinking involves the processing of mental representations that take the form of sentences in a covert language encoded in the mind. The theory relies upon traditional categories of psychology, including such notions as belief and desire. It also draws upon and thus inherits some of the problems of artificial intelligence which it attempts to answer, including what bestows meaning or content upon a thought and (...) what distinguishes genuine from simulated thought. (shrink)
Thought, including conscious perception, is representation. But perceptual representation is uniquely direct, permitting immediate acquaintance with the world and ensuring perception's distinctive phenomenal character. The perceptive mind is extended. It recruits the very objects perceived to constitute self-referential representations determinative of what it is like to perceive.
The Representational Theory of the Mind allows for psychological explanations couched in terms of the contents of propositional attitudes. Propositional attitudes themselves are taken to be relations to mental representations. These representations (partially) determine the contents of the attitudes in which they figure. Thus, Representationalism owes an explanation of the contents of mental representations. This essay constitutes an atomistic theory of the content of formally or syntactically simple mental representation, proposing that the content of such a representation is determined by (...) the intersection of the representation's correlational and control properties. The theory is distinguished from standard information-based accounts of mental content in allowing that the relevant correlations be contingent while insisting on an efferent aspect to mental content. The theory on offer allows for a natural explanation of misrepresentation, finds a niche for the notion of narrow content, welcomes radical first person fallibility with respect to questions of content, admits of mental ambiguity and recognizes that the future of a psychological agent is a factor in determining the content of the agent's present psychological states. (shrink)
An account of the contents of the propositional attitudes is fundamental to the success of the cognitive sciences if, as seems correct, the cognitive sciences do presuppose propositional attitudes. Fodor has recently pointed the way towards a naturalistic explication of mental content in his Psychosemantics (1987). Fodor's theory is a version of the causal theory of meaning and thus inherits many of its virtues, including its intrinsic plausibility. Nevertheless, the proposal may suffer from two deficiencies: (1) It seems not to (...) provide an adequate explanation of misrepresentation. (2) It may also fail, as a species of empiricism, to provide a correct explication of the content of observational concepts and those non-observational concepts whose meaning is to be traced to their causal connections with observational concepts. (shrink)
J. Christopher Maloney argues that free will is compatible with necessary laws of science and immutable history. For free will emerges from an akratic will that asymptotically approaches the ability to choose to act otherwise than it willfully does.
Metaphors are expressions in artificial, contrived, alien languages, and we understand metaphors by constructing translation schemes linking our natural, literal languages to these theoretically contrived metaphorical languages. The relation between a literal natural language and a metaphorical contrived language is like the relationship between a natively known language and a system of subsequently acquired languages etymologically emerging from that basic natural language. This model for understanding metaphorically contrived language is kin to the familiar model explaining how speakers of a language (...) such as Latin may come to decipher a language like Spanish through projecting to Spanish what they know of Latin without the aid of a translation manual. A metaphor is, thus, seen as a sentence in a nonnatural language, itself derived from and at least partially translatable with the natural, literal language of the metaphor's author or audience. (shrink)
The Representational Theory of the Mind arises with the recognition that thoughts have contents carried by mental representations. For Abelard to think, for example, that Pegasus is winged is for Abelard to be related to a MENTAL REPRESENTATION whose content is that Pegasus is winged. Now, there are different kinds of representations: pictures, maps, models, and words ‐ to name only some. Exactly what sort of REPRESENTATION is mental representation? (see imagery; connectionism.) Sententialism distinguishes itself as a version of rep‐resentationalism (...) by positing that mental representations are themselves linguistic expressions within a ‘language of thought’ (FODOR, 1975, 1987; Field, 1978; Maloney, 1989). While some sententialists conjecture that the language of thought is just the thinker's spoken language internalized (Harman, 1982), others identify the language of thought with Mentalese, an unarticulated, internal language in which the computations supposedly definitive of cognition occur. Sententialism is certainly a bold and provocative thesis, and so we turn to the reasons that might be offered on its behalf. (shrink)
This is Putnam at his critical best; he is once again directing the shape of the philosophy of mind for years to come. Putnam scouts with dissatisfaction the prevailing functionalist/computationalist theory of mental states, a view he himself originated more than thirty years ago. Here he despairs of any reductionist theory of mental states, denying that there are naturalistically specifiable natures comprehending mental states of the same kind, although he continues to allow that token mental states may be emergent from (...) and supervenient upon computational states. Putnam is not, then, an eliminativist. Mentalistic eliminativism implies semantic eliminativism generally and, thus, the rejection of both reference and truth, amounting absurdly--by Putnam's lights--to the loss of logic. (shrink)
Current computational psychology, especially as described by Fodor (1975, 1980, 1981), Pylyshyn (1980), and Stich (1983), is both a bold, promising program for cognitive science and an alternative to naturalistic psychology (Putnam 1975). Whereas naturalistic psychology depends on the general scientific framework to fix the meanings of general terms and, hence, the content of thoughts utilizing or expressed in those terms, computational cognitive theory banishes semantical considerations in psychological investigations, embracing methodological, not ontological, solipsism. I intend to argue that computational (...) psychology cannot individuate thoughts as it promises. For, semantics is fundamental in fixing an important subset of the computational relations that, according to the computational theory, are supposed both to obtain among thoughts and, thereby, to determine their identity conditions. If what I contend is correct, then contrary to what its advocates maintain, computational psychology is not preferable to naturalistic psychology as a research strategy in cognitive science. (shrink)