Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on (...) the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and critical theory. (shrink)
Explaining Attitudes was not intended to be hostile to science. Its target is what I called the Standard View, a conception of the attitudes that is held almost universally. The heart of the Standard View is the thesis that beliefs (and other..
Explaining Attitudes offers a timely and important challenge to the dominant conception of belief found in the work of such philosophers as Dretske and Fodor. According to this dominant view beliefs, if they exist at all, are constituted by states of the brain. Lynne Rudder Baker rejects this view and replaces it with a quite different approach - practical realism. Seen from the perspective of practical realism, any argument that interprets beliefs as either brain states or states of immaterial souls (...) is a 'non-starter'. Practical realism takes beliefs to be states of the whole persons, rather like states of health. What a person believes is determined by what a person would do, say and think in various circumstances. Thus beliefs and other attitudes are interwoven into an integrated, commonsensical conception of reality. (shrink)
The McKinsey Problem concerns a puzzling implication of the doctrines of Content Externalism and Privileged Access. I provide a categorization of possible solutions to the problem. Then I discuss Crispin Wright’s work on the problem. I argue that Wright has misconceived the status of his own proferred solution to the problem.
Surprise has been characterized has an emotional reaction to an upset belief having a heuristic role and playing a criterial role for belief ascription. The discussion of cases of diachronic and synchronic violations of coherence suggests that surprise plays an epistemic role and provides subjects with some sort of phenomenological access to their subpersonal doxastic states. Lack of surprise seems not to have the same epistemic power. A distinction between belief and expectation is introduced in order to account for some (...) aspects of surprise: expectations are construed as volatile representations that tie belief to action. In the cases in which action is not involved, general, “ideological,” expectations are generate in strict connection with the context and with the possibilities of action. (shrink)
Quine introduced a famous distinction between the ‘notional’ sense and the ‘relational’ sense of certain attitude verbs. The distinction is both intuitive and sound but is often conflated with another distinction Quine draws between ‘dyadic’ and ‘triadic’ (or higher degree) attitudes. I argue that this conflation is largely responsible for the mistaken view that Quine’s account of attitudes is undermined by the problem of the ‘exportation’ of singular terms within attitude contexts. Quine’s system is also supposed to suffer from the (...) problem of ‘suspended judgement with continued belief’. I argue that this criticism fails to take account of a crucial presupposition of Quine’s about the connection between thought and language. The aim of the paper is to defend the spirit of Quine’s account of attitudes by offering solutions to these two problems. (shrink)
Presenting a selection of thirteen essays on various topics at the foundations of philosophy--one previously unpublished and eight accompanied by substantial new postscripts--this book offers outstanding insight on truth, meaning, and propositional attitudes; semantic indeterminacy and other kinds of "factual defectiveness;" and issues concerning objectivity, especially in mathematics and in epistemology. It will reward the attention of any philosopher interested in language, epistemology, or mathematics.
