Papers and Course Materials

David Cole

Philosophy Department
311 ABAH

On-line COURSE Materials

Phil 2011: Philosophy of Language

Phil 3570: Philosophy of Psychology

Phil 1018: LOGIC

LOGIC On-line course materials for Logic, Philosophy 1018

Syllabus, Unit Guides, and Practice Exams

Download "symbol.ttf" font (This font contains the logic symbols. You should not need it if you are using recent browsers.)

PAPERS online

NEW! The Over-Extended Mind Recent work on cognition has seen clashes between several camps. On the now classic Representational Theory of Mind (Jerry Fodor, Steven Pinker), perceptual information enters the brain, is converted into representations of the world, is processed in the brain, and the resulting representations control behavior, including linguistic. On the opposed Extended Mind (aka "Embodied Cognition") model, representations can be outside the head and yet be part of cognition. A 1998 paper by Andy Clark and David Chalmers titled "The Extended Mind" is a manifesto of sorts for the movement. I'll discuss their thought-experiment-centered argument as well as exchanges with their main critics. After looking at additional cases and problems, I'll suggest that we can allow an important role for external representations in cognition while denying that the mind is extended. (49k .doc filetype November 2010)

Cheap Nativism Suppose concepts are just names - for things, kinds, properties (as on Jerry Fodor's conceptual atomism). Then perhaps all nativism requires is an innate name generator. External causal links provide the extensions of the concepts. Can nativism be this cheap? (.doc file Late 2009)

Against Derived Intentionality Intentionality Dualists (Searle, Fodor) hold that there is an important distinction between "derived" and "original" (intrinsic, underived) intentionality. The Intentionality Monist Dennett holds that the distinction is bogus; all intentionality is derived. I critically examine key arguments offered by Searle and Dennett for their respective positions and conclude that all have flaws, including problems of individuation, conflation of semantic and epistemic matters, a pernicious regress, and other alarming short-comings. At the end I sketch a neglected monism: all intentionality is afforded by causal connections, no intentionality is literally intrinsic, and nothing derives its intentionality solely in virtue of acts of interpretation. (.doc file 2010)

EEE-PC: Economics, Evolution and Ethics - a Plausible Convergence This is a foray into meta-metaethics. With a wary eye on Richard Posner's lone advocacy of a normative economic approach to ethics, I argue that under certain circumstances of competition or adversity we can expect social rules, including moral codes, to promote economic efficiency. This maximizes public goods, increasing chances of overcoming the adversities. Under similar circumstances, where entire social groups succeed or fail, evolutionary selection pressures will have the same outcome. Finally I argue that a Social Contract approach will converge on the same result. Some data suggest that the circumstances that would produce these convergences are not ubiquitous, but have been historically real and hence important for understanding real world moral codes.

Inverted Spectrum Arguments Inverted spectrum arguments, such as Ned Block's Inverted Earth thought experiment, are thought to count against computational accounts of qualia. By considering a variety of inverted qualia possibilities in other sense modalities, including inverted auditory pitch spectrum, inverted loudness and inverted hedonic spectrum, as well as radical synesthesia, I develop an argument that the intuitions pumped by the common inverted spectrum arguments are misleading.

Images and Thinking A defense of the view that images play a central role in cognition. I reply to arguments that images are syntactically and semantically inadequate to be the primary medium for thought and inference. Main points: images have been saddled with resemblance semantics, indicator semantics is viable alternative; nearly exclusive attention has been paid to visual images of extra-linguistic objects, but acoustic images of sentences are an important neglected form of imaging that avoids cognitive inadequacies of typical visual images. Finally I argue, against Tye and Pinker, that mental images do not require mentalese labels. April 1999. circa 22 print pages

Philosophy of Language

A Note on Analyticity and the Definition of "Bachelor" I offer an account of "bachelor" that arguably meets objections raised by Michael Tye. If the account is successful, it is a counterexample to the position, recently advocated by Jerry Fodor, that generally concepts are not definable. February 1999. Html.

