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The Elm and the Expert: Mentalese and Its Semantics (Jean Nicod Lectures) Paperback


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The Elm and the Expert: Mentalese and Its Semantics (Jean Nicod Lectures) + A Theory of Content and Other Essays (Representation and Mind series)
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Product Details

  • Series: Jean Nicod Lectures
  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (August 28, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262560933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262560931
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,219,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jerry Fodor is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. His many books include In Critical Condition (MIT Press, 1998) and The Elm and the Expert (MIT Press, 1994).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Wisdom on June 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Fodor's task in EAE is to try and harmonize the following three beliefs: (1) Psychological laws exist and they necessarily include reference to entities like beliefs, desires, and the like; (2) The semantic content of such entities is determined by the causal relations that exist between intentional states and whatever object in the external world reliably causes them; and (3) Mental processes are computational processes; i.e., our minds are just very complicated symbol manipulators. The problem that arises for whoever holds all three of these views is that, apparently, (3) requires that intentional states be fixed by their *internal* relations, and (2) requires that intentional states (or at least their content anyway) be individuated by *external* relations. Oops. So, Fodor tries to find a way in which mental content can be externally fixed and reliably computationally implemented.
He claims that the coinstantiation of broad content with its computational implementers is both reliable and explicable, but metaphysically contingent. The book is divided into four lectures. In the first lecture, Fodor outlines the above problem and his proposal. In the second lecture, Fodor argues that it is plausible to believe that a mechanism exists which keeps broad mental content stuck to its computational implementers. He further claims that one who holds a broad view of content ought to treat Putnam and Frege cases as accidents. In fact, he claims that both broad and narrow views of content must maintain that Frege cases, though common, are unsystematic and exceptional in terms of how people normally behave. Put differently, both internalist and externalist views of content must allow that people tend to recognize the relevant identities in cases that are relevant to their behavior (e.g.
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