Psychological ascriptions are most commonly understood to be Machiavellian and objective (Dennett 1987, Fodor 1987, Heal 1986, Whiten & Byrne 1988). We ascribe thoughts, feelings, and desires to others to better understand them. Since we must cooperate, compete, or simply co-exist with others, the more we know about their psychology the better. Being aimed at understanding others—in relative independence from us—psychological ascriptions are objective. Such ascriptions are also Machiavellian to the extent that their ultimate aim is to help us plan (...) our interactions with others, so as best to serve our self-interest. Thinking about psychological ascriptions in this way permeates theorizing about folk psychology. It is true both of those that hold that psychological attribution is the result of the application of a psychological theory (theory theorists) and of those that maintain that it is the culmination of a process of simulation—Verstehen (simulationists). Both sides think that common sense psychology is, in some sense, continuous with science; theory theorists that it is continuous with natural science, simulationists that it is continuous with humanistic science. These views, I shall argue, are too narrow. Psychological ascriptions are pragmatic; their function varies from one context of ascription to another depending on our interests in others. Our interests are not always self-interests, nor are they to be understood as consciously entertained desires or projects. Our interests are shaped by our natures, and our natures include our sociality. So whereas the way we think about others is a function of our interests, those interests are much broader than the more narrow self-interests that we are aware of having. Folk psychological ascriptions need be neither Machiavellian nor objective. (shrink)
This paper argues that the role of knowledge in the explanation and production of intentional action is as indispensable as the roles of belief and desire. If we are interested in explaining intentional actions rather than intentions or attempts, we need to make reference to more than the agent's beliefs and desires. It is easy to see how the truth of your beliefs, or perhaps, facts about a setting will be involved in the explanation of an action. If you believe (...) you can stop your car by pressing a pedal, then, if your belief is true, you will stop. If it is false, you will not. By considering cases of unintentional actions, actions involving luck and cases of deviant causal chains, I show why knowledge is required. By looking at the notion of causal relevance, I argue that the connection between knowledge and action is causal and not merely conceptual. (shrink)
Eliminative materialism is a popular view of the mind which holds that propositional attitudes, the typical units of our traditional understanding, are unsupported by modern connectionist psychology and neuroscience, and consequently that propositional attitudes are a poor scientific postulate, and do not exist. Since our traditional folk psychology employs propositional attitudes, the usual argument runs, it too represents a poor theory, and may in the future be replaced by a more successful neurologically grounded theory, resulting in a drastic improvement in (...) our interpersonal relationships. I contend that these eliminativist arguments typically run together two distinct capacities: the folk psychological mechanisms which we use to understand one another, and scientific and philosophical guesses about the structure of those understandings. Both capacities are ontologically committed and therefore empirical. However, the commitments whose prospects look so dismal to the eliminativist, in particular the causal and logical image of propositional attitudes, belong to the guesses, and not necessarily to the underlying mechanisms. It is the commitments of traditional philosophical perspectives about the operation of our folk psychology which are contradicted by?new evidence and modeling methods in connectionist psychology. Our actual folk psychology was not clearly committed to causal, sentential propositional attitudes, and thus is not directly threatened by connectionist psychology. (shrink)
The most common account of attitude reports is the relational analysis according towhich an attitude verb taking that-clause complements expresses a two-placerelation between agents and propositions and the that-clause acts as an expressionwhose function is to provide the propositional argument. I will argue that a closerexamination of a broader range of linguistic facts raises serious problems for thisanalysis and instead favours a Russellian `multiple relations analysis' (which hasgenerally been discarded because of its apparent obvious linguistic implausibility).The resulting account can be (...) given independent philosophical motivations within anintentionalist view of truth and predication. (shrink)
Propositionalism is the view that the contents of intentional attitudes have a propositional structure. Objectualism opposes propositionalism in allowing the contents of these attitudes to be ordinary objects or properties. Philosophers including Talbot Brewer, Paul Thagard, Michelle Montague, and Alex Grzankowski attack propositionalism about such attitudes as desire, liking, and fearing. This paper defends propositionalism, mainly on grounds that it better supports psychological explanations.
Abbott replies to each of Hauser's arguments. Problem solving by chimpanzees and evidence of recursion in the thought of a feral human being suggest that natural language is not necessary for productive thought. Communication would be trivial if the inner language were the outer language, but it is not. The decryption analogy Hauser uses is flawed, and it is not clear which way Occam's razor cuts.
