Non-cognitivists claim that thick concepts can be disentangled into distinct descriptive and evaluative components and that since thick concepts have descriptive shape they can be mastered independently of evaluation. In Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following, John McDowell uses Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations to show that such a non-cognitivist view is untenable. In this paper I do several things. I describe the non-cognitivist position in its various forms and explain its driving motivations. I then explain McDowell’s argument against non-cognitivism and the Wittgensteinian (...) considerations upon which it relies, because this has been sufficiently misunderstood by critics and rarely articulated by commentators. After clarifying McDowell’s argument against non-cognitivism, I extend the analysis to show that commentators of McDowell have failed to appreciate his argument and that critical responses have been weak. I argue against three challenges posed to McDowell, and show that the case of thick concepts should lead us to reject non-cognitivism. (shrink)
Though Nietzsche traditionally often used to be interpreted as a nihilist, a range of possible metaethical interpretations, including varieties of realism, subjectivism and fictionalism, have emerged in the secondary literature. Recently the possibility that Nietzsche is a non-cognitivist has been broached. If one sees Hume as a central non-cognitivist figure, as recent non-cognitivists such as Simon Blackburn have, then the similarities between Nietzsche and Hume can make this reading seem plausible. This paper assesses the general plausibility of interpreting Nietzsche as (...) a non-cognitivist. Non-cognitivism can mean various things and so some attempt is made to lay out the various kinds of non-cognitivism one might ascribe to Nietzsche. As part of the overall assessment of the plausibility of a non-cognitivist Nietzsche, the paper considers in detail the arguments of Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick on behalf of a non-cognitivist reading. It argues, however, that there is insufficient evidence to justify the interpretation and that the analogy to Hume is unhelpful. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that the prevalence of moral dissent poses a problem for the moral cognitivist, forcing her to diagnose either a lot of misunderstanding, or a lot of unexplained observational error. Since mere misunderstanding can be ruled out in most cases of moral dissent, and since the diagnosis of widespread unexplained error is interpretively unstable, prevalent dissent has pushed many philosophers towards non-cognitivism. In this essay, I argue that once a diachronic, pragmatist theory of language along the (...) lines of the latest Wittgenstein is employed, a third interpretive option becomes available to the cognitivist. Besides the diagnostic options of misunderstanding and factual disagreement, she can argue that a given case of moral dissent is an instance of grammatical tension. This interpretation not only saves moral cognitivism, it also has some attractive theoretical implications. Among other things, it yields an elegant way of solving the current debate around moral particularism. (shrink)
This paper discusses the relation between cognitive and implementational levels of analysis. Chalmers (1990, 1993) argues that a connectionist implementation of a classical cognitive architecture possesses a compositional semantics, and therefore undercuts Fodor and Pylyshyn's (1988) argument that connectionist networks cannot possess a compositional semantics. I argue that Chalmers argument misconstrues the relation between cognitive and implementational levels of analysis. This paper clarifies the distinction, and shows that while Fodor and Pylyshyn's argument survives Chalmers' critique, it cannot be used to (...) establish the irrelevance of neurophysiological implementation to cognitive modeling; some aspects of Chater and Oaksford's (1990) response to Fodor and Pylyshyn, though not all, are therefore cogent. (shrink)
Cognitivist motivational internalism is the thesis that, if one believes that 'It is right to ϕ', then one will be motivated to ϕ. This thesis—which captures the practical nature of morality—is in tension with a Humean constraint on belief: belief cannot motivate action without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. When defending cognitivist motivational internalism it is tempting to either argue that the Humean constraint only applies to non-moral beliefs or that moral beliefs only motivate ceteris paribus . But (...) succumbing to the first temptation places one under a burden to justify what is motivationally exceptional about moral beliefs and succumbing to the second temptation saddles one with a thesis that fails to do justice to the practicality intuition that cognitivist motivational internalism is suppose to capture. In this paper, I offer a way of defending cognitivist motivational internalism, which does not require accepting that there is anything motivationally unusual about moral beliefs. I argue that no belief satisfies the Humean constraint: all beliefs are capable of motivating without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. (shrink)
Argues for a "cognitivist" account of the instrumental principle, on which it is the application of theoretical reason to the beliefs that figure in our intentions. This doctrine is put to work in solving a puzzle about instrumental reason that plagues alternative views.
This paper investigates the linguistic basis for moral non-cognitivism, the view that sentences containing moral predicates do not have truth conditions. It offers a new argument against this view by pointing out that the view is incompatible with our best empirical theories about the grammatical encoding of illocutionary force potentials. Given that my arguments are based on very general assumptions about the relations between the grammar of natural languages and a sentence's illocutionary function, my arguments are broader in scope (...) than the familiar semantic objections to non-cognitivism relating to the so-called Frege-Geach problem: even if a solution to the Frege-Geach problem has been found, my arguments still stand. (shrink)
Cognitivism in respect to the arts refers to a constellation of positions that share in common the idea that artworks often bear, in addition to aesthetic value, a significant kind of cognitive value. In this paper I concentrate on three things: (i) the challenge of understanding exactly what one must do if one wishes to defend a cognitivist view of the arts; (ii) common anti-cognitivist arguments; and (iii) promising recent attempts to defend cognitivism.
