The seal of the a priori is imprinted on the reception of Kant's philosophy. Piaget's epistemological argumentation seems to ascribe knowledge a more fruitful constructiveness than Kant, seeing the a priori as rooted in unvarying reason. Yet, it seems, he failed to recognize the complexity of Kant's theory, which does not always follow a quid iuris line. Moments of experience, analysis and self-observation played more than a marginal role in his discovery of the a priori. Indeed, Kant himself raises the (...) question of ontogenetic category assimilation in a review which pre-empts Piaget, borrowing the category of `original acquisition' from the doctrine of the laws of natural right. And although Kant should not be elevated to the harbinger of the knowledge on development issues delivered thus far by the history of science and experiments, he did recognize the temporal reference of their categories in principle without resolving their validity in psychogenetic terms. Key Words: a priori categories genetic epistemology Geneva School neo-Kantianism original acquisition Jean Piaget psychogenesis self-observation. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers of mind tend to assume that the world of nature can be reduced to basic physics. Yet there are features of the mind consciousness, intentionality, normativity that do not seem to be reducible to physics or neuroscience. This explanatory gap between mind and brain has thus been a major cause of concern in recent philosophy of mind. Reductionists hold that, despite all appearances, the mind can be reduced to the brain. Eliminativists hold that it cannot, and that this (...) implies that there is something illegitimate about the mentalistic vocabulary. Dualists hold that the mental is irreducible, and that this implies either a substance or a property dualism. Mysterian non-reductive physicalists hold that the mind is uniquely irreducible, perhaps due to some limitation of our self-understanding. In this book, Steven Horst argues that this whole conversation is based on assumptions left over from an outdated philosophy of science. While reductionism was part of the philosophical orthodoxy fifty years ago, it has been decisively rejected by philosophers of science over the past thirty years, and for good reason. True reductions are in fact exceedingly rare in the sciences, and the conviction that they were there to be found was an artifact of armchair assumptions of 17th century Rationalists and 20th century Logical Empiricists. The explanatory gaps between mind and brain are far from unique. In fact, in the sciences it is gaps all the way down.And if reductions are rare in even the physical sciences, there is little reason to expect them in the case of psychology. Horst argues that this calls for a complete re-thinking of the contemporary problematic in philosophy of mind. Reductionism, dualism, eliminativism and non-reductive materialism are each severely compromised by post-reductionist philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind is in need of a new paradigm. Horst suggests that such a paradigm might be found in Cognitive Pluralism: the view that human cognitive architecture constrains us to understand the world through a plurality of partial, idealized, and pragmatically-constrained models, each employing a particular representational system optimized for its own problem domain. Such an architecture can explain the disunities of knowledge, and is plausible on evolutionary grounds. (shrink)
Over the past several decades, the philosophical community has witnessed the emergence of an important new paradigm for understanding the mind.1 The paradigm is that of machine computation, and its influence has been felt not only in philosophy, but also in all of the empirical disciplines devoted to the study of cognition. Of the several strategies for applying the resources provided by computer and cognitive science to the philosophy of mind, the one that has gained the most attention from philosophers (...) has been the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). CTM was first articulated by Hilary Putnam (1960, 1961), but finds perhaps its most consistent and enduring advocate in Jerry Fodor (1975, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1990, 1994). It is this theory, and not any broader interpretations of what it would be for the mind to be a computer, that I wish to address in this paper. What I shall argue here is that the notion of symbolic representation employed by CTM is fundamentally unsuited to providing an explanation of the intentionality of mental states (a major goal of CTM), and that this result undercuts a second major goal of CTM, sometimes refered to as the vindication of intentional psychology. This line of argument is related to the discussions of derived intentionality by Searle (1980, 1983, 1984) and Sayre (1986, 1987). But whereas those discussions seem to be concerned with the causal dependence of familiar sorts of symbolic representation upon meaning-bestowing acts, my claim is rather that there is not one but several notions of meaning to be had, and that the notions that are applicable to symbols are conceptually dependent upon the notion that is applicable to mental states in the fashion that Aristotle refered to as paronymy. That is, an analysis of the notions of meaning applicable to symbols reveals that they contain presuppositions about meaningful mental states, much as Aristotle's analysis of the sense of healthy that is applied to foods reveals that it means conducive to having a healthy body, and hence any attempt to explain mental semantics in terms of the semantics of