Representational Theory of Mind

Representational Theory of Mind
Functionalism & Structure of Thought
Developing Folk Psychology
- To introduce RMT you first have to look at Functionalism,
which is the name of a group of theories that seek to
define mental states in terms of their causal inputs and
Unfortunately, as the behaviourists have found, it is probable
that some of C1 and E1 will be other mental states. These in
turn will be defined by causes and effects - Infinite regress
Circularity also looms - We don't know
what M1 is until we know that it causes
- Lewis drew on the work of Ramsey (Take theoreticals out and
replace with variables) - came up with functional analysis of
mental states without excluding them (behaviourist) or falling
into regress/circularity.
He uses an agnostic theory of pain, solving the problem of
inter-definability. If you know all of it you can make
judgements and give a reductive definition of mental
This allows him to be a physicalist - all mental
states are defined in terms of each other along
with other facts about physical causes/effects.
2 Functionalist theories - 1. Kim
and Lewis
- Amateur type of science philosophers are taught is that
pain is c-fibres firing -----> pain is specifically
identifiable -----> stronger claim -----> Type identity
-----> M1 iff B1
weaker claim -----> token
theory -----> M1 implies B1, B2,
B3, B4
- How do we go about choosing Ramsey
sentence - if we get it wrong then all mental
states will fail to refer or refer to nothing.
The idea of Functionalism is that
mental terms can be satisfied by
physical states.
Extra theory - Affirmation of physical-neural states.
Connection between psychology and neuroscience and to
hold popular view that mental states are ultimately just
chemical states.
Lewis picks pain, which is easy compared with
beliefs like 'i think it will rain'. No distinct
functional profile for certain mental states.
- To fill in the 2 blanks to get a satisfying function profile.
Identifying typical set of causes and effects for believing and
desiring. Whilst there is the same proposition 'it will rain today'.
There are 2 very different attitudes and have nothin in common
accept the proposition.
Expressed as the functionalists failure to recognise the structure of propositional attitudes.
1. Belief that P
2. Desire that P
(that clauses are propositional attitudes that relate back to Fregean thoughts)
Functionalism does not explain this shared content.
Functionalism also fails to take into account the way concepts
combine. It will rain today has concepts like rain, will, in and London.
The concepts should also be able to be explained functionally. The
difficulty is with adding them up so that one takes an umbrella to
- RMT is the extra position needed if accept Folk Psychology
- RTM and functionalism are close in that:
1. They both think Folk Psychology is true
2. Both think mental states are brain states
But RTM thinks brain states have to be a certain way and Functionalist have no idea what brain states are like.
When it rains today. On the RTM, first the brain "tokens" (P) a mental
symbol , then it produces some state/operation that constitutes attitude
about belief. Foder calls this a "belief box". When you look at clouds
forming you token P, put it in your belief box and causes you to take an
Similar line of argument for if you desire that it will rain today - say that you don't like someone who has planned a picnic. Despite the different causes and effects you can
explain P.
RTM is very common in cognitive science.
- Foder thinks improvements in FP will happen when RTM develops. But could FP itself improve?
This is unlikely as that would mean improving on ordinary wisdom.
Disciplines like microeconomics try to improve FP as a predictive science, but it is barely better than using common sense.