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Grant number like: FA-56081-11

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Michael Rescorla
UCLA; Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles (Santa Barbara, CA 93106-0001)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
11/1/2011 – 10/31/2012

The Machinery of Meaning: A Philosophical Foundation for Cognitive Science

Cognitive science models mental activity as digital computation. Yet many philosophers worry that computational modeling cannot honor a crucial feature of the mind: its capacity to represent the world. I will address this worry by trying to honor the mind's representational nature within a computational setting. I develop my approach by drawing on logic, Artificial Intelligence, and cognitive psychology. My goal is to delineate a novel view of how the mind works, a view that honors two compelling thoughts: first, that the mind is a machine; second, that the mind is an inherently representational organ. Such a view would illuminate ancient debates about the causal structure of mental activity. It would also provide a compelling new philosophical foundation for cognitive science. Finally, it would clarify the relation between minds and texts by clarifying a crucial aspect of both minds and texts: the capacity to represent.