There are good, even if inconclusive reasons to think that cognitivepenetration of perception occurs: that cognitive states like belief causally affect, in a relatively direct way, the contents of perceptual experience. The supposed importance—indeed some would argue, the essence—of this possible phenomenon is that it would result in important epistemic and scientific consequences. One interesting and intuitive consequence entirely unremarked in the extant literature concerns the perception of art. Intuition has it that knowledge about art changes (...) how one aesthetically evaluates artworks. A profound explanation of this intuitive fact is that perceptual experiences vary with artistic expertise. Cognitivepenetration provides an explanatory mechanism for this latter effect. What one knows about art may affect, in one of two ways sketched below, how one perceives art. Differences in aesthetic evaluation follow, either because high-level aesthetic properties can be perceptually represented or because they supervene on low-level perceptible properties. Either way, the hypothesis is that the expert better judges art because she better sees art. And she better sees art because she better knows art. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012. This excerpt explores the question: What counts as cognitivepenetration?
Philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists have recently taken renewed interest in cognitivepenetration, in particular, in the cognitivepenetration of perceptual experience. The question is whether cognitive states like belief influence perceptual experience in some important way. Since the possible phenomenon is an empirical one, the strategy for analysis has, predictably, proceeded as follows: define the phenomenon and then, definition in hand, interpret various psychological data. However, different theorists offer different and apparently inconsistent (...) definitions. And so in addition to the usual problems (e.g., definitions being challenged by counterexample), an important result is that different theorists apply their definitions and accordingly get conflicting answers to the question “Is this a genuine case of cognitivepenetration?”. This hurdle to philosophical and scientific progress can be remedied, I argue, by returning attention to the alleged consequences of the possible phenomenon. There are three: theory-ladenness of perception in contexts of scientific theory choice, a threat to the general epistemic role of perception, and implications for mental architecture. Any attempt to characterize or define, and then empirically test for, cognitivepenetration should be constrained by these consequences. This is a method for interpreting and acquiring experimental data in a way that is agreeable to both sides of the cognitivepenetration debate. Put crudely, the question shifts to “Is this a cognitive-perceptual relation that results in (or constitutes) one or more of the relevant consequences?” In answering this question, relative to various data, it may turn out that there is no single unified phenomenon of cognitivepenetration. But this should be no matter, since it is the consequences that are of central importance to philosophers and scientists alike. (shrink)
Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitivepenetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
Perception is typically distinguished from cognition. For example, seeing is importantly different from believing. And while what one sees clearly influences what one thinks, it is debateable whether what one believes and otherwise thinks can influence, in some direct and non-trivial way, what one sees. The latter possible relation is the cognitivepenetration of perception. Cognitivepenetration, if it occurs, has implications for philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science. This paper offers (...) an analysis of the phenomenon, its theoretical consequences, and a variety of experimental results and possible interpretations of them. The paper concludes by proposing some constraints for analyses and definitions of cognitive penetrability. (shrink)
Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one’s cognitive system, for example, one’s thoughts or beliefs? Ifone thinks that this can happen [at least in certain ways that are identWed in the paper] then one thinks that there can be cognitivepenetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitivelv impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case ofcognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the (...) standard strategies one can typicallv use to explain away alleged cases. The case is one in which it seems subjects’ beliefs about the typical colour of objects ajfects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitivepenetration that explains how cognitivepenetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitivelv penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generallv sympathetic to the idea ofcognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation ofthis plausible mechanism. (shrink)
Short-term memory, nonattentional task effects and nonspatial extraretinal representations in the visual system are signs of cognitivepenetration. All of these have been found physiologically, arguing against the cognitive impenetrability of vision as a whole. Instead, parallel subcircuits in the brain, each subserving a different competency including sensory and cognitive (and in some cases motor) aspects, may have cognitively impenetrable components.
This paper considers an orectic penetration hypothesis which says that desires and desire-like states may influence perceptual experience in a non-externally mediated way. This hypothesis is clarified with a definition, which serves further to distinguish the interesting target phenomenon from trivial and non-genuine instances of desire-influenced perception. Orectic penetration is an interesting possible case of the cognitive penetrability of perceptual experience. The orectic penetration hypothesis is thus incompatible with the more common thesis that perception is cognitively (...) impenetrable. It is of importance to issues in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, epistemology, and general philosophy of science. The plausibility of orectic perception can be motivated by some classic experimental studies, and some new experimental research inspired by those same studies. The general suggestion is that orectic penetration thus defined, and evidenced by the relevant studies, cannot be deflected by the standard strategies of the cognitive impenetrability theorist. (shrink)
Is vision informationally encapsulated from cognition or is it cognitively penetrated? I shall argue that intentions penetrate vision in the experience of visual spatial constancy: the world appears to be spatially stable despite our frequent eye movements. I first explicate the nature of this experience and critically examine and extend current neurobiological accounts of spatial constancy, emphasizing the central role of motor signals. I then provide a sufficient condition for failure of informational encapsulation that emphasizes a computational condition for (...) class='Hi'>cognitivepenetration: cognition must serve as an informational resource for visual computation. This requires proposals regarding semantic information transfer, a crucial issue in any model of informational encapsulation. I then argue that intention provides an informational resource for computation of visual spatial constancy. Hence, intention penetrates vision. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions that arose from the Network for Sensory Research workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of York in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: Can perceptual experience be modified by reason?
How can the impenetrability hypothesis be empirically tested? We comment on the role of signal detection measures, suggesting that context effects on discriminations for which post-perceptual cues are irrelevant, or on neural activity associated with early vision, would challenge impenetrability. We also note the great computational power of the proposed pre-perceptual attention processes and consider the implications for testability of the theory.
I distinguish between two kinds of selection effects on experience: selection of objects or features for experience, and anti-selection of experiences for cognitive uptake. I discuss the idea that both kinds of selection effects can lead to a form of confirmation bias at the level of perception, and argue that when this happens, selection effects can influence the rational role of experience.
Pylyshyn acknowledges that cognition intervenes in determining the nature of perception when attention is allocated to locations or properties prior to the operation of early vision. I present evidence that scale perception (one function of early vision) is cognitively penetrable and argue that Pylyshyn's criterion covers not a few, but many situations of recognition. Cognitive penetrability could be their modus operandi.
