What is Cognitive Science

Possible Worlds in Perspective: A Hyperintensional Approach to Content

Josh Armstrong

Thursday, September 22, 2011, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy

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Psychological states, like believing and desiring, are characteristic bearers of content. Content plays a central role in much of contemporary philosophy of mind and language, as well as various branches of cognitive science. What has been called the possible worlds account has been among the most prominent frameworks for understanding the nature of content. While the possible worlds account has proven to be remarkably fruitful in areas such as semantics and decision theory, it suffers from well-known problems related to its treatment of various hyperintensional phenomena (e.g. the fact that an agent can believe that everything is self-identical without believing that Muhammad Ali is Cassius Clay). In this talk I offer a revision to the classic possible worlds framework.  I argue that contents should be understood in terms of alternatives: possible worlds together with a perspective on them. I show how to model a perspective in terms of a system of symbolic mental representations.  The account I provide is one that retains many of the virtues of the possible worlds account, while providing an appropriately hyperintensional account of content.

Josh Armstrong


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

Note: Talks are also announced by email (with reminders sent the day of the talk) to people who have requested to be placed on our announce list. If you would like to be added to our announce list, please email the Business Office (business_manager@ruccs.rutgers.edu).