Cognitivism about practical reason is the view that intentions involve beliefs, and that the rational requirements on intentions can be explained in terms of the rational requirements on the beliefs that figure in intentions. In particular, cognitivists about practical reason have sought to provide cognitive explanations of two basic requirements of practical rationality: a consistency requirement, according to which it is rationally impermissible to have intentions that are jointly inconsistent with one’s beliefs, and a means-end coherence requirement, according to (...) which, to a first approximation, it is rationally impermissible to intend an end while failing to intend what one regards as a necessary means to this end. In order for the cognitivist to explain these requirements, she must arrive at an account of the beliefs that figure in intentions, on the basis of which she can show that any agent who violates these requirements of pratical rationality must have beliefs that violate the requirements of theoretical rationality. Providing such an account, however, turns out to be no easy task. (shrink)
Most naturalists think that the belief/desire model from Hume is the best framework for making sense of motivation. As Smith has argued, given that the cognitive state (belief) and the conative state (desire) are separate on this model, if a moral judgment is cognitive, it could not also be motivating by itself. So, it looks as though Hume and Humeans cannot hold that moral judgments are states of belief (moral cognitivism) and internally motivating (moral internalism). My chief claim is (...) that the details of Hume’s naturalistic philosophy of mind actually allow for a conjunction of these allegedly incompatible views. This thesis is significant, since readers typically have thought that Hume’s view that motivation is not produced by representations, coupled with his view that moral judgments motivate on their own, imply that moral judgments could never take the form of beliefs about, or representations of, the moral (virtue and vice). (shrink)
Even if non-cognitivists about some subject-matter can meet Geach’s challenge to explain how there can be valid implications involving sentences which express non-cognitive attitudes, they face a further problem. I argue that a non-cognitivist cannot explain how, given a valid argument whose conclusion expresses a belief and at least one of whose premises expresses a non-cognitive attitude, it could be reasonable to infer the conclusion from the premises.
In sum, the non-cognitivist account of motivation is far from unproblematic. The non-cognitivist has trouble telling us what moral attitudes are in a way that is consistent with the phenomenon of variable motivation. Given that the cognitivist has an easy explanation of variable motivation, it seems that cognitivism is preferable to non-cognitivism on the score of motivation, which is a reversal of the way the issue is usually perceived.
Philosophical cognitivists have argued for more than four decades that emotions are special types of judgments. Anti-cognitivists have provided a series of counterexamples aiming to show that identifying emotions with judgments overintellectualizes the emotions. I provide a novel counterexample that makes the overintellectualization charge especially vivid. I discuss neurophysiological evidence to the effect that the fear system can be activated by stimuli the subject is unaware of seeing. To emphasize the analogy with blind sight , I call this phenomenon blind (...) fright . Cognitivists may reply that blindfright is nothing but an unconscious judgment subcortically elicited. This reply is in line with the strategy commonly employed by cognitivists against their critics. I call it the Elastic Strategy, because it consists of ‘stretching’ the notion of judgment in order to accommodate counterexamples. This strategy, I argue, turns cognitivism into a theory that is at worst unfalsifiable and at best trivially true. The final portion of my article aims to rescue cognitivism from the damage done by the Elastic Strategy. I distinguish three varieties of cognitivism, one concerned with what emotions essentially are (Constitutive Cognitivism), one concerned with what causes emotions (Etiological Cognitivism) and one concerned with what emotions represent (Representational Cognitivism). I conclude that what cognitivism has to offer to emotion theory are primarily insights concerning the causes and representational content of emotions. The constitutive identification of emotions with judgments, on the other hand, does more harm than good. (shrink)
I argue for cognitivism about some normative judgements. I begin with the issues of realism and cognitivism as they manifest themselves in moral philosophy. I then proceed to issues of realism and cognitivism about normative judgements more generally. I describe the norm of consistency in normative judgement, and I argue that this norm means that we must be cognitivist about some normative judgements.
Cognitivists about Practical Rationality argue that we can explain some of the (apparent) requirements of practical rationality by appealing to the requirements of theoretical rationality. First, they argue that intentions involve beliefs, and, second, they show how the theoretical requirements governing those involved beliefs can explain some of the practical requirements governing those intentions (or they show how these apparently practical requirements are actually theoretical requirements). This paper avoids the ongoing controversy about whether and how intentions involve beliefs and focuses (...) instead on this second part of the Cognitivist approach, where I think Cognitivism faces significant difficulties. I proceed by considering two attempts by Cognitivists to explain (apparent) requirements of practical rationality and I argue that neither of them succeed. (shrink)
In recent years it has become more and more difficult to distinguish between metaethical cognitivism and non-cognitivism. For example, proponents of the minimalist theory of truth hold that moral claims need not express beliefs in order to be (minimally) truth-apt, and yet some of these proponents still reject the traditional cognitivist analysis of moral language and thought. Thus, the dispute in metaethics between cognitivists and non-cognitivists has come to be seen as a dispute over the correct way to (...) characterize our psychology: are moral judgments beliefs, or a kind of pro-attitude? In this paper, I argue that this distinction, too, is difficult to maintain in the light of a reasonable skepticism about folk psychology. I conclude by suggesting some new possibilities for the analysis of moral language that look beyond this distinction. I begin by briefly reviewing some contemporary positions in metaethics on cognitivism and non-cognitivism, that are intended to emphasize the supposed psychological differences between the two views. I show that the appearance of a clear difference between these views depends on one's having a very strong commitment to the context-independence and completeness of certain concepts of folk psychology. I then argue for a moderate skepticism about folk psychology. I conclude that folk concepts like ?belief? are not sufficiently well-defined to settle this metaethical dispute. (shrink)
Non-cognitivism might seem to offer a plausible account of evaluative judgments, at least on the assumption that there is a satisfactory solution to the Frege–Geach problem. However, Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivism remains implausible even assuming that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved, on the grounds that non-cognitivism still has to classify some paradigmatically rational inferences as irrational. Dorr’s argument is ingenious and at first glance seems decisive. However, in this paper I will show that Dorr’s (...) argument equivocates between two different notions of evidence , and that once this equivocation is noted there is no reason to doubt that non-cognitivism is consistent with the rationality of such inferences, at least if it is assumed that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved. In particular, I will show that non-cognitivists can endorse the same explanation of the rationality of such inferences that cognitivists should endorse, and that there is thus no need for non-cognitivists to offer any sort of idiosyncratic account of the epistemology of such cases, in contrast to what other commentators on Dorr’s argument have thought. (shrink)
Frank Snare had a puzzle. He construed Hume as a non-cognitivist, indeed, as the non-cognitivist, the fount and origin of contemporary non-cognitivism. Taking Hume to be a non-cognitivist, Snare devoted a great deal of time and effort to the Motivation Argument, or as he called it, the Influence Argument, which he took to be the chief weapon in Hume.