Although the study of visual perception has made more progress in the past 40 years than any other area of cognitive science, there remain major disagreements as to how closely vision is tied to general cognition. This paper sets out some of the arguments for both sides (arguments from computer vision, neuroscience, Psychophysics, perceptual learning and other areas of vision science) and defends the position that an important part of visual perception, which may be called early vision or just (...) vision, is prohibited from accessing relevant expectations, knowledge and utilities - in other words it is cognitively impenetrable. That part of vision is complex and articulated and provides a representation of the 3-D surfaces of objects sufficient to serve as an index into memory, with somewhat different outputs being made available to other systems such as those dealing with motor control. The paper also addresses certain conceptual and methodological issues, including the use of signal detection theory and event-related potentials to assess cognitivepenetration of vision. A distinction is made among several stages in visual processing. These include, in addition to the inflexible early-vision stage, a pre-perceptual attention allocation stage and a post-perceptual evaluation, memory-accessing, and inference stage which provide several different highly constrained ways in which cognition can affect the outcome of visual perception. The paper discusses arguments that have been presented in both computer vision and psychology showing that vision is "intelligent" and involves elements of problem solving". It is suggested that these cases do not show cognitivepenetration, but rather they show that certain natural constraints on interpretation, concerned primarily with optical and geometrical properties of the world, have been compiled into the visual system. The paper also examines a number of examples where instructions and "hints" are alleged to affect. (shrink)
We offer an ecological (Gibsonian) alternative to cognitive (im)penetrability. Whereas Pylyshyn explains cognitive (im)penetrability by focusing solely on computations carried out by the nervous system, according to the ecological approach the perceiver as a knowing agent influences the entire animal-environmental system: in the determination of what constitutes the environment (affordances), what constitutes information, what information is detected and, thus, what is perceived.
Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I call potentialism, (...) inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
Cognitive systems research has predominantly been guided by the historical distinction between emotion and cognition, and has focused its efforts on modelling the “cognitive” aspects of behaviour. While this initially meant modelling only the control system of cognitive creatures, with the advent of “embodied” cognitive science this expanded to also modelling the interactions between the control system and the external environment. What did not seem to change with this embodiment revolution, however, was the attitude towards affect (...) and emotion in cognitive science. This paper argues that cognitive systems research is now beginning to integrate these aspects of natural cognitive systems into cognitive science proper, not in virtue of traditional “embodied cognitive science”, which focuses predominantly on the body’s gross morphology, but rather in virtue of research into the interoceptive, organismic basis of natural cognitive systems. (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitive science concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended from (...) the work of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible (...) theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitive science. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstract ideas in cognitive science has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from the workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on May 10th and 11th, 2012: 1. How should we demarcate perceptual learning from perceptual development? 2. What are the origins of multimodal associations? 3. Does our representation of time provide an amodal framework for multi-sensory integration? 4. What counts as cognitivepenetration? 5. How can philosophers and psychologists most fruitfully collaborate?
Theories concerning the structure, or format, of mental representation should (1) be formulated in mechanistic, rather than metaphorical terms; (2) do justice to several philosophical intuitions about mental representation; and (3) explain the human capacity to predict the consequences of worldly alterations (i.e., to think before we act). The hypothesis that thinking involves the application of syntax-sensitive inference rules to syntactically structured mental representations has been said to satisfy all three conditions. An alternative hypothesis is that thinking requires the construction (...) and manipulation of the cognitive equivalent of scale models. A reading of this hypothesis is provided that satisfies condition (1) and which, even though it may not fully satisfy condition (2), turns out (in light of the frame problem) to be the only known way to satisfy condition (3). (shrink)
The entropy-reduction hypothesis claims that the cognitive processing difficulty on a word in sentence context is determined by the word's effect on the uncertainty about the sentence. Here, this hypothesis is tested more thoroughly than has been done before, using a recurrent neural network for estimating entropy and self-paced reading for obtaining measures of cognitive processing load. Results show a positive relation between reading time on a word and the reduction in entropy due to processing that word, supporting (...) the entropy-reduction hypothesis. Although this effect is independent from the effect of word surprisal, we find no evidence that these two measures correspond to cognitively distinct processes. (shrink)
Recently, an associative learning account of cognitive control has been suggested (Verguts & Notebaert, 2009). In this so-called adaptation by binding theory, Hebbian learning of stimulus–stimulus and stimulus–response associations is assumed to drive the adaptation of human behavior. In this study, we evaluated the validity of the adaptation-by-binding account for the case of implicit learning of regularities within a stimulus set (i.e., the frequency of specific unit digit combinations in a two-digit number magnitude comparison task) and their association with (...) a particular response. Our data indicated that participants indeed learned these regularities and adapted their behavior accordingly. In particular, influences of cognitive control were even able to override the numerical distance effect—one of the most robust effects in numerical cognition research. Thus, the general cognitive processes involved in two-digit number magnitude comparison seem much more complex than previously assumed. Multi-digit number magnitude comparison may not be automatic and inflexible but influenced by processes of cognitive control being highly adaptive to stimulus set properties and task demands on multiple levels. (shrink)
Previous accounts of cognitive skill acquisition have demonstrated how procedural knowledge can be obtained and transformed over time into skilled task performance. This article focuses on a complementary aspect of skill acquisition, namely the integration and reuse of previously known component skills. The article posits that, in addition to mechanisms that proceduralize knowledge into more efficient forms, skill acquisition requires tight integration of newly acquired knowledge and previously learned knowledge. Skill acquisition also benefits from reuse of existing knowledge across (...) disparate task domains, relying on indexicals to reference and share necessary information across knowledge components. To demonstrate these ideas, the article proposes a computational model of skill acquisition from instructions focused on integration and reuse, and applies this model to account for behavior across seven task domains. (shrink)
There is an argument that has recently been deployed in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly (or even exclusively) composed of cognitive modules; an argument that draws from some ideas and concepts of evolutionary and of developmental biology. In a nutshell, the argument concludes that a mind that is massively composed of cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular (henceforth, c-modular) is more evolvable than a mind that is not c-modular (or that is scarcely c-modular), since a (...)cognitive mechanism that is c-modular is likely to be biologically modular (henceforth, b-modular), and b-modular characters are more evolvable (e.g., Sperber 2002, Carruthers 2005). In evolutionary biology, the evolvability of a character in an organism is understood as the “organism’s capacity to facilitate the generation of non-lethal selectable phenotypic variation from random mutation” with respect to that character. Here I will argue that the notion of cognitive modularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence; that is, it will have to be understood in such a way that a cognitive feature is c-modular only if few or no other morphological changes (cognitive and not) are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population. I will also argue that all –except for (possibly) one—of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of cognitive modularity widely accepted in some of the mainstream currents of thought in classical cognitive science, are simply irrelevant to the argument. In order to argue for this, I will have to examine the question as to whether there are any strong theoretical connections between (1) those connotations and (2) notions of modularity accepted in biology, specially in evolutionary and in developmental biology, that are thought to be most relevant to arguments to the effect that biological modularity enhances evolvability. (shrink)
