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.

  • Minds without Meanings

    Minds without Meanings

    An Essay on the Content of Concepts

    Jerry A. Fodor and Zenon W. Pylyshyn

    Two prominent thinkers argue for the possibility of a theory of concepts that takes reference to be concepts' sole semantic property.

    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.

    Fodor and Pylyshyn determine that all of these proposals share a commitment to a two-factor theory of conceptual content, which holds that the content of a concept consists of its sense together with its reference. Fodor and Pylyshyn argue instead that there is no conclusive case against the possibility of a theory of concepts that takes reference as their sole semantic property. Such a theory, if correct, would provide for the naturalistic account of content that cognitive science lacks—and badly needs. Fodor and Pylyshyn offer a sketch of how this theory might be developed into an account of perceptual reference that is broadly compatible with empirical findings and with the view that the mental processes effecting perceptual reference are largely preconceptual, modular, and encapsulated.

    • Hardcover $32.00 £26.95
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  • The Mind Doesn't Work That Way

    The Mind Doesn't Work That Way

    The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology

    Jerry A. Fodor

    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).

    Fodor's primary aim is to explore the relationship among computational and modular theories of mind, nativism, and evolutionary psychology. Along the way, he explains how Chomsky's version of nativism differs from that of the widely received New Synthesis approach. He concludes that although we have no grounds to suppose that most of the mind is modular, we have no idea how nonmodular cognition could work. Thus, according to Fodor, cognitive science has hardly gotten started.

    • Hardcover $25.00 £18.95
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  • In Critical Condition

    In Critical Condition

    Polemical Essays on Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Mind

    Jerry A. Fodor

    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.

    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. Fodor constructs a version of the Representational Theory of Mind that blends Intentional Realism, Computational Reductionism, Nativism, and Semantic Atomism.

    • Hardcover $32.00
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  • The Elm and the Expert

    The Elm and the Expert

    Mentalese and Its Semantics

    Jerry A. Fodor

    Written in a highly readable, irreverent style, The Elm and the Expert 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.

    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.

    There is a general consensus among philosophers that a referential semantics for mental representation cannot support a robust account of intentional explanation. Fodor has himself espoused this view in previous publications, and it is widespread (if tacit) throughout the cognitive science community. This book is largely a reconsideration of the arguments that are supposed to ground this consensus. Fodor concludes that these considerations are far less decisive than has been supposed. He offers a theory sketch in which psychological explanation is intentional, psychological processes are computational, and the semantic properties of mental representations are referential. Connections with the problem of "naturalizing" intentionality are also explored.

    The four lectures in The Elm and the Expert were originally delivered in Paris in the spring of 1993 to inaugurate the Jean Nicod Lecture series. The Jean Nicod Lectures are delivered annually by a leading philosopher of mind or philosophically oriented cognitive scientist. The 1993 lectures marked the centenary of the birth of the French philosopher and logician Jean Nicod (1893-1931). The lectures are sponsored by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) as part of its effort to develop the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science in France.

    Jean Nicod series

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  • A Theory of Content and Other Essays

    A Theory of Content and Other Essays

    Jerry A. Fodor

    This collection of new and previously published essays reflects the major research and thought of one of today's preeminent philosophers of mind.

    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; these 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 concern in finding alternatives to holistic accounts of mental content. Fodor's philosophical essays develop an informational view of semantics that offers the possibility of atomism about meaning; his psychological essays present a modular view of cognitive architecture that offers the possibility of atomism about perception. These ideas, he points out, are joined in epistemology in way that the books last essay begins to explore. Taken together, the essays represent Fodor's lively attempt to knock the underpinnings from the currently popular relativism to show that the arguments for semantic and psychological holism are insubstantial and that important alternatives exist to be explored.

    • Hardcover $40.00
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  • Psychosemantics

    Psychosemantics

    The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind

    Jerry A. Fodor

    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.

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  • The Modularity of Mind

    The Modularity of Mind

    Jerry A. Fodor

    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. One of the most notable aspects of Fodor's work is that it articulates features not only of speculative cognitive architectures but also of current research in artificial intelligence.

    • Hardcover $20.00 £14.95
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  • RePresentations

    RePresentations

    Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science

    Jerry A. Fodor

    These essays will shape discussion in the philosophy of psychology for years to come.