symbols is doomed to circularity and regress. I shall argue, however, that this does not have the consequence that computationalism is bankrupt as a paradigm for cognitive science, as it is possible to reconstruct CTM in a fashion that avoids these difficulties and makes it a viable research framework for psychology, albeit at the cost of losing its claims to explain intentionality and to vindicate intentional psychology. I have argued elsewhere (Horst, 1996) that local special sciences such as psychology do not require vindication in the form of demonstrating their reducibility to more fundamental theories, and hence failure to make good on these philosophical promises need not compromise the broad range of work in empirical cognitive science motivated by the computer paradigm in ways that do not depend on these problematic treatments of symbols. (shrink)
Most contemporary philosophers of mind claim to be in search of a 'naturalistic' theory. However, when we look more closely, we find that there are a number of different and even conflicting ideas of what would count as a 'naturalization' of the mind. This article attempts to show what various naturalistic philosophies of mind have in common, and also how they differ from one another. Additionally, it explores the differences between naturalistic philosophies of mind and naturalisms found in ethics, epistemology, (...) and philosophy of science. Section 1 introduces a distinction between two types of project that have been styled 'naturalistic', which I call philosophical naturalism and empirical naturalism . Sections 2 to 6 canvass different strands of philosophical naturalism concerning the mind, followed by a much briefer discussion of attempts to provide empirical naturalizations of the mind in Section 7 . Section 8 concludes the essay with a consideration of the relations between philosophical and empirical naturalism in philosophy of mind, arguing that at least some types of philosophical naturalism are incompatible with empirical naturalism. (shrink)
This is a relatively breezy version of an exploration of some issues about how to provide a theory of concepts and conceptual semantics. I have also written more conventional versions of some of this material (without the Three Bears motif), though those are set in a broader context.
This paper presents the lineaments of a new account of concepts. The foundations of the account are four ideas taken from recent cognitive science, though most of them have important philosophical precursors. The first is the idea that human conceptuality shares important continuities with psychological faculties of other animals, and indeed that there is a well-distinguished hierarchy of such faculties that extend up and down the phylogenetic scale. While it would very likely be a mistake to look at some conglomeration (...) of these simpler abilities and assert that we have produced a reductive account of human conceptuality, an examination of these will lend insights into essential features of human conceptuality in a non-reductive, non-exhaustive manner. The second idea is that an important function of both human concepts and of their protoconceptual ancestors in the animal kingdom is to make distinctions or discriminations. We shall thus look at the human conceptual apparatus as being, in large part, a discrimination engine. How are these discriminations realized in humans and other beings? Presumably, some discriminative mechanisms are innate, while others are acquired through learning. But how is learning accomplished? The third idea from cognitive science is that adaptive discrimination is realized through neural networks, and that the properties of this realizing system explains familiar features of human thought that seem puzzling when viewed through other lenses, such as the logical analysis of language. The fourth and. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years, it is been common to hear the mind likened to a digital computer. This essay is concerned with a particular philosophical view that holds that the mind literally is a digital computer (in a specific sense of “computer” to be developed), and that thought literally is a kind of computation. This view—which will be called the “Computational Theory of Mind” (CTM)—is thus to be distinguished from other and broader attempts to connect the mind with computation, (...) including (a) various enterprises at modeling features of the mind using computational modeling techniques, and (b) employing some feature or features of production-model computers (such as the stored program concept, or the distinction between hardware and software) merely as a guiding metaphor for understanding some feature of the mind. This entry is therefore concerned solely with the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) proposed by Hilary Putnam  and developed most notably for philosophers by Jerry Fodor [1975, 1980, 1987, 1993]. The senses of ‘computer’ and ‘computation’ employed here are technical; the main tasks of this entry will therefore be to elucidate: (a) the technical sense of ‘computation’ that is at issue, (b) the ways in which it is claimed to be applicable to the mind, (c) the philosophical problems this understanding of the mind is claimed to solve, and (d) the major criticisms that have accrued to this view. (shrink)