This paper will defend the cognitivist view of cognition against recent challenges from Andy Clark and Richard Menary. It will also indicate the important theoretical role that cognitivism plays in understanding some of the core issues surrounding the hypothesis of extended cognition.
Adams and Aizawa (2010b) define cognitivism as the processing of representations with underived content. In this paper, I respond to their use of this stipulative definition of cognition. I look at the plausibility of Adams and Aizawa’s cognitivism, taking into account that they have no criteria for cognitive representation and no naturalistic theory of content determination. This is a glaring hole in their cognitivism—which requires both a theory of representation and underived content to be successful. I also (...) explain why my own position, cognitive integration, is not susceptible to the supposed causal-coupling fallacy. Finally, I look at the more interesting question of whether the distinction between derived and underived content is important for cognition. Given Adams and Aizawa’s concession that there is no difference in content between derived and underived representations (only a difference in how they get their content) I conclude that the distinction is not important and show that there is empirical research which does not respect the distinction. (shrink)
The later Wittgenstein advanced a revolutionary but puzzling conception of how philosophy ought to be practised: Philosophical problems are not to be coped with by establishing substantive claims or devising explanations or theories. Instead, philosophical questions ought to be treated ‘like an illness’. Even though this ‘non-cognitivism’ about philosophy has become a focus of debate, the specifically ‘therapeutic’ aims and ‘non-theoretical’ methods constitutive of it remain ill understood. They are motivated by Wittgenstein’s view that the problems he addresses result (...) from misinterpretation, driven by ‘urges to misunderstand’. The present paper clarifies this neglected concept and analyses how such ‘urges’ give rise to pseudo-problems of one particular, hitherto little understood, kind. This will reveal ‘therapeutic’ aims reasonable and ‘non-theoretical’ methods necessary, in one clearly delineated and important part of philosophy. I.e.: By developing a novel account of nature and genesis of one important class of philosophical problems, the paper explains and vindicates a revolutionary reorientation of philosophical work, at the level of both aims and methods. (shrink)
Introduction. Whatever its underlying causes, even the description of the phenomenon of thought insertion, of the content of the delusion, presents difficulty. It may seem that the best hope of a description comes from a broadly cognitivist approach to the mind which construes content-laden mental states as internal mental representations within what is literally an inner space: the space of the brain or nervous system. Such an approach objectifies thoughts in a way which might seem to hold out the prospect (...) of describing the ''alienated'' relation to one's own thoughts that seems to be present in thought insertion.1 Method. Firstly, I examine the general structure of cognitivist accounts of intentional or content-laden mental states. I raise the general difficulty of explaining how free-standing, and thus world-independent, inner states can still have bearing on the outer world. Secondly, I briefly examine Frith's model for explaining thought insertion and other passivity phenomena by postulating a failure of an internal monitoring mechanism of inner states. I question what account can be given of non-pathological cases and raise two specific objects. Results. Cognitivist accounts of the mind face a general, and possibly insuperable, challenge: explaining the intentionality of mental states in non-intentional, non- question-begging terms. There have so far been no satisfactory solutions. Cognitivist accounts of passivity phenomena in terms of a failure of internal monitoring face two objections. Firstly, accounting for non-pathological cases generates an infinite regress. Secondly, no account can be given of the paradoxical nature of utterances of the form of Moore's paradox: ''it is raining but I do not believe it''. Conclusions. A cognitivist approach presents an alienated account of thought in normal, non-pathological cases and is no help in accounting for thought insertion. (shrink)
In the face of pluralism, moral constructivists attempt to salvage cognitivism by separating moral and ethical issues. Divergence over ethical issues, which concern the good life, would not threaten moral cognitivism, which is based on identifying generalizable interests as worthy of defending, using reason. Yet this approach falters given the inability of the constructivist to provide us a sure path by which to discern generalizable interests in difficult cases. Still, even if this approach to constructivism fails, cognitivist aspirations (...) may not be defeated if we can continue discursively in a project of identifying and appreciating the interests of others. Grasping the interests of others may require a transformation of moral sensibility such that agents recognize values they have not acknowledged before. This view calls for external moral discourse—that is, moral discourse that makes no appeal to an agent's present interests or desires but rather engages in description of the moral situation in hopes of bringing about a change in moral sensibility. (shrink)
The paper is a critical examination of the metaethical position taken up recently by Terence Horgan and Mark Timmons, called ‘cognitivist expressivism’. The key component of the position is their insistence that some beliefs are nondescriptive. The paper argues against this thesis in two ways: First by sketching an independently plausible account of belief, on which belief is essentially a certain kind of descriptive representational state; and second by rebutting Horgan and Timmons’ positive arguments in favor of their account. The (...) final section argues that Horgan and Timmons’ view cannot survive abandonment of the thesis that moral beliefs are nondescriptive in character. (shrink)
Abstract We propose a metaethical view that combines the cognitivist idea that moral judgments are genuine beliefs and moral utterances express genuine assertions with the idea that such beliefs and utterances are nondescriptive in their overall content. This sort of view has not been recognized among the standard metaethical options because it is generally assumed that all genuine beliefs and assertions must have descriptive content. We challenge this assumption and thereby open up conceptual space for a new kind of metaethical (...) view. In developing our brand of nondescriptivist cognitivism we do the following: (1) articulate a conception of belief (and assertion) that does not require the overall declarative content of beliefs (and assertions) to be descriptive content; (2) make a case for the independent plausibility of this conception of belief and assertion; and (3) argue that our view, formulated in a way that draws upon the proposed conception of belief, has significant comparative advantages over descriptivist forms of cognitivism. (shrink)
Cognitivism about imperatives is the thesis that sentences in the imperative mood are truth-apt: have truth values and truth conditions. This allows cognitivists to give a simple and powerful account of consequence relations between imperatives. I argue that this account of imperative consequence has counterexamples that cast doubt on cognitivism itself.
