Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the one’s attention (...) cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be aware of others as subjects of mental states is often construed as the question of how we are epistemically justified in attributing mental states to others. The dominant answer to this latter question is that we are so justified in virtue of grasping the role of mental states in explaining observed behaviour. This chapter challenges this picture and formulates an alternative by reflecting on the interpretation of early joint attention interactions. It argues (...) that the standard picture is committed to an implausible account of children's awareness of the co-attender's focus of attention. On a more natural interpretation, children engaged in joint attention perceptually recognize the co-attender's attitude to some object, as something like the (correct) answer to the question of what the object is like. The developmentally basic case is not that of attributing mental states as the causes of observed behaviour but of understanding perceived attitudes and actions as appropriate responses to the shared world. The chapter concludes by exploring how this developmental claim bears on mature adult knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
What is the relation between emotional experience and its behavioural expression? As very preliminary clarification, I mean by ‘emotional experience’ such things as the subjective feeling of being afraid of something, or of being angry at someone. On the side of behavioural expression, I focus on such things as cowering in fear, or shaking a fist or thumping the table in anger. Very crudely, this is behaviour intermediate between the bodily changes which just happen in emotional arousal, such as sweating (...) or the secretion of adrenalin, and reasoned actions done ‘out of an emotion’, such as breathing deeply to clam down, or writing a letter of complaint, for which a standard rationalizing explanation can be given.1 I pursue the relation between this experience and expression in a somewhat roundabout manner. First, I note an analogy between a problem of other minds, and Berkeley’s (1975) challenge to Locke’s (1975) realism. Second, I sketch what I regard as the correct strategy for meeting this challenge. Third, I develop and defend a parallel response to the problem of other minds, as this applies to certain basic directed emotions. This yields the following answer to my opening question. Reference to the appropriate expressive behaviour is essential to the identification of the way in which various emotional experiences present their worldly objects. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the conceptual problem of other minds cannot be properly addressed as long as we subscribe to an individualistic model of how we stand in relation to our own experiences and the behaviour of others. For it is commitment to this picture that sponsors the strong first/third person divide that lies at the heart of the two false accounts of experiential concept learning sketched above. This is the true source of the problem. To deal successfully with (...) it we must reconsider our assumptions about the way in which we learn our concepts of experience, self and other, and the order in which we do so. Specifically, we must recognize the intersubjective character of the learning process and we must abandon the idea that we gain a secure grasp of the self/other dichotomy prior to learning our concepts of experience. Focusing on these issues allows us to understand the asymmetrical nature of such concepts. In order to bring these points into sharp relief, the next section is devoted to reviewing the major features of Brewer’s approach to the very same problem in his contribution to this volume, ‘Emotion and Other Minds’. Although his proposal makes some moves in the right direction, I argue that he does not go far enough. In particular, in focusing exclusively on demonstrative reference, he fails to challenge crucial aspects of the individualistic model that are responsible for generating the problem. Still, using his work as a springboard, it becomes clear exactly which fundamental assumptions need to be revised if we are to understand the context in which we learn our psychological concepts. (shrink)
This paper discusses Wittgenstein's take on the problem of other minds. In opposition to certain widespread views that I collect under the heading of the “No Problem Interpretation,” I argue that Wittgenstein does address some problem of other minds. However, Wittgenstein's problem is not the traditional epistemological problem of other minds; rather, it is more reminiscent of the issue of intersubjectivity as it emerges in the writings of phenomenologists such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger. This is one (...) sense in which Wittgenstein's perspective on other minds might be called “phenomenological.” Yet there is another sense as well, in that Wittgenstein's positive views on this issue resemble the views defended by phenomenologists. The key to a proper philosophical grasp of intersubjectivity, on both views, lies in rethinking the mind. If we conceive of minds as essentially embodied we can understand how intersubjectivity is possible. (shrink)
John McDowell’s original motivation of disjunctivism occurs in the context of a problem regarding other minds. Recent commentators have insisted that McDowell’s disjunctivism should be classed as an epistemological disjunctivism about epistemic warrant, and distinguished from the perceptual disjunctivism of Hinton, Snowdon and others. In this paper I investigate the relation between the problem of other minds and disjunctivism, and raise some questions for this interpretation of McDowell.