William James described the stream of thought as having two components: (1) a nucleus of highly conscious, often perceptual material; and (2) a fringe of dimly felt contextual information that controls the entry of information into the nucleus and guides the progression of internally directed thought. Here I examine the neural and cognitive correlates of this phenomenology. A survey of the cognitive neuroscience literature suggests that the nucleus corresponds to a dynamic global buffer formed by interactions between different (...) regions of the brain, while the fringe corresponds to a set of mechanisms in the frontal and medial temporal lobes that control the contents of this global buffer. A consequence of this account is that there might be conscious imagistic representations that are not part of the nucleus. I argue that phenomenology can be linked to psychology and neuroscience and a meaningful way that illuminates both. (shrink)
The cognitive neurosciences are based on the idea that the level of neurons or neural networks constitutes a privileged level of analysis for the explanation of mental phenomena. This paper brings to mind several arguments to the effect that this presumption is ill-conceived and unwarranted in light of what is currently understood about the physical principles underlying mental achievements. It then scrutinizes the question why such conceptions are nevertheless currently prevailing in many areas of psychology. The paper argues that (...) corresponding conceptions are rooted in four different aspects of our common-sense conception of mental phenomena and their explanation, which are illegitimately transferred to scientific enquiry. These four aspects pertain to the notion of explanation, to conceptions about which mental phenomena are singled out for enquiry, to an inductivist epistemology, and, in the wake of behavioristic conceptions, to a bias favoring investigations of input–output relations at the expense of enquiries into internal principles. To the extent that the cognitive neurosciences methodologically adhere to these tacit assumptions, they are prone to turn into a largely a-theoretical and data-driven endeavor while at the same time enhancing the prospects for receiving widespread public appreciation of their empirical findings. (shrink)
There is converging evidence from developmental and cognitive psychology, as well as from neuroscience, to suggest that the self is both special and social, and that self-other interaction is the driving force behind self-development. We review experimental findings which demonstrate that human infants are motivated for social interactions and suggest that the development of an awareness of other minds is rooted in the implicit notion that others are like the self. We then marshal evidence from functional neuroimaging explorations of (...) the neurophysiological substrate of shared representations between the self and others, using various ecological paradigms such as mentally representing one's own actions versus others' actions, watching the actions executed by others, imitating the others' actions versus being imitated by others. We suggest that within this shared neural network the inferior parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex in the right hemisphere play a special role in the essential ability to distinguish the self from others, and in the way the self represents the other. Interestingly, the right hemisphere develops its functions earlier than the left. (shrink)
In this paper art history and visual studies, the disciplines that study visual culture, are presented as a field whose conjectural paradigm can be used to understand the epistemic problems associated with abduction. In order to do so, significant statements, concepts and arguments from the work of several specialists in this field have been highlighted. Their analysis shows the fruitfulness and potential for understanding the study of visual culture as a field that is interwoven with the assumptions of abductive cognition.
The notion of levels has been widely used in discussions of cognitive science, especially in discussions of the relation of connectionism to symbolic modeling of cognition. I argue that many of the notions of levels employed are problematic for this purpose, and develop an alternative notion grounded in the framework of mechanistic explanation. By considering the source of the analogies underlying both symbolic modeling and connectionist modeling, I argue that neither is likely to provide an adequate analysis of processes (...) at the level at which cognitive theories attempt to function: One is drawn from too low a level, the other from too high a level. If there is a distinctly cognitive level, then we still need to determine what are the basic organizational principles at that level. (shrink)
Extended Cognition (EC) hypothesizes that there are parts of the world outside the head serving as cognitive vehicles. One criticism of this controversial view is the problem of “cognitive bloat” which says that EC is too permissive and fails to provide an adequate necessary criterion for cognition. It cannot, for instance, distinguish genuine cognitive vehicles from mere supports (e.g. the Yellow Pages). In response, Andy Clark and Mark Rowlands have independently suggested that genuine cognitive vehicles are (...) distinguished from supports in that the former have been “recruited,” i.e. they are either artifacts, or, products of evolution. I argue against this proposal. There are counter examples to the claim that “Teleological” EC is either necessary or sufficient for cognition. Teleological EC conflates different types of scientific projects, and inherits content externalism’s alienation from historically impartial cognitive science. (shrink)
Among our conscious states are conscious thoughts. The question at the center of the recent growing literature on cognitive phenomenology is this: In consciously thinking P, is there thereby any phenomenology—is there something it’s like? One way of clarifying the question is to say that it concerns whether there is any proprietary phenomenology associated with conscious thought. Is there any phenomenology due to thinking, as opposed to phenomenology that is due to some co-occurring sensation or mental image? In this (...) paper we will present two arguments that a “yes” answer to this question of cognitive phenomenology can be obtained via appeal to the HOT theory of consciousness, especially the version articulated and defended by David Rosenthal. (shrink)
From the “epistemologically different worlds” perspective, I analyze the status of cognitive neuroscience today. I investigate the main actual topics in cognitive neuroscience: localization and the brain imaging, the binding problem (Treisman’s feature integration theory and synchronized oscillations approach), differentiation and integration, optimism versus skepticism approaches, perception and object recognition, space and the mind, crossmodal interactions, and the holistic view against localization. I want to show that these problems are pseudo-problems and this “science” has “No ontology landscape”.
According to Ramsey (Representation reconsidered, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007), only classical cognitive science, with the related notions of input–output and structural representations, meets the job description challenge (the challenge to show that a certain structure or process serves a representational role at the subpersonal level). By contrast, connectionism and other nonclassical models, insofar as they exploit receptor and tacit notions of representation, are not genuinely representational. As a result, Ramsey submits, cognitive science is taking a U-turn (...) from representationalism back to behaviourism, thus presupposing that (1) the emergence of cognitivism capitalized on the concept of representation, and that (2) the materialization of nonclassical cognitive science involves a return to some form of pre-cognitivist behaviourism. We argue against both (1) and (2), by questioning Ramsey’s divide between classical and representational, versus nonclassical and nonrepresentational, cognitive models. For, firstly, connectionist and other nonclassical accounts have the resources to exploit the notion of a structural isomorphism, like classical accounts (the beefing-up strategy); and, secondly, insofar as input–output and structural representations refer to a cognitive agent, classical explanations fail to meet the job description challenge (the deflationary strategy). Both strategies work independently of each other: if the deflationary strategy succeeds, contra (1), cognitivism has failed to capitalize on the relevant concept of representation; if the beefing-up strategy is sound, contra (2), the return to a pre-cognitivist era cancels out. (shrink)
Ever since Chomsky, language has become the paradigmatic example of an innate capacity. Infants of only a few months old are aware of the phonetic structure of their mother tongue, such as stress-patterns and phonemes. They can already discriminate words from non-words and acquire a feel for the grammatical structure months before they voice their first word. Language reliably develops not only in the face of poor linguistic input, but even without it. In recent years, several scholars have extended this (...) uncontroversial view into the stronger claim that natural language is a human-speciﬁc adaptation. As I shall point out, this position is more problematic because of a lack of conceptual clarity over what human-specific cognitive adaptations are, and how they relate to modularity, the notion that mental phenomena arise from several domain-speciﬁc cognitive structures. The main aim of this paper is not to discuss whether or not language is an adaptation, but rather, to examine the concept of modularity with respect to the evolution and development of natural language. . (shrink)
The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitive science is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of rival (...) theories, and suggests that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations. This lively, conversational, and superbly accessible book is the first volume in the Oxford Cognitive Science Series, where the best original work in this field will be presented to a broad readership. Concepts will fascinate anyone interested in contemporary work on mind and language. Cognitive science will never be the same again. (shrink)
The concept of emergence is widely used in both the philosophy of mind and in cognitive science. In the philosophy of mind it serves to refer to seemingly irreducible phenomena, in cognitive science it is often used to refer to phenomena not explicitly programmed. There is no unique concept of emergence available that serves both purposes.
