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Fodor's Ingratitude and Change of Heart?

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One would have thought that Fodor's justly famous computational views about the mind and his covariation approaches to content owed a lot to the twentieth century that he now reviles. On the other hand, a number of lines he pursues in the target article make one wonder whether he hasn’t perhaps changed his mind about those famous views. Specifically, I argue that his own theory of content is open to the very same objections he raises against ‘sorting’ theories, and that the supposed circularity in implicit definitions of logical particles can easily be avoided by the very functional/computational definitions that he fathered decades ago. Fodor's rejection here of sorting and implicit definition does make one worry that he is now opting for what seems the only atomistic alternative that would seem to be left, the first‐person meaning mysticism of the very Cartesian sort he now claims to favor, but from which I would have thought twentieth century role and discrimination views were a welcome relief. Despite all these worries, however, I concede that one could probably do worse than assume for the nonce that meaning is atomic, or, anyway, unanalyzed, and get on with investigating the mind on that basis—but keeping the options open.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2004


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