How do I know whether there are any minds beside my own? This problem of other minds in philosophy raises questions which are at the heart of all philosophical investigations--how it is that we know, what is in the mind, and whether we can be certain about any of our beliefs. In this book, Anita Avramides begins with a historical overview of the problem from the Ancient Skeptics to Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, Reid, and Wittgenstein. The second part (...) of the book investigates the views of influential contemporary philosophers such as Strawson, Davidson, Nagel and Searle. (shrink)
Quassim Cassam has recently defended a perceptual model of knowledge of other minds: one on which we can see and thereby know that another thinks and feels. In the course of defending this model, he addresses issues about our ability to think about other minds. I argue that his solution to this 'conceptual problem' does not work. A solution to the conceptual problem is necessary if we wish to explain knowledge of other minds.
The difficulties about other minds are deep and of central philosophical importance. This text explores attempts to apply Wittgenstein's concept of criteria in explaining how we can know other minds and their properties. It is shown that the use of criteria for this purpose is misguided.
Goedel's theorem states that in any consistent system which is strong enough to produce simple arithmetic there are formulae which cannot be proved-in-the-system, but which we can see to be true. Essentially, we consider the formula which says, in effect, "This formula is unprovable-in-the-system". If this formula were provable-in-the-system, we should have a contradiction: for if it were provablein-the-system, then it would not be unprovable-in-the-system, so that "This formula is unprovable-in-the-system" would be false: equally, if it were provable-in-the-system, then it (...) would not be false, but would be true, since in any consistent system nothing false can be provedin-the-system, but only truths. So the formula "This formula is unprovable-in-the-system" is not provable-in-the-system, but unprovablein-the-system. Further, if the formula "This formula is unprovablein- the-system" is unprovable-in-the-system, then it is true that that formula is unprovable-in-the-system, that is, "This formula is unprovable-in-the-system" is true. Goedel's theorem must apply to cybernetical machines, because it is of the essence of being a machine, that it should be a concrete instantiation of a formal system. It follows that given any machine which is consistent and capable of doing simple arithmetic, there is a formula which it is incapable of producing as being true---i.e., the formula is unprovable-in-the-system-but which we can see to be true. It follows that no machine can be a complete or adequate model of the mind, that minds are essentially different from machines. (shrink)
Scepticism is sometimes expressed about whether there is any interesting problem of other minds. In this paper I set out a version of the conceptual problem of other minds which turns on the way in which mental occurrences are presented to the subject and situate it in relation to debates about our knowledge of other people's mental lives. The result is a distinctive problem in the philosophy of mind concerning our relation to other people.
In Analysis, Vol. 45, June 1984, George Rea published a paper attacking my claim that there could be ‘indeterminate minds'. This paper is a reply to his attack. I claim, again, that such ‘minds’ are possible – entities such that it is indeterminate whether or not these entities are people with minds. -/- .
This paper is concerned with the issue of authenticity in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology. In the manuscripts published as Letzte Schriften über die Philosophie der Psychologie – Das Innere und das Äußere, the German term Echtheit is mostly translated as ‘genuineness’. In these manuscripts, Wittgenstein frequently uses the term as referring to a feature of the expression of feeling and emotion: -/- […] I want to say that there is an original genuine expression of pain; that the expression of pain (...) therefore is not equally connected to the pain and to the pretence. (LW II, p. 55) -/- “This weeping gives the impression of being genuine” – so there is such a thing as genuine weeping. […]. (LW II, p. 87) -/- […] Genuineness and falseness are not the only essential characteristics of an expression of feeling. […]. (LW II, p. 90) -/- Wittgenstein contrasts the genuineness of the expressions with the possibility that the expressions are feigned. It seems to me that Wittgenstein is trying to discredit a specific version of the sceptical claim that we do not know other minds. I will refer to it as the sceptical innuendo. The sceptical innuendo says that every expression of feeling and emotion may be pretended. Wittgenstein’s approach to the issue reflects his later interest in the philosophy of psychology and, in particular, the problem of the ascription of psychological states (P-ascriptions) on the basis of someone else’s expression of feeling or emotion. Thus, the attempt to reject the sceptical innuendo is done mainly by means of conceptual and psychological arguments. Let’s look at this short dialogue between the sceptic and Wittgenstein. The former asks „How do you know that someone else is in a certain psychological state?