Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Angela Coventry

Subjects

Jerry A. Fodor. Hume variations -- Criticism and interpretation, David Hume (1711-1776), Bayesian statistical decision theory, Philosophy of mind

DOI

10.15760/honors.123

Abstract

In his 2003 book Hume Variations, Jerry Fodor argues the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) has obviated the need for Hume's associationism and faculty of imagination. Contrary to Fodor, in this paper I argue that contemporary Bayesian models of cognitive science suggest that Hume’s account continues to comprise a viable theory of mental operations. I propose a Bayesian interpretation of Hume's associationism wherein the "liberty of the imagination to transpose and change its ideas" is accounted for by the contributions of randomness, noise, or stochasticity--i.e., probability.

If my analysis is on track, Fodor has misconstrued the Humean mind by interpreting Hume's fundamentally graded and probabilistic cognitive architecture in terms of the crisp formal logic required by the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). I show how the probabilistic Bayesian interpretation thus developed might allow the Humean to address Fodor’s objections.

Comments

An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in University Honors and Philosophy

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/16289

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