In a series of recent articles, Robin Jeshion has developed a theory of singular thought which she calls ‘cognitivism’. According to Jeshion, cognitivism offers a middle path between acquaintance theories—which she takes to impose too strong a requirement on singular thought, and semantic instrumentalism—which she takes to impose too weak a requirement. In this article, I raise a series of concerns about Jeshion's theory, and suggest that the relevant data can be accommodated by a version of acquaintance theory (...) that distinguishes unsuccessful thoughts of singular form from successful singular thoughts, and in addition allows for ‘trace-based’ acquaintance. (shrink)
This paper will defend the cognitivist view of cognition against recent challenges from Andy Clark and Richard Menary. It will also indicate the important theoretical role that cognitivism plays in understanding some of the core issues surrounding the hypothesis of extended cognition.
Nondescriptivist Cognitivism vindicates the cognitive value of moral judgements despite their lack of descriptive content. In this paper,I raise a few worries about the proclaimed virtues of this new metaethical framework Firstly, I argue that Nondescriptivist Cognitivism tends to beg the question against descriptivism and, secondly, discuss Horgan and Timmons' case against Michael Smith's metaethical rationalism. Although I sympathise with their main critical claims against the latter, I am less enthusiastic about the arguments that they provide to support (...) them. (shrink)
An important argument for the belief-desire thesis is based on the idea that an agent can be motivated to act only if her mental states include one which aims at changing the world, that is, one with a “world-to-mind”, or “telic”, direction of fit. Some cognitivists accept this claim, but argue that some beliefs, notably moral ones, have not only a “mind-to-world”, or “thetic”, direction of fit, but also a telic one. The paper first argues that this cognitivist reply is (...) deficient, for only the “dominant” direction of fit of an attitude is responsible for its character and function. Further, it seems that the dominant direction of fit of an attitude is determined by its psychological mode, and so all beliefs seem to have a dominant thetic direction of fit, and to be motivationally inert. The main part of this paper, however, is devoted to explaining how it is that attitudes, like moral attitudes, can truly have two directions of fit in a way which enables them to be both cognitive and motivational. Reflection on the nature of beliefs suggests that the claim that the dominant direction of fit of an attitude is determined by its psychological mode should be qualified. The reasons beliefs provide draw their authority for the agent – their demanding nature – from the objects represented by these beliefs, and so, it is the beliefs’ content which determine their dominant direction of fit, as far as their role in practical reasoning is concerned. Thus, in the sense relevant to practical reasoning a belief with a normative content does have a dominant telic direction of fit. At the same time, in the sense relevant to its satisfaction conditions a moral belief has a dominant thetic direction of fit, which underlies its classification as a cognitive attitude. Cognitivists, then, can have it both ways. (shrink)
Abstracts The aim of the paper is to propose an alternative model to realist and non-cognitive explanations of the rule-guided use of thick ethical concepts and to examine the implications that may be drawn from this and similar cases for our general understanding of rule-following and the relation between criteria of application, truth and correctness. It addresses McDowell’s non-cognitivism critique and challenges his defence of the entanglement thesis for thick ethical concepts. Contrary to non-cognitivists, however, I propose to view (...) the relation between the two terms of the entanglement as resulting from the satisfaction of a previously applied moral function. This is what I call a “Three-Fold Model”. (shrink)
This essay offers a defence of the non-cognitivist approach to the interpretation of moral judgments as disguised imperatives corresponding to social rules. It addresses the body of criticism that faced R. M. Hare, and that currently faces moral anti-realists, on two levels, by providing a full semantic analysis of evaluative judgments and by arguing that anti-realism is compatible with moral aspiration despite the non-existence of obligations as the externalist imagines them. A moral judgment consists of separate descriptive and prescriptive components (...) and is to be understood as a declarative statement prefaced by an 'ideality operator'. Moral beliefs are genuinely representational, but their truth conditions can only be stated with reference to imaginary ideal worlds. Moral judgments are neither confirmed nor verified, but alternative moral positions are preferentially endorsed and adopted by individual agents on the basis of their perceived all-things-considered optimality. High aspiration moralities are normally very costly to agents in terms of their prudential and aesthetic interests, but they are theoretically as eligible as the adoption of other, less demanding sets of rules. (shrink)
Moral non-cognitivists hope to explain the nature of moral agreement and disagreement as agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitudes. In doing so, they take on the task of identifying the relevant attitudes, distinguishing the non-cognitive attitudes corresponding to judgments of moral wrongness, for example from attitudes involved in aesthetic disapproval or the sports fan’s disapproval of her team’s performance. We begin this paper by showing that there is a simple recipe for generating apparent counterexamples to any informative specification of the (...) moral attitudes. This may appear to be a lethal objection to non-cognitivism, but a similar recipe challenges attempts by non-cognitivism’s competitors to specify the conditions underwriting the contrast between genuine and merely apparent moral disagreement. Because of its generality, this specification problem requires a systematic response, which, we argue, is most easily available for the non-cognitivist. Building on premisses congenial to the non-cognitivist tradition, we make the following claims: (1) In paradigmatic cases, wrongness-judgements constitute a certain complex but functionally unified state, and paradigmatic wrongness-judgments form a functional kind, preserved by homeostatic mechanisms. (2) Because of the practical function of such judgements, we should expect judges’ intuitive understanding of agreement and disagreement to be accommodating, treating states departing from the paradigm in various ways as wrongness-judgements. (3) This explains the intuitive judgements required by the counterexample-generating recipe, and more generally why various kinds of amoralists are seen as making genuine wrongness-judgements. (shrink)