The term phenomenology can be used in a generic sense to cover a variety of areas related to the problem of consciousness. In this sense it is a title that ranges over issues pertaining to first-person or subjective experience, qualia, and what has become known as "the hard problem" (Chalmers 1995). The term is sometimes used even more generally to signify a variety of approaches to studying such issues, including contemplative, meditative, and mystical studies, and transpersonal psychology.(1) Within the disciplines (...) of philosophy and psychology, however, phenomenology has a more specialized meaning. In this case it refers to the methodology and philosophy initiated by the philosopher Edmund Husserl at the beginning of the twentieth-century and developed in various ways by theorists such as Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Schutz. I restrict the scope of this review to phenomenology in this more specialized sense. In the light of several recent publications, the general questions I address are: What is and what ought to be the relationship between phenomenology and cognitive science? and What, if any, recent contributions has phenomenology made to the science of consciousness? (shrink)
This paper explores some of the areas where neuroscientific and philosophical issues intersect in the study of self-consciousness. Taking as point of departure a paradox (the paradox of self-consciousness) that appears to block philosophical elucidation of self-consciousness, the paper illustrates how the highly conceptual forms of self-consciousness emerge from a rich foundation of nonconceptual forms of self-awareness. Attention is paid in particular to the primitive forms of nonconceptual self-consciousness manifested in visual perception, somatic proprioception, spatial reasoning and interpersonal psychological interactions. (...) The study of these primitive forms of self-consciousness is an interdisciplinary enterprise and the paper considers a range of points of contact where philosophical work can illuminate work in the cognitive sciences, and vice versa. (shrink)
Fodor claims that cognitive modules can be thought of as constituting a psychological natural kind in virtue of their possession of most or all of nine specified properties. The challenge to this considered here comes from synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a type of cross-modal association: input to one sensory modality reliably generates an additional sensory output that is usually generated by the input to a distinct sensory modality. The most common form of synaesthesia manifests Fodor's nine specified properties of modularity, (...) and hence, according to Segal (1997), it should be understood as involving an extra module. Many psychologists believe that synaesthesia involves a breakdown in modularity. After outlining how both theories can explain the manifestation of the nine alleged properties of modularity in synaesthesia, I discuss the two concepts of function which initially motivate the respective theories. I argue that only a teleological concept of function is properly able to adjudicate between the two theories. The upshot is a further application of so-called externalist considerations to mental phenomena. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000) mechanism approach to gaining an understanding of explanation in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that although the mechanism approach can capture many aspects of explanation in cognitive neuroscience, it cannot capture everything. In particular, it cannot completely capture all aspects of the content and significance of mental representations or the evaluative features constitutive of psychopathology.
The aim of this paper is to analyze a philosophical question (neutrality vs. theory-ladenness of observation) taking into consideration the empirical results of Cognitive Psychology (theories of perception). This is an important debate because the objectivity of science is at stake. In the Philosophy of Science there are two main positions with regard to observation, those of C. Hempel and N. R. Hanson. In the Philosophy of Mind there are also two important contrasting positions, those of J. Fodor and (...) Paul M. Churchland. I will analyze the consequences of recent theories of perception and vision developed within Cognitive Science for classical epistemological theses about observation. (shrink)
Abstract: We challenge a line of thinking at the fore of recent work on epistemic value: the line (suggested by Kvanvig  and others) that if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of mere true belief, then we have good reason to doubt its theoretical importance in epistemology. We offer a value-driven argument for the theoretical importance of knowledge—one that stands even if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of true belief. Specifically, we contend (...) that even if knowledge itself has no special epistemic value, its relationship to other items of value—cognitive abilities—gives ample reason to locate the concept at the very core of epistemology. (shrink)
This is the second in a series of two articles that serve as an introduction to recent debates about cognitive phenomenology. Cognitive phenomenology can be defined as the experience that is associated with cognitive activities, such as thinking, reasoning, and understanding. What is at issue in contemporary debates is not the existence of cognitive phenomenology, so defined, but rather its nature and theoretical role. The first article examines questions about the nature of cognitive phenomenology, while (...) the second article explores the philosophical implications of these questions for the role of consciousness in theories of intentionality, introspective self-knowledge, and knowledge of the external world. (shrink)
Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary research endeavor focusing on human cognitive phenomena such as memory, language use, and reasoning. It emerged in the second half of the 20th century and is charting new directions at the beginning of the 21st century. This chapter begins by identifying the disciplines that contribute to cognitive science and reviewing the history of the interdisciplinary engagements that characterize it. The second section examines the role that mechanistic explanation plays in cognitive science, (...) while the third focuses on the importance of mental representations in specifically cognitive explanations. The fourth section considers the interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science and explores how multiple disciplines can contribute to explanations that exceed what any single discipline might accomplish. The conclusion sketches some recent developments in cognitive science and their implications for philosophers. (shrink)
This paper has two aims: (1) to point the way towards a novel alternative to cognitive theories of emotion, and (2) to delineate a number of different functions that the emotions play in cognition, functions that become visible from outside the framework of cognitive theories. First, I hold that the Higher Order Representational (HOR) theories of consciousness ? as generally formulated ? are inadequate insofar as they fail to account for selective attention. After posing this dilemma, I resolve (...) it in such a manner that the following thesis arises: the emotions play a key role in shaping selective attention. This thesis is in accord with A. Damasio?s (1994) noteworthy neuroscientific work on emotion. I then begin to formulate an alternative to cognitive theories of emotion, and I show how this new account has implications for the following issues: face recognition, two brain disorders (Capgras? and Fregoli syndrome), the frame problem in A. I., and the research program of affective computing. (shrink)
This is the first in a series of two articles that serve as an introduction to recent debates about cognitive phenomenology. Cognitive phenomenology can be defined as the experience that is associated with cognitive activities, such as thinking, reasoning, and understanding. What is at issue in contemporary debates is not the existence of cognitive phenomenology, so defined, but rather its nature and theoretical role. The first article examines questions about the nature of cognitive phenomenology, while (...) the second article explores the philosophical implications of these questions for the role of consciousness in theories of intentionality, introspective self-knowledge, and knowledge of the external world. (shrink)
This article critically examines the views that psychology ?rst came into existence as a discipline ca. 1879, that philosophy and psychology were estranged in the ensuing decades, that psychology ?nally became scienti?c through the in?uence of logical empiricism, and that it should now disappear in favor of cognitive science and neuroscience. It argues that psychology had a natural philosophical phase (from antiquity) that waxed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that this psychology transformed into experimental psychology ca. 1900, that (...) philosophers and psychologists collaboratively discussed the subject matter and methods of psychology in the ?rst two decades of the twentieth century, that the neobehaviorists were not substantively in?uenced by the Vienna Circle, that the study of perception and cognition in psy- chology did not disappear in the behaviorist period and so did not reemerge as a result of arti?cial intelligence, linguistics, and the computer analogy, that although some psychologists adopted the language-of-thought approach of traditional cognitive science, many did not, and that psychology will not go away because it contributes independently of cognitive science and neuroscience. (shrink)
