Cognitive maps and the language of thought

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):377-407 (2009)
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Abstract

Fodor advocates a view of cognitive processes as computations defined over the language of thought (or Mentalese). Even among those who endorse Mentalese, considerable controversy surrounds its representational format. What semantically relevant structure should scientific psychology attribute to Mentalese symbols? Researchers commonly emphasize logical structure, akin to that displayed by predicate calculus sentences. To counteract this tendency, I discuss computational models of navigation drawn from probabilistic robotics. These models involve computations defined over cognitive maps, which have geometric rather than logical structure. They thereby demonstrate the possibility of rational cognitive processes in an exclusively non-logical representational medium. Furthermore, they offer much promise for the empirical study of animal navigation.

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Michael Rescorla
University of California, Los Angeles

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