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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy of Mind

Meaning And Modality, Jesse Fitts Jan 2018

Meaning And Modality, Jesse Fitts

Doctoral Dissertations

I intended to write four papers whose topics faintly concerned separate issues in meaning and modality. As it turned out, chapters 1-3 all roughly concern the same topic: propositions. While I argue for two different theses in chapters 1 and 2, I try to understand the changing propositions literature in both. In addition to arguing for the respective theses in chapters 1 and 2, accounting for this change is a parallel goal for the chapters taken together. Chapter 3 examines particular propositional roles---the objects of the attitudes and the objects of credence. Finally, chapter 4 changes the subject to the ...


The First Person Perspective: Language, Thought, And Action, Pengbo Liu Jan 2018

The First Person Perspective: Language, Thought, And Action, Pengbo Liu

Doctoral Dissertations

What it is to have a first person perspective? How do we come to understand our own perspective in the world? How do we take into account other people's perspectives in our social and linguistic interactions? This dissertation is an exploration of these issues. But instead of approaching them in the abstract, it aims to shed light on these difficult questions through a series of case studies. First, I examine the role of the first person perspective in our agency, and explain the sense in which it is essential for action. Next, drawing on recent work in psychology, I ...


Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt Jan 2016

Understanding And Its Role In Inquiry, Benjamin T. Rancourt

Doctoral Dissertations

In this dissertation, I argue that understanding possesses unique epistemic value. I propose and defend a novel account of understanding that I call the management account of understanding, which is the view that an agent A understands a subject matter S just in case A has the ability to extract the relevant information and exploit it with the relevant cognitive capacities to answer questions in S. Since inquiry is the process of raising and answering questions, I argue that without understanding, it would be impossible to engage in successful inquiry. I argue that understanding is indispensable for effective cognition and ...


Structuring Thought: Concepts, Computational Syntax, And Cognitive Explanation, Matthew B. Gifford Jan 2016

Structuring Thought: Concepts, Computational Syntax, And Cognitive Explanation, Matthew B. Gifford

Doctoral Dissertations

The topic of this dissertation is what thought must be like in order for the laws and generalizations of psychology to be true. I address a number of contemporary problems in the philosophy of mind concerning the nature and structure of concepts and the ontological status of mental content. Drawing on empirical work in psychology, I develop a number of new conceptual tools for theorizing about concepts, including a counterpart model of concepts' role in linguistic communication, and a deflationary theory of concepts' formal features. I also suggest some new answers to old problems, arguing, for example, that content realism ...


John Lilly, The Mind Of The Dolphin, And Communication Out Of Bounds, Bruce Clarke Sep 2014

John Lilly, The Mind Of The Dolphin, And Communication Out Of Bounds, Bruce Clarke

communication +1

In this essay I develop a systems-theoretical observation of John Lilly’s cybernetics of communication in his 1967 work The Mind of the Dolphin. The eight-year-old project that The Mind of the Dolphin recounts for public consumption details his aspiration to achieve an unprecedented breakthrough beyond companionate communion to fully abstract linguistic communication across species boundaries. Between 1959 and 1968 Lilly wagered and lost his mainstream scientific career largely over this audacious, ultimately inconclusive bid to establish and document for scientific validation “communication with a nonhuman mind.” In that effort, however, he mobilized the best available tools, a cutting-edge array ...


A Defense Of Russellian Descriptivism, Brandt H. Van Der Gaast Sep 2014

A Defense Of Russellian Descriptivism, Brandt H. Van Der Gaast

Doctoral Dissertations

In this dissertation, I defend a Russellian form of descriptivism. The main supporting argument invokes a relation between meaning and thought. I argue that the meanings of sentences are the thoughts people use them to express. This is part of a Gricean outlook on meaning according to which psychological intentionality is prior to, and determinative of, linguistic intentionality.

The right approach to thought, I argue in Chapter 1, is a type of functionalism on which thoughts have narrow contents. On this view, the attitude ascriptions of a regimented psychology capture what people really believe and desire. These attitude ascriptions have ...


Interpreting, Stephanie Jo Kent May 2014

Interpreting, Stephanie Jo Kent

Doctoral Dissertations

What do community interpreting for the Deaf in western societies, conference interpreting for the European Parliament, and language brokering in international management have in common? Academic research and professional training have historically emphasized the linguistic and cognitive challenges of interpreting, neglecting or ignoring the social aspects that structure communication. All forms of interpreting are inherently social; they involve relationships among at least three people and two languages. The contexts explored here, American Sign Language/English interpreting and spoken language interpreting within the European Parliament, show that simultaneous interpreting involves attitudes, norms and values about intercultural communication that overemphasize information and ...