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LINGUIST List 18.2787

Wed Sep 26 2007

Books: Philosophy of Lang/Psycholing/Ling Theories/Semantics: Kuczynski

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>


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        1.    Paul Peranteau, Conceptual Atomism and the Computational Theory of Mind: Kuczynski


Message 1: Conceptual Atomism and the Computational Theory of Mind: Kuczynski
Date: 25-Sep-2007
From: Paul Peranteau <paulbenjamins.com>
Subject: Conceptual Atomism and the Computational Theory of Mind: Kuczynski
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Title: Conceptual Atomism and the Computational Theory of Mind
Subtitle: A defense of content-internalism and semantic externalism
Series Title: Advances in Consciousness Research 69
Published: 2007
Publisher: John Benjamins
                http://www.benjamins.com/

Book URL: http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=AiCR%2069

Author: John-Michael Kuczynski
Hardback: ISBN: 902725205X 9789027252050 Pages: 541 Price: U.S. $ 155.00
Abstract:

What is it to have a concept? What is it to make an inference? What is it
to be rational? On the basis of recent developments in semantics, a number
of authors have embraced answers to these questions that have radically
counterintuitive consequences, for example:

*One can rationally accept self-contradictory propositions (e.g. Smith
is a composer and Smith is not a composer
).

*Psychological states are causally inert: beliefs and desires do nothing.

*The mind cannot be understood in terms of folk-psychological concepts
(e.g. belief, desire, intention).

*One can have a single concept without having any others: an otherwise
conceptless creature could grasp the concept of justice or of the number
seven.

*Thoughts are sentence-tokens, and thought-processes are driven by the
syntactic, not the semantic, properties of those tokens.

In the first half of Conceptual Atomism and the Computational Theory of
Mind
, John-Michael Kuczynski argues that these implausible but widely
held views are direct consequences of a popular doctrine known as
content-externalism, this being the view that the contents of one's mental
states are constitutively dependent on facts about the external world.
Kuczynski shows that content-externalism involves a failure to distinguish
between, on the one hand, what is literally meant by linguistic expressions
and, on the other hand, the information that one must work through to
compute the literal meanings of such expressions.

The second half of the present work concerns the Computational Theory of
Mind (CTM). Underlying CTM is an acceptance of conceptual atomism - the
view that a creature can have a single concept without having any others -
and also an acceptance of the view that concepts are not descriptive (i.e.
that one can have a concept of a thing without knowing of any description
that is satisfied by that thing). Kuczynski shows that both views are
false, one reason being that they presuppose the truth of
content-externalism, another being that they are incompatible with the
epistemological anti-foundationalism proven correct by Wilfred Sellars and
Laurence Bonjour. Kuczynski also shows that CTM involves a misunderstanding
of terms such as "computation", "syntax", "algorithm" and "formal truth";
and he provides novel analyses of the concepts expressed by these terms.
(Series A)

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
                            Philosophy of Language
                            Psycholinguistics
                            Semantics

Written In: English (eng )

See this book announcement on our website:
http://linguistlist.org/get-book.html?BookID=31345


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