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Minds without MeaningsAn Essay on the Content of Concepts$
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Jerry A. Fodor and Zenon W. Pylyshyn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027908

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027908.001.0001

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Working Assumptions

Working Assumptions

(p.1) 1 Working Assumptions
Minds without Meanings

Jerry A. Fodor

Zenon W. Pylyshyn

The MIT Press

This chapter considers some of the working assumptions about mental representations in relation to language. It begins by assuming that behaviorism is false root and branch; in the paradigm cases, behavior is the effect of mental causes, and the paradigm of explanation in cognitive psychology is the attribution of a creature's actions to its beliefs, intentions, desires, and its other “propositional attitudes.” The paradigm of belief-desire explanation is what Aristotle called a “practical syllogism.” The second assumption deals with the naturalism of explanations in cognitive science, while the third is concerned with the distinction between type and token. Other assumptions relate to psychological reality, the compositionality of propositions and mental representations, the representational theory of mind, the computational theory of mind, and the priority of thought to language. The chapter concludes by lumping all of the above assumptions together in what it calls “basic cognitive science”.

Keywords:   mental representations, language, behavior, beliefs, desires, naturalism, propositions, representational theory of mind, computational theory of mind, basic cognitive science

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