Introductory Abstract Philosophers of science, in the course of making a sharp distinction between the tasks of the philosopher and those of the scientist, have pointed to the possibility of an empirical science of induction. A comparativepsychology of knowledge processes is offered as one aspect of this potential enterprise. From fragments of such a psychology, methodological suggestions are drawn relevant to several chronic problems in the social sciences, including the publication of negative results from novel explorations, (...) the operational diagnosis of dispositions, the status of aggregates of persons as social entities, and the validation of psychological tests. (shrink)
The standard methodology of comparativepsychology has long relied upon a distinction between cognition and ‘mere association’; cognitive explanations of nonhuman animals behaviors are only regarded as legitimate if associative explanations for these behaviors have been painstakingly ruled out. Over the last ten years, however, a crisis has broken out over the distinction, with researchers increasingly unsure how to apply it in practice. In particular, a recent generation of psychological models appear to satisfy existing criteria for both cognition (...) and association. Salvaging the standard methodology of comparativepsychology will thus require significant conceptual redeployment. In this article, I trace the historical development of the distinction in comparativepsychology, distinguishing two styles of approach. The first style tries to make out the distinction in terms of the properties of psychological models, for example by focusing on criteria like the presence of rules & propositions vs. links & nodes. The second style of approach attempts to operationalize the distinction by use of specific experimental tests for cognition performed on actual animals. I argue that neither style of criteria is self-sufficient, and both must cooperate in an iterative empirical investigation into the nature of animal minds if the distinction is to be reformed. (shrink)
Researchers have begun to explore animals' capacities for uncertainty monitoring and metacognition. This exploration could extend the study of animal self-awareness and establish the relationship of self-awareness to other-awareness. It could sharpen descriptions of metacognition in the human literature and suggest the earliest roots of metacognition in human development. We summarize research on uncertainty monitoring by humans, monkeys, and a dolphin within perceptual and metamemory tasks. We extend phylogenetically the search for metacognitive capacities by considering studies that have tested less (...) cognitively sophisticated species. By using the same uncertainty-monitoring paradigms across species, it should be possible to map the phylogenetic distribution of metacognition and illuminate the emergence of mind. We provide a unifying formal description of animals' performances and examine the optimality of their decisional strategies. Finally, we interpret animals' and humans' nearly identical performances psychologically. Low-level, stimulus-based accounts cannot explain the phenomena. The results suggest granting animals a higher-level decision-making process that involves criterion setting using controlled cognitive processes. This conclusion raises the difficult question of animal consciousness. The results show that animals have functional features of or parallels to human conscious cognition. Remaining questions are whether animals also have the phenomenal features that are the feeling/knowing states of human conscious cognition, and whether the present paradigms can be extended to demonstrate that they do. Thus, the comparative study of metacognition potentially grounds the systematic study of animal consciousness. Key Words: cognition; comparative cognition; consciousness; memory monitoring; metacognition; metamemory; self-awareness; uncertainty; uncertainty monitoring. (shrink)
Our prominent definitions of cognition are too vague and lack empirical grounding. They have not kept up with recent developments, and cannot bear the weight placed on them across many different debates. I here articulate and defend a more adequate theory. On this theory, behaviors under the control of cognition tend to display a cluster of characteristic properties, a cluster which tends to be absent from behaviors produced by non-cognitive processes. This cluster is reverse-engineered from the empirical tests that (...) class='Hi'>comparative psychologists use to determine whether a behavior was generated by a cognitive or a non-cognitive process. Cognition should be understood as the natural kind of psychological process that non-accidentally exhibits the properties assessed by these tests (as well as others we have not yet discovered). Finally, I review two plausible neural accounts of cognition's underlying mechanisms?one based in localization of function to particular brain regions and another based in the more recent distributed networks approach to neuroscience?which would explain why these properties non-accidentally cluster. While this notion of cognition may be useful for a number of debates, I here focus on its application to a recent crisis over the distinction between cognition and association in comparativepsychology. (shrink)
Abstract Surprisingly, little theoretical attention has so far been paid to the ?Comparative Assumption?: the attempt to extrapolate from species to species in psychology (and particularly to the human species). This paper examines the problems and the possibilities inherent in the Comparative Assumption. Perhaps the most important conclusion of the paper is that much more work is needed on this intriguing question.
