In the Esprit des Lois (EL) Montesquieu famously proposes a version of the doctrine of the separation of judicial, executive and legislative power as a way of protecting political liberty (“the opinion each has of his security”). Given the context in which he situates his arguments: an immense and theoretically opaque excursus which discusses almost everything known to political theory, anthropology and economics before his time, and essentially descriptive methodology, it is not easy to discern a clear line of argument (...) in support of the doctrine of the separation of powers. In this essay I offer an interpretation which treats it as a constitutional version of the theory of spontaneous social order. Just as, in the later work of Mandeville, Adam Smith or Hayek, social order emerges from the interaction of individuals following the demands of their own natures, political order emerges from the equilibriating interactions of contending political forces, carefully disposed by the constitution. In making this argument Montesquieu treats the emergence of spontaneous constitutional order as essentially a mechanical process, for which the best metaphor is the balance of gravitational forces which holds the planets of the solar system in equilibrium. In thinking of justice this way Montesquieu follows a line of Enlightenment thought which is essentially atheoretical and descriptive rather than abstract and prescriptive (“It is useless to attack politics directly by showing how much it is in conflict with morality and reason. This sort of argument convinces everybody but changes nobody”3). Rather than construct normative arguments about the nature of justice, the rational basis for limitations on arbitrary rule or the proper relations of competing public virtues and private passions, Montesquieu points to England as a place where liberty is protected and simply recommends that the same essential preconditions be established, confident that justice will evolve as the result of a mechanical process. The legislator need not concern himself with the institutional discipline of anti-social passions for the common good, since that is taken care of by the mechanism of the constitution. The textual evidence for this interpretation of Montesquieu is thin.. (shrink)
Pierre Bourdieu has developed a philosophy of social science, grounded in the phenomenological tradition, which treats knowledge as a practical ability embodied in skilful behaviour, rather than an intellectual capacity for the representation and manipulation of propositional knowledge. He invokes Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule-following as one way of explicating the idea that knowledge is a skill. Bourdieu’s conception of tacit knowledge is a dispositional one, adopted to avoid a perceived dilemma for methodological individualism. That dilemma requires either the explanation of (...) regularities in social behaviour as the result of the tacit representation of procedural rules (‘legalism’) or the self-conscious representation of behavioural goals (‘voluntarism’) by individuals. After explaining the apparent dilemma, I then argue that Wittgenstein’s remarks on rule following actually undermine, rather than support, a dispositional solution. Nonetheless, the philosophy of social science can survive without a dispositional account of knowledge. Such a social science needs, firstly, to embrace one horn of the dilemma, voluntarism, provided that the relevant regularities can be explained as unintended consequences of agents’ self-represented intentions. Secondly, such a social science should treat theorists’ interpretations as unifying generalizations, not hypotheses about the acquisition of tacit knowledge. Finally, where appeal to cognitive psychology can distinguish otherwise equivalent theories in social science, social science should incorporate the data of cognitive psychology concerning tacit mental processes. (shrink)
Jennifer Radden has drawn attention to two features of delusion, ambivalence and subjectivity, which are problematic for theories of delusion that treat delusions as empirical beliefs. She argues for an ‘attitude’ theory of delusion. I argue that once the cognitive architecture of delusion formation is properly described the debate between doxastic and attitude theorists loses its edge. That architecture suggests that delusions are produced by activity in the ‘default mode network’ unsupervised by networks required for decontextualized processing. The cognitive properties (...) of these networks explain the features of delusion which generate the debate between doxastic and attitude theorists. (shrink)
