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Syntax. Linguistics : Syntax is the study of the rules, or "patterned relations", that govern the way the words in a sentence come together (Wikipedia)

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Linguistics: Syntax is the study of the rules, or "patterned relations", that govern the way the words in a sentence come together (Wikipedia)

Computer Science: The set of allowed reserved words and their parameters and the correct word order in the expression is called the syntax of the language (Wikipedia)

syntax cont
Syntax cont.

Philosophy: Semantic properties are the “meaning-involving” properties of words, sentences and internal representation. Syntactic properties are the nonsemantic properties (Clark)

andy clark

Andy Clark

Chapters 1-3

propositional attitude psychology pap folk psychology fp
Propositional Attitude Psychology (PAP) Folk Psychology (FP)

Pairs mental attitudes (believing, hoping, fearing, etc.) with propositions (that it is raining) to explain intelligent behavior.

why did cindy bring her umbrella with her when she went out
Why did Cindy bring her umbrella with her when she went out?
  • Cindy believed that it was raining
  • Cindy believed that an umbrella would protect her from the rain
  • Cindy wanted to be protected from the rain
  • What are mental states?
  • Are mental states explicitly represented in the mind?
first answer
First Answer

Mental states are identical to Brain States (J. J. C. Smart)

Problem – Leibniz’s Law

If A=B, then x(AxBx)

simple objection
Simple Objection

P1) Mental states are accessible to introspection.

P2) Brain states are not accessible to introspection

C) Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law, mental states  brain states

better objection
Better Objection

Mental states are multiply realizable. For example, pain can be realized differently in humans, mollusks, and Martians.

Don’t look at the specific neurons and wetware, nor to the surface behavior, but to the inner organization of the system.


P1) Both mollusks and Martians can be in pain

P2) Neither mollusks nor Martians can be in brain state B.

C) Therefore, pain  brain state B

types vs tokens
Types vs. Tokens

Token – A non-repeatable concrete occurrence.

Type – A kind; something that is repeatable.




second answer
Second Answer

Mental states are functional states (specified by inputs and outputs to some system)

Minds are the operation of a formal, computational system implemented in the meatware of the brain. Cognition is a program-level thing.

why program level
Why Program Level?

Zenon Pylyshyn’s Car Crash – Someone witnesses a crash and runs to the phone to dial 911. The neural story doesn’t tell the truth.

Daniel Dennett’s Stockbroker – The physical story doesn’t explain that the stock transaction could have occurred by fax or e-mail.

turing machines
Turing Machines

Imaginary device consisting of an infinite tape, a simple processor (a finite state machine) and a read/write head.

Tape – Data storage

Processor (finite state automaton) – Remembers what state the computer is in and what symbol was just put in.

Read/Write Head - Read a symbol off the tape, move itself one square forward or one square backward, and write on the tape

stuff concepts vs functional concepts
Stuff Concepts vs. Functional Concepts

Stuff Concept

Water – H2O

Gold – Element with atomic number 79

Functional Concepts

Money – Has to function as currency in an economy

Mouse Trap – Has to be designed for, or used to, catch mice.


Function, Role – Abstract specification

Occupier, Realizer – Concrete entity or process

4 types of functionalism
4 Types of Functionalism
  • Machine Functionalism
  • Psycho-functionalism
  • Analytic functionalism
  • Homuncular functionalism
machine functionalism
Machine Functionalism

There are web of links between possible inputs, inner computational states, and outputs (actions, speech). To be in such and such a mental state is simple to be a physical device (of whatever composition) that satisfies a specific formal description.

  • `
machine state functionalism cont
Machine State Functionalism cont.

If the machine is in state Si, and receives input Ij, it will go into state Sk and produce output Ol

Mental States = Machine Table States.

problems with machine functionalism
Problems with Machine Functionalism

Mental states are defined as functional states of the whole system (but mental states are more modular than that)

No two systems can have same states unless they have all their states in common.

