Syntax in a dynamic brain

Synthese 110 (3):343-55 (1997)
Proponents of the language of thought (LOT) thesis are realists when it comes to syntactically structured representations, and must defend their view against instrumentalists, who would claim that syntactic structures may be useful in describing cognition, but have no more causal powers in governing cognition than do the equations of physics in guiding the planets. This paper explores what it will take to provide an argument for LOT that can defend its conclusion from instrumentalism. I illustrate a difficulty in this project by discussing arguments for LOT put forward by Horgan and Tienson. When their evidence is viewed in the light of results in connectionist research, it is hard to see how a realist conception of syntax can be formulated and defended
Keywords Brain  Language  Metaphysics  Representation  Syntax  Thought  Horgan, T  Tienson, J
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