According to Humeanism, actions cannot be adequately explained without reference to the desires of an agent. Desires are viewed as sources of motivation or as motivating states and thus as having an indispensable role to play in the explanation of actions. One of the main rivals of Humeanism is pure cognitivsm. According to this view, actions are to be explained exclusively by beliefs. The present paper's focus is on arguments Jonathan Dancy has put forward in favor of this pure cognitivist (...) picture. His main line of argument tries to convince us of the claim that desires have no explanatory value at all as regards the explantion of an agent's actions. I argue that none of Dancy's arguments against Humeanism is successful, and moreover that the pure cognitivists position fails on its own terms because pure cognitivism is unable to provide an account of desires that makes intelligible their role in the mental economy of agents. (shrink)
Robert Hanna (Rationality and logic. MIT Press, Cambridge, 2006) articulates and defends the thesis of logical cognitivism, the claim that human logical competence is grounded in a cognitive faculty (in Chomsky’s sense) that is not naturalistically explicable. This position is intended to steer us between the Scylla of logical Platonism and the Charybdis of logical naturalism (/psychologism). The paper argues that Hanna’s interpretation of Chomsky is mistaken. Read aright, Chomsky’s position offers a defensible version of naturalism, one Hanna may (...) accept as far as his version of naturalism goes, although not one that supports the claim that cognitive science offers a place for logic that is somehow outside the natural, contingent order. (shrink)
Abstract The paper explicates a set of criteria the joint satisfaction of which is taken to qualify moral judgements as cognitive. The paper examines evidence that some moral judgements meet these criteria, and relates the resulting conception of moral judgements to ongoing controversies about cognitivism in ethics.
Hubert L. Dreyfus has worked out a critique of what he calls “representationalism” and “cognitivism,” one proponent of which, according to Dreyfus, is Husserl. But I think that Dreyfus misunderstands the Husserlian conception of practical intentionality and that his characterization of Husserl as a “representationalist” or as a “cognitivist” is thereby wrongheaded. In this paper I examine Dreyfus’s interpretation by offering a Husserlian critique of Dreyfus’s objections to Husserl, and then by outlining Husserl’s account of practical intentionality and the (...) practical lived Body. I sketch the critique and the approach of Dreyfus in three steps. First, I deal with his objections against Husserl’s theory by arguing that Dreyfus understands neither the role of the reduction nor the function of background-awareness in Husserl’s phenomenology. Second, I elucidate the central role that the “practical lived Body” plays in practical intentionality for Husserl, and, third, I highlight the consequences that follow from the analyses offered in the previous sections. (shrink)
Modern cognitive psychology presents itself as the revolutionary alternative to behaviorism, yet there are blatant continuities between modern cognitivism and the mechanistic kind of behaviorism that cognitivists have in mind, such as their commitment to methodological behaviorism, the stimulus–response schema, and the hypothetico-deductive method. Both mechanistic behaviorism and cognitive behaviorism remain trapped within the dualisms created by the traditional ontology of physical science—dualisms that, one way or another, exclude us from the "physical world." Darwinian theory, however, put us back (...) into nature. The Darwinian emphasis upon the mutuality of animal and environment was further developed by, among others, James, Dewey, and Mead. Although their functionalist approach to psychology was overtaken by Watson's behaviorism, the principle of animal–environment dualism continued to figure (though somewhat inconsistently) within the work of Skinner and Gibson. For the clearest insights into the mutuality of organism and environment we need to set the clock back quite a few years and return to the work of Darwin and the early functionalist psychologists. (shrink)
The argument from the claim to correctness has been put forward by Robert Alexy to defend the view that normative utterances admit of objective answers. My purpose in this paper is to preserve this initial aspiration even at the cost of diverting from some of the original ideas in support of the argument. I begin by spelling out a full-blooded version of normative cognitivism, against which I propose to reconstruct the argument from the claim to correctness. I argue that (...) the context of uttering normative propositions points to the possibility of normative cognition, but does not constitute it. What constitutes the possibility of cognition is, as of necessity, the propositional structure of norms. I conclude that the argument from the claim to correctness ought to safeguard a distinction between the context of uttering a normative sentence and the proposition that individuates the content of the utterance. (shrink)
Although Ainslie rejects cognitivism as providing an explanation of willpower, a type of nonhomuncular cognitivism is hiding in his own proposal. The key mental mechanism of aggregating individual decisions (bundled reframings) involves representation and decoupling operations encompassed within the analytic system of dual-process mental architectures.
