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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17288

Title: Intuition as Evidence in Philosophical Analysis: Taking Connectionism Seriously
Authors: Rand, Thomas
Advisor: Sedivy, Sonia
Department: Philosophy
Keywords: Connectionism
Neural Networks
Connectionist Networks
Issue Date: 26-Feb-2009
Abstract: 1. Intuitions are often treated in philosophy as a basic evidential source to confirm/discredit a proposed definition or theory; e.g. intuitions about Gettier cases are taken to deny a justified-true-belief analysis of ‘knowledge’. Recently, Weinberg, Nichols & Stitch (WN&S) provided evidence that epistemic intuitions vary across persons and cultures. In-so-far as philosophy of this type (Standard Philosophical Methodology – SPM) is committed to provide conceptual analyses, the use of intuition is suspect – it does not exhibit the requisite normativity. I provide an analysis of intuition, with an emphasis on its neural – or connectionist – cognitive backbone; the analysis provides insight into its epistemic status and proper role within SPM. Intuition is initially characterized as the recognition of a pattern. 2. The metaphysics of ‘pattern’ is analyzed for the purpose of denying that traditional symbolic computation is capable of differentiating the patterns of interest. 3. The epistemology of ‘recognition’ is analyzed, again, to deny that traditional computation is capable of capturing human acts of recognition. 4. Fodor’s informational semantics, his Language of Thought and his Representational Theory of Mind are analyzed and his arguments denied. Again, the purpose is to deny traditional computational theories of mind. 5. Both intuition and a theory of concepts – pragmatic conceptualism - are developed within the connectionist computational paradigm. Intuition is a particular sort of occurrent signal, and a concept is a counterfactually defined set of signals. Standard connectionist theory is significantly extended to develop my position, and consciousness plays a key functional role. This extension – taking connectionism seriously – is argued to be justified on the basis of the failure of the traditional computing paradigm to account for human cognition. 6. Repercussions for the use of intuition in SPM are developed. Variance in intuition is characterized – and expected - as a kind of bias in the network, either inherent or externally-provoked. The WN&S data is explained in the context of this bias. If SPM remains committed to the use of intuition, then intuition must be taken as a part of a larger body of evidence, and it is from experts – not the folk – that intuitions should be solicited.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17288
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Philosophy - Doctoral theses

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