If outputs are different the states are different.

psycho functionalism

Mental states and processes are defined by their role in a cognitive psychological theory (Fodor)

Mental states are those entities with those properties postulated by the best scientific explanation of human behavior.

general concern about functionalism
General Concern about Functionalism

Don’t want to be too liberal or too chauvinistic in our attributions of mental states.

analytic functionalism
Analytic Functionalism

Goal is to provide translations or analyses of our ordinary mental state terms or concepts. (Do this a priori)

benefits of functionalism
Benefits of Functionalism

Minds are ghostly enough to float fairly free of the gory neuroscientific details, but not so ghostly to escape the nets of more abstract (formal, computational) scientific investigation.

general problems
General Problems
  • No relationship to real-world timing.
  • There are lots of computational stories about the same physical device.
  • Consciousness

Being in a mental state is identical with being in an abstract functional state (where a functional state is just some pattern of inputs, outputs, and internal state transactions taken to be characteristic of the state in question).

summary of problems with functionalism
Summary of Problems with Functionalism
  • Mental states are defined as functional states of the whole system (but mental states are more modular than that)
  • No two systems can have same states unless they have all their states in common.
  • If outputs are different then the states are different as well.
summary of problems with functionalism cont
Summary of Problems with Functionalism cont.
  • Hard to avoid being either too liberal or too chauvinistic in our attributions of mental states.
  • No relationship to real-world timing.
  • There are lots of computational stories about the same physical device.
  • Consciousness
stuff or information
Stuff or Information?

Stuff Concept

Water – H2O

Gold – Element with atomic number 79

Functional Concepts

Money – Has to function as currency in an economy

Mouse Trap – Has to be designed for, or used to, catch mice.


Is meeting certain abstract computational specification enough to guarantee conscious awareness?

A good simulation of a calculator is a calculator

A good simulation of a pizza is not a pizza

pizza or calculator
Pizza or Calculator

Is the mind more like a calculator or more like a pizza?

Is simulation sufficient for instantiation?

Clark – Yes if fine enough grain (microfunctionalism)

physical symbol system
Physical Symbol System

A physical device that contains a set of interpretable and combinable items (symbols) and a set of processes that can operate on the items.

commitment to symbols
Commitment to Symbols

Commitment to the existence of a computational symbol-manipulating regime at the level of description most appropriate to understanding the device as a cognitive engine.

physical symbol hypotheses
Physical Symbol Hypotheses

A physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means for intelligent action. Being a physical-symbol system (PSS) is sufficient and necessary for intelligence.


v   Stores long-term knowledge symbolically

v   Depicts intelligence as the ability to search a symbolic problem-space.

v   Intelligence resides at or close to level of deliberative thought.

Intelligence consists in the retrieval of symbolically stored information and its use in the process of search.

problems with psh
Problems with PSH


- Searle’s brain replacement - Searle’s Chinese room argument- Block’s population of China example

Fast, fluid, everyday coping activity.

searle s brain replacement
Searle’s Brain Replacement

Suppose your brain were gradually replaced with silicone chips. The input-output function is preserved. Would your conscious experience gradually shrink?

ned block s pop of china
Ned Block’s Pop. Of China

Get whole population of china to implement the functional profile of a given mental state by passing around formal symbols. Such an instantiation of the symbol-trading properties will not possess the target mental properties. So functional identity cannot guarantee full-blown qualia involving mental identity.

obvious criticism
Obvious Criticism

Population of China – 1.3 Billion

Neurons in the Human Brain – 100 Billion

clark s claim
Clark’s Claim

Discomfort stems from nagging suspicion that the formal structure implemented will be too shallow. But what about fine-grained formal description. Microfunctionalism fixes the fine detail of the internal state-transitions as, for example, a web of complex mathematical relations between simple processing units.

dryfus s criticism
Dryfus’s Criticism

Our everday skills are a kind of expert engagement with the practical world. They depend on a foundation of holistic similarity recognition and bodily, lived experience. No amount of symbolically couched knowledge or inference can possibly reproduce the required thickness of understanding, since the thickness flows not from our knowledge of fact or our inferential capacities but from a kind of pattern-recognition honed by extensive bodily and real-world experiences.

multiple realization
Multiple Realization

Multiple Hardware Realizability – Mind is a formal system and we should focus on structure not stuff.

