Social cognition, the Chinese Room, and the robot replies



Publication Details

Gallagher, S. (2012). Social cognition, the Chinese Room, and the robot replies. In Z. Radman (Eds.), Knowing without Thinking: Mind, Action, Cognition and the Phenomenon of the Background (pp. 83-97). United States: Palgrave Macmillan.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780230285132


In philosophy of mind and related disciplines, the standard conceptions of mind have been formulated in terms of a problem space that excludes certain solutions to problems defined in that space. I’ll argue that this is the case in much of the recent discussion of social cognition, but also in earlier discussions of artificial intelligence (AI). I’ll try to show this by looking at versions of the frame problem – a problem that seems to fall into this solution-resistant space. To be precise, it is not that the frame problem itself has not been properly formulated, but rather that the ways various theorists think of the mind prevent certain solutions from coming into place. Even when a solution is on the horizon, it is often blocked from counted as a solution because our general conception of the mind has not been properly formulated.

I’ll consider three problems that, I’ll argue, have the same solution, namely an appeal to the concept of background. There are clear indications in the discussion of these problems that point to this solution; but things remain unresolved because the way these problems are laid out, namely, along internalist lines, prevents a proper appeal to the notion of background.

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