“ Wittgenstein’s first reply is „I know that he is glad because I see him“. But the sceptic cannot be very happy with this reply. The sceptic’s next question is: „How do you know that he is really glad and he is not pretending?“ Wittgenstein’s response is not a direct refutation but is composed of a number of related reasons. These may be summed up in three arguments: -/- (i) A psychological argument from the very nature of the expressions. The expressions are meant to be natural symptoms of someone else’s psychological state (P-state). -/- (ii) A conceptual argument about the nature of pretence. It claims that pretence is a psychological property which is rightly ascribed when an observer has evidence for it. -/- (iii) A psychological argument from genuineness. It claims that we are committed to accept people’s expressions of feeling and emotion as genuine. (shrink)
While there is a great diversity of treatments of other minds and inter-subjectivity within both analytic and continental philosophy, this article specifies some of the core structural differences between these treatments. Although there is no canonical account of the problem of other minds that can be baldly stated and that is exhaustive of both traditions, the problem(s) of other minds can be loosely defined in family resemblances terms. It seems to have: (1) an epistemological dimension (How do (...) we know that others exist? Can we justifiably claim to know that they do?); (2) an ontological dimension that incorporates issues having to do with personal identity (What is the structure of our world such that inter-subjectivity is possible? What are the fundamental aspects of our relations to others? How do they impact upon our self-identity?); and (3) A conceptual dimension in that it depends on one's answer to the question what is a mind (How does the mind – or the concept of 'mind'– relate to the brain, the body and the world?). While these three issues are co-imbricated, I will claim that analytic engagements with the problem of other minds focus on (1), whereas continental philosophers focus far more on (2). In addition, this article will also point to various other downstream consequences of this, including the preoccupation with embodiment and forms of expressivism that feature heavily in various forms of continental philosophy, and which generally aim to ground our relations with others in a pre-reflective manner of inhabiting the world that is said to be the condition of reflection and knowledge. (shrink)
Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rational animal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers of semantic (...) content at all, that they are bearers of content in the same sense we are, and that they are bearer of ?as if? content. Avoiding the false trichotomy requires that we understand non-rational animals as having concepts but not as making judgments. Furthermore, we need to supplement McDowell's distinction between the logical spaces of reasons and of the realm of law with what Finkelstein calls ?the logical space of animate life?. Though McDowell has taken some recent steps to embrace a view like this, I urge a more demanding conception than what McDowell has thus far suggested. (shrink)
Other minds and their place in the Hume-literature -- A modern approach -- Scepticism versus naturalism -- The vulgar and the philosopher -- Relative ideas -- Concepts of the real -- Intuition and common sense -- Epistemic responsibility -- Degeneration of reason -- Just philosophy -- Conceiving minds -- Abstraction -- Argument from analogy -- Sympathy -- Limitations -- Generality -- Hume's concept of mind -- The world and the other -- Habit and intersubjective responsiveness -- Belief and (...) education -- Mental facts -- Signs of mind and world -- The belief-grounding function of sympathy -- Corrigibility of belief -- Cognitive architecture. (shrink)
This article describes some of the main arguments for the existence of other minds, and intersubjectivity more generally, that depend upon a transcendental justification. This means that our focus will be largely on ‘continental’ philosophy, not only because of the abiding interest in this tradition in thematising intersubjectivity, but also because transcendental reasoning is close to ubiquitous in continental philosophy. Neither point holds for analytic philosophy. As such, this essay will introduce some of the important contributions of Edmund Husserl, (...) Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Karl-Otto Apel, all of whom use transcendental reasoning as a key part of their analyses of intersubjectivity, and we also consider the work of Peter Strawson who does likewise in the analytic tradition. (shrink)