How should we determine the distribution of psychological traits—such as Theory of Mind, episodic memory, and metacognition—throughout the Animal kingdom? Researchers have long worried about the distorting effects of anthropomorphic bias on this comparative project. A purported corrective against this bias was offered as a cornerstone of comparativepsychology by C. Lloyd Morgan in his famous “Canon”. Also dangerous, however, is a distinct bias that loads the deck against animal mentality: our tendency to tie the competence criteria (...) for cognitive capacities to an exaggerated sense of typical human performance. I dub this error “anthropofabulation”, since it combines anthropocentrism with confabulation about our own prowess. Anthropofabulation has long distorted the debate about animal minds, but it is a bias that has been little discussed and against which the Canon provides no protection. Luckily, there is a venerable corrective against anthropofabulation: a principle offered long ago by David Hume, which I call “Hume’s Dictum”. In this paper, I argue that Hume’s Dictum deserves a privileged place next to Morgan’s Canon in the methodology of comparativepsychology, illustrating my point through a discussion of the debate over Theory of Mind in nonhuman animals. (shrink)
Smith et al. show that monkeys and dolphins can respond adaptively under conditions of uncertainty, suggesting that they monitor subjective uncertainty and control their behavior accordingly. Drawing on our own work with humans on the strategic regulation of memory reporting, we argue that, so far, the distinction between monitoring and control has not been addressed sufficiently in metacognitive animal research.
The real reason for the apparent discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds is that all closely related hominids have become extinct. Nonetheless, I agree with Penn et al. that comparativepsychology should aim to establish what cognitive traits humans share with other animals and what traits they do not share, because this could make profound contributions to genetics and neuroscience. There is, however, no consensus yet, and Penn et al.'s conclusion that it all comes down to one trait (...) is premature. (shrink)
In a dynamic world, mechanisms allowing prediction of future situations can provide a selective advantage. We suggest that memory systems differ in the degree of flexibility they offer for anticipatory behavior and put forward a corresponding taxonomy of prospection. The adaptive advantage of any memory system can only lie in what it contributes for future survival. The most flexible is episodic memory, which we suggest is part of a more general faculty of mental time travel that allows us not only (...) to go back in time, but also to foresee, plan, and shape virtually any specific future event. We review comparative studies and find that, in spite of increased research in the area, there is as yet no convincing evidence for mental time travel in nonhuman animals. We submit that mental time travel is not an encapsulated cognitive system, but instead comprises several subsidiary mechanisms. A theater metaphor serves as an analogy for the kind of mechanisms required for effective mental time travel. We propose that future research should consider these mechanisms in addition to direct evidence of future-directed action. We maintain that the emergence of mental time travel in evolution was a crucial step towards our current success. (shrink)
Povinelli and colleagues ask whether chimpanzees can understand the concept of weight, answering with a resounding ‘‘no’’. They justify their answer by appeal to over thirty previously unpublished experiments. I here evaluate in detail Povinelli’s arguments against his targets, questioning the assumption that such comparative questions will be resolved with an unequivocal ‘‘yes’’ or ‘‘no’’.
