Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is a project in the philosophical foundations of cognitive science and inquires into the prospects for a materialist theory of mind which is scientifically respectable and realistic about intentional phenomena. This requires at least two things: (1) A materialistic solution to the mind/body problem; and, (2) a naturalistic solution to the problem of intentionality. With respect to the first, I argue that Computationalism holds out what is, at the present juncture, the only prospect for a materialistic theory of mental processes. And, with respect to the naturalization of intentionality, I argue that it is at least possible to account for this in terms of some version of causal/informational theory.;The thesis is broadly divided into two parts. Part I accomplishes two things. First, it establishes the prima facie plausibility of nonreductive materialism and, second, it articulates the constraints required by any genuinely scientific theory of mind. The most surprising conclusion to emerge from this discussion is that, if true, materialism is necessarily true; if materialism is true, there is no possibility of disembodied minds. Part II expounds and defends a computational theory of mind which satisfies the constraints articulated in Part I. I motivate the theory by arguing that it is the best prospect around for a materialist theory which is realistic about mental states characterized intentionally. Defending the theory occupies the remainder of the Dissertation;In particular, I argue for two points crucial to a theory of this sort. First, I defend the notion of narrow content as a natural kind for the purposes of psychological theory construction. That is, the notion of a psychological state which is: (a) semantically evaluable, (b) causally efficacious in the production of intentional behaviour, but yet (c) supervenes on the internal physical structure of the individual. And second, I defend the claim that there are naturalistic sufficient conditions for specifying the unique intentional contents of mental states.;In the final chapter, I note some outstanding problems for future attention but conclude that, objections notwithstanding, there is every reason to be optimistic regarding the prospects for a genuinely scientific materialist theory of mind.
Henry, Wayne Ian, "Nonreductive Materialism And The Computational Theory Of Mind" (1994). Digitized Theses. 2398.