•  13
    Consider the following two sentences: " I see a dark discoloration in the back of my hand. I feel a jabbing pain in the back of my hand. " They seem to have the same surface grammar, and thus prima facie invite the same kind of semantic treatment. Even though a reading of ‘see’ in where the verb is not treated as a success verb is not out of the question, it is not the ordinary and natural reading. Note that if I am hallucinating a dark discoloration in the back of my hand, then is simply false.…Read more
  •  71
    The influence of historical-causal theories of reference developed in the late sixties and early seventies by Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam and Devitt has been so strong that any semantic theory that has the consequence of assigning disjunctive representational content to the mental states of twins (e.g. [H2O or XYZ]) has been thereby taken to refute itself. Similarly, despite the strength of pre-theoretical intuitions that exact physical replicas like Davidson's Swampman have representational menta…Read more
  •  252
    Language of thought: The connectionist contribution
    Minds and Machines 7 (1): 57-101. 1997.
      Fodor and Pylyshyn's critique of connectionism has posed a challenge to connectionists: Adequately explain such nomological regularities as systematicity and productivity without postulating a "language of thought" (LOT). Some connectionists like Smolensky took the challenge very seriously, and attempted to meet it by developing models that were supposed to be non-classical. At the core of these attempts lies the claim that connectionist models can provide a representational system with a comb…Read more
  •  242
    Fodor on concepts and Frege puzzles
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (4): 289-294. 1998.
    ABSTRACT. Fodor characterizes concepts as consisting of two dimensions: one is content, which is purely denotational/broad, the other the Mentalese vehicle bearing that content, which Fodor calls the Mode of Presentation (MOP), understood "syntactically." I argue that, so understood, concepts are not interpersonally sharable; so Fodor's own account violates what he calls the Publicity Constraint in his (1998) book. Furthermore, I argue that Fodor's non-semantic, or "syntactic," solution to Frege…Read more
  •  292
    Affect: Representationalists' Headache
    with Matthew Fulkerson
    Philosophical Studies 170 (2): 175-198. 2014.
    Representationalism is the view that the phenomenal character of experiences is identical to their representational content of a certain sort. This view requires a strong transparency condition on phenomenally conscious experiences. We argue that affective qualities such as experienced pleasantness or unpleasantness are counter-examples to the transparency thesis and thus to the sort of representationalism that implies it
  •  337
    A short primer on situated cognition
    In Murat Aydede & P. Robbins (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition, Cambridge University Press. pp. 3--10. 2009.
    Introductory Chapter to the _Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition_ (CUP, 2019)
  •  131
    This is a slightly more polished version of a presentation I wrote for the Author-Meets-Critics session on Colin's book at the Eastern APA session on Jan 4, 2017, in Baltimore. I’ve decided to post this commentary online pretty much as is -- I am afraid I don't have time to prepare a version suitable for publication. I hope the reader will find it helpful. At any rate, please treat this piece as a rough draft originally intended to be delivered to a live audience. Although my commentary is mostl…Read more
  •  377
    Some foundational problems in the scientific study of pain
    Philosophy of Science Supplement 69 (3): 265-83. 2002.
    This paper is an attempt to spell out what makes the scientific study of pain so distinctive from a philosophical perspective. Using the IASP definition of ‘pain’ as our guide, we raise a number of questions about the philosophical assumptions underlying the scientific study of pain. We argue that unlike the study of ordinary perception, the study of pain focuses from the very start on the experience itself and its qualities, without making deep assumptions about whether pain experiences are per…Read more
  •  186
    On the type/token relation of mental representations
    Facta Philosophica 2 (1): 23-50. 2000.
    According to the Computational/Representational Theory of Thought (CRTT ? Language of Thought Hypothesis, or LOTH), propositional attitudes, such as belief, desire, and the like, are triadic relations among subjects, propositions, and internal mental representations. These representations form a representational _system_ physically realized in the brain of sufficiently sophisticated cognitive organisms. Further, this system of representations has a combinatorial syntax and semantics, but the pro…Read more
  •  477
    Consciousness, intentionality, and intelligence: Some foundational issues for artificial intelligence
    Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 12 (3): 263-277. 2000.
  •  659
    Are Frege cases exceptions to intentional generalizations?
    with Philip Robbins
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (1): 1-22. 2001.
    This piece criticizes Fodor's argument (in The Elm and the Expert, 1994) for the claim that Frege cases should be treated as exceptions to (broad) psychological generalizations rather than as counterexamples.
