The idea of “bundling” lesser later rewards so they outweigh smaller sooner rewards is compelling, but the sophisticated cognitive activity involved in this bundling is not yet modeled; in particular the role of language is hard to assess.
Nowhere in the psychological sciences has the philosophy of mind had more influence than on the child development literature generally referred to as children’s ‘theory of mind.’ Developmental journals may seem to be an unlikely place to find Brentano, Frege, and Dennett alongside descriptions of referential opacity and the principle of substitutivity, but it is not at all uncommon in this literature. While the many problems and complexities of the propositional attitude literature are still hotly debated by philosophers, and often (...) ill understood by scientists working in this area, a great deal of empirical progress has already been made. We have Dan Dennett to thank for this extraordinary dialogue between these disciplines. (shrink)
The ability to determine an infant’s likelihood of developing autism via a relatively simple neurological measure would constitute an important scientific breakthrough. In their recent publication in this journal, Bosl and colleagues claim that a measure of EEG complexity can be used to detect, with very high accuracy, infants at high risk for autism (HRA). On the surface, this appears to be that very scientific breakthrough and as such the paper has received widespread media attention. But a close look at (...) how these high accuracy rates were derived tells a very different story. This stems from a conflation between “high risk” as a population-level property and “high risk” as a property of an individual. We describe the.. (shrink)
This review of Bolton & Hill's (B&H) Mind, Meaning, & Mental Disorder examines their non-reductionist yet realist position on mental content. Their arguments are compared to the writings of Dennett and Millikan, where determining function is central to determining information-processing capabilities. The normative nature of function (malfunction) is considered as is its relation to mental states more broadly. Their Wittgensteinian view of meaning as action is accepted as insightful and useful, though some questions remain about their theory of meaning and (...) its applicability to psychological phenomena. (shrink)
Imagine playing a game of chess with such poorly carved pieces that it is well nigh impossible to tell the difference between them. The bishops, knights, pawns, etc., are, by your lights, perceptually indistinguishable. Imagine still that your opponent can see these differences quite clearly, much to your dismay. You might be able to begin the game with a memorized opening, perhaps, but it wouldn’t take long to lose track of the ongoings and your resignation would soon follow. It’s not (...) a fair game, to be.. (shrink)
The neuropsychological and functional characterisation of mental state attribution (‘‘theory of mind’’ (ToM)) has been the focus of several recent studies. The literature contains opposing views on the functional specificity of ToM and on the neuroanatomical structures most relevant to ToM. Studies with brain-lesioned patients have consistently found ToM deficits associated with unilateral right hemisphere damage (RHD). Also, functional imaging performed with non-braininjured adults implicates several specific neural regions, many of which are located in the right hemisphere. The present study (...) examined the separation of ToM impairment from other deficits associated with brain injury. We tested 11 patients with unilateral right hemisphere damage (RHD) and 20 normal controls (NC) on a.. (shrink)
= Knowing Rule: seeing, and only seeing, leads to knowing. This paper presents two kinds of evidence that children do not follow this rule. First, we critically review previous ﬁndings that children neglect the role of inference and argue that these studies do not in fact support the view that children follow a Seeing = Knowing Rule. We then present two studies in which children who correctly attributed ignorance and false belief to an observer in a false belief task also (...) attributed ignorance (Study 1) and false belief (Study 2) in true belief tasks. These ﬁndings demonstrate that children sometimes attribute ignorance and false belief to an observer who is granted visual access, an outcome that should not occur if children rigidly follow the Seeing = Knowing Rule. We end by discussing some problems associated with modifying the Seeing = Knowing Rule to account for children’s failure on the true belief task. (shrink)
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulties in social interaction (APA, 2000). Successful social interaction relies, in part, on determining the thoughts and feelings of others, an ability commonly attributed to our faculty of folk or common-sense psychology. Because the symptoms of autism should be present by around the second birthday, it follows that the study of autism should tell us something about the early emerging mechanisms necessary for the development of an intact faculty of folk psychology. Our aims (...) in this chapter are threefold; (1) to examine the literature on "socialunderstanding" mechanisms in autism, particularly those assumed to develop in the first years of life; (2) to examine the related literature on typically developing infants and toddlers, and (3) to examine the theoretical approaches that attempt to characterize the early stages and development of this impressive skill. In doing so, we hope to help resolve some of the disagreements and sticking points that riddle the topic. In particular we will attempt to shift the focus from whether children have this or that specific mental-state concept (which they use to predict behavior of others) to a more developmentally friendly approach centered around the notion of reasons, recognizing that they may well exist before they are represented, and hence before they can be appreciated, or expressed. The peer commentary in Behavioral and Brain Sciences following Premack and Woodruff (1978) - "Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind'" - not only introduced the "falsebelief' task (Dennett, 1978; Wimmer & Perner, 1983), but addressed a host of issues surrounding the characterization of second-order intentional systems, systems that may (or must) be interpreted as having beliefs about beliefs (or desires or intentions .... (shrink)