The rob of knowledge workers in our society is an increasing focus of press and academic attention. Letiche suggests that knowledge workers often both work in and create "McDonaldized" simulacra, i.e. spaces for action that are less than real. He argues that the very concept of organizing is challenged by the tensions implicit in t h semi-ness of the semi-reality of subspaces. The arena for his argument is that of information technology. The language of his argument is that of identity, (...) self; logic and activity-terms more often found in European academic debate than in American management practice. Forgive Letiche's use of academic literant forms. This world of emergence and cyborgs and of warfare with cognitivist (social) Darwinism may be a bit alien to some readers, but the argument and message will not be. In the semi-real spaces of managing, creativity is bought only at a large cost to others and managers find themselves needing to determine when that price is worth paying. (shrink)
Abstract Cognitivism, presently the major paradigm of psychology, presents a scientific account of mental life. Buddhism also presents an account of mental life, but one which is integral with its wider ethical and transcendental concerns. The postmodern appraisal of science provides a framework within which these two accounts may be compared without inheriting many of the assumed oppositions between science and religion. It is concluded that cognitivism and Buddhism will have complementary roles in the development of a more (...) pluralist psychological science. In this development it will be necessary to address what values are implicit in science. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the presumption that Mill endorses a form of metaethical non-cognitivism. I argue that the evidence traditionally cited for this interpretation is not convincing, and suggest that we should instead remain open to a cognitivist reading. I begin, in Section I, by laying out the ‘received view’ of Mill on the status of practical norms, as given by Alan Ryan in the 1970s. There is, I claim in Sections II and III, no firm textual evidence (...) for this reading of Mill: his remarks on ‘art’ and ‘science’ do not show the metaethical commitments they have been taken to. Neither is there firm textual evidence for a cognitivist reading. However, I suggest in Section IV, a non-cognitivist interpretation suffers from the fault of anachronism, and is difficult to reconcile with a clear commitment in Utilitarianism IV.3 to the possibility of evidence being given for the desirability of pleasure. A cognitivist reading would not suffer from these faults, and on that basis, I conclude that we should think further about what a cognitivist reading of Mill might amount to. (shrink)
This is acknowledged by moral realists and non-cognitivists alike, but, for obvious reasons, they relate differently to this resemblance. For realists, it provides arguments, and for non-cognitivists, it provides potential trouble. Realists claim that the various points of resemblance between moral and factual discourse indicate that moral discourse simply is a kind of factual discourse.1 However, in recent years a number of interesting attempts have been made in trying to show that the realist appearance of moral discourse can after all (...) be accommodated within a noncognitivist view. (shrink)
Motivational externalists and internalists of various sorts disagree about the circumstances under which it is conceptually possible to have moral opinions but lack moral motivation. Typically, the evidence referred to are intuitions about whether people in certain scenarios who lack moral motivation count as having moral opinions. People’s intuitions about such scenarios diverge, however. I argue that the nature of this diversity is such that, for each of the internalist and externalist theses, there is a strong prima facie reason to (...) reject it. That much might not be very controversial. But I argue further, that it also gives us a strong prima facie reason to reject all of these theses. This is possible since there is an overlooked alternative option to accepting any of them: moral motivation pluralism , the view that different internalist and externalist theses correctly accounts for different people’s concepts of moral opinions, respectively. I end the paper with a discussion of methodological issues relevant to the argument for moral motivation pluralism and of the consequences of this view for theories about the nature of moral opinions, such as cognitivism and non-cognitivism. (shrink)
It is often observed in metaethics that moral language displays a certain duality in as much as it seems to concern both objective facts in the world and subjective attitudes that move to action. In this paper, I defend The Dual Aspect Account which is intended to capture this duality: A person’s utterance of a sentence according to which φing has a moral characteristic, such as “φing is wrong,” conveys two things: The sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, (...) the belief that φing has a moral property, and the utterance of the sentence carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that the person in question has an action-guiding attitude in relation to φing. This account has significant advantages over competing views: (i) As it is purely cognitivist, it does not have the difficulties of expressivism and various ecumenical positions. (ii) Yet, in spite of this, it can explain the close, “meaning-like,” connection between moral language and attitudes. (iii) In contrast to other pragmatic accounts, it is compatible with any relevant cognitivist view. (iv) It does not rest on a contentious pragmatic notion, such as conventional implicature. (v) It does not imply that utterances of complex moral sentences, such as conditionals, convey attitudes. In addition, the generalized implicature in question is fully calculable and cancellable. (shrink)
The binary divide between traditional cognitivist and enactivist paradigms is tied to their respective commitments to understanding cognition as based on knowing that as opposed to knowing how. Using O’Regan’s and No¨e’s landmark sensorimotor contingency theory of perceptual experience as a foil, I demonstrate how easy it is to fall into conservative thinking. Although their account is advertised as decidedly ‘skill-based’, on close inspection it shows itself to be riddled with suppositions threatening to reduce it to a rules-and-representations approach. To (...) remain properly enactivist it must be purged of such commitments and indeed all commitment to mediating knowledge: it must embrace a more radical enactivism. (shrink)
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)
This paper discusses the interrelations between three aspects of human emotions: their intentionality, their expressivity and their moral significance. It distinguishes three kinds of philosophical views of emotions: the cognitivist (classically held by the Stoics), the emotivist which reduces emotions to non-intentional bodily sensations and physiological states, and the moral phenomenologist, the latter being held by Annette Baier, whose work is the focus of the discussion. Her view, which represents an original development of ideas found in Descartes and Hume, avoids (...) the reductionism of congitivist and emotivist accounts. The paper gives special attention to her notion of 'deep' objects of emotions and to her account of the expressivity of emotions, arguing that while the first is problematic, the second is a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of emotions in our moral lives. (shrink)
Critics argue that non-cognitivism cannot adequately account for the existence and nature of some thick moral concepts. They use the existence of thick concepts as a lever in an argument against non-cognitivism, here called the Thick Concept Argument (TCA). While TCA is frequently invoked, it is unfortunately rarely articulated. In this paper, TCA is first reconstructed on the basis of John McDowell’s formulation of the argument (from 1981), and then evaluated in the light of several possible non-cognitivist responses. (...) In general, TCA assumes too much about what a non-cognitivist is (or must be) committed to. There are several non-cognitivist theories, and only some fit the view attacked by TCA. Furthermore, TCA rests on a contestable intuition about a thought experiment, here called the External Standpoint Experiment (ESE). It is concluded that TCA is remarkably weak, given how frequently the argument is invoked. (shrink)
One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which (...) there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument. (shrink)