    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.One of the outstanding methodological issues dealt with is the status of functionalism considered as an alternative to behavioristic and physicalistic accounts. of mental states and properties. The other issue is the status of reductionism considered as an account of the relation between the psychological and physical sciences. The first chapters present the main lines of argument which have made functionalism the currently favored philosophical approach to ontology of the mental.The outlines of a psychology of propositional attitudes which emerges from consideration of current developments in cognitive science are contained in the remaining essays.Not all of these essays are re-presentations. The new introductory essay seeks to present an overview and gives some detailed proposals about the contribution that functionalism makes to the solutions of problems about intentionality. The concluding essay, also not previously published, is a sustained examination of the relation between theories about the structure of concepts and theories about how they are learned. Finally, the essay "Three cheers for propositional attitudes", a critical examination of some of D. C. Dennett's ideas, has been completely rewritten for this volume. A Bradford Book.

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Contributor

  • The Conceptual Mind

    The Conceptual Mind

    New Directions in the Study of Concepts

    Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence

    New essays by leading philosophers and cognitive scientists that present recent findings and theoretical developments in the study of concepts.

    The study of concepts has advanced dramatically in recent years, with exciting new findings and theoretical developments. Core concepts have been investigated in greater depth and new lines of inquiry have blossomed, with researchers from an ever broader range of disciplines making important contributions. In this volume, leading philosophers and cognitive scientists offer original essays that present the state-of-the-art in the study of concepts. These essays, all commissioned for this book, do not merely present the usual surveys and overviews; rather, they offer the latest work on concepts by a diverse group of theorists as well as discussions of the ideas that should guide research over the next decade. The book is an essential companion volume to the earlier Concepts: Core Readings, the definitive source for classic texts on the nature of concepts.

    The essays cover concepts as they relate to animal cognition, the brain, evolution, perception, and language, concepts across cultures, concept acquisition and conceptual change, concepts and normativity, concepts in context, and conceptual individuation. The contributors include such prominent scholars as Susan Carey, Nicola Clayton, Jerry Fodor, Douglas Medin, Joshua Tenenbaum, and Anna Wierzbicka.

    Contributors Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Eef Ameel, Megan Bang, H. Clark Barrett, Pascal Boyer, Elisabeth Camp, Susan Carey, Daniel Casasanto, Nicola S. Clayton, Dorothy L. Cheney, Vyvyan Evans, Jerry A. Fodor, Silvia Gennari, Tobias Gerstenberg, Martin Giurfa, Noah D. Goodman, J. Kiley Hamlin, James A. Hampton, Mutsumi Imai, Charles W. Kalish, Frank Keil, Jonathan Kominsky, Stephen Laurence, Gary Lupyan, Edouard Machery, Bradford Z. Mahon, Asifa Majid, Barbara C. Malt, Eric Margolis, Douglas Medin, Nancy J. Nersessian, bethany ojalehto, Anna Papafragou, Joshua M. Plotnik, Noburo Saji, Robert M. Seyfarth, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Sandra Waxman, Daniel A. Weiskopf, Anna Wierzbicka

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  • Computation, Cognition, and Pylyshyn

    Computation, Cognition, and Pylyshyn

    Don Dedrick and Lana Trick

    A collection of cutting-edge work on cognition and a celebration of a foundational figure in the field.

    Classical cognitive science has found itself in something of a pickle; a pickle that's so deep (if I may mix a metaphor) that most of its practitioners haven't so much as noticed that they are in it. What's so good about Pylyshyn—in particular what's so good about Pylyshyn's recent work—is that maybe, just possibly maybe, it shows us the way out of the pickle we're in—from the introduction by Jerry FodorZenon Pylyshyn is a towering figure in cognitive science; his book Computation and Cognition (MIT Press, 1984) is a foundational presentation of the relationship between cognition and computation. His recent work on vision and its preconceptual mechanism has been influential and controversial. In this book, leading cognitive scientists address major topics in Pylyshyn's work and discuss his contributions to the cognitive sciences. Contributors discuss vision, considering such topics as multiple-object tracking, action, molecular and cellular cognition, and inhibition of return; and foundational issues, including connectionism, modularity, the evolution of the perception of number, computation, cognitive architecture, location, and visual sensory representations of objects.

    Contributors John Bickle, Darlene A. Brodeur, Andy Brook, Austen Clark, Michael R. W. Dawson, Jerry Fodor, Mel Goodale, Stevan Harnad, Heather Hollinsworth, Lisa N. Jefferies, Brian Keane, Zenon W. Pylyshyn, Charles Reiss, Brian J. Scholl, Lana M. Trick, Claudia Uller, Marla Wolf, Richard D. Wright

    • Hardcover $15.75 £12.99
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