Connectionism and the Fate of Folk Psychology: A Reply to Ramsey, Stich and Garon

This page was last edited on 05/06/02 by Malcolm R Forster

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Publication Data

Forster, Malcolm R. and Eric Saidel (1994): “Connectionism and the Fate of Folk Psychology:  A Reply to Ramsey, Stich, and Garon”  in Philosophical Psychology 7: 437 - 452.



 Ramsey, Stich, and Garon (1991) argue that if the correct theory of mind is some parallel distributed processing theory, then folk psychology must be false.  Their idea is that if the nodes and connections that encode one representation are causally active then all representations encoded by the same set of nodes and connections are also causally active.  We present a clear, and concrete, counterexample to RSG's argument. 
In conclusion, we suggest that folk psychology and connectionism are best understood as complementary theories.  Each has different limitations, yet each will co‑evolve with the other in an overlapping domain of ‘normal’ psychology.

Key Reference:

Ramsey, W., Stich S. &  Garon, J.  (1991) Connectionism, eliminativism, and the future of folk psychology, in: W. Ramsey, S. Stich & D. Rumelhart (Eds.) Philosophy and Connectionist Theory.  Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. The Example

  3. Causal Modularity

  4. The General Nature of the Argument

  5. Projectibility

  6. Conclusion


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