This is a sequel to Forman's well-received collection, The Problems of Pure Consciousness (OUP 1990). The essays in this previous volume argued that some mystical experiences do not seem to be formed or shaped by the language system--a thesis that stands in sharp contrast to the constructivist school, which holds that all mysticism is the product of a cultural and linguistic process. In The Innate Capacity, the same scholars put forward a hypothesis about the formative causes of these "pure consciousness" (...) experiences. All the contributors agree that mysticism is the result of an innate human capacity, rather than a learned, socially conditioned constructive process. They look at mystical experience as it is manifested in a variety of religious and cultural settings, including Hindu Yoga, Buddhism, Sufism, and medieval Christianity. Taken together, the essays constitute an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of mystical experience and its relation to the social and cultural context in which it appears. (shrink)
Most cognitive scientists nowadays tend to think that at least some of the mind’s capacities are the product of biological evolution, yet important conceptual problems remain for all of them in order to be able to speak coherently of mental or cognitive systems as having evolved naturally. Two of these important problems concern the articulation of adequate, interesting and empirically useful concepts of homology and variation as applied to cognitive systems. However, systems in cognitive science are usually understood as functional (...) systems of some sort. Thus, talking about functional systems’ being homologous requires one’s having a solid, adequate and empirically articulated concept of functional homology—and the same is true of functional variation. Here I construct an original concept of functional homology that, in my view, adequately systematizes a number of the actual uses of the word ‘functional homology’ in a variety of biological disciplines and in ethology. I also propose a number of criteria for the empirical application of the concept that are analogous to the criteria that are actually used in comparative biology, ethology, and (possibly) molecular developmental genetics. Then I construct a concept of functional variation on the basis of this concept of homology. (shrink)
We present the first large-scale, quantitative examination of mind and body concepts in a set of historical sources by measuring the predictions of folk mind–body dualism against the surviving textual corpus of pre-Qin (pre-221 BCE) China. Our textual analysis found clear patterns in the historically evolving reference of the word xin (heart/heart–mind): It alone of the organs was regularly contrasted with the physical body, and during the Warring States period it became less associated with emotions and increasingly portrayed as the (...) unique locus of “higher” cognitive abilities. We interpret this as a semantic shift toward a shared cognitive bias in response to a vast and rapid expansion of literacy. Our study helps test the proposed universality of folk dualism, adds a new quantitative approach to the methods used in the humanities, and opens up a new and valuable data source for cognitive scientists: the record of dead minds. (shrink)
In their “The Prevalence of Mind-Body Dualism in Early China,” Slingerland and Chudek use a statistical analysis of the early Chinese corpus to argue for Weak Folk Dualism (WFD). We raise three methodological objections to their analysis. First, the change over time that they find is largely driven by genre. Second, the operationalization of WFD is potentially misleading. And, third, dating the texts they use is extremely controversial. We conclude with some positive remarks.
What is the distribution of cognitive ability within the animal kingdom? It would be egalitarian to assume that variation in intelligence is everywhere clinal, but examining trends among major phylogenetic groups, it becomes easy to distinguish high-performing ‘generalists’ – whose behavior exhibits domain-flexibility – from ‘specialists’ whose range of behavior is limited and ecologically specific. These generalists include mammals, birds, and, intriguingly, cephalopods. The apparent intelligence of coleoid cephalopods (squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish) is surprising – and philosophically relevant – because (...) of our independent evolutionary lineages: the most recent common ancestor between vertebrates and cephalopods would have been a small wormlike organism, without any major organizational structure to its nervous system. By identifying the cognitive similarities between these organisms and vertebrates, we can begin to derive some general principles of intelligence as a biological phenomenon. Here, I discuss trends in cephalopod behavior and surrounding theory, and suggest their significance for our understanding of domain-general cognition and its evolution. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychology is a science in the making, working toward the goal of showing how psychological adaptation underlies much human behavior. The knee-jerk reaction that sociobiology is unscientific because it tells just-so stories has become a common charge against evolutionary psychology as well. My main positive thesis is that inference to the best explanation is a proper method for evolutionary analyses, and it supplies a new perspective on the issues raised in Schlinger's (1996) just-so story critique. My main (...) negative thesis is that, like many nonevolutionist critics, Schlinger's objections arise from misunderstandings of the evolutionary approach.Evolutionary psychology has progressed beyond telling just-so stories. It has found a host of ingenious special techniques to test hypotheses about the adaptive significance and proximate mechanisms of behavior. Naturalistic data using the comparative method combined with controlled tests using statistical analyses of data provide good evidence for a variety of hypotheses about behavioral control mechanisms — whether in nonhumans or in humans. For instance, the work of Gangestad and Thornhill on evolved mate preferences and fluctuating asymmetry of body type (FA) is a model of success. As the quantity and quality of evidence increase, we are entitled not just to regard such evolutionary hypotheses as preferable, but also as true. Such studies combine to show that the best explanation of the psychic unity of humankind — common patterns across societies, history, and cultures exposed by evolutionists — is the gendered, adapted, evolved species-typical design of the mind. (shrink)