Discussion of the human soul has bulked large in the literature of philosophy and religion. I defend the possibility of disembodied Cartesian minds by examining the criticisms of three philosophers who argue that there are serious difficulties about any attempt to account for the identity of such Cartesian minds through time. I argue that their criticisms of the possibility of disembodied minds are damaging but not fatal. I hold that the central issue behind their criticisms of Cartesian (...)minds is whether any nonphysical mental criterion can be formulated for the identity of such entities. Even though no such criterion can be given, disembodied minds that persist through time remain logical possibilities. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that many “simple minded” invertebrates are “natural zombies” in that they utilize their senses in intelligent ways, but without phenomenal awareness. The discussion considers how “first-order” representationalist theories of consciousness meet the explanatory challenge posed by blindsight. It would be an advantage of first-order representationalism, over higher-order versions, if it does not rule out consciousness in most non-human animals. However, it is argued that a first-order representationalism which adequately accounts for blindsight also implies that most (...) non-mammals are not conscious. The example of the honey bee is used to illuminate these claims. Although there is some reason to think that bees have simple beliefs and desires, nevertheless, their visually-mediated cognizing is comparable to that of an animal with blindsight. There is also reason to think that the study of blindsight can also help determine how consciousness is distributed in the animal world. (shrink)
Psychologists distinguish between intentional systems which have beliefs and those which are also able to attribute beliefs to others. The ability to do the latter is called having a `theory of mind', and many cognitive ethologists are hoping to find evidence for this ability in animal behaviour. I argue that Dennett's theory entails that any intentional system that interacts with another intentional system (such as vervet monkeys and chess-playing computers) has a theory of mind, which would make the distinction all (...) but meaningless. This entailment should not be accepted; instead, Dennett's position that intentional behaviour is best predictable via the intentional stance should be rejected in favour of a pluralistic view of behaviour prediction. I introduce an additional method which humans often use to predict intentional and non-intentional behaviour, which could be called the inductive stance. (shrink)
The paper is concerned with John Searle’s famous Chinese room argument. Despite being objected to by some, Searle’s Chinese room argument appears very appealing. This is because Searle’s argument is based on an intuition about the mind that ‘we’ all seem to share. Ironically, however, Chinese philosophers don’t seem to share this same intuition. The paper begins by first analysing Searle’s Chinee room argument. It then introduces what can be seen as the (implicit) Chinese view of the mind. Lastly, it (...) demonstrates a conceptual difference between Chinese and Western philosophy with respect to the notion of mind. Thus, it is shown that one must carefully attend to the presuppositions underlying Chinese philosophising in interpreting Chinese philosophers. (shrink)
The everyday capacity to understand the mind, or 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our ordinary lives. Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich provide a detailed and integrated account of the intricate web of mental components underlying this fascinating and multifarious skill. The imagination, they argue, is essential to understanding others, and there are special cognitive mechanisms for understanding oneself. The account that emerges has broad implications for longstanding philosophical debates over the status of folk psychology. Mindreading is another trailblazing volume (...) in the prestigious interdisciplinary Oxford Cognitive Science series. (shrink)
Cognitive agents, whether human or computer, that engage in natural-language discourse and that have beliefs about the beliefs of other cognitive agents must be able to represent objects the way they believe them to be and the way they believe others believe them to be. They must be able to represent other cognitive agents both as objects of beliefs and as agents of beliefs. They must be able to represent their own beliefs, and they must be able to represent beliefs (...) as objects of beliefs. These requirements raise questions about the number of tokens of the belief representation language needed to represent believers and propositions in their normal roles and in their roles as objects of beliefs. In this paper, we explicate the relations among nodes, mental tokens, concepts, actual objects, concepts in the belief spaces of an agent and the agent's model of other agents, concepts of other cognitive agents, and propositions. We extend, deepen, and clarify our theory of intensional knowledge representation for natural-language processing, as presented in previous papers and in light of objections raised by others. The essential claim is that tokens in a knowledge-representation system represent only intensions and not extensions. We are pursuing this investigation by building CASSIE, a computer model of a cognitive agent and, to the extent she works, a cognitive agent herself. CASSIE's mind is implemented in the SNePS knowledge-representation and reasoning system. (shrink)
