Phil/Psych 447

Office hours (HH368): M 1:00-2:00; F 12:30-1:30, and by appointment.

Seminar in Cognitive Science

Week 4. Brains and Reality

Alternatives to Constructive Realism

Skepticism. Woody Allen: If everything is an illusion and nothing exists, then I definitely overpaid for my carpet.


Naive realism



Social constructivism



Dimensions of meaning

Reference to things in the world

Relations of representations to other representations

Use in practical contexts

Discussion Questions

  1. What evidence supports the rejection of skepticism?
  2. What psychological and neurological evidence undermines the view that we directly know the world?
  3. Does the constructive nature of perception and evidence show that reality is mind-dependent?
  4. What are the advantages of shifting from thinking of minds and representations as relational processes rather than things?
  5. What is the best evidence that reality exists independently of minds?
  6. Is meaning really multidimensional?
  7. Are there better materialist alternatives to the identity theory, e.g.functionalism or eliminative materialism?
  8. How can our minds develop knowledge of non-perceived reality?
  9. Is knowledge of causality preverbal and multimodal?

Phil/Psych 447

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Sept.29, 2008