Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Midterm Quiz Review Questions


The final will contain 4 of these, and you will be asked to write on 3.

This means you should prepare at least 9 answers.

1.  What is homuncular functionalism?

2.  Explain the difference between a mathematical and a teleological view of function.

3.  Explain the ‘problem of liberalism’ for functionalism.

4.  Explain the Chomskian distinction between performance and competence.

5.  What is a propositional attitude?

6.  Briefly, what is an intention state?

7.  Give an example of rational interconnections among thoughts.

8.  Distinguish between an a priori approach to the mind and an a posteriori approach.

9.  Functionalists have a particular view of what a mental state, for example, the mental state of seeing a bus is.  Give a sketch of a functionalist account of this or any other particular mental state. 

10.  What is ‘dual systems theory’?



You will be asked to choose 2 questions to write on from 4 that will appear.

Set 1: The midterm will contain 1 of these.

1. Distinguish among eliminativism, dualism, reductive physicalism, and nonreductive physicalism with regard to the mental.  Explain why cognitive scientists have embraced nonreductive physicalism.

2.  Sterelny writes, “One important feature of functionalism is that the theory of the mind is relatively independent of the theory of the brain.”  Explain why.


Set 2: The midterm will contain 2 of these.

3. Discuss Sterelny’s distinction between flexibility and sensitivity as features of intelligence.

4.  Explain how Fodor’s theory of mental representations offers a ‘naturalistic’ explanation of human thought.

5.  What is opacity?  How does a representational theory of mind explain opacity?

6.  Explain the ‘regress of rules’ problem.


Set 3: The midterm will contain 1 of these.

7.  Explain Dennett’s intentional stance.  How does it differ from a physical stance?  A design stance?  Contrast it with Fodor’s view of a ‘language of thought’?

8.  Explain Sterelny’s tripartite division between the ecological level, the computational level, and the implementation level.  Is one of primary interest to the cognitive scientist?