Metaethics has recently been confronted by evidence from cognitive neuroscience that tacit emotional processes play an essential causal role in moral judgement. Most neuroscientists, and some metaethicists, take this evidence to vindicate a version of metaethical sentimentalism. In this paper we argue that the ‘dual process’ model of cognition that frames the discussion within and without philosophy does not do justice to an important constraint on any theory of deliberation and judgement. Namely, decision-making is the exercise of a capacity for (...) agency. Agency, in turn, requires a capacity to conceive of oneself as temporally extended: to inhabit, in both memory and imagination, an autobiographical past and future. To plan, to commit to plans, and to act in accordance with previous plans requires a diachronic self, able to transcend the present moment. While this fact about agency is central to much of moral philosophy (e.g. in discussions of autonomy and moral responsibility) it is opaque to the dual process framework and those meta-ethical accounts which situate themselves within this model of cognition. We show how this is the case and argue for an empirically adequate account of moral judgement which gives sufficient role to memory and imagination as cognitive prerequisites of agency. We reconsider the empirical evidence, provide an alternative, agentive, interpretation of key findings, and evaluate the consequences for metaethics. (shrink)
Recent work in cognitive neuroscience on the child's Theory of Mind (ToM) has pursued the idea that the ability to metarepresent mental states depends on a domain-specific cognitive subystem implemented in specific neural circuitry: a Theory of Mind Module. We argue that the interaction of several domain-general mechanisms and lower-level domain-specific mechanisms accounts for the flexibility and sophistication of behavior, which has been taken to be evidence for a domain-specific ToM module. This finding is of more general interest since it (...) suggests a parsimonious cognitive architecture can account for apparent domain specificity. We argue for such an architecture in two stages. First, on conceptual grounds, contrasting the case of language with ToM, and second, by showing that recent evidence in the form of fMRI and lesion studies supports the more parsimonious hypothesis. Theory of Mind, Metarepresentation, and Modularity Developmental Components of ToM The Analogy with Modularity of Language Dissociations without Modules The Evidence from Neuroscience Conclusion CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Delusions are currently characterised as false beliefs produced by incorrect inference about external reality (DSM IV). This inferential conception has proved hard to link to explanations pitched at the level of neurobiology and neuroanatomy. This paper provides that link via a neurocomputational theory, based on evolutionary considerations, of the role of the prefrontal cortex in regulating offline cognition. When pathologically neuromodulated the prefrontal cortex produces hypersalient experiences which monopolise offline cognition. The result is characteristic psychotic experiences and patterns of thought. (...) This bottom-up account uses neural network theory to integrate recent theories of the role of dopamine in delusion with the insights of inferential accounts. It also provides a general model for evolutionary psychiatry which avoids theoretical problems imported from evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
Patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) are often described as having impaired ability for planning and decision making despite retaining intact capacities for explicit reasoning. The somatic marker hypothesis is that the VMPFC associates implicitly represented affective information with explicit representations of actions or outcomes. Consequently, when the VMPFC is damaged explicit reasoning is no longer scaffolded by affective information, leading to characteristic deficits. These deficits are exemplified in performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) in which (...) subjects with VMPFC perform significantly worse than neurotypicals in a task which requires them learn from rewarding and punishing experience to make decisions. The somatic marker theory adopts a canonical theory of emotion, in which emotions function as part of a valencing system, to explain the role of affective processes. The first part of the paper argues against this canonical account. The second part provides a different account of the role of the role of the VMPFC in decision-making which does not depend on the canonical account of emotion. Together the first and second parts of the paper provide the basis for a different interpretation of results on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). In fact the IGT may be probing a deficit in what has been called mental time travel: the ability to access and use information from previous experience and imaginatively rehearse future experiences as part of the process of deliberation. (shrink)
Individualism is not inconsistent with social interaction; it is required to explain it. Social exchanges, evidenced in gaze monitoring, social referencing, emotional responses, protodeclarative and imperative pointing, pretence, play, and conversation all play a role in development, but the nature of that role is opaque without an understanding of the cognitive mechanisms on which they depend.
