This paper traces the application of information theory to philosophical problems of mind and meaning from the earliest days of the creation of the mathematical theory of communication. The use of information theory to understand purposive behavior, learning, pattern recognition, and more marked the beginning of the naturalization of mind and meaning. From the inception of information theory, Wiener, Turing, and others began trying to show how to make a mind from informational and computational materials. Over the last 50 years, (...) many philosophers saw different aspects of the naturalization of the mind, though few saw at once all of the pieces of the puzzle that we now know. Starting with Norbert Wiener himself, philosophers and information theorists used concepts from information theory to understand cognition. This paper provides a window on the historical sequence of contributions made to the overall project of naturalizing the mind by philosophers from Shannon, Wiener, and MacKay, to Dennett, Sayre, Dretske, Fodor, and Perry, among others. At some time between 1928 and 1948, American engineers and mathematicians began to talk about `Theory of Information' and `Information Theory,' understanding by these terms approximately and vaguely a theory for which Hartley's `amount of information' is a basic concept. I have been unable to find out when and by whom these names were first used. Hartley himself does not use them nor does he employ the term `Theory of Transmission of Information,' from which the two other shorter terms presumably were derived. It seems that Norbert Wiener and Claude Shannon were using them in the Mid-Forties. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Al Mele (2003) suggests that the Simple View of intentional action is “fiction” because it is “wholly unconstrained” by a widely shared (folk) concept of intentional action. The Simple View (Adams, 1986, McCann, 1986) states that an action is intentional only if intended. As evidence that the Simple View is not in accord with the folk notion of intentional action, Mele appeals to recent surveys of folk judgments by Joshua Knobe (2003, 2004a, 2004b). Knobe’s surveys appear (...) to show that the folk judge unintended but known side effects of actions to be performed intentionally. In this paper we will reject Mele’s suggestion that the Simple View is “fiction.” We will also discuss the relationship between surveys and philosophical theories, and the abilities of surveys to access folk core concepts. We will argue that considerations of both fail to support Mele’s suggestion. (shrink)
This is a plausible reading of what Clark and Chalmers had in mind at the time, but it is not the radical claim at stake in the extended cognition debate. It is a familiar functionalist view of cognition and the mind that it can be realized in a wide range of distinct material bases. Thus, for many species of functionalism about cognition and the mind, it follows that they can be realized in extracranial substrates. And, in truth, even some non-functionalist (...) views of cognition apparently allow for the possibility that cognition extends into the external world. So, the (logical, conceptual, or nomological) possibility of extended cognition seems to us not the kind of radical view the advocates of this view have often implied. This is not, of course, to assess or pass judgment on the truth of these possibilities; it is only to note that they are not what most agitates people about the hypothesis of extended cognition. Framing the radical extended cognition hypothesis is a more delicate matter than framing the modal extended cognition hypothesis, but something like the following is in the ballpark. The radical extended cognition hypothesis maintains that, in many mundane cases of tool use, human cognitive processes extend into the tools. The principal reason this hypothesis is so delicate is that there remains much room for dispute about what constitutes a. (shrink)
There are both externalist and internalist theories of the phenomenal content of conscious experiences. Externalists like Dretske and Tye treat the phenomenal content of conscious states as representations of external properties. Internalists think that phenomenal conscious states are reducible to electrochemical states of the brain in the style of the type-type identity theory. In this paper, we side with the representationalists and visit a dispute between them over the test case of Swampman. Does Swampman have conscious phenomenal states or not? (...) Dretske and Tye disagree on this issue. We try to settle the dispute in favor of Dretske's theory. (shrink)
InPsychosemantics Jerry Fodor offered a list of sufficient conditions for a symbol “X” to mean something X. The conditions are designed to reduce meaning to purely non-intentional natural relations. They are also designed to solve what Fodor has dubbed the “disjunction problem”. More recently, inA Theory of Content and Other Essays, Fodor has modified his list of sufficient conditions for naturalized meaning in light of objections to his earlier list. We look at his new set of conditions and give his (...) motivation for them-tracing them to problems in the literature. Then we argue that Fodor's conditions still do not work. They are open to objections of two different varieties: they are too strong and too weak. We develop these objections and indicate why Fodor's new, improved list of conditions still do not work to naturalize meaning. (shrink)
What we do, intentionally, depends upon the intentional contents of our thoughts. For about ten years Fodor has argued that intentional behavior causally depends upon the narrow intentional content of thoughts (not broad). His main reason is a causal powers argument—brains of individuals A and B may differ in broad content, but, if A and B are neurophysically identical, their thoughts cannot differ in causal power, despite differences in broad content. Recently Fodor (Fodor, 1991) presents a new 'modal' version of (...) this causal powers argument. I argue that Fodor's argument (in old or new dress) is a non sequitur. It neither establishes the existence of narrow content nor the need for a content other than broad content to explain intentional behavior. (shrink)
In an earlier paper, we argued that Fodorian Semantics has serious difficulties. However, we suggested possible ways that one might attempt to fix this. Ted Warfield suggests that our arguments can be deflected and he does this by making the very moves that we suggested. In our current paper, we respond to Warfield's attempts to revise and defend Fodorian Semantics against our arguments that such a semantic theory is both too strong and too weak. To get around our objections, Warfield (...) proposes a modified reading of one of Fodor's conditions and proposes adding a new condition to the theory. We show that neither the modified reading nor the additional condition saves the asymmetric causal dependency approach to naturalized semantics. (shrink)
In two recent books, Jerry Fodor has developed a set of sufficient conditions for an object “X” to non-naturally and non-derivatively mean X. In an earlier paper we presented three reasons for thinking Fodor's theory to be inadequate. One of these problems we have dubbed the “Pathologies Problem”. In response to queries concerning the relationship between the Pathologies Problem and what Fodor calls “Block's Problem”, we argue that, while Block's Problem does not threatenFodor's view, the Pathologies Problem does.
Assume that epistemic justification has a cognitive function and that a belief's being justified is not just its being caused by the appropriate information (for this property of the belief may be cognitively impenetrable). What is the function of epistemic justification? it cannot be to actualize knowledge-The belief's being caused by appropriate information alone does that! so what is its function? I suggest it is to cause us to believe and/or take action.
Sue knows that, unaided, she cannot lift the 1,000 pound weight, but surely she can try. Can she not? For even if she believes it is impossible to succeed in lifting the weight, trying to lift the weight need not involve success. So surely, it would seem that nothing could be easier than for Sue to give lifting the weight a try. In this paper, I agrue that, appearances aside, it is not possible for someone to try to do what (...) that person believes to be impossible. So, on this view, perhaps surprisingly, not only would it be impossible for Sue to lift the weight, but it would be impossible for her to try (as long as she believed her lifting it to be impossible). I defend this view in the context of a package of related claims and a functional accoung of trying and intentional action. (shrink)
This paper defends a direct reference view of empty names, saying that empty names literally have no meaning and cannot be used to express truths. However, all names, including empty names, are associated with accompanying descriptions that are implicated in pragmatically imparted truths. A sentence such as “Vulcan doesn’t exist” pragmatically imparts that there is no tenth planet. This view is defended against objections.
In 'Fodor's Modal Argument' I claim that Fodor's latest defence of narrow content does not work. I claim that Fodor's modal argument is an unsuccessful resurrection of the Logical Connection Argument. Russow claims that my arguments fail because I confuse cause properties with causal powers, focus on events rather than properties, and overlook the fact that Fodor is trying only to explain narrow behavior. In this paper, I plead 'not guilty' to all of Fodor's charges. Narrow content still does not (...) exist. (shrink)