Best books and articles on certain aspects of cognitive philosophy?
February 4, 2009 10:46 AM   Subscribe

What are some of the best books and articles on cognitive philosophy, particularly those that cover the debates about mental representations, intentionality, and connectionism? I'm looking both for new writings that are cognizant of advances in neuroscience, and older classics that helped frame the arguments. Thanks.
posted by shivohum to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Mind's I
posted by slow graffiti at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2009

Thomas Nagel's What is it like to be a bat? and Ned Block's Blockhead argument are two that stick out in my mind from my philosophy of the mind coursework in undergrad, the caveat being that I sort of forget what a lot of the terminology from that area (connectionism?) means.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2009

Not sure if its exactly what you are looking for, but Paul and Patricia Churchland have a few books (solo and co-authored) in what is being called 'neurophilosophy'. I've only read her book, but its very good (and quite dense, both in mass and ideas).
posted by elendil71 at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2009

Ooh, here are more from my old (awesome) professor's website: Neurophilosophy links.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:23 AM on February 4, 2009

Browse through David Chalmers excellent bibliography. Of course, if you want a vetted list, check out the posts on his blog for clues, and his blogroll for other places to look.
posted by Gyan at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2009

John Searle - Mind. Excellent overview of the main issues and different points of view. He seems pretty up on modern neuroscience (not that neuroscience solves the fundamental philosophical problems). Full disclosure: I tend to agree with his opinions, so to the extent that he's biased, I share his biases.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:48 AM on February 4, 2009

I would second "The Mind's I". It contains Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?", and many more, with commentary.

Biased commentary; for example, it isn't particularly forgiving of Searle's perspective (which I find somewhat absurd myself, I suppose), but it does contain what I understand to be a classic article by him.
posted by vernondalhart at 12:11 PM on February 4, 2009

Evan Thompson.
posted by goethean at 12:58 PM on February 4, 2009

Ooh, such a broad question. It's hard to know where to start.

Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind and Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science are both excellent for general information. They present a series of debates that are currently hot in cognitive science. Each debate has one pro article and one con article.

As for mental representation in general: there's so much written about concepts and mental representation that it's difficult to know what to recommend. How about I just confine myself to a single topic? Let's do naturalistic theories of mental content. How can we have a scientifically respectable theory of representation? In the '80s and '90s, the naturalizing-content debate was pretty much the only topic in philosophy of mind that really mattered. Everyone was trying to figure out how to naturalize intentionality or how mental representations got their content. (After a while all the major positions were staked out, the debate started spinning in circles, and no visible progress was being made. It's still waiting for a breakthrough.)

Here are some of the most important books and papers staking out some of the major proposals in the naturalizing intentionality debate. These are mostly fairly old, but they're the classic texts.

Causal Theories -- Asymmetric Dependence
Fodor's The Language of Thought (the sequel, LOT2, just came out in October), The Modularity of Mind, and his papers "A Theory of Content I" and "II".

Causal Theories -- Information-Theoretic Approaches
Dretske's Knowledge and the Flow of Information

Conceptual Role Semantics
Block's "Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology"

Interpretationalism / Intentional Stance
Stalnaker's Inquiry (first few chapters, anyway)
Dennett's Intentional Stance, esp. the paper "Beyond Belief"

Millikan's "Biosemantics", and Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories

Stich's From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science (though see the first chapter of Deconstructing the Mind for an extremely interesting recanting of his earlier view)
Pat Churchland's Neurophilosophy

Quite a few of these are contained in Stich and Warfield's Mental Representation: A Reader, which is a nice text to own. Margolis and Laurence's Concepts: Core Readings is also a great collection, and it focuses on more than just naturalized theories of mental content.

A few other (fairly) recent books on concepts that are mentioned a fair bit:
Jesse Prinz's Furnishing the Mind (also see Barsalou's work)
Greg Murphy's The Big Book of Concepts
posted by painquale at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

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