Natural Meaning for Natural Language An account of how the meaning of natural language can be understood as natural meaning. In the course of the positive accounts, I return to the beginning of Grice's paper "Meaning" and re-examine his attempt to distinguish natural and non-natural meaning. I conclude, contrary to Grice, that there is a univocal, natural, meaning at the heart of language. May 1998; html equivalent of circa 25 double-spaced print pages.

A Defence of Mill 's Account of Names Mill's view that a name means its bearer is defended against four classic arguments: the claim Mill cannot account for the meaning of identity statements, negative existentials, and empty names, nor the failure of substitutivity in opaque contexts. February/March 1998.

See also the papers on mentalese below.

Thought, Consciousness, and Epistemology

I Don't Think So: Pinker on the Thinker.
Reply to Steven Pinker's arguments for mentalese and against natural language as a medium for thought. Pinker's arguments are set out in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct. I argue mentalese doesn't solve any of the problems he cites for the view that we think in natural language. So I don't think I think the way he thinks I think. Draft February 1998. About 40k light html.

babyb.gif (26017 bytes)

Sense and Sentience
New to the web, January 1998. This paper distinguishes sensing from being sentient, and argues that sentience, or experiencing qualia, is based in higher cognitive faculties, including especially hypothesis testing and self-awareness, or metaconsciousness. The results bear on the mental life of infants, animals and machines. About 38k, 25 pp. double spaced.


Hearing Yourself Think: natural language, inner speech and thought
A defense of the view that much thought, abstract thought particularly, consists of inner speech in the form of auditory and kinesthetic images. I reply to arguments from Jerry Fodor and others against natural language as a medium of thought. I then go on to speculate as to why some thinking might require images of spoken language, rather than a presumably more efficient representation system such as Mentalese. I conclude with implications for the Whorf hypothesis and other issues.
Not previously published; new August 1997. Light html, about 25k.

The Mind as the Mirror of Nature
This paper defends an internalist account of qualia. It is a critical response to Fred Dretske's strong externalist position in his important 1995 book, Naturalizing the Mind. I discuss Swampmen, inverted spectrum, and accounts of biological function. This paper was presented at the Minnesota Philosophical Society meetings in Nov. 1996. Plain text, about 32k, 13 printed pages.

The Return of the Evil Genius
A Dialog between the Evil Genius (star of Descartes' first Meditation) and a Brain in a Vat (star of B-movies and, among other works, Hilary Putnam's Reason, Truth and History ) -- in which the discussants investigate matters skeptical, linguistic and metaphysical! Light HTML; about 50k; 36 printed pages.

Abstract of Artificial Intelligence and Personal Identity
A paper published in Synthese. I tried to show just why Searle's Chinese Room argument is unsound -- if a mind were realized by running a computer program or a set of instructions, it would be distinct from the computer or the person(s) following the instructions. So Searle argues unsoundly from the fact that he doesn't understand Chinese to the conclusion that no Chinese understanding is created by his running an artifical intelligence program. Considerations of personal identity are relevant.


Review of software based wavetable music synthesizers including products from Roland (Virtual Sound Canvas) and Yamaha ("Midplug Soft Synth"). Software syths compared to a Roland Sound Canvas (a version of the SC55). Discussion of implications for the future of music synthesis. August 1996.

Previously unpublished papers are copyrighted by David Cole year of presentation or electronic publication.

Javascript for Web Course Pages Experiments

Here are my (no frills) experiments with using Javascript for web based instruction:
One uses radio button pushing checking of understanding (and conditionally allows access to next material). Another uses form filling to check an answer, and can accept more than one answer as correct. The last and most complex uses frames for response to button pushes.
Classical Utilitarianism (buttons)
All you need to know about ethics (answer form)
Frames based with answer buttons

David Cole 2014 UMD Philosophy Dept.

Comments to: EMAIL:
Revised January 1, 2014