The question of domain-specific versus domain-general processing is an ongoing source of inquiry surrounding cognitive control. Using a comparative evolutionary approach, Stout (2010) proposed two components of cognitive control: coordinating hierarchical action plans and social cognition. This article reports additional molecular and experimental evidence supporting a domain-general attentional process coordinating hierarchical action plans, with the earliest such control processing originating in the capacity of dynamic foraging behaviors—predating the vertebrate-invertebrate divergence (c. 700 million years ago). Further discussion addresses evidence required (...) for additional, domain-specific, cognitive control processes, noting that proposed social processes may simply provide emotionally valenced representational information to the above hierarchical process. (shrink)
Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics: Goethe, Schiller, and Jung , volume 1, The Development of the Personality investigates the extent to which analytical psychology draws on concepts found in German classical aesthetics. It aims to place analytical psychology in the German-speaking tradition of Goethe and Schiller, with which Jung was well acquainted. This volume argues that analytical psychology appropriates many of its central notions from German classical aesthetics, and that, when seen in its intellectual historical (...) context, the true originality of analytical psychology lies in its reformulation of key tenets of German classicism. Although the importance for Jung of German thought in general, and of Goethe and Schiller in particular, has frequently been acknowledged, until now it has never been examined in any detailed or systematic way. Through an analysis of Jung’s reception of Goethe and Schiller, Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics demonstrates the intellectual continuity within analytical psychology and the filiation of ideas from German classical aesthetics to Jungian thought. In this way it suggests that a rereading of analytical psychology in the light of German classical aesthetics offers an intellectually coherent understanding of analytical psychology. By uncovering the philosophical sources of analytical psychology, this first volume returns Jung’s thought to its core intellectual tradition, in the light of which analytical psychology gains new critical impact and fresh relevance for modern thought. Written in a scholarly yet accessible style, this book will interest students and scholars alike in the areas of analytical psychology, comparative literature, and the history of ideas. (shrink)
Although the authors of modern scientific psychology agreed on precious little, Freud and Jung both insisted that any complete science of psychology requires some way to explain the intergenerational inheritance of character traits or personal habits of mind and action. Yet neither they nor their heirs in contemporary philosophy, psychology or cognitive science have been able to provide a plausible conceptual framework, much less a mechanism to account for the conservation of forms of personal agency across multiple (...) lives. Is there a role in contemporary philosophy and psychology for an intergenerational theory of human agency informed by the Buddhist theory of karma? This paper argues the affirmative case, offering both a current scientific reading of karma and a Buddhist scientific approach to the metaphysical and metapsychological problems caused by the divergence of modern science and religion in the West. The model of intergenerational agency I present here is based on a comparative study of ordinary language philosophy in ancient India and the contemporary West. Its premise is that most theories of moral development and psychological agency are limited by the insistence on a substantial or essential ground for the designation of a person or self. Ordinary language philosophy offers greater conceptual freedom because it accepts a distinctively human theory of self as a linguistic construction that refers to mind/body systems and elements in which there is no substantial or essential self. This conceptual freedom permits a model of human agency as an open system of linguistic reference that can be transmitted across generations in the course of language acquisition. Such a system is not merely discursive in that language serves to guide the social construction not just of discursive thinking but also of learned patterns of perception and action mastered together with language in the course of neuropsychological development. This model has implications for both Buddhist and Western worldview, popular and scientific, as well as for bioethics and the practice of psychotherapy. (shrink)
Are non-human animals conscious? When do babies begin to feel pain? What function is served by consciousness? What evidence could resolve these issues? In The Evolution of Consciousness, psychologist Euan Macphail tackles these questions and more by exploring such topics as: animal cognition; unconscious learning and perception in humans; infantile amnesia; theory of mind in primates; and the nature of pleasure and pain. Experimental results are placed in theoretical context by tracing the development of concepts of consciousness in animals and (...) humans. Written in an accessible style, this book will be of interest to students and professionals in psychology, philosophy, and linguistics, as well as all those interested in the nature of consciousness. (shrink)
This paper argues that a comparative study of the idea of a sense of justice in the work of John Rawls and the early Chinese philosopher Kongzi is mutually beneficial to our understanding of the thought of both figures. It also aims to provide an example of the relevance of moral psychology for basic questions in political philosophy. The paper offers an analysis of Rawls’s account of a sense of justice and its place within his theory of justice, (...) focusing on the features of this capacity and how it develops. It then provides an account of the sense of justice in Kongzi’s thought as it is seen in the Analects. Finally, it shows how examining the similarities and differences between the two accounts can deepen our understanding of both views, as well as our appreciation for the importance of understanding how a sense of justice develops. (shrink)