  •  483
    Reasons and Theories of Sensory Affect
    with Matthew Fulkerson
    In David Bain, Michael Brady & Jennifer Corns (eds.), The Philosophy of Pain: Unpleasantness, Emotion, and Deviance, Routledge. pp. 27-59. 2019.
    Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main conte…Read more
  •  196
    Defending the IASP Definition of Pain
    The Monist 100 (4). 2017.
    The official definition of ‘pain’ by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) hasn’t seen much revision since its publication in 1979. There have been various criticisms of the definition in the literature from different quarters: that the definition implies a dubious metaphysical dualism, that it requires a strong form of consciousness as well as linguistic abilities, that it excludes many vulnerable groups that are otherwise perfectly capable of experiencing pain, that it has…Read more
  •  238
    What does feeling a sharp pain in one's hand have in common with seeing a red apple on the table? Some say not much, apart from the fact that they are both conscious experiences. To see an object is to perceive an extramental reality -- in this case, a red apple. To feel a pain, by contrast, is to undergo a conscious experience that doesn't necessarily relate the subject to an objective reality. Perceptualists, however, dispute this. They say that both experiences are forms of perception of an o…Read more
  •  430
    The language of thought hypothesis
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.
    A comprehensive introduction to the Language of Though Hypothesis (LOTH) accessible to general audiences. LOTH is an empirical thesis about thought and thinking. For their explication, it postulates a physically realized system of representations that have a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has a synt…Read more
  •  289
    Has Fodor Really Changed His Mind on Narrow Content?
    Mind and Language 12 (3-4): 422-458. 1997.
    In his latest book, The Elm and the Expert (1994), Fodor notoriously rejects the notion of narrow content as superfluous. He envisions a scientific intentional psychology that adverts only to broad content properties in its explanations. I argue that Fodor's change in view is only apparent and that his previous position (1985-1991) is extensionally equivalent to his "new" position (1994). I show that, despite what he says narrow content is for in his (1994), Fodor himself has previously never ap…Read more
  •  105
    Computation and intentional psychology
    Dialogue 39 (2): 365-379. 2000.
    The relation between computational and intentional psychology has always been a vexing issue. The worry is that if mental processes are computational, then these processes, which are defined over symbols, are sensitive solely to the non-semantic properties of symbols. If so, perhaps psychology could dispense with adverting in its laws to intentional/semantic properties of symbols. Stich, as is well-known, has made a great deal out of this tension and argued for a purely "syntactic" psychology by…Read more
  •  43
    [DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000765] Amanda Williams and Kenneth Craig, in a recent article in the IASP official journal _Pain_ (DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000613), have argued that it is time to revise the IASP's well-entrenched definition of 'pain'. They propose an alternative definition. We critically discuss their proposed revision and argue that it admits clear counterexamples as both sufficient and necessary conditions. We further discuss the wisdom of replacing 'unpleasant' in the I…Read more
  •  12
    The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (edited book)
    with P. Robbins
    Cambridge University Press. 2008.
    Since its inception some fifty years ago, cognitive science has seen a number of sea changes. Perhaps the best known is the development of connectionist models of cognition as an alternative to classical, symbol-based approaches. A more recent - and increasingly influential - trend is that of dynamical-systems-based, ecologically oriented models of the mind. Researchers suggest that a full understanding of the mind will require systematic study of the dynamics of interaction between mind, body, …Read more
  •  125
    Pain
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2019.
    Pain is the most prominent member of a class of sensations known as bodily sensations, which includes itches, tickles, tingles, orgasms, and so on. Bodily sensations are typically attributed to bodily locations and appear to have features such as volume, intensity, duration, and so on, that are ordinarily attributed to physical objects or quantities. Yet these sensations are often thought to be logically private, subjective, self-intimating, and the source of incorrigible knowledge for those who…Read more
  •  759
    Is feeling pain the perception of something?
    Journal of Philosophy 106 (10): 531-567. 2009.
    According to the increasingly popular perceptual/representational accounts of pain (and other bodily sensations such as itches, tickles, orgasms, etc.), feeling pain in a body region is perceiving a non-mental property or some objective condition of that region, typically equated with some sort of (actual or potential) tissue damage. In what follows I argue that given a natural understanding of what sensory perception requires and how it is integrated with (dedicated) conceptual systems, these a…Read more