Connectionism, Eliminativism, and the Future of Folk Psychology

Stephen P. Stich, William Ramsey and Joseph Garon

in Deconstructing the Mind

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780195126662
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868322 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Connectionism, Eliminativism, and the Future of Folk Psychology

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This chapter provides an example of the sort of argument that eliminativists have proposed. The central claim is that if a certain sort of connectionist model of belief or memory turns out to be correct, then folk psychology is seriously mistaken, and that would support eliminativism about propositional attitudes. Folk psychology depicts beliefs and other propositional attitudes as functionally discrete, semantically interpretable states that play a causal role in the production of other propositional attitudes, and ultimately in the production of behavior. But the family of connectionist models, described and illustrated, represents or encodes information in a widely distributed or holistic fashion, and the “hidden” units in the models have no comfortable semantic interpretation.

Keywords: connectionism; eliminativism; folk psychology; holism; propositional attitude; representation; semantic interpretation

Chapter.  9470 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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