The University of Sussex

The structure and space of possible minds

Aaron Sloman

General questions about the nature of mind have long been of central interest to philosophers. On the whole scientists have felt that they can get on with their jobs without engaging in philosophical debates. But it would be desirable for scientific studies of living systems to be based on a general theory concerning the nature of mind, to provide a framework for investigating of the mental processes and behaviour of different sorts of animals. In particular, if we are to understand the evolution of intelligence we must surely have some understanding of the space of possible intelligent systems, to guide hypotheses about how a new system might develop from an old one. This may also help to constrain theories of learning. A good general theory of mind would also aid engineers trying to design intelligent systems.

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