The arguments that Fodor (1987: 150-52) gives in support of a Language of Thought are apparently straightforward. (1) Linguistic capacities are "systematic", in the sense that if one understands the words 'John loves Mary' one also understands the form of words 'Mary loves John'. In other words, sentences have a combinatorial semantics, because they have constituent structure. (2) If cognitive capacities are systematic in the same way, they must have constituent structure also. Thus there is a Language of Thought. The (...) essential connection between language and thought that the argument requires is: Since the function of language is to express thought, to understand a sentence is to grasp the thought that its utterance standardly conveys. So from the systematicity of sentences it follows that anyone who can grasp the thought that John loves Mary can grasp the thought that Mary loves John. Thought must be as systematic as language, for the best empirical explanation of the psychological fact that one who grasps the thought that John loves Mary can grasp the thought that Mary loves John is that grasping a thought is standing in some thinking relation to a complex entity whose constituents are MARY, X LOVES Y, and JOHN and semantic relations among MARY, X LOVES Y, and JOHN. So sayeth Fodor (1987). (shrink)
The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has a syntactic (constituent) structure with an appropriate semantics. Thinking thus consists in syntactic operations defined over representations. Most of the arguments (...) for LOTH derive their strength from their ability to explain certain empirical phenomena like productivity, systematicity of thought and thinking. (shrink)
There is a thesis often aired by some philosophers of psychology that syntax is all we need and there is no need to advert to intentional/semantic properties of symbols for purposes of psychological explanation. Indeed, the worry has been present since the first explicit articulation of so-called Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). Even Fodor, who has been the most ardent defender of the Language of Thought Hypoth- esis (LOTH) (which requires the CTM), has raised worries about its apparent consequences. The (...) worry can be put in the form of a question, which Fodor called the. (shrink)
1 *Common Sense Conception of Beliefs and Other Propositional Attitudes2 What is the Language of Thought Hypothesis?3 Status of LOTH4 Scope of LOTH5 *Natural Language as Mentalese?6 *Nativism and LOTH7 Naturalism and LOTH.
Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought" (LOT). Some connectionists like Smolensky took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that were supposed to be non-classical. At the core of these attempts lies the claim that connectionist models can provide a representational system with a combinatorial syntax and processes sensitive to syntactic structure. They are not (...) implementation models because, it is claimed, the way they obtain syntax and structure sensitivity is not "concatenative," hence "radically different" from the way classicists handle them. In this paper, I offer an analysis of what it is to physically satisfy/realize a formal system. In this context, I examine the minimal truth-conditions of LOT Hypothesis. From my analysis it will follow that concatenative realization of formal systems is irrelevant to LOTH since the very notion of LOT is indifferent to such an implementation level issue as concatenation. I will conclude that to the extent to which they can explain the law-like cognitive regularities, a certain class of connectionist models proposed as radical alternatives to the classical LOT paradigm will in fact turn out to be LOT models, even though new and potentially very exciting ones. (shrink)
Fodor and Pylyshyn's (F&P) critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought'' (LOT). Some connectionists declined to meet the challenge on the basis that the alleged regularities are somehow spurious. Some, like Smolensky, however, took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that are supposed to be non-classical.
In "Understanding the Language of Thought," John Pollock offers a semantics for Mentalese. Along the way, he raises many deep issues concerning, among other things, the indexicality of thought, the relations between thought and communication, the function of 'that'-clauses and the nature of introspection. Regrettably, I must pass over these issues here. Instead, I shall focus on Pollock's views on the nature of appearance and its role in interpreting the language of thought.' I shall examine two aspects of Pollock's views: (...) (i) the distinction between comparative and noncomparative senses of 'red,' and (ii) the construal of narrow content in terms of input states and rational architecture. Consideration of the former will call into question the coherence of the distinction; consideration of the latter will suggest that comparative appearance states cannot play the theoretical role that Pollock assigns to them. (shrink)
Modes of presentation are often posited to accommodate Frege’s puzzle. Philosophers differ, however, in whether they follow Frege in identifying modes of presentation with Fregean senses, or instead take them to be formally individuated symbols of “Mentalese”. Building on Fodor, Margolis and Laurence defend the latter view by arguing that the mind-independence of Fregean senses renders them ontologically suspect in a way that Mentalese symbols are not. This paper shows how Fregeans can withstand this objection. Along the way, a clearer (...) understanding emerges of what senses must be to serve as an ontologically benign alternative to symbols of Mentalese. (shrink)
1. Cognitive sciences in a broad sense are simply all those sciences which concern themselves with the analysis and explanation of cognitive capacities and achievements. If one speaks of _cognitive science_ in the singular, however, usually something more is meant. Cognitive science is not only characterized by a specific object of research, but also through a particular kind of explanatory paradigm, i.e. the information processing paradigm. Stillings _et. al. _for example begin their book _Cognitive Science _as follows:
Cognitive scientists (...) view the human mind as a complex system that receives, stores, retrieves, transforms, and transmits information. (Stillings 1987: 1)
The information processing paradigm however, leads directly to the paradigm of symbol processing, because a system can, as it seems, only receive, store and process information if it has at its disposal a system of internal representations or _symbols_, i.e. an internal language in which this information is encoded. At least this appears to be an idea which suggests itself and which Peter Hacker expresses as follows. (shrink)
Thinking Without Words provides a challenging new theory of the nature of non-linguistic thought. Jose Luis Bermudez offers a conceptual framework for treating human infants and non-human animals as genuine thinkers. The book is written with an interdisciplinary readership in mind and will appeal to philosophers, psychologists, and students of animal behavior.
