Summer 2011 Monday, 07/25

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Summer 2011

Monday, 07/25


Recap on Dreyfus


Presents a phenomenological
argument
against the idea that
intelligence consists in manipulating symbols according to
formal/syntactic
rules (the PSS hypothesis).


T
ries to describe the
experience of becoming an
expert in “slow motion”:
Novice


Advanced Beginner


Competent


Proficient


Expert.


C
laims that paying close
attention to this progression
reveals that being an expert is
not a matter of following
“internalized” rules at all.


I
t is, in fact the other way
around: becoming an expert is
getting away from rule
following altogether.

Knowing How vs. Knowing That


Knowing
-
that = Propositional Knowledge.
Knowing some set of facts, e.g. the fact that
Paris is in France or the fact that one should
do such
-
and
-
such in a certain situation.


Knowledge
-
how = “Procedural knowledge”,
having an ability to do something, e.g. to drive
a car, ride a bike, ski, weld metal, etc.


Knowledge
-
that is fundamental. Many types
of knowledge, e.g. knowledge
-
where/when/who/what, may be understood
in terms of knowledge
-
that.


But some kinds of knowledge, e.g. knowledge
by acquaintance (many languages have special
words for this!), may not be understood in this
way.


It’s an open, controversial question in
philosophy how knowledge
-
how relates to
knowledge
-
that.

Kinds of Knowledge

Propositional Attitudes


I
think
that Paris is pretty
.


You
hope
that Paris is pretty
.


Jon
believes
that Paris is pretty
.


Paul
says
that Paris is pretty
.


Laura and Jim
wish
that Paris is pretty
.


These people
expect
that Paris is pretty
.


The bold terms seem to refer to types of mental states.
The underlined clauses seem to refer to
propositions
.


A
PROPOSITIONAL

ATTITUDE

is a mental state that relates
someone (e.g. a person) to a proposition.
P
ropositions
are the
intentional objects
of propositional attitudes.




Propositions


Mind/Language Independent
. Two people can be
related to the same proposition, even if they
don’t share a language.


Are Abstract
. You can’t encounter or them or
perceive them through the senses.


Can be true/false
. The conditions in which a
proposition would be true/false are essential to
the proposition.


Often used in common sense, psychological
explanation, e.g. I believe the same thing that she
does,
s
he said what I wanted to say,
w
e both
expect the same thing to happen.



We can think of
propositional attitudes
asmental

states that are about propositions,
or that involve “grasping” them.


Believing, hoping, desiring, expecting (and so
on), are all
different ways of entertaining
(or
grasping)

propositions.

Propositions

Propositional Attitudes

T
ricky questions arise, among them:



1. What exactly are the mental states that relate us to

propositions? What is a thought, a belief, a hope, a

desire?



2. How does a mental state, of whatever stripe,

manages

to relate a person to a proposition? What is

it to “grasp” a proposition?



3. What explains the difference between the various

ways of entertaining propositions (e.g. believing,

hoping, desiring)?



4. Why is it that entertaining some propositions, in

certain ways, leads us to systematically (rationally,

intelligibly) entertain certain others, in certain

appropriate ways? What’s the scientific explanation

of this fact?


Representational Theory of Mind
(RTM)


A framework for understanding the
propositional attitudes
,

d
efined by these
claims:

1.

Propositional attitudes pick out
computational relations to internal
representations.

2.

Mental processes are causal processes that
involve transitions between internal
representations.



Fodor



To a first approximation, to
think “it’s going to rain; so I’ll
go indoors” is to have a
tokening

of a mental
representation that means
I’ll go indoors
caused, in a
certain way, by a
tokening

of
a mental representation that
means
, it’s going to rain
.

(Fodor)


Fodor


“Folk Psychology”, or our
common sense theory of the
mind is largely correct.


Thoughts, beliefs, desires
(and so on) are real inner
-
states.


These states are built out of
symbols (e.g. brain states
and processes) that causally
interact with other mental
states.



Fodor


Science will validate our
common sense
understanding of ourselves
by identifying inner states
whose meanings and
structures closely match the
contents and structures of
daily ascriptions of
propositional attitudes (with
some room for
idealization/mistakes).

Churchland


There are no inner states that
closely match our talk of
propositional attitudes, i.e.
there
are no
beliefs, hopes,
desires, and so on.


As science progresses, we will
drop talk of such entities and
adopt an entirely new,
scientific way of talking about
our psychology.


Churchland


“We need an entirely new
kinematics and dynamics with
which to comprehend human
cognitive activity. One drawn,
perhaps, from computational
neuroscience and
connectionist AI. Folk
psychology could then be put
aside in favor of this
descriptively more accurate
and explanatorily more
powerful portrayal of the
reality within.”

Dennett


Tries to steer a middle
course between Fodor and
Churchland
.


Like
Churchland
, anticipates
no close match between the
folk and scientific
understanding of ourselves.


But holds that the goodness
of the common sense
understanding is established
independently of particular
facts about implementation.

Dennett


Common
-
sense
psychology is a useful
tool
for making sense of
the mental lives and daily
behavior of rational
beings.


It is a special case of the
“design stance” that we
take towards artifacts, a
way of understanding
things in reference to
what they’re supposed to
do.



Our common sense
psychology is “a
rationalistic (i.e.
rationality
-
assuming)
calculus of interpretation
and prediction

an
idealizing, abstract,
instrumentalistic

interpretation method
that has evolved because
it works and that works
because we have
evolved.”

Dennett


Dennett’s view is complex. He does
not claim that there are
no beliefs.
Instead, folk
-
psychology works
because there exist real, objective
patterns in human and animal
behavior that are fully observer
independent.


Mental states are real in the same
sense as “
abstracta
” such as
centers of gravity or the equator
are real.


We’ll talk a lot more about each of
these three views in the next three
days!

Dennett