Psychology is the study of thinking, and cognitive science is the interdisciplinary investigation of mind and intelligence that also includes philosophy, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. In these investigations, many philosophical issues arise concerning methods and central concepts. The Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science contains 16 essays by leading philosophers of science that illuminate the nature of the theories and explanations used in the investigation of minds. Topics discussed include representation, mechanisms, reduction, perception, consciousness, (...) language, emotions, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. Key Features - Comprehensive coverage of philosophy of psychology and cognitive science - Distinguished contributors: leading philosophers in this area - Contributions closely tied to relevant scientific research. (shrink)
The phenomenon of hypnosis provides a rich paradigm for those seeking to understand the processes that underlie consciousness. Understanding hypnosis tells us about a basic human capacity for altered experiences that is often overlooked in contemporary western societies. Throughout the 200 year history of psychology, hypnosis has been a major topic of investigation by some of the leading experimenters and theorists of each generation. Today hypnosis is emerging again as a lively area of research within cognitive (systems level) neuroscience (...) informing basic questions about the structure and biological basis of conscious states. This book describes the latest advances in understanding hypnosis and similar trance states by researchers within the neuroscience of consciousness. It contains many new and exciting contributions from up and coming researchers and provides a lively debate on methodological and theoretical issues central to the development of emerging research paradigms in the neuroscience of conscious states. The book introduces and describes many of the recent new tools that have become available to researchers in this field. Academics, researchers, and clinicians wanting to develop their knowledge of the latest findings, theories and methods in the scientific study of hypnosis and related states of consciousness will find this an up to date guide to this rapidly advancing field. (shrink)
This book explores how people's subjective, felt experiences of their bodies in action provide part of the fundamental grounding for human cognition and language. Cognition is what occurs when the body engages the physical and cultural world and must be studied in terms of the dynamical interactions between people and the environment. Human language and thought emerge from recurring patterns of embodied activity that constrain ongoing intelligent behavior. We must not assume cognition to be purely internal, symbolic, computational, and disembodied, (...) but seek out the gross and detailed ways that language and thought are inextricably shaped by embodied action. Embodiment and Cognitive Science describes the abundance of empirical evidence from many disciplines, including work on perception, concepts, imagery and reasoning, language and communication, cognitive development, and emotions and consciousness, that support the idea that the mind is embodied. (shrink)
John Bickle's Psychoneural reduction: the new wave (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998) aims to resurrect reductionism within philosophy of mind. He develops a new model of scientific reduction, geared to enhancing our understanding of how theories in neuroscience and cognitive science are interrelated. I put this discussion in context, and assess the prospects for new wave reductionism, both as a general model of scientific reduction and as an attempt to defend reductionism in the philosophy of mind.
What role does the concept of representation play in the contexts of experimentation and explanation in cognitive neurobiology? In this article, a distinction is drawn between minimal and substantive roles for representation. It is argued by appeal to a case study that representation currently plays a role in cognitive neurobiology somewhere in between minimal and substantive and that this is problematic given the ultimate explanatory goals of cognitive neurobiological research. It is suggested that what is needed is (...) for representation to instead play a more substantive role. (shrink)
This paper argues that the cognitive neuroscientific use of ordinary mental terms to report research results and draw implications can contribute to public confusion and misunderstanding regarding neuroscience results. This concern is raised at a time when cognitive neuroscientists are increasingly required by funding agencies to link their research to specific results of public benefit, and when neuroethicists have called for greater attention to public communication of neuroscience. The paper identifies an ethical dimension to the problem and presses (...) for greater sensitivity and responsibility among neuroscientists regarding their use of such terms. (shrink)
"Cognitive psychology," "cognitive neuroscience," and "philosophy of mind" are names for three very different scientific fields, but they label aspects of the same scientific goal: to understand the nature of mental phenomena. Today, the three disciplines strongly overlap under the roof of the cognitive sciences. The book's purpose is to present views from the different disciplines on one of the central theories in cognitive science: the theory of mental models. Cognitive psychologists report their research on (...) the representation and processing of mental models in human memory. Cognitive neuroscientists demonstrate how the brain processes visual and spatial mental models and which neural processes underlie visual and spatial thinking. Philosophers report their ideas about the role of mental models in relation to perception, emotion, representation, and intentionality. The single articles have different and mutually complementing goals: to introduce new empirical methods and approaches, to report new experimental results, and to locate competing approaches for their interpretation in the cross-disciplinary debate. The book is strongly interdisciplinary in character. It is especially addressed to researchers in any field related to mental models theory as both a reference book and an overview of present research on the topic in other disciplines. However, it is also an ideal reader for a specialized graduate course. (shrink)
Specifically designed to make the philosophy of mind intelligible to those not trained in philosophy, this book provides a concise overview for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences. Emphasizing the relevance of philosophical work to investigations in other cognitive sciences, this unique text examines such issues as the meaning of language, the mind-body problem, the functionalist theories of cognition, and intentionality. As he explores the philosophical issues, Bechtel draws connections between philosophical views and theoretical and experimental work (...) in such disciplines as cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology. (shrink)
One feature of vague predicates is that, as far as appearances go, they lack sharp application boundaries. I argue that we would not be able to locate boundaries even if vague predicates had sharp boundaries. I do so by developing an idealized cognitive model of a categorization faculty which has mobile and dynamic sortals (`classes', `concepts' or `categories') and formally prove that the degree of precision with which boundaries of such sortals can be located is inversely constrained by their (...) flexibility. Given the literature, it is plausible that we are appropriately like the model. Hence, an inability to locate sharp boundaries is not necessarily because there are none; boundaries could be sharp and it is plausible that we would nevertheless be unable to locate them. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that Hume endorses the claim that causal cognition can be fully explained in terms of nothing but custom and habit. Associative learning does, of course, play a major role in the cognitive psychology of the Treatise. But Hume recognizes that associations cannot provide a complete account of causal thought. If human beings lacked the capacity to reflect on rules for judging causes and effects, then we could not (as we do) distinguish between accidental and genuine (...) regularities, and Hume could not (as he does) carry out his science of human nature. One might reply that what appears to be rule-governed behavior might emerge from associative systems that do not literally employ rules. But this response fails: there is a growing consensus in cognitive science that any adequate account of causal learning must invoke active, controlled cognitive processes. (shrink)
Though nativist hypotheses have played a pivotal role in the development of cognitive science, it remains exceedingly obscure how they—and the debates in which they ﬁgure—ought to be understood. The central aim of this paper is to provide an account which addresses this concern and in so doing: a) makes sense of the roles that nativist theorizing plays in cognitive science and, moreover, b), explains why it really matters to the contemporary study of cognition. I conclude by outlining (...) a range of further implications of this account for current debate in cognitive science. (shrink)
