Knowledge of rules, causal systematicity, and the language of thought

Synthese 117 (3):313-330 (1998)
Abstract
  Martin Davies' criterion for the knowledge of implicit rules, viz. the causal systematicity of cognitive processes, is first exposed. Then the inference from causal systematicity of a process to syntactic properties of the input states is examined. It is argued that Davies' notion of a syntactic property is too weak to bear the conclusion that causal systematicity implies a language of thought as far as the input states are concerned. Next, it is shown that Davies' criterion leads to a counterintuitive consequence: it groups together distributed connectionist systems with look-up tables. To avoid this consequence, a modified construal of causal systematicity is proposed and Davies' argument for the causal systematicity of thought is shown to be question-begging. It is briefly sketched how the modified construal links up with multiple dispositions of the same categorical base. Finally, the question of the causal efficacy of single rules is distinguished from the question of their psychological reality: implicit rules might be psychologically real without being causally efficacious
Keywords Causal  Knowledge  Language  Metaphysics  Rule  Thought  Davies, M
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