One of the goals of physiologists who study the detailed physical, chemical,and neurological mechanisms operating within the human body is to understand the intricate causal processes which underlie human abilities and activities. It is doubtless premature to predict that they will eventually be able to explain the behaviour of a particular human being as we might now explain the behaviour of a pendulum clock or even the invisible changes occurring within the hardware of a modern electronic computer. Nonetheless, it seems (...) fair to say that hovering in the background of investigations into human physiology is the promise or threat, depending upon how one looks at the matter that human beings are complete physical-chemical systems and that all events taking place within their bodies and all movements of their bodies could be accounted for by physical causes if we but knew enough. I am not concerned at the moment with whether or not this ’mechanistic’ hypothesis is true, assuming that it is clear enough to be intelligible, nor with whether or not we could ever know that it is true. I wish to consider the somewhat more accessible yet equally important question whether our coming to believe that the hypothesis is true would warrant our relinquishing our conception of ourselves as beings who are capable of acting for reasons to achieve ends of our own choosing. I use the word ’warrant’ to indicate that I will not be discussing the possibility that believing the mechanistic hypothesis might lead us, as a matter of psychological fact, to think of human beings as mere automata, as objects whose movements are to be explained only by causes rather than by reasons, as are the actions of a personal subject. I intend to consider only whether the acceptance of mechanism would in fact justify such a change in conception. (shrink)
When in 1979 Zenon Pylyshyn, associate editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS, a peer commentary journal which I edit) informed me that he had secured a paper by John Searle with the unprepossessing title of [XXXX], I cannot say that I was especially impressed; nor did a quick reading of the brief manuscript -- which seemed to be yet another tedious "Granny Objection" about why/how we are not computers -- do anything to upgrade that impression.
Recreative Minds develops a philosophical theory of imagination that draws upon the latest work in psychology. This theory illuminates the use of imagination in coming to terms with art, its role in enabling us to live as social beings, and the psychological consequences of disordered imagination. The authors offer a lucid exploration of a fascinating subject.
Humans are part of the animal kingdom, but their minds differ from those of other animals. They are capable of many things that lie beyond the intellectual powers of the rest of the animal realm. In this paper, I want to ask what makes human minds distinctive. What accounts for the special powers that set humans aside from other animals?
I May, at a gathering, notice that Peter is sitting very stiffly in his chair. I say to myself, “Perhaps he has a pain. Yes, I think he has some sort of pain.” I have inferred a feeling of some sort from bodily behavior. It is not an impossible thing to do, to infer sometimes a feeling from bodily behavior. But it is a puzzling thing to do, at least in a philosophieal sense. Because we ordinarily hold that we cannot (...) “observe” the feelings of another, that we can never directly confront these feelings, that feelings as actually felt are private to each of us. There may be interesting ways of challenging this sort of remark—for instance, by way of telepathy. But there is an advantage in puzzling over the kind of inference indicated, without the challenge of telepathy or similar abilities. (shrink)
Harnad''s proposed robotic upgrade of Turing''s Test (TT), from a test of linguistic capacity alone to a Total Turing Test (TTT) of linguisticand sensorimotor capacity, conflicts with his claim that no behavioral test provides even probable warrant for attributions of thought because there is no evidence of consciousness besides private experience. Intuitive, scientific, and philosophical considerations Harnad offers in favor of his proposed upgrade are unconvincing. I agree with Harnad that distinguishing real from as if thought on the basis of (...) (presence or lack of) consciousness (thus rejecting Turing (behavioral) testing as sufficient warrant for mental attribution)has the skeptical consequence Harnad accepts — there is in factno evidence for me that anyone else but me has a mind. I disagree with hisacceptance of it! It would be better to give up the neo-Cartesian faith in private conscious experience underlying Harnad''s allegiance to Searle''s controversial Chinese Room Experiment than give up all claim to know others think. It would be better to allow that (passing) Turing''s Test evidences — evenstrongly evidences — thought. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss Searle's claim that the computational properties of a system could never cause a system to be conscious. In the first section of the paper I argue that Searle is correct that, even if a system both behaves in a way that is characteristic of conscious agents (like ourselves) and has a computational structure similar to those agents, one cannot be certain that that system is conscious. On the other hand, I suggest that Searle's intuition that (...) it is “empirically absurd” that such a system could be conscious is unfounded. In the second section I show that Searle's attempt to show that a system's computational states could not possibly cause it to be conscious is based upon an erroneous distinction between computational and physical properties. On the basis of these two arguments, I conclude that, supposing that the behavior of conscious agents can be explained in terms of their computational properties, we have good reason to suppose that a system having computational properties similar to such agents is also conscious. (shrink)