Lecture 5

Dr. Ron Mallon                                                            Philosophy of Cognitive Science


1.  What characterizes truly intelligent behavior?  Sterelny suggests:

a.  Flexibility: The capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.

b.  Sensitive: the ability to respond to a variety of different informational modalities.

Sterelny: “Intelligence behavior is stimulus independent.”


2.  It’s possible to overstate the extent to which human intelligence and behavior exhibits these traits.  Last time we talked about dual systems theory.  Like other sentient creatures, humans have lots of ‘fast and frugal’ mental mechanisms that are relatively ‘stupid’: exhibiting inflexibility and insensitivity.  The remarkable thing about human intelligence is not that it is always flexible and sensitive, but that it ever is.


3.  It is this intelligent behavior that forms the basis of much folk psychological explanation.  In such explanation, we explain and predict behavior by reference to beliefs and desires.


4.  These beliefs and desires have special properties that seem to make them really unique:

(a) They have content or meaning.  They are about the world.


(b) They exhibit rational interconnections.  Some of them provide evidence for others.  Some of them justify actions.


5.  How can these properties be explained?  Here’s a start on explaining the second: the human mind contains “mental representations.”  And the causal relationships between these mental representations is isomorphic to the logical relationships among sentences.




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