A central controversy in philosophy of psychology pits reductionists against, for lack of a better term, autonomists. The reductionist’s burden is to show that psychology is, at best, merely a heuristic device for describing phenomena that are, when speaking more precisely, just physical. I say “at best,” because reductionists are prone to less conciliatory remarks, such as: “psychological property P just is physical property N, so scientific explanation might as well focus exclusively on N,” and “psychological property P is nothing (...) other than N, so generalizations about N suffice to say all that there is to say about P,” and “knowledge of all the N facts suffices for knowledge of all the P facts.”. (shrink)
Many who advocate dynamical systems approaches to cognitive science believe themselves committed to the thesis of extended cognition and to the rejection of representation. I argue that this belief is false. In part, this misapprehension rests on a warrantless re-conception of cognition as intelligent behavior. In part also, it rests on thinking that conceptual issues can be resolved empirically. Once these issues are sorted out, the way is cleared for a dynamical systems approach to cognition that is free to retain (...) the standard conception of cognition as taking place in the head, and over representations. (shrink)
Christian List and Peter Menzies 2009 have looked to interventionist theories of causation for an answer to Jaegwon Kim's causal exclusion problem. Important to their response is the idea of realization-insensitivity. However, this idea becomes mired in issues concerning multiple realization, leaving it unable to fulfil its promise to block exclusion. After explaining why realization-insensitivity fails as a solution to Kim's problem, I look to interventionism to describe a different kind of solution.
A line of research within embodied cognition seeks to show that an organism’s body is a determinant of its conceptual capacities. Comparison of this claim of body determinism to linguistic determinism bears interesting results. Just as Slobin’s (1996) idea of thinking for speaking challenges the main thesis of linguistic determinism, so too the possibility of thinking for acting raises difficulties for the proponent of body determinism. However, recent studies suggest that the body may, after all, have a determining role in (...) cognitive processes of sentence comprehension. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim's causal exclusion argument has rarely been evaluated from an empirical perspective. This is puzzling because its conclusion seems to be making a testable claim about the world: supervenient properties are causally inefficacious. An empirical perspective, however, reveals Kim's argument to rest on a mistaken conception about how to test whether a property is causally efficacious. Moreover, the empirical perspective makes visible a metaphysical bias that Kim brings to his argument that involves a principle of non-inclusion.
In The Bounds of Cognition, Fred Adams and Kenneth Aizawa treat the arguments for extended cognition to withering criticism. I summarize their main arguments and focus special attention on their distinction between the extended cognitive system hypothesis and the extended cognition hypothesis, as well as on their demand for a mark of the mental.
When conceived as an empirical claim, it is natural to wonder how one might test the hypothesis of multiple realization. I consider general issues of testability, show how they apply specifically to the hypothesis of multiple realization, and propose an auxiliary assumption that, I argue, must be conjoined to the hypothesis of multiple realization to ensure its testability. I argue further that Bechtel and Mundale (1999) go astray because they fail to appreciate the need for this auxiliary assumption. †To (...) contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Introduction -- Consciousness : what is the problem? -- Consciousness : how should it be studied? -- Is the mind physical? -- How is your mind related to your body? : how is it related to the world? -- What is the self? -- What can pathological cases teach us about the mind? -- How can we know whether-and what-non-human animals think? -- Can machines think? -- Is there intelligent life on other planets?
Unifying traditional cognitive science is the idea that thinking is a process of symbol manipulation, where symbols lead both a syntactic and a semantic life. The syntax of a symbol comprises those properties in virtue of which the symbol undergoes rule-dictated transformations. The semantics of a symbol constitute the symbolsÕ meaning or representational content. Thought consists in the syntactically determined manipulation of symbols, but in a way that respects their semantics. Thus, for instance, a calculating computer sensitive only to the (...) shape of symbols might produce the symbol Ô5Õ in response to the inputs Ô2Õ, Ô+Õ, and Ô3Õ. As far as the computer is concerned, these symbols have no meaning, but because of its program it will produce outputs that, to the user, Òmake senseÓ given the meanings the user attributes to the symbols. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim has argued that if psychological kinds are multiply realizable then no single psychological theory can describe regularities ranging over psychological states. Instead, psychology must be fractured, with human psychology covering states realized in the human way, martian psychology covering states realized in the martian way, and so on. I show that even if one accepts the principles that motivate Kim.