The idea of direction of fit has been found appealing by many philosophers. Anscombe’s famous examples have persuaded many of us that there must be some deep difference between belief and desire that is captured by the metaphor of direction of fit. Most of the aim of the paper is to try to get clear on which intuitions Anscombe’s example taps into. My view is that there is more than one intuition in play here, and I will try to show (...) that various distinctions and points are confused in the literature on direction of fit. But I also want to argue that once the proper distinctions are made, it’s not clear that the notion of direction of fit can do any of the philosophically significant work that it was supposed to do. I first argue that the best way to unpack the notion of direction of fit would indeed be by means of the constitutive relation between truth and belief. In particular, the notion of direction of fit is best understood as different ideals, or formal ends, guiding the inference, from what I call “prima-facie” attitudes to what I call “all-out” attitudes respectively in the theoretical and practical realm. However, I’ll argue that there’s no non-circular way of making this distinction. But even if no definition of “belief” and “desire” come out of the distinction between directions of fit, it does elucidate the different natures of practical and theoretical enquiry. However, understood this way, the notion of direction of fit does not seem to capture the distinction illustrated by Anscombe’s example. I try to argue in the last section that Anscombe’s compelling example is best explained not by a distinction between directions of fit, but by a distinction between two different inferential mistakes: one from general to general or particular to general, and the other from general to particular. There’s an important asymmetry between practical and theoretical endeavours in this neighbourhood. However, noticing this asymmetry will also fail to deliver the philosophical payoffs that the notion of direction of fit was supposed to have. (shrink)
Since the cognitive revolution, it’s become commonplace that cognition involves both computation and information processing. Is this one claim or two? Is computation the same as information processing? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but this usage masks important differences. In this paper, we distinguish information processing from computation and examine some of their mutual relations, shedding light on the role each can play in a theory of cognition. We recommend that theoristError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode (...) CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMaps of cognition be explicit and careful in choosing 1 notions of computation and information and connecting them together. Much confusion can be avoided by doing so. Keywords: computation, information processing, computationalism, computational theory of mind, cognitivism. (shrink)
Emotivist, or non-descriptivist metaethical theories hold that value-statements do not function by describing special value-facts, but are the mere expressions of naturalistically describable motivational states of (valuing) agents. Non-descriptivism has typically been combined with the claim that value-statements are non-cognitive: they are not the manifestations of genuine belief states. However, all the linguistic, logical and phenomenological evidence indicates that value-statements are cognitive. Non-descriptivism then has a problem. Horgan and Timmons propose to solve it by boldly combining a non-descriptivist thesis about (...) value with the claim that value-judgements are after all cognitive. Although possessing many attractive features, I argue that their framework fails to deliver the promised results; it suffers from a certain internal incoherence about the concept of content and mis-characterizes the descriptive/non-descriptive content distinction required by nondescriptivism. (shrink)
Embodied social cognition (ESC) aims to explicate how our embodiment shapes our knowledge of others, and in what this knowledge of others consists. Although there is much diversity amongst ESC accounts, common to all these accounts is the idea that our normal everyday interactions consist in non-mentalistic embodied engagements. In recent years, several theorists have developed and defended innovative and controversial accounts of ESC. These accounts challenge, and offer deflationary alternatives to, the standard cognitivist accounts of social cognition. As ESC (...) accounts grow in number and prominence, the time has come for a dedicated, sustained debate on ESC and its most controversial and innovative elements. The goal of this special issue is to host such a debate with the aim of bringing clarity to the discussion of social cognition. (shrink)
We perform conceptual acts throughout our daily lives; we are always judging others, guessing their intentions, agreeing or opposing their views and so on. These conceptual acts have phenomenological as well as formal richness. This paper attempts to correct the imbalance between the phenomenal and formal approaches to conceptualization by claiming that we need to shift from the usual dichotomies of cognitive science and epistemology such as the formal/empirical and the rationalist/empiricist divides—to a view of conceptualization grounded in the Indian (...) philosophical notion of valid cognition . Methodologically, our paper is an attempt at cross-cultural philosophy and cognitive science; ontologically, it is an attempt at marrying the phenomenal and the formal. (shrink)
The maturing of metaethics has been accompanied by widespread, but relatively unarticulated, discontent that mainstream metaethics is fundamentally on the wrong track. The malcontents we have in mind do not simply champion a competitor to the likes of noncognitivism or realism; they disapprove of the supposed presuppositions of the existing debate. Their aim is not to generate a new theory within metaethics, but to go beyond metaethics and to transcend the distinctions it draws between metaethics and normative ethics and between (...)cognitivism and non-cognitivism. In our experience, the differences with traditional metaethics go deep enough that it can feel as if two different paradigms are talking past each other. We attempt to bring clarity and focus to this rather inchoate debate by simultaneously articulating the general issues involved and engaging in a detailed case study of one of the prominent representatives of this discontent, Christine Korsgaard. We argue that Korsgaard fails to go beyond metaethics–indeed, fails even to provide a theory within metaethics. Our strategy for showing this is to argue that her claims are compatible with both cognitivism and non-cognitivism. We have argued elsewhere that her distinctive claims are compatible with realism. Here we focus on the crucial role that claims about agency and the will seem to play her in work and, according to our interpretation, in her attempts to go beyond mainstream metaethics. We show in detail that these claims are actually compatible with non-cognitivism. Though our discussion often focuses on her work in particular, it has clear implications for other attempts to obviate the debates of traditional metaethics. (shrink)
Directed to scholars and senior-level graduate students, this book is an iconoclastic survey of the history of dualism and its impact on contemporary cognitive psychology. It argues that much of modern cognitive or mentalist psychology is built upon a cryptodualism--the idea that the mind and brain can be thought of as independent entities. This dualism pervades so much of society that it covertly influences many aspects of modern science, particularly psychology. To support the argument, the history of dualism is extended (...) over 100,000 years--from the Paleolithic times until modern philosophical and psychological thinking. The questions regarding this topic that are answered in the book are: 1) Does dualism influence the scientific theories of psychology? 2) If so, should dualism be put aside in the search for a more objective analysis of human mentation? (shrink)
Sunstein aims to provide a nonsectarian account of moral heuristics, yet the account rests on a controversial meta-ethical view. Further, moral theorists who reject act consequentialism may deny that Sunstein's examples involve moral mistakes. But so what? Within a theory that counts consequences as a morally weighty feature of actions, the moral judgments that Sunstein points to are indeed mistaken, and the fact that governmental action at odds with these judgments will be controversial doesn't bar such action.
