Connectionism, Eliminativism, and the Future of Folk Psychology

William Ramsey, Stephen Stich, Joseph Garon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter defends that the thesis that, if a certain family of connectionist hypotheses turn out to be right, they will surely count as revolutionary. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 gives a brief account of what eliminativism claims, and sketches a pair of premises that eliminativist arguments typically require. Section 3 discusses how we conceive of common sense psychology and the propositional attitudes that it posits. It also illustrates one sort of psychological model that exploits and builds upon the posits of folk psychology. Section 4 is devoted to connectionism. Models that have been called "connectionist" form a fuzzy and heterogeneous set whose members often share little more than a vague family resemblance. However, the present argument linking connectionism to eliminativism will work only for a restricted domain of connectionist models, interpreted in a particular way; the main job of Section 4 explains what that domain is and how the models in the domain are to be interpreted. Section 5 illustrates what a connectionist model of belief that comports with our strictures might look like, and goes on to argue that if models of this sort are correct, then things look bad for common sense psychology. Section 6 assembles some objections and replies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCollected Papers
Subtitle of host publicationMind and Language, 1972-2010
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780190267513
ISBN (Print)9780199734108
StatePublished - Sep 22 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Beliefs
  • Common sense psychology
  • Connectionism
  • Connectionist models
  • Eliminativism
  • Folk psychology
  • Propositional memories


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