Shapiro tests these hypotheses against two rivals, the mental constraint thesis and the embodied mind thesis. Collecting evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and embodied cognition) he concludes that the multiple realizability thesis, accepted by most philosophers as a virtual truism, is much less obvious than commonly assumed, and that there is even stronger reason to give up the separability thesis. In contrast to views of mind that tempt us to see the mind as simply being (...) resident in a brain or body, Shapiro argues for a far more encompassing integration of mind, brain, and body than philosophers have supposed. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
Ketelaar and Ellis have provided a remarkably clear and succinct statement of Lakatosian philosophy of science and have also argued compellingly that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution fills the Lakatosian criteria of progressivity. We find ourselves in agreement with much of what Ketelaar and Ellis say about Lakatosian philosophy of science, but have some questions about (1) the place of evolutionary psychology in a Lakatosian framework, and (2) the extent to which evolutionary psychology truly predicts new findings.
Quite unexpectedly, cognitive psychologists find their field intimately connected to a whole new intellectual landscape that had previously seemed remote, unfamiliar, and all but irrelevant. Yet the proliferating connections tying together the cognitive and evolutionary communities promise to transform both fields, with each supplying necessary principles, methods, and a species of rigor that the other lacks. (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994, p. 85).
Frances Egan argues that the states of computational theories of vision are individuated individualistically and, as far as the theory is concerned, are not intentional. Her argument depends on equating the goals and explanatory strategies of computational psychology with those of its algorithmic level. However, closer inspection of computational psychology reveals that the computational level plays an essential role in explaining visual processes and that explanations at this level are nonindividualistic and intentional. In conclusion, I sketch an account of content (...) in which content does the sort of explanatory work that Egan denies is possible. (shrink)
Many philosophers and psychologists who approach the issue of representation from a computational or measurement theoretical perspective end up having to deny the possibility of junk representations?representations present in an organism's head but that enter into no psychological processes or produce no behaviour. However, I argue, a more functional perspective makes the possibility of junk representations intuitively quite plausible?so much so that we may wish to question those views of representation that preclude the possibility of junk representations. I explore some (...) of the reasons we should care about the possibility of junk representations and conclude with some speculation about whether junk representations are in fact present in our heads. (shrink)
While there is controversy over which of several naturalistic theories of the mental is most plausible, there is consensus regarding the desideratum of a naturalistically respectable theory. A naturalistic theory of the mental, it is agreed, must explicate representation in nonintentional terms. I argue that this constraint does not get at the heart of what it is to be natural. On the one hand, it fails to provide us with a meaningful distinction between the natural and the unnatural. On the (...) other hand, it unfairly suggests that we withhold judgment on those successes our sciences of the mind have already achieved until a convincing decomposition of the mental is available. I urge a new conception of naturalism that focuses less upon ontological considerations and more upon methodological ones. (shrink)
Since the founding of psychophysics in the latter half of the nineteenth century, controversy has raged over the subject matter of psychophysical laws. Originally, Fechner characterized psycho physics as the science describing the relation between physical magnitudes and the sensations these magnitudes produce in us. Today many psycho-physicists would deny that sensation is or could be a topic of psycho-physical investigation. I consider Savage's (1970) influential objections to the possibility of such an investigation and argue that they depend upon (i) (...) holding psychophysics to higher standards than those to which we hold other sciences; and (ii) misrepresenting Fechner's stated goals for psychophysics. (shrink)
Fodor (1990) argues that the theory of evolution by natural selection will not help to save naturalistic accounts of representation from the disjunction problem. This is because, he claims, the context 'was selected for representing things as F' is transparent to the substitution of predicates coextensive with F. But, I respond, from an evolutionary perspective representational contexts cannot be transparent: only under particular descriptions will a representational state appear as a "solution" to a selection "problem" and so be adaptive. Only (...) when we construe representational states as opaque in this manner are the generalizations of branches of evolutionary theory, like foraging theory, possible. (shrink)