The New Semantics (NS) introduced by Kripke and Putnam is often thought to block antiphysicalist arguments that involve an inference from an explanatory gap to a failure of supervenience. But this “NS Rebuttal” depends upon two assumptions that are shown to be dubious. First, it assumes that mental-kind terms are among the kinds of terms to which NS analysis is properly applied. However, there are important differences in this regard between the behavior of notions like ‘pain’ and notions like ‘water’, (...) as Kripke himself has argued. Second, even on the assumption that NS analysis is appropriate to mental-kind terms, it is further assumed that this would block the anti-physicalist premise that an abiding and principled explanatory gap would entail a failure of metaphysical supervenience. But the paradigm examples of NS analysis show nothing of the sort. What they show is that there are a posteriori necessities (e.g., “water contains hydrogen”) that cannot be inferred from the sense of natural kind terms. But they do not show that such necessities cannot be derived from an adequate scientific understanding of the phenomena in question. Indeed, such derivations are often available with kinds like water, but seem unavailable with mental kinds like ‘pain’ and ‘belief’. (shrink)
It has recently been claimed (1) that mental states such as beliefs are theoretical entities and (2) that they are therefore, in principle, subject to theoretical elimination if intentional psychology were to be supplanted by a psychology not employing mentalistic notions. Debate over these two issues is seriously hampered by the fact that the key terms 'theoretical' and 'belief' are ambiguous. This article argues that there is only one sense of 'theoretical' that is of use to the eliminativist, and in (...) this sense some kinds of "belief" (dispositional states, infra-conscious states and the Freudian unconscious) are indeed "theoretical" and hence possible candidates for elimination, while others (consciously occurring thoughts like judgements and perceptual Gestalten) are not theoretical and hence not candidates for elimination. (shrink)
This response to Silberstein's review undertakes two tasks. First, it attempts to clarify aspects of Cognitive Pluralism and its relationship to anti-reductionism. Second, it engages Silberstein's claim that traditional metaphysics of mind is dead, or at least should no longer be pursued.
Philosophy has both a critical and a speculative mode. In its critical mode, philosophy examines the assumptions and the reasoning of some body of discourse, often with an eye towards showing that its adherents have claimed more than they have justified, or that they are employing assumptions that are problematic or mutually inconsistent. You might say that critical philosophy “puts the brakes on” other intellectual projects. In its speculative mode, philosophy does just the opposite: it runs ahead of the evidence, (...) speculating about how some combination of ideas might be developed in ways that are interesting and fruitful. Most of what goes on in philosophy journals is done in the critical mode. Most of what the public thinks of as “philosophy”, and the things that we refer to as someone’s philosophy—Plato’s philosophy, Aristotle’s philosophy—is done in the speculative mode. (shrink)
Since the seventeenth century, our understanding of the natural world has been one of phenomena that behave in accordance with natural laws. While other elements of the early modern scientific worldview may be rejected or at least held in question—the metaphor of the world as a great machine, the narrowly mechanist assumption that all physical interactions must be contact interactions, the idea that matter might actually be obeying rules laid down by its Divine Author – the notion of natural law (...) has continued to play a pivotal role in actual scientific practice, in our philosophical interpretations of science, and in their its metaphysical implications. (shrink)
The SPP is, among other things, a place where we discuss nagging and perennial problems on the bordermarches between philosophy and the sciences. Sometimes problems are nagging and perennial because they are deep and difficult. And sometimes they are merely an artifact, a shadow cast by our own way of formulating the problem. I should like to suggest to you that philosophy of mind suffers badly from being the last refuge of the best philosophy of science of the 1950's, and (...) that some of its problems are in fact illusions that could be dispelled by consideration of more recent developments in the philosophy of science. In particular, philosophy of psychology has been plagued by a famous contrast between its "ceteris paribus" laws and the "exceptionless" laws of the physical sciences. This has led to doubts about the scientific status of psychology, the status of psychological kinds as natural kinds, and even their ontological legitimacy. I argue here that this problematic is a consequence of assuming a particular analysis of scientific laws as (exceptionless) universally quantifed claims. This analysis has largely been rejected in contemporary philosophy of science. And more recent analyses that take notice of the role of idealization in scientific modeling both dissolve the nagging problem and shed new light upon differences between the sciences. (shrink)
In 2007 a social scientist and a designer created a spatial installation to communicate social science research about the regulation of emerging science and technology. The rationale behind the experiment was to improve scientific knowledge production by making the researcher sensitive to new forms of reactions and objections. Based on an account of the conceptual background to the installation and the way it was designed, the paper discusses the nature of the engagement enacted through the experiment. It is argued that (...) experimentation is a crucial way of making social science about science communication and engagement more robust. (shrink)