Nativists about syntactic processing have argued that linguisticprocessing, understood as the implementation of a rule-basedcomputational architecture, is spared in Williams syndrome, (WMS)subjects – and hence that it provides evidence for a geneticallyspecified language module. This argument is bolstered by treatingSpecific Language Impairments (SLI) and WMS as a developmental doubledissociation which identifies a syntax module. Neuroconstructivists haveargued that the cognitive deficits of a developmental disorder cannot beadequately distinguished using the standard gross behavioural tests ofneuropsychology and that the linguistic abilities of the (...) WMS subject canbe equally well explained by a constructivist strategy of neurallearning in the individual, with linguisitic functions implemented in anassociationist architecture. The neuroconstructivist interpretation ofWMS undermines the hypothesis of a double dissociation between SLI andWMS, leaving unresolved the question of nativism about syntax. Theapparent linguistic virtuosity of WMS subjects is an artefact ofenhanced phonological processing, a fact which is easier to demonstratevia the associationist computational model embraced byneuroconstructivism. (shrink)
Cognitive neuropsychiatry (CN) is the explanation of psychiatric disorder by the methods of cognitive neuropsychology. Within CN there are, broadly speaking, two approaches to delusion. The first uses a one-stage model, in which delusions are explained as rationalizations of anomalous experiences via reasoning strategies that are not, in themselves, abnormal. Two-stage models invoke additional hypotheses about abnormalities of reasoning. In this paper, I examine what appears to be a very strong argument, developed within CN, in favor of a twostage explanation (...) of the difference in content between the Capgras and Cotard delusions. That explanation treats them as alternative rationalizations of essentially the same phenomenology. I show, however, that once we distinguish the phenomenology (and the neuroetiology), a one-stage model is adequate. In the final section I make some more general remarks on the oneand two-stage models. (shrink)
Either genetically specified modular cognitive architecture for syntactic processing does not exist (neuroconstructivism), or there is a module but its development is so abnormal in Williams syndrome (WS) that no conclusion can be drawn about its normal architecture (moderate nativism). Radical nativism, which holds that WS is a case of intact syntax, is untenable. Specific Language Impairment and WS create a dilemma that radical nativism cannot accommodate.
Evolutionary Psychology is based on the idea that the mind is a set of special purpose thinking devices or modules whose domain-specific structure is an adaptation to ancestral environments. The modular view of the mind is an uncontroversial description of the periphery of the mind, the input-output sensorimotor and affective subsystems. The novelty of EP is the claim that higher order cognitive processes also exhibit a modular structure. Autism is a primary case study here, interpreted as a developmental failure of (...) a module devoted to social intelligence or Theory of Mind. In this article I reappraise the arguments for innate modularity of TOM and argue that they fail. TOM ability is a consequence of domain general development scaffolded by early, innately specified, sensorimotor abilities. The alleged Modularity of TOM results from interpreting the outcome of developmental failures characteristic of autism at too high a level of cognitive abstraction. (shrink)
Delusions are explanations of anomalous experiences. A theory of delusion requires an explanation of both the anomalous experience _and _the apparently irrational explanation generated by the delusional subject. Hence, we require a model of rational belief formation against which the belief formation of delusional subjects can be evaluated. _Method. _I first describe such a model, distinguishing procedural from pragmatic rationality. Procedural rationality is the use of rules or procedures, deductive or inductive, that produce an inferentially coherent set of propositions. Pragmatic (...) rationality is the use of procedural rationality _in context_. I then apply the distinction to the explanation of the Capgras and the Cotard delusions. I then argue that delusions are failures of pragmatic rationality. I examine the nature of these failures employing the distinction between performance and competence familiar from Chomskian linguistics. _Results. _This approach to the irrationality of delusions reconciles accounts in which the explanation of the anomalous experience exhausts the explanation of delusion, accounts that appeal to further deficits within the reasoning processes of delusional subjects, and accounts that argue that delusions are not beliefs at all. (Respectively, one-stage, two-stage, and expressive accounts.) _Conclusion. _In paradigm cases that concern cognitive neuropsychiatry the irrationality of delusional subjects should be thought of as a performance deficit in pragmatic rationality. (shrink)
An elegant theory in cognitive neuropsychiatry explains the Capgras and Cotard delusions as resulting from the same type of anomalous phenomenal experience explained in different ways by different sufferers. ‘Although the Capgras and Cotard delusions are phenomenally distinct, we thus think that they represent patients’ attempts to make sense of fundamentally similar experiences’ (Young and Leafhead, 1996, p. 168). On the theory proposed by Young and Leafhead, the anomalous experience results from damage to an information processing subsystem which associates an (...) affect of ‘familiarity’ with overt recognition of faces, and, sometimes, scenes and objects. When the normal affect of familiarity is absent the subject experiences an unusual feeling of derealization or depersonalization. The Cotard and Capgras patients adopt different, delusional, explanations of this unusual qualitative state, for reasons to do with ‘attributional style’. It is part of this attribution hypothesis that delusional subjects, like normal people, interpret perceptual phenomena in the light of a set of background beliefs whose structure is a product of social/contextual influences and individual psychological dispositions. That structure predisposes people to reason in certain ways, to discount or reinterpret evidence and to favour certain hypoth-. (shrink)