When the various disciplines participating in cognitive science are listed, philosophy almost always gets a guernsey. Yet, a couple of years ago at the conference of the Cognitive Science Society in Boulder (USA), there was no philosophy or philosopher with any prominence on the program. When queried on this point, the organizer (one of the "superstars" of the field) claimed it was partly an accident, but partly also due to an impression among members of the committee that philosophy (...) is basically a waste of time. Philosophy, they thought, is mostly obscure bullshit that does little to help, and much to hinder, real progress in cognitive science. (shrink)
Introduction -- Evidence from children -- Evidence form infants and non-human animals -- Evidence from neuroimaging and neuropsychology -- Evidence from adults -- The cognitive basis of mindreading -- Elaborating and applying the theory.
I begin by tracing some of the confusions regarding levels and reduction to a failure to distinguish two different principles according to which theories can be viewed as hierarchically arranged — epistemic authority and ontological constitution. I then argue that the notion of levels relevant to the debate between symbolic and connectionist paradigms of mental activity answers to neither of these models, but is rather correlative to the hierarchy of functional decompositions of cognitive tasks characteristic of homuncular functionalism. Finally, (...) I suggest that the incommensurability of the intentional and extensional vocabularies constitutes a strongprima facie reason to conclude that there is little likelihood of filling in the story of Bechtel''s missing level in such a way as to bridge the gap between such homuncular functionalism and his own model of mechanistic explanation. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the success of the connectionist program in cognitive science would threaten folk psychology. I articulate and defend a "minimalist" construal of folk psychology that comports well with empirical evidence on the folk understanding of belief and is compatible with even the most radical developments in cognitive science.
This essay critically reviews Andy Clark’s new book Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension, in which he argues that there are circumstances in which the mind, properly considered, is found to supervene on not only the brain, but the body and the external environment as well. This review summarizes Clark’s major contributions to this viewpoint for the general reader, then raises a few critical points that help to contextualize Clark’s claims, aims, and methods, while highlighting the book’s (...) strengths and weaknesses. (shrink)
In Cognitive Integration: Attacking The Bounds of Cognition Richard Menary argues that the real pay-off from extended-mind-style arguments is not a new form of externalism in the philosophy of mind, but a view in which the 'internal' and 'external' aspects of cognition are integrated into a whole. Menary argues that the manipulation of external vehicles constitutes cognitive processes and that cognition is hybrid: internal and external processes and vehicles complement one another in the completion of cognitive tasks. (...) However, we cannot make good on these claims without understanding the cognitive norms by which we manipulate bodily external vehicles of cognition. -/- Shaun Gallagher: “Menary sets out some extremely welcome clarifications that help to integrate the models of embodied and extended cognition. He not only provides convincing responses to all of the main objections that have been made against these approaches, he also puts flesh on the integrated model by incorporating concepts such as epistemic action, by expanding the discussion to include a Peircean view of representation, by demonstrating its evolutionary roots, and by exploring its implications for language and cognition. This is one of those books that takes us forward a number of giant steps. Menary makes it comprehensive and comprehensible.” . (shrink)
This paper addresses one of the fundamental problems of the philosophy of information: How does semantic information emerge within the underlying dynamics of the world?—the dynamical semantic information problem. It suggests that the canonical approach to semantic information that defines data before meaning and meaning before use is inadequate for pre-cognitive information media. Instead, we should follow a pragmatic approach to information where one defines the notion of information system as a special kind of purposeful system emerging within the (...) underlying dynamics of the world and define semantic information as the currency of the system. In this way, systems operating with semantic information can be viewed as patterns in the dynamics—semantic information is a dynamical system phenomenon of highly organized systems. In the simplest information systems, the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of the information medium are co-defined. It proposes a new more general theory of information semantics that focuses on the interface role of the information states in the information system—the interface theory of meaning. Finally, with the new framework, it addresses the debate between weakly semantic and strongly semantic accounts of information, siding with the strongly semantic view because the pragmatic account developed here is a better generalization of it. (shrink)
In recent attempts to characterize the cognitive mechanisms underlying altruistic motivation, one central question is the extent to which the capacity for altruism depends on the capacity for understanding other minds, or ‘mindreading’. Some theorists maintain that the capacity for altruism is independent of any capacity for mindreading; others maintain that the capacity for altruism depends on fairly sophisticated mindreading skills. I argue that none of the prevailing accounts is adequate. Rather, I argue that altruistic motivation depends on a (...) basic affective system, a ‘Concern Mechanism’, which requires only a minimal capacity for mindreading. (shrink)
It is often assumed that cognitive science is built upon folk psychology, and that challenges to folk psychology are therefore challenges to cognitive science itself. We argue that, in practice, cognitive science and folk psychology treat entirely non-overlapping domains: cognitive science considers aspects of mental life which do not depend on general knowledge, whereas folk psychology considers aspects of mental life which do depend on general knowledge. We back up our argument on theoretical grounds, and also (...) illustrate the separation between cognitive scientific and folk psychological phenomena in a number of cognitive domains. We consider the methodological and theoretical significance of our arguments for cognitive science research. (shrink)
The type of cognitive theory of emotion traditionally espoused by philosophers of mind makes two central claims. First, that the occurrence of propositional attitudes is essential to the occurrence of emotions. Second, that the identity of a particular emotional state depends upon the propositional attitudes that it involves. In this paper I try to show that there is little hope of developing a theory of emotion which makes these claims true. I examine the underlying defects of the programme, and (...) show that several recent variants fail to repair these defects. Furthermore, even if such a theory could be developed, it would not achieve many of the things that we look to a theory of emotion for. I argue that philosophers should turn their attention to new and more promising approaches. These have been developed by various of the special sciences, while philosophy has remained enthralled by traditional, propositional attitude psychology. (shrink)
I sketch an explanatory framework that fits a variety of contemporary research programs in cognitive science. I then investigate the scope and the implications of this framework. The framework emphasizes (a) the explanatory role played by the semantic content of cognitive representations, and (b) the important mechanistic, non-intentional dimension of cognitive explanations. I show how both of these features are present simultaneously in certain varieties of cognitive explanation. I also consider the explanatory role played by grounded (...) representational content, that is, content evaluated by appeal to its truth, falsity, accuracy, inaccuracy and other relational properties. (shrink)
Functional reductionism concerning mental properties has recently been advocated by Jaegwon Kim in order to solve the problem of the 'causal exclusion' of the mental. Adopting a reductionist strategy first proposed by David Lewis, he regards psychological properties as being 'higher-order' properties functionally defined over 'lower-order' properties, which are causally efficacious. Though functional reductionism is compatible with the multiple realizability of psychological properties, it is blocked if psychological properties are subdivided or crosscut by neurophysiological properties. I argue that there is (...) recent evidence from cognitive neuroscience that shows that this is the case for the psychological property of fear. Though this may suggest that some psychological properties should be revised in order to conform to those of neurophysiology, the history of science demonstrates that this is not always the outcome, particularly with properties that play an important role in our folk theories and are central to human concerns. (shrink)
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).
