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Paperback | $20.00 Short | £13.95 | ISBN: 9780262561280 | 229 pp. | 5.9 x 8.9 in | January 2000

In Critical Condition

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

About the Author

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.


"These wonderfully written and frequently profound essays represent Fodor at his critical, iconoclastic and humorous best—and it's pretty hard to get much better than that."
Stephen Schiffer, Department of Philosophy, New York University

"Fodor has a gift for defining the state-of-play in a given field. That is usually because he occupies one of the major (and, to my mind, more plausible) options. He does not pick at details. He goes after the big issues, those that divide people into opposing and passionate camps. And he calls cards as he sees them."
Fred Dretske, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Stanford University

"Over the past three decades, Jerry Fodor has had a major hand in shaping the agenda of philosophy of mind and psychology. This collection of his critical responses to the positions and views of other philosophers in the field is timely and highly valuable. His discussion of philosophers and psychologists, ranging from John McDowell, Chris Peacocke, Dan Dennett, Paul Churchland, Alvin Plantinga to Paul Smolensky, Richard Dawkins, and Steven Pinker, is always informative, insightful, and never less than hugely entertaining! But above all, the value of the book lies in the fact that by illuminating others, Fodor illuminates himself. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the current debates in philosophy of mind and the foundations of cognitive science."
Jaegwon Kim, William Perry Faunce Professor of Philosophy, Brown University