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Philosophy of Mind and Language

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Intentional action

The explanation of intentional action requires a scientific, information-theoretical basis.  Internal representational states must supply the control of the behavior that counts as intentional action. How these internal states acquire their representational content and how they control the behavior that is intentional requires contact with information and meaning. Research in this area involves empirical research on humans, animals, and robotic agents and theoretical considerations about the kinds, and structure of the processes required to explain intentional action. 


Embodied cognition

Embodied cognition is a new paradigm for the study of cognition.  It proposes that cognition does not begin after the senses deliver information to a central system in the brain and prior to using that information to drive the motor system (to produce behavior).  Theories of embodied cognition maintain that cognizing takes place completely across the sensori-motor system in such a way that sensing is not distinct from cognizing and that acting is not distinct from cognizing.  Research in this area is experimental (providing data to support the theory) and theoretical (evaluating whether the theory of embodied cognition is the best way to explain the data). 


Naturalized semantics

Is the view that mental state content (such as concepts that are the contents of beliefs and desires and thoughts) acquire their meaning via natural law-like interactions between a subject's mind and the world.  The challenges are to explain the origin of meaning such that there can be univocal representations (non-disjunctive content) and the possibility of misrepresentation (false tokening of thought symbols). Research in this area is on building such a theory and answering challenges. 


Semantics of fixtion

Suppose the meaning of a name is the bearer of the name and the meaning of a predicate is a property.  If this is so, then vacuous terms (fictional names or predicates) have no meaning.  Yet, it seems that they do and that there are truths of fiction and about fiction. One working on the semantics of fiction has to account for the actual meanings terms of fiction have and explain away counterintuitive results if fictinal names have no meaning because they have no bearers.  Research in this area is on how this can be done. 


Faculty Contact: 

Frederic Adams

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Philosophy of Mind and Language
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