Friday, 7 October 2011
The Generality Constraint and the Structure of Thought
Jacob Beck, Departmentt of Philosophy, Texas Tech University
817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: According to the Generality Constraint, mental states with conceptual content must be capable of recombining in certain systematic ways. For example, the capacity to conceptually think that a is F and that b is G must be accompanied by the capacity to conceptually think that a is G and that b is F. Drawing on empirical evidence from cognitive science, I argue that certain mental states violate this recombinability condition and thus have nonconceptual content. I further argue that this result has two significant consequences: it demonstrates that nonconceptual content seeps beyond perception and infiltrates cognition; and it shows that whether mental states have nonconceptual content is largely an empirical matter determined by the structure of the neural representations underlying them.