Frame Problems, Fodor's Challenge, and Practical Reason

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By bringing the frame problem to bear on psychology, Fodor argues that the interesting activities of mind are not amenable to computational modeling. Following exegesis of the frame problem and Fodor's claims, I argue that underlying Fodor's argument is an unsatisfiable normative principle of rationality that in turn commits him to a particular descriptive claim about the nature of our minds. I argue that the descriptive claim is false and that we should reject the normative principle in favor of one that is at least in principle satisfiable. From this it follows, I argue, that we have no reason for thinking the activities of our minds to be, as a matter of principle, unmodelable. Drawing upon Baars' Global Workspace theory, I next outline an alternative framework that provides a means by which the set of engineering challenges raised by Fodor might be met. Having sketched this alternative, I turn next to consider some of the frame problems arising in practical reason and decision-making. Following discussion of the nature of emotion and its influence on practical reason and decision-making, I argue that consideration of emotion provides one means by which we might contend with some of the frame problem instances that arise in that domain.