David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution and Cognition (KLI) 2 (1):62-73 (2007)
There is an argument that has recently been deployed in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly (or even exclusively) composed of cognitive modules; an argument that draws from some ideas and concepts of evolutionary and of developmental biology. In a nutshell, the argument concludes that a mind that is massively composed of cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular (henceforth, c-modular) is more evolvable than a mind that is not c-modular (or that is scarcely c-modular), since a cognitive mechanism that is c-modular is likely to be biologically modular (henceforth, b-modular), and b-modular characters are more evolvable (e.g., Sperber 2002, Carruthers 2005). In evolutionary biology, the evolvability of a character in an organism is understood as the “organism’s capacity to facilitate the generation of non-lethal selectable phenotypic variation from random mutation” with respect to that character. Here I will argue that the notion of cognitive modularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence; that is, it will have to be understood in such a way that a cognitive feature is c-modular only if few or no other morphological changes (cognitive and not) are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population. I will also argue that all –except for (possibly) one—of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of cognitive modularity widely accepted in some of the mainstream currents of thought in classical cognitive science, are simply irrelevant to the argument. In order to argue for this, I will have to examine the question as to whether there are any strong theoretical connections between (1) those connotations and (2) notions of modularity accepted in biology, specially in evolutionary and in developmental biology, that are thought to be most relevant to arguments to the effect that biological modularity enhances evolvability.
|Keywords||Cognitive Modularity Biological Modularity Evolvability Evolution of MInd Functional Modularity Developmental Modularity|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
References found in this work BETA
Philip Gerrans (2003). Nativism and Neuroconstructivism in the Explanation of Williams Syndrome. Biology and Philosophy 18 (1):41-52.
Gerd Gigerenzer & Klaus Hug (1992). Domain-Specific Reasoning: Social Contracts, Cheating, and Perspective Change. Cognition 43 (2):127-171.
Michael Thomas & Annette Karmiloff-Smith (2002). Are Developmental Disorders Like Cases of Adult Brain Damage? Implications From Connectionist Modelling. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6):727-750.
John Tooby & Leda Cosmides (1998). Evolutionizing the Cognitive Sciences: A Reply to Shapiro and Epstein. Mind and Language 13 (2):195-204.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2001). Varieties of Modules: Kinds, Levels, Origins, and Behaviors. Journal of Experimental Zoology 291:116-129.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Benny Shanon (1988). Remarks on the Modularity of Mind. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (September):331-52.
Philip Gerrans (2002). The Theory of Mind Module in Evolutionary Psychology. Biology and Philosophy 17 (3):305-21.
Peter Carruthers (2006). Simple Heuristics Meet Massive Modularity. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. Oxford University Press.
Peter Carruthers (2003). Moderately Massive Modularity. In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Mind and Persons. Cambridge University Press. 67-89.
Clark H. Barrett & R. Kurzban (2006). Modularity in Cognition: Framing the Debate. Psychological Review 113:628-647.
Jesse J. Prinz (2006). Is the Mind Really Modular? In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell. 22--36.
Peter Carruthers (2006). The Case for Massively Modular Models of Mind. In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Blackwell.
Simon M. Reader (2006). Evo-Devo, Modularity, and Evolvability: Insights for Cultural Evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):361-362.
Added to index2009-04-18
Total downloads117 ( #6,585 of 1,089,054 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #42,757 of 1,089,054 )
How can I increase my downloads?