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Superpositional belief : sub-symbolic processing as a platform for a folk conception of mind

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Parsell, Mitch 2000 , 'Superpositional belief : sub-symbolic processing as a platform for a folk conception of mind', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis defends connectionism against the charge of propositional-attitude
eliminativism.
Recently a restricted class of connectionist models-those employing
superpositional data-storage techniques-have been criticised for the support they lend
to the elimination of the contentful states of mind recognised by folk psychology. In
response, I argue that superpositional networks can ground a realistic construal of the
central commitments of folk psychology.
I begin by arguing that superpositional networks are fundamentally different from
traditional cognitive models. Superpositional models, in contrast to traditional symbolic
models, employ sub-symbolic processing. A system is sub-symbolic if the features
responsible for the system's dynamics are at a lower level of organisation than the
features that encode content within the system. This style of processing produces
features-such as the acquisition of the initial representational economy-which are
fundamentally incompatible with symbolic representation. It is precisely this style of
processing, however, that has provoked the recent eliminative concerns. Folk
psychological explanation necessarily involves the ascription of intentional mental states.
As such, folk psychology is held hostage to a naturalistic account of representation. I
argue that the critical task confronting any theory of representation proposed as a basis
for the vindication of folk psychology is an explanation of the normative dimension of
representations which does not jeopardise naturalism. I argue that this can be
successfully achieved by a teleosemantic account of content. Furthermore, I argue that
the representational nature of superpositional networks can be legitimated according to
teleosemantic principles. I conclude that, since teleosemantics is self-consciousness
naturalistic, superpositional networks may offer a metaphysically respectable platform
upon which to model intentional belief states. Indeed, I claim that superpositional
networks can preserve the central intuitions of folk psychology.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Parsell, Mitch
Keywords: Cognition, Psychology and philosophy, Connectionism
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2000 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2000. Includes bibliographical references

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