The need to align multiple experimental procedures and produce converging results so as to demonstrate that the phenomenon under investigation is real and not an artifact is a commonplace both in scientiﬁc practice and discussions of scientiﬁc methodology (Campbell and Stanley 1963; Wimsatt 1981). Although sometimes this is the purpose of aligning techniques, often there is a different purpose—multiple techniques are sought to supply different perspectives on the phenomena under investigation that need to be integrated to answer the questions scientists (...) are asking. After introducing this function, I will illustrate it by considering three of the major techniques in cognitive neuroscience for linking cognitive function with neural structure. (shrink)
David Marr provided a useful framework for theorizing about cognition within classical, AI-style cognitive science, in terms of three levels of description: the levels of (i) cognitive function, (ii) algorithm and (iii) physical implementation. We generalize this framework: (i) cognitive state transitions, (ii) mathematical/functional design and (iii) physical implementation or realization. Specifying the middle, design level to be the theory of dynamical systems yields a nonclassical, alternative framework that suits (but is not committed to) connectionism. We consider (...) how a brain's (or a network's) being a dynamical system might be the key both to its realizing various essential features of cognition — productivity, systematicity, structure-sensitive processing, syntax — and also to a non-classical solution of (frame-type) problems plaguing classical cognitive science. (shrink)
My purpose in this essay is to clarify the notion of explanation by computer simulation in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. My contention is that computer simulation may be understood as providing two different kinds of explanation, which makes the notion of explanation by computer simulation ambiguous. In order to show this, I shall draw a distinction between two possible ways of understanding the notion of simulation, depending on how one views the relation in which a computing system that (...) performs a cognitive task stands to the program that the system runs while performing that task. Next, I shall suggest that the kind of explanation that results from simulation is radically different in each case. In order to illustrate the difference, I will point out some prima facie methodological difficulties that need to be addressed in order to ensure that simulation plays a legitimate explanatory role in cognitive science, and I shall emphasize how those difficulties are very different depending on the notion of explanation involved. (shrink)
In this book, Edward Stein offers a clear critical account of the debate about rationality in philosophy and cognitive science. He discusses concepts of rationality--the pictures of rationality on which the debate centers--and assesses the empirical evidence used to argue that humans are irrational. He concludes that the question of human rationality must be answered not conceptually but empirically, using the full resources of an advanced cognitive science. Furthermore, he extends this conclusion to argue that empirical considerations are (...) also relevant to the theory of knowledge--in other words, that epistemology should be naturalized. (shrink)
A variety of inaccurate claims about Gold's Theorem have appeared in the cognitive science literature. I begin by characterizing the logic of this theorem and its proof. I then examine several claims about Gold's Theorem, and I show why they are false. Finally, I assess the significance of Gold's Theorem for cognitive science.
Cognitive science is ready for a major reconceptualization. This is not at all because efforts by its practitioners have failed, but rather because so much progress has been made. The need for reconceptualization arises from the fact that this progress has come at greater cost than necessary, largely because of more or less philosophical (at least metatheoretical) straightjackets still worn - whether wittingly or not - by those doing the work. These bonds are extremely hard to break. Even some (...) of those who have directed powerful arguments against them have failed entirely to shake them off. The bonds are often attributed to the work of René Descartes, but they are really much older than that. If even in the present effort, I fail entirely to remove the straightjacket myself (even though I am making every attempt to get it off), this will testify to its tight grip. The straightjacket I am thinking about, of course, is the vague picture of the human situation that imagines centralized, internal minds in control of bodily machines. While almost no one in the contemporary cognitive science arena imagines minds to be the kind of thing Descartes took them to be - instantiations of a unique, fully non-material substance - there is nevertheless a deep resistance, even among the most fervent professed "materialists," to giving up this picture. In what follows, I shall try to offer an approach which on the one hand capitalizes on the excellent progress that has been made in cognitive science in the last few decades, and which on the other hand offers a general approach that may help at some level in the attempt to shake "Cartesian" bonds. The approach, as the alert reader already knows from the title of the essay, is an "ecological" approach. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the new Tweety puzzle. The original Tweety puzzle was addressed by approaches in non-monotonic logic, which aim to adequately represent the Tweety case, namely that Tweety is a penguin and, thus, an exceptional bird, which cannot fly, although in general birds can fly. The new Tweety puzzle is intended as a challenge for probabilistic theories of epistemic states. In the first part of the paper we argue against monistic Bayesians, who assume that epistemic states can (...) at any given time be adequately described by a single subjective probability function. We show that monistic Bayesians cannot provide an adequate solution to the new Tweety puzzle, because this requires one to refer to a frequency-based probability function. We conclude that monistic Bayesianism cannot be a fully adequate theory of epistemic states. In the second part we describe an empirical study, which provides support for the thesis that monistic Bayesianism is also inadequate as a descriptive theory of cognitive states. In the final part of the paper we criticize Bayesian approaches in cognitive science, insofar as their monistic tendency cannot adequately address the new Tweety puzzle. We, further, argue against monistic Bayesianism in cognitive science by means of a case study. In this case study we show that Oaksford and Chater’s (2007, 2008) model of conditional inference—contrary to the authors’ theoretical position—has to refer also to a frequency-based probability function. (shrink)
I argue that intentional psychology does not stand in need of vindication by a lower-level implementation theory from cognitive science, in particular the representational theory of mind (RTM), as most famously Jerry Fodor has argued. The stance of the paper is novel in that I claim this holds even if one, in line with Fodor, views intentional psychology as an empirical theory, and its theoretical posits as as real as those of other sciences. I consider four metaphysical arguments for (...) the idea that intentional psychological states, such as beliefs, must be seen as requiring in-the-head mental representations for us to be able to understand their characteristic causal powers and argue that none of them validly generate their desired conclusions. I go on to argue that RTM, or some computational version thereof, is not motivated by appeal to the nature of cognitive science research either. I conclude that intentional psychology, though an empirical theory, is autonomous from details of lower level mechanism in a way that renders RTM unwarranted. (shrink)
With some regularity, cognitive scientists seem to introduce cognitive values into their explanations. After identifying examples of this practice, I sketch an account of psychological explanation that, under certain conditions, legitimizes value-laden cognitive explanations in which evaluative claims appear in the explanandum. I then present and discuss two applications of the proposed account in order to show its viability and explore its consequences.
