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Profile: James Blackmon (San Francisco State University)
  1. Robert C. Cummins, James Blackmon, David Byrd, Pierre Poirier & Martin Roth, I. Background.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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  2. James Blackmon (2013). Searle's Wall. Erkenntnis 78 (1):109-117.
    In addition to his famous Chinese Room argument, John Searle has posed a more radical problem for views on which minds can be understood as programs. Even his wall, he claims, implements the WordStar program according to the standard definition of implementation because there is some ‘‘pattern of molecule movements’’ that is isomorphic to the formal structure of WordStar. Program implementation, Searle charges, is merely observer-relative and thus not an intrinsic feature of the world. I argue, first, that analogous charges (...)
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  3. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Alexa Lee & Martin Roth (2006). Representation and Unexploited Content. In Graham F. Macdonald & David Papineau (eds.), Teleosemantics. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper, we introduce a novel difficulty for teleosemantics, viz., its inability to account for what we call unexploited content—content a representation has, but which the system that harbors it is currently unable to exploit. In section two, we give a characterization of teleosemantics. Since our critique does not depend on any special details that distinguish the variations in the literature, the characterization is broad, brief and abstract. In section three, we explain what we mean by unexploited content, and (...)
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  4. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Pierre Poirier & Martin Roth (2005). Atomistic Learning in Non-Modular Systems. Philosophical Psychology 18 (3):313-325.
    We argue that atomistic learning?learning that requires training only on a novel item to be learned?is problematic for networks in which every weight is available for change in every learning situation. This is potentially significant because atomistic learning appears to be commonplace in humans and most non-human animals. We briefly review various proposed fixes, concluding that the most promising strategy to date involves training on pseudo-patterns along with novel items, a form of learning that is not strictly atomistic, but which (...)
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  5. Robert C. Cummins, James Blackmon & David Byrd (2005). What Systematicity Isn't. Journal of Philosophical Research 30:405-408.
    In “On Begging the Systematicity Question,” Wayne Davis criticizes the suggestion of Cummins et al. that the alleged systematicity of thought is not as obvious as is sometimes supposed, and hence not reliable evidence for the language of thought hypothesis. We offer a brief reply.
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  6. James Blackmon, David Byrd, Robert C. Cummins, Pierre Poirier, Martin Roth & George Schwarz (2001). Systematicity and the Cognition of Structured Domains. Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):1-19.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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  7. Robert Cummins, James Blackmon, David Byrd, Pierre Poirier, Martin Roth & Georg Schwarz (2001). Systematicity and the Cognition of Structured Domains. Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):167 - 185.
    The current debate over systematicity concerns the formal conditions a scheme of mental representation must satisfy in order to explain the systematicity of thought.1 The systematicity of thought is assumed to be a pervasive property of minds, and can be characterized (roughly) as follows: anyone who can think T can think systematic variants of T, where the systematic variants of T are found by permuting T’s constituents. So, for example, it is an alleged fact that anyone who can think the (...)
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