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Jerry A. Fodor

Jerry A. Fodor is State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology (MIT Press) and other books.

Titles by This Author

An Essay on the Content of Concepts

In cognitive science, conceptual content is frequently understood as the “meaning” of a mental representation. This position raises largely empirical questions about what concepts are, what form they take in mental processes, and how they connect to the world they are about. In Minds without Meaning, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn review some of the proposals put forward to answer these questions and find that none of them is remotely defensible.

The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology

In this engaging book, Jerry Fodor argues against the widely held view that mental processes are largely computations, that the architecture of cognition is massively modular, and that the explanation of our innate mental structure is basically Darwinian. Although Fodor has praised the computational theory of mind as the best theory of cognition that we have got, he considers it to be only a fragment of the truth. In fact, he claims, cognitive scientists do not really know much yet about how the mind works (the book's title refers to Steve Pinker's How the Mind Works).

Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Mind

In this book Jerry Fodor contrasts his views about the mind with those of a number of well-known philosophers and cognitive scientists, including John McDowell, Christopher Peacocke, Paul Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Paul Smolensky, and Richard Dawkins. Several of these essays are published here for the first time. The rest originated as book reviews in the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, or in journals of philosophy or psychology. The topics examined include cognitive architecture, the nature of concepts, and the status of Darwinism in psychology.

Mentalese and Its Semantics

Bound to be widely read and much discussed, The Elm and the Expert, written in Jerry Fodor's usual highly readable, irreverent style, provides a lively discussion of semantic issues about mental representation, with special attention to issues raised by Frege's problem, Twin cases, and the putative indeterminacy of reference. The book extends and revises a view of the relation between mind and meaning that the author has been developing since his 1975 book The Language of Thought.

This collection of new and previously published essays reflects the major research and thought of one of today's preeminent philosophers of mind. The first seven essays are philosophical pieces that focus on mental representation and the foundations of intentionality; they are followed by four psychological essays on cognitive architecture. In his eloquent introduction, Fodor shows how the two areas are thematically united and epistemologically related, highlighting his interest in finding alternatives to holistic accounts of cognitive content.

The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind

Psychosemantics explores the relation between commonsense psychological theories and problems that are central to semantics and the philosophy of language. Building on and extending Fodor's earlier work it puts folk psychology on firm theoretical ground and rebuts externalist, holist, and naturalist threats to its position

This book is included in the series Explorations in Cognitive Science, edited by Margaret A. Boden. A Bradford Book.

This study synthesizes current information from the various fields of cognitive science in support of a new and exciting theory of mind. Most psychologists study horizontal processes like memory and information flow; Fodor postulates a vertical and modular psychological organization underlying biologically coherent behaviors. This view of mental architecture is consistent with the historical tradition of faculty psychology while integrating a computational approach to mental processes.

Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science

A collection of eleven essays dealing with methodological and empirical issues in cognitive science and in the philosophy of mind, Representations convincingly connects philosophical speculation to concrete empirical research.