Multiple Software Realizability – Different algorithms can sort numbers or letters. Perhaps different algorithms can support the mental state of believing it is raining.

mind as a swiss army knife
Mind as a Swiss Army Knife

Abandon the idea that intelligent activity is mediated by the sequential, serial retrieval of symbol structures from some functionally homogeneous inner store. Instead believe that there are multiple representational types and processes, operating in parallel and communicating in a wide range of different ways.


Mind is an assortment of subagencies. Some of which deploy special-purpose routines and knowledge stores. (Minsky)



Chapter 3

fodor s representational theory of the mind
Fodor’s Representational Theory of the Mind
  • Propositional attitudes pick out computational relations to internal representations
  • Mental processes are causal processes that involve transitions between internal representations
folk psychological explanation
Folk Psychological Explanation
  • Mary believes that it is raining
  • Mary wants to stay dry
  • Mary believes that using an umbrella when it rains helps her stay dry
fodor s explanation for fp s success
Fodor’s Explanation for FP’s Success

Folk Psychology (FP) is successful because it tracks real, causally potent inner states whose contents matches the contents specified by the that clauses (semantic transparency)

Claim is that mental contents and inner causally potent states march closely in step.

why do folk stories need inner echos
Why do folk stories need inner echos?
  • To be real is to have causal powers
  • Mental states are real
  • Thus, mental states have causal powers
  • Mental states have causal powers only if there are semantically transparent symbols in the brain.
  • Therefore, there are semantically transparent symbols in the brain.
churchland s criticism of fp eliminativism
Churchland’s Criticism of FP(Eliminativism)
  • FP works only in a limited domain.
  • FP’s origins and evolution give cause for concern.
  • FP doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of our scientific picture of ourselves.
dennet s instrumentalism
Dennet’s Instrumentalism

Folk Psychology doesn’t need vindication.

Suppose we discovered that some groups of people have different sub-personal psychology. Wouldn’t say that they didn’t have beliefs.

intentional stance
Intentional Stance

Understand, predict, or explain the behavior of some object by talking about it as believing x, desiring y, and so on. Class of systems we apply such a strategy is very large.

who has intentional states
Who has Intentional States?
  • Membership is fixed by facts about inner cognitive organization, along with relations between such inner facts and worldly states. (Fodor and Churchland)
  • Membership depends on behavior patterns, however caused (Dennett).
why does it work
Why Does it Work?

The intentional stance works because things are well designed. If not artifacts then evolution is doing the designing. Intentional stance is a special case of the design stance

possible problem with dennett
Possible Problem with Dennett

Being a believer looks like a agent dependent (stance dependent) issue. Looks like it is “all in the eye of the beholder”

Dennett Rejects: He claims that there are real, objective patterns in human and animal behavior.

how do mental representations get their content
How do Mental Representations Get their Content?

1)  Either content is fixed by local properties of a system (e.g., intrinsic properties of the body and brain)

2)  Or, content varies depending on broader properties such as the history of the system and the relations between its inner states and states of the world.

flies vs schmies
Flies vs. Schmies

Earth frog’s inner states represent flies

Alien frog’s inner states represent schmies

Externalist view of content


Internalist view of content

scattered vs ungrounded causation
Scattered vs. Ungrounded Causation

Scattered Causation – Occurs when a number of physically distinct influences are usefully grouped together (e.g., an economic depression) and treated as a unified force for some explanatory purpose.

how real are beliefs
How Real are Beliefs?

Churchland: As real as entelechies and phlogiston (putative concreta of misguided theories; why protect beliefs?).

Dennett: As real as centers of gravity and economic depressions (abstracta in good standing; scattered causes).