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons have recently provided an updated presentation and defense of a metaethical view that they call cognitivist expressivism. Expressivists claim that moral judgments express propositional attitudes that do not represent or describe the external world. Horgan and Timmons agree with this claim, but they also deny the traditional expressivist claim that moral judgments do not express beliefs. On their view, moral judgments are genuine, truth-apt beliefs, thus making their form of expressivism a cognitivist one. In this (...) essay, I argue that Horgan and Timmons have failed to demonstrate that moral judgments express sui generis, nondescriptive content by showing that at least some moral content is descriptive. In addition, I show how the descriptivist can account for those properties that Horgan and Timmons consider distinctive of moral belief. In doing so, I remove one of the expressivist's most important lines of motivation for positing nondescriptive moral content in the first place. At the end of the essay, I briefly sketch a view that I call partial or modest moral realism. (shrink)
In what follows I try to show that Spinoza modelled his project of rational psychology, in some of its major respects, upon Descartes's metaphysics of matter. I argue further that, like Descartes, who paid for the rationalization of the science of matter the price of having to leave out of his description non-quantifiable qualities, so Spinoza left out of his psychology the non-rationalizable aspects of emotions, i.e. whatever in them could not be subsumed under common notions. He therefore was left (...) with the cognitive aspects of emotions, keeping outside of his report the inner feeling which accompanies them. Spinoza's psychology, I claim, disregards any non-cognitive aspect of emotions. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, finally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist specifications, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those specifications. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reflections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine an account of instrumental reasoning recently put forth by John Broome. His key suggestion is that anyone who engages in reasoning about his intentions also believes that he will do what he intends to do and that combined with a belief about necessary means this creates rational pressure towards believing that one will take the necessary means. I argue that Broomeâs model has three significant problems; his key premise is falseâthe sincere expression of an intention (...) does not entail the belief that one will successfully execute that intention; his account yields a model of instrumental reasoning that is uncomfortably reflective; he seems unable to explain the rational pressure towards taking necessary means that arises directly from having an end and an instrumental belief. All three problems, I argue, are a consequence of Broomeâs inadequate position on what it is to intend to do something. (shrink)
We perform conceptual acts throughout our daily lives; we are always judging others, guessing their intentions, agreeing or opposing their views and so on. These conceptual acts have phenomenological as well as formal richness. This paper attempts to correct the imbalance between the phenomenal and formal approaches to conceptualization by claiming that we need to shift from the usual dichotomies of cognitive science and epistemology such as the formal/empirical and the rationalist/empiricist divides—to a view of conceptualization grounded in the Indian (...) philosophical notion of “valid cognition”. Methodologically, our paper is an attempt at cross-cultural philosophy and cognitive science; ontologically, it is an attempt at marrying the phenomenal and the formal. (shrink)
The aims of this paper are (1) to reconstruct the dialectic between two rival theories on the relation between art and morality, (2) to argue against Berys Gaut’s recent defense of ethicism, and (3) to elaborate some of my critical remarks and propose new considerations in favor of immoralism. To a first approximation, an ethicist maintains that the moral value of a work of art, when relevant, is an important element of its artistic value. In particular, assuming that the moral (...) value of a work, w, is relevant for its artistic value, if w has an immoral character (in a sense to be specified), then its aesthetic value is lessened. In addition, if w has a morally positive character, then w is also artistically more .. (shrink)
John Searle dismisses the attempt to understand thought as a form of computation, on the grounds that it is not scientific. Science is concerned with intrinsic properties, i.e. those features which are not observer relative, e.g. science is concerned with mass but not with beauty. Computation, according to Searle, presupposes the property of following an algorithm, but algorithmicity is normative, by reason of appealing to function, and hence not intrinsic. I argue that Searle's critique presupposes the folk notion of function, (...) which is indeed normative. But this folk notion can be replaced by a purely descriptive analogue, thereby showing that algorithmicity can be construed as intrinsic after all. (shrink)
Here I explore the aesthetic implications of this new paradigm, the central implication being that scientific cognitivism, when combined with the new paradigm in ecology, may require updating the qualities associated with positive aesthetics. After reviewing Allen Carlson's defense of both scientific cognitivism and the positive aesthetics thesis, I show how the significantly different conceptual framework that the new paradigm in ecology provides will require equally significant adjustments to how we aesthetically appreciate nature. I make two suggestions. First, (...) the new paradigm in ecology suggests that aesthetic appreciation should focus on natural processes, which will require a more theoretical approach to aesthetic appreciation. Second, because the new paradigm appeals to aesthetic qualities such as imbalance, disorder, and disharmony to make the natural world intelligible, these qualities are consistent with an updated positive aesthetics thesis and should therefore replace the qualities associated with the old paradigm. Collectively, these two suggestions imply that the beauty of nature is dynamic and chaotic rather than stable and orderly. (shrink)
In analytic aesthetics, a popular ‘cognitivist’ line of thought maintains that literary works of fictional kind may ‘imply’ or ‘suggest’ truths. Nevertheless, so-called anti-cognitivists have considered the concepts of implication and suggestion both problematic. For instance, cognitivists’s use of the word ‘implication’ seems to differ from all philosophical conceptions of implication, and ‘suggestion’ is generally left unanalysed in their theories. This paper discusses the role, kinds and conception of implication or suggestion in literature, issues which have received little attention in (...) contemporary literary aesthetics. In the first part, the author shall examine classic views on implication in literature and introduce objections to the views. In the latter part, in turn, the author shall propose a definition of the ‘literary suggestion’ and discuss issues related to its interpretation. (shrink)