This paper addresses the question whether we can conceive of music cognition in ecosemiotic terms. It claims that music knowledge must be generated as a tool for adaptation to the sonic world and calls forth a shift from a structural description of music as an artifact to a process-like approach to dealing with music. As listeners, we are observers who construct and organize our knowledge and bring with us our observational tools. What matters is not merely the sonic world in (...) its objective qualities, but the world as perceived. In order to make these claims operational we can rely on the ecological concept of coping with the sonic world and the cybernetic concepts of artificial and adaptive devices. Listeners, on this view, are able to change their semantic relations with the sonic world through functional adaptations at the level of sensing, acting and coordinating between action and perception. This allows us to understand music in functional terms of what it affords to us and not merely in terms of its acoustic qualities. There are, however, degrees of freedom and constraints which shape the semiotization of the sonic world. As such we must consider the role of event perception and cognitive economy: listeners do not perceive the acoustical environment in terms of phenomenological descriptions but as ecological events. (shrink)
This book is a major contribution to the interdisciplinary project of investigating the true nature of color vision. In recent times, research into color vision has been one of the main success stories of cognitive science. Each discipline in the field--neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and philosophy--has contributed significantly to our understanding of color. Evan Thompson provides an accessible review of current scientific and philosophical discussions of color vision. He steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on (...) color, arguing for a relational account. Thompson develops a novel "ecological" approach to color vision in cognitive science and the philosophy of perception. The book is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
When it comes to applying computational theory to the problem of phenomenal consciousness, cognitive scientists appear to face a dilemma. The only strategy that seems to be available is one that explains consciousness in terms of special kinds of computational processes. But such theories, while they dominate the field, have counter-intuitive consequences; in particular, they force one to accept that phenomenal experience is composed of information processing effects. For cognitive scientists, therefore, it seems to come down to a (...) choice between a counter-intuitive theory or no theory at all. We offer a way out of this dilemma. We argue that the computational theory of mind doesn't force cognitive scientists to explain consciousness in terms of computational processes, as there is an alternative strategy available: one that focuses on the representational vehicles that encode information in the brain. This alternative approach to consciousness allows us to do justice to the standard intuitions about phenomenal experience, yet remain within the confines of cognitive science. (shrink)
The cognitive mind-brain is haunted by the ghost of consciousness. Cognitive science must face this ghost, since consciousness is perhaps the most important mental phenomenon: it forms a seemingly united, multimodal phenomenological world around the subject who experiences this world from a certain point of view. Many current approaches to consciousness fail to illuminate the nature of this “experienced world”. Some philosophers want to eliminate consciousness from science for good, others build theories in which the concept of consciousness (...) is distorted beyond recognition. I argue that elimination and Daniel Dennett's “multiple drafts” model do not offer genuine explanations for consciousness. However, certain empirically-based approaches to consciousness succeed in exorcising its ghostly reputation and, at the same time, in preserving the experienced world of consciousness as an important explanandum. (shrink)
The primacy of practice in the development of knowledge is one of materialism’s fundamental tenets. Most arguments supporting it have been strictly philosophical. However, over the past thirty years cognitive science has provided mounting evidence supporting the primacy of practice. Particularly striking is its finding that thought is fundamentally metaphoric—that images emerging from everyday embodied activities not only make ordinary experiences intelligible, but also underpin our more abstract engagements with the world, elaborated in disciplines such as ethics and science. (...)Cognitive science’s implications must now be absorbed into critical realism. Cognitive science bolsters critical realism by providing a scientifically-grounded analysis of the passage from body to mind and the fundamental unity between them, while sustaining their distinctiveness. Its implications for critical realism ripple out in four waves: first, critical realism’s understanding of the mind/body relationship; second, its concepts of the process that connects theory and practice, and what that means for critical realism’s view of intellectual production, the place of metaphor in scientific theorization, and cultural development; its view of culture as a complexwhole; and finally, its theory of human agency as embodied and intentional. (shrink)
I offer support for the view that physicalist theories of cognition don't reduce to neurophysiological theories. On my view, the mind-brain relationship is to be explained in terms of evolutionary forces, some of which tug in the direction of a reductionistic mind-brain relationship, and some of which which tug in the opposite direction. This theory of forces makes possible an anti-reductionist account of the cognitive mind-brain relationship which avoids psychophysical anomalism. This theory thus also responds to the complaint which (...) arguably lies behind the Churchlands' strongest criticisms of anti-reductionism — namely the complaint that anti-reductionists fail to supply principled explanations for the character of the mind-brain relationship. While lending support to anti-reductionism, the view defended here also insures a permanent place for mind-brain reduction as an explanatory ideal analogous to Newtonian inertial motion or Aristotelian natural motion. (shrink)
The debate between the theory-theory and simulation has largely ignored issues of cognitive architecture. In the philosophy of psychology, cognition as symbol manipulation is the orthodoxy. The challenge from connectionism, however, has attracted vigorous and renewed interest. In this paper I adopt connectionism as the antecedent of a conditional: If connectionism is the correct account of cognitive architecture, then the simulation theory should be preferred over the theory-theory. I use both developmental evidence and constraints on explanation in psychology (...) to support this claim. (shrink)