Tomasello et al. give a good account of how shared intentionality develops in children, but a much weaker one of how it might have evolved. They are unduly hasty in dismissing the emergence of language as a triggering factor. An alternative account is suggested in which language provided the spark, but thereafter language and shared intentionality coevolved.
It's often hypothesized that the structure of mental representation is map-like rather than language-like. The possibility arises as a counterexample to the argument from the best explanation of productivity and systematicity to the language of thought hypothesis—the hypothesis that mental structure is compositional and recursive. In this paper, I argue that the analogy with maps does not undermine the argument, because maps and language have the same kind of compositional and recursive structure.
In this paper we argue that the insistence by Fodor et. al. that the Language of Thought hypothesis must be true rests on mistakes about the kinds of explanations that must be provided of cognitive phenomena. After examining the canonical arguments for the LOT, we identify a weak version of the LOT hypothesis which we think accounts for some of the intuitions that there must be a LOT. We then consider what kinds of explanation cognitive phenomena require, and conclude that (...) three main confusions lead to the invalid inference of the truth of a stronger LOT hypothesis from the weak and trivial version. These confusions concern the relationship between syntax and semantics, the nature of higher-level causation in cognitive science, and differing roles of explanations invoking intrinsic structures of minds on the one hand, and aetiological or evolutionary accounts of their properties on the other. (shrink)
Does thought precede language, or the other way around? How does having a language affect our thoughts? Who has a language, and who can think? These questions have traditionally been addressed by philosophers, especially by rationalists concerned to identify the essential difference between humans and other animals. More recently, theorists in cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and developmental psychology have been asking these questions in more empirically grounded ways. At its best, this confluence of philosophy and science promises to blend the (...) respective strengths of each discipline, bringing abstract theory to bear on reality in a principled and focused way. At its worst, it risks degenerating into a war of words, with each side employing key expressions in its own idiosyncratic way – or worse, contaminating empirical research with a priori dogmas inherited from outmoded philosophical worldviews. In Baboon Metaphysics (2007), Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth offer an analysis of baboon cognition that promises to exemplify the very best interaction of philosophical theory and empirical research. They argue that baboons have a language of thought: a language-like representational medium, which supports the sophisticated cognitive abilities required to negotiate their complex social environment. This claim is intended to be surprising in its own right, and also to shed light on the evolution of spoken language. Because our own ancestors likely lived in a similarly complex social environment, Cheney and Seyfarth propose that the earliest humans also developed language first as a cognitive medium, and that spoken language evolved as a means to express those thoughts. There are two potential difficulties here. First, ‘Language of Thought’ (LOT) is a term of art, with much associated theoretical baggage and often comparatively little careful exposition. Thus, evaluating the claim requires getting clearer about just what LOT implies in this context.. (shrink)