Recent debates about the metaphysics of mind have tended to assume that inter-theoretic reductions are the norm in the natural sciences. With this assumption in place, the apparent explanatory gaps surrounding consciousness and intentionality seem unique, fascinating, and perhaps metaphysically significant. Over the past several decades, however, philosophers of science have largely rejected the notions that inter-theoretic reduction is either widespread in the natural sciences or a litmus for the legitimacy of the special sciences. If we adopt a post-reductionist philosophy (...) of science, with a commitment to theory pluralism, the epistemic statuses of the standard positions in philosophy of mind (reductionism, non-reductive physicalism, dualism) are all significantly changed. Moreover, central problems of recent philosophy of mind – reducibility and the explanatory gap – seem themselves to be in need of rethinking if reductions are rare and the sciences have “explanatory gaps all the way down.” This article examines the prospects of the standard metaphysical positions, plus two types of pluralism, in light of post-reductionist philosophy of science. (shrink)
The euthanasia action in Nazi Germany during 1940/41 (Â«Aktion T4Â») belongs to the most horrible chapters in history of medicine. The article describes the life of Horst Schumann, who was involved in the murder of more than 15000 people and after that did cruel sterilization experiments in Auschwitz. It will be depicted the personal characteristics to show, why he was susceptible to this development. The critical look at these events shall warn us not to push away mental patients and (...) mentally handicapped people from our society. The personal rights of this group of patients must not be questioned. (shrink)
Some naturalistic theories of consciousness give an essential role to teleology.1 This teleology is said to arise due to natural selection. Thus it is claimed that only certain states, namely, those that have been selected for by evolutionary pro- cesses because they contribute to (or once contributed to) an organism’s fitness, are conscious states. These theories look as if they are assigning a creative role to natural selection. If a state is conscious only if it has been selected for, then (...) selec- tion appears to be able to create a new feature of states, namely, their conscious nature. Yet, intuitively, natural selection cannot create anything. Natural selec- tion chooses certain features that already exist and makes them more (or less) prevalent in a population, but it cannot bring features into existence itself. Natu- ral selection can select for conscious states, but it cannot create them. This con- clusion has recently been argued for by Steven Horst (1999). If it is right, then teleological theories of conscious states should be rejected. A state cannot become a conscious experience in virtue of having been selected for by evolu- tionary process. (shrink)
Critical legal scholarship has so far been concerned primarily with trashing or deconstructing the belief clusters of "liberalism". Negative posturing of this kind is not the only feature of the movement, though. Roberto Unger has dreamt up a sociopolitical vision that presents an "empowered democracy". An important element of his "empowered democracy" is a new system of rights. Part 1 of my essay contains an analysis of the notion of a subjective right. I argue that both Hohfeld's fundamental legal conceptions (...) and Unger's various rights can be described by a simple deontic relation that I define as RIGHT. I then discuss a set of normative criteria that can help us evaluate systems of rights. Part 2 [to appear in the following issue -- ed.] contains a detailed critique of Unger's system of rights based on these normative criteria. The tenet of this part is that Unger's system of rights is contradictory, opaque, impracticable, costly, and not fully backed by what Unger offers as a background justification for it. (shrink)
This is a review of a book that tries to re-establish mind-body dualism by using (a) empirical research on near-death experiences, placebo effects, creativity, claiming even that parapsychology should become a respected part of science, and (b) Frederic W. H. Myers' (1843-1901) metaphor of the brain as a kind of receiving device that records what the irreducible mind sends as messages. Among other things, we criticize the lack of philosophical clarity about mind-body relation, and question the book's tendency to refer (...) to past and current parapsychological literature as reliable. (shrink)
It is difficult to translate the title “Wissen und Glauben” (Knowledge and Faith, see Romans 11:33 and I Corinthians 13:13) into English, because there ist a debate between Kant, Jacobi, Fichte and Hegel behind it. Through Fichtes “Wissenschaftslehre” knowledge has been accepted as the basic element of all scholarship, whereas faith belongs to religion.
(1) Reaction time (RT) studies give only a partial picture of language processing, hence it may be risky to use the output of the computational model to inspire neurophysiological investigations instead of seeking further neurophysiological data to adjust the RT based theory. (2) There is neurophysiological evidence for differences in the cortical representation of different word categories; this could be integrated into a future version of the Levelt model. (3) EEG/MEG coherence analysis allows the monitoring of synchronous electrical activity in (...) large groups of neurons in the cortex; this is especially interesting for activation based network models. (shrink)