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Asymmetry in Action

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In The Elm and The Expert (Fodor 1994), Jerry Fodor claims that in order to solve the mind/body problem (consciousness excluded), a computational psychology needs to be combined with a naturalistic theory of content such as the asymmetric dependence theory put forward in ‘A Theory of Content II’ (in Fodor 1990, pp. 89-136). However, since this theory was first proposed, it has been reproached for a number of failings, perhaps the most significant of which is the objection that it simply begs the question. In this paper I provide an outline of the story so far, covering Fodor's objectives, the theory he proposes to meet them and the objection in question, before going on to argue that a promising attempt to answer this objection will not bear fruit given the way in which Fodor tackles the original problems. I then argue that the seeming intractability of this objection is due to Fodor's striving to solve all the problems that a naturalistic theory presents in one fell swoop, and conclude by suggesting how, given a careful choice of targets and a well organised methodology, asymmetric dependence might yet prove to be an attractive theory of content.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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