Obituaries Jerry A. He was A longtime faculty member of Rutgers University , Dr. Fodor was at his death the State of New Jersey professor of philosophy there. His work, begun in the s and dovetailing with linguistics, logic, semiotics, psychology, anthropology, computer science, artificial intelligence and other fields, is widely credited with having helped seed the emerging discipline of cognitive science. Fodor was the author of more than a dozen books, several intended for the general reader.
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Edit Historically, questions regarding the functional architecture of the mind have been divided into two different theories of the nature of the faculties. The first can be characterized as a horizontal view because it refers to mental processes as if they are interactions between faculties such as memory, imagination, judgement, and perception, which are not domain specific e.
The second can be characterized as a vertical view because it claims that the mental faculties are differentiated on the basis of domain specificity, are genetically determined, are associated with distinct neurological structures, and are computationally autonomous.
The vertical vision goes back to the 19th century movement called phrenology and its founder Franz Joseph Gall , who claimed that the individual mental faculties could be associated precisely, in a sort of one to one correspondence, with specific physical areas of the brain. This simplistic view of modularity has been disproven over the course of the last century.
Behaviorists tried to replace the mind with reflexes which Fodor describes as encapsulated cognitively impenetrable or unaffected by other cognitive domains and non-inferential straight pathways with no information added. Low level processes are unlike reflexes in that they are inferential. This can be demonstrated by poverty of the stimulus arguments in which the proximate stimulus, that which is initially received by the brain such as the 2D image received by the retina , cannot account for the resulting output for example, our 3D perception of the world , thus necessitating some form of computation.
In contrast, cognitivists saw lower level processes as continuous with higher level processes, being inferential and cognitively penetrable influenced by other cognitive domains, such as beliefs.
The latter has been shown to be untrue in some cases, such as with many visual illusions ex. Fodor arrives at the conclusion that such processes are inferential like higher order processes and encapsulated in the same sense as reflexes.
Although he argued for the modularity of "lower level" cognitive processes in Modularity of Mind he also argued that higher level cognitive processes are not modular since they have dissimilar properties.
Fodor states that modular systems must—at least to "some interesting extent"—fulfill certain properties: Domain specificity, modules only operate on certain kinds of inputs—they are specialised Informational encapsulation, modules need not refer to other psychological systems in order to operate Obligatory firing, modules process in a mandatory manner Fast speed, probably due to the fact that they are encapsulated thereby needing only to consult a restricted database and mandatory time need not be wasted in determining whether or not to process incoming input Shallow outputs, the output of modules is very simple Limited accessibility Characteristic ontogeny , there is a regularity of development Fixed neural architecture.
Pylyshyn has argued that while these properties tend to occur with modules, one stands out as being the real signature of a module; that is the encapsulation of the processes inside the module from both cognitive influence and from cognitive access. This perspective suggests that modules are units of mental processing that evolved in response to selection pressures. On this view, much modern human psychological activity is rooted in adaptations that occurred earlier in human evolution , when natural selection was forming the modern human species.
Evolutionary psychologists propose that the mind is made up of genetically influenced and domain-specific  mental algorithms or computational modules, designed to solve specific evolutionary problems of the past. Fodor initially defined module as "functionally specialized cognitive systems" that have nine features but not necessarily all at the same time.
In his views modules can be found in peripheral processing such as low-level visual processing but not in central processing. Later he narrowed the two essential features to domain-specificity and information encapsulation. Frankenhuis and Ploeger  write that domain-specificity means that "a given cognitive mechanism accepts, or is specialized to operate on, only a specific class of information".
Information encapsulation means that information processing in the module cannot be affected by information in the rest of the brain. One example being awareness that certain optical illusion, caused by low level processing, are false not preventing the illusions from persisting. Modules can be found also for central processing. This theory is sometimes referred to as massive modularity.
Evolutionary theories using the idea of numerous domain-specific adaptions have produced testable predictions that have been empirically confirmed; the theory of domain-general rational thought has produced no such predictions or confirmations.
The rapidity of responses such as jealousy due to infidelity indicates a domain-specific dedicated module rather than a general, deliberate, rational calculation of consequences. Reactions may occur instinctively consistent with innate knowledge even if a person have not learned such knowledge.
One example being that in the ancestral environment it is unlikely that males during development learn that infidelity usually secret may cause paternal uncertainty from observing the phenotypes of children born many months later and making a statistical conclusion from the phenotype dissimilarity to the cuckolded fathers.
Clune et al. Proponents of other models of the mind argue that the computational theory of mind is no better at explaining human behavior than a theory with mind entirely a product of the environment. Even within evolutionary psychology there is discussion about the degree of modularity, either as a few generalist modules or as many highly specific modules. For example, Jaak Panksepp , an affective neuroscientist, point to the "remarkable degree of neocortical plasticity within the human brain, especially during development" and states that "the developmental interactions among ancient special-purpose circuits and more recent general-purpose brain mechanisms can generate many of the "modularized" human abilities that evolutionary psychology has entertained.
He has argued that the contention that the mind consists of thousands of modules, including sexually dimorphic jealousy and parental investment modules, are unsupported by the available empirical evidence. Evolution may create innate motives even without innate knowledge. A staunch defender of this view is William Uttal, who argues in The New Phrenology that there are serious philosophical, theoretical, and methodological problems with the entire enterprise of trying to localise cognitive processes in the brain.
Merlin Donald argues that over evolutionary time the mind has gained adaptive advantage from being a general problem solver. Arguments Against Modularity Edit In contrast to modular mental structure, some theories posit domain-general processing, in which mental activity is distributed across the brain and cannot be decomposed, even abstractly, into independent units.
A staunch defender of this view is William Uttal , who argues in The New Phrenology that there are serious philosophical, theoretical, and methodological problems with the entire enterprise of trying to localize cognitive processes in the brain. Part of this argument is that a successful taxonomy of mental processes has yet to be developed. See also.
Modularity of Mind
References and Further Reading 1. He received his A. Fodor died on November 29, Physicalism, Functionalism, and the Special Sciences Throughout his career Fodor endorsed physicalism, the claim that all the genuine particulars and properties in the world are either identical to or in some sense determined by and dependent upon physical particulars and properties. Although there are contested questions about how physicalism should be formulated and understood Melnyk , Stoljar , there is nevertheless widespread acceptance of some or other version of physicalism among philosophers of mind. Accepting physicalism thus goes hand in hand with rejecting mind-body dualism.
Modularity of mind
This is a weighted most, since some marks of modularity are more important than others. Information encapsulation, for example, is more or less essential for modularity, as well as explanatorily prior to several of the other features on the list Fodor, , Each of the items on the list calls for explication. To streamline the exposition, we will cluster most of the features thematically and examine them on a cluster-by-cluster basis, along the lines of Prinz
Edit Historically, questions regarding the functional architecture of the mind have been divided into two different theories of the nature of the faculties. The first can be characterized as a horizontal view because it refers to mental processes as if they are interactions between faculties such as memory, imagination, judgement, and perception, which are not domain specific e. The second can be characterized as a vertical view because it claims that the mental faculties are differentiated on the basis of domain specificity, are genetically determined, are associated with distinct neurological structures, and are computationally autonomous. The vertical vision goes back to the 19th century movement called phrenology and its founder Franz Joseph Gall , who claimed that the individual mental faculties could be associated precisely, in a sort of one to one correspondence, with specific physical areas of the brain.