My Glossary

Some working definitions. All work in progress:

Ability Knowledge
Ability knowledge refers to ‘know-how’ as opposed to propositional knowledge. Examples are knowledge about how to run a marathon, how to swim, how to cook a Hungarian goulash, how to solve a mathematical problem, etc. (Pritchard, p. 3)

Beliefs constitute our reasons for thinking what we think, doing what we do, and saying what we say. There are many types of beliefs, e.g. everyday beliefs, scientific beliefs, mathematical beliefs, metaphysical beliefs, religious beliefs, etc. As human beings we constantly form new beliefs and incorporate them into our existing belief system. We are motivated by our desires to reach certain goals. Beliefs guide us to these goals. (Talbot, Chapter 1)

Computability, here understand as register machine computability.

The sequence of operations of a register machine.

A species of functionalism that allows for the possibility of computational Artificial Intelligence. The computationalist holds that those mediating relations between input, output and other mental states (on the basis of which the functionalist  defines mental states) are computations. On this account, minds are the software and brains are the hardware. Instantiating a specific formal system (“MIND”) is seen as a sufficient condition for having a mind. Mentality is a function of algorithms.

Deductive Argument
A deductive argument is a form of reasoning whereby the premises entail the conclusion. If the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. In other words, the premises are so strong that it is impossible for the conclusion to be false. Deductive reasoning is important for the acquisition of knowledge. New propositions are generated by deductive inferences from given premises. Deductive arguments are valid and truth-preserving. (more)

One who accepts that there are no innate ideas (unlike the rationalist who believes the opposite). One is born as a clean slate (‘tabula rasa’).

Formal Systems
Formal systems are systems which are composed of two collections: a collection of states and a collection of rules. Rules operate on states to generate other states. Operations of a formal system are entirely independent of the medium in which they are instantiated. They are also entirely independent of any interpretation of the system. Chess is an example of a formal system with an initial state and a terminate state. It can be played with real chess figures, with tokens or on a screen. A computer does not need to understand the meaning of chess. It just needs to apply the rules to states. States and rules of formal systems are constrained by effectivity.

The functionalist identifies mental states with states that play certain functional roles. What makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part. Example: the mental state of pain is a state that plays certain functional roles such as producing pain avoiding behaviour. The functionalist holds that states are mental solely by virtue of their characteristic functions in mediating relations between inputs, outputs and other mental states. A feature of functionalism is that it allows for multiple realisability of mental states by physical states. It is substrate independent (more).

A procedure is effective when it can be carried out systematically, in a finite time and without the need for any understanding of the meaning of the procedure.

Individuals (=Particulars)
individuals are singular, unique objects, also called ‘particulars’, such as apples, chairs, persons, etc. In a metaphysical sense, individuals are fundamental entities. They possess a multitude of properties, or qualities, such as the apple that has the colour red, a sweet taste, a round form, a weight, a temperature, etc. Individuals are objects of the spatio-temporal world; they fill space and can only be in one place at a time. Individuals are therefore said to be non-repeatable or not multi-exemplifiable. Also, individuals are subject to change. (more)

Inductive Argument
An inductive argument is a form of reasoning whereby the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. The premises provide reasons that support the probable truth of the conclusion. The premises can be true but the conclusion false. In other words, one might have knowledge of the premises but lack knowledge of the conclusion. Good inductive arguments make the conclusion likely. Much of the knowledge we hold is generated through inductive inferences.  (more)

In the theory of mind, a monist is someone who recognises only one substance. There are mental monists (ostensibly physical states are actually mental states) and physical monists (ostensibly mental states are actually physical states). Behaviourism is one variety of physical monism.

A proposition is what is expressed or asserted by a sentence. It says that something is the case, e.g. the sun shines, the earth orbits the sun, vixens are female foxes, 1+2=3, WW1 started in 1914. (Pritchard, p. 3)

The claim that the mind is the brain. In contrast, Rene Descartes believed that the mind and the body are distinct (‘mind-body dualism’).

Propositional Knowledge
Knowledge of a proposition. In order to have knowledge of a proposition the proposition must be true and one must believe it. One cannot have knowledge of something that is false. Likewise one cannot be said to have knowledge of something one doesn’t believe in.

One who accepts that there are innate ideas (while the empiricists believes the opposite).

Register Machines
All register machines are formal systems but not all formal systems are register machines. Register machines are deterministic formal systems which means that at most one rule will apply to any given state and in only one way. Register machine states are finite sequences of natural numbers. They have only one rule: a program.

Reliabilism encompasses a broad range of epistemological theories that try to explain knowledge or justification in terms of the truth-conduciveness of the process by which an agent forms a true belief (more).

The view that the natural sciences are the best or most accurate way of understanding all phenomena.

A sentence is a group of words that is complete in itself as the expression of a thought or a belief about the world. A sentence asserts something that is the case, a fact or a state of affairs. Only sentences capable of expressing beliefs can be true or false. (note: questions, commands or exclamations don’t have truth values). (Talbot, Chapter 1)

Universal Machine
A particular type of register machine which can, by virtue of Goedel coding, take any register machine program as input and operate that register machine. Universal machines are theoretical devices. Real-life computers are imperfect instantiations of Universal Machines. They are physically constrained and therefore can only approximate Universal Machines.

Theological Determinism
The view that God determines every event that occurs in the history of the world.

Theoretical State
A theoretical state is a state postulated by a theory to play a particular causal or functional role in the theory usually as a cause and/or an effect of some other state. It can be used to explain or predict this other state.

Truth values
The basic truth values are true or false . They can be assigned to such sentences (or the belief they express). Truth values cannot be attached to facts or states of the world. Facts or states of the world themselves do or do not obtain. They happen to be the case or not. Examples: the fact that the sky is blue is the case or not. Against the fact as a backdrop, the proposition “the sky is blue’ is either true or false.

Universals are properties which are shared by individuals. They are a class of mind-independent entities which are used to explain relations of identity and resemblance among individuals. Example: The universal redness is shared or instantiated by red London busses and red apples. (more)