I consider the opening to a paper by Jerry Fodor referring to graffiti in the subway stations and what Helen Beebee once said about it in her essay writing guide. I used to just pass over that stuff, but now I find it may be more important.
While the homology concept has taken on importance in thinking about the nature of psychological kinds, no one has shown how comparative psychological and behavioral evidence can distinguish between competing homology claims. I adapt the operational criteria of homology to accomplish this. I consider two competing homology claims that compare human anger with putative aggression systems of nonhuman animals, and demonstrate the effectiveness of these criteria in adjudicating between these claims.
While there is ongoing debate about the existence of basic emotions and about their status as natural kinds, these debates usually carry on under the assumption that BEs are encapsulated from cognition and that this is one of the criteria that separates the products of evolution from the products of culture and experience. I aim to show that this assumption is entirely unwarranted, that there is empirical evidence against it, and that evolutionary theory itself should not lead us to expect (...) that cognitive encapsulation marks the distinction between basic and higher cognitive emotions. Finally, I draw out the implications of these claims for debates about the existence of basic emotions in humans. (shrink)
Discussions concerning the modularity of the pain system have been focused on questions regarding the cognitive penetrability of pain mechanisms. It has been claimed that phenomena such as placebo analgesia demonstrate that the pain system is cognitively penetrated; therefore, it is not encapsulated from central cognition. However, important arguments have been formulated which aim to show that cognitive penetrability does not in fact entail a lack of modularity of the pain system. This paper offers an alternative way to reject the (...) modularity of the pain system, which is independent from, but consistent with, the presence of cognitive penetration. It is proposed that, given the current knowledge regarding the functioning and the structure of the pain system, there are good reasons to accept that certain central cognitive mechanisms are part of the pain system. It is argued that such a ‘cognitive constitution’ of the pain system entails that the pain system is not modular. (shrink)
Cognitive modules are internal mental structures. Some theorists and empirical researchers hypothesise that the human mind is either partially or massively comprised of structures that are modular in nature. Is the massive modularity of mind hypothesis a cogent view about the ontological nature of human mind or is it, rather, an effective/ineffective adaptationist discovery heuristic for generating predictively successful hypotheses about both heretofore unknown psychological traits and unknown properties of already identified psychological traits? Considering the inadequacies of the case in (...) favour of massive modularity as an ontological hypothesis, I suggest approaching and valuing massive modularity as an adaptationist discovery heuristic. (shrink)
The question whether Buddhism can enter a fruitful dialogue with modern science has come under critical scrutiny in recent years. This paper considers Evan Thompson's appraisal of that dialogue in Why I am Not a Buddhist, focussing on four areas of disagreement: (i) the suitability of evolutionary psychology as a framework of analysis for Buddhist moral psychological ideas; (ii) the issue of what counts as the core and main trajectory of the Buddhist intellectual tradition; (iii) the scope of naturalism in (...) the relation between science and metaphysics, and (iv) whether a Madhyamaka-inspired anti-foundationalist stance can serve as an effective platform for debating the issue of progress in science. My main argument is that while Buddhist ideas about mind and cognition can expand the range of conceptual possibilities in framing core debates in the mind sciences, they cannot supplant the empirical claims to knowledge for which scientific naturalism so far provides the most viable basis. (shrink)
Thinking and Perceiving defends the claim that thought not only affects perceiving, thought improves perceiving. It thus defends a malleable architecture of the mind, opposite strong modularist views that claim that perception is informationally encapsulated and thus cognitively impenetrable. The argument for this view centers around cases of perceptual expertise. Experts in a wide variety of domains—radiology, birdwatching, elite athletics, fingerprint examination—have been empirically studied using behavioral, neural-physiological, and computational methods. This convergence of evidence is best explained in terms of (...) cognitively sensitive perceptual improvements. And these improvements amount to epistemic virtue, where the virtue is partly resident in perception and credited to the perceiving agent. The view has far-reaching implications for a wide range of issues, including the epistemology of perception, the contents of perception, theory-ladenness in science and social perception, understanding and self-understanding, and aesthetic taste. (shrink)
Coletânea de traduções de verbetes da SEP na área de Filosofia da Cognição organizada por Eros Carvalho (UFRGS). A obra contém os seguintes verbetes: "Ciência cognitiva", "A teoria computacional da mente", "Teorias teleológicas do conteúdo mental", "Modularidade da Mente", "Cognição Corporificada", "Emoção", e "Cognição Animal".
The “puzzle” of emotional plasticity concerns making sense of two conflicting bodies of evidence: evidence that emotions often appear modular in key respects, and evidence that our emotions also often appear to transcend this modularity. In this paper, I argue a developmentalist approach to emotion, which builds on Karmiloff-Smith’s (1986, 1992, 1994, 2015) work on cognitive development, can help us dissolve this puzzle.
[File is the introduction to the monograph] -/- Abstract to monograph -/- How and whether thinking affects perceiving is a deeply important question. Of course it is of scientific interest: to understand the human mind is to understand how we best distinguish its processes, how those processes interact, and what this implies for how and what we may know about the world. And so in the philosopher’s terms, this book is one on both mental architecture and the epistemology of perception. (...) But there is a more human interest. How we make contact with the world, and with one another, is of the most basic of importance. We can make both sensory contact and cognitive contact with the world. The first is traditionally supposed to be determined by the biological nature of our sensory systems, while the second is at least partly determined by us, what we have learned, our experiences, and so on. The most basic claim of the book is that this is mistaken and importantly so. Our sensory contact with the world can also change and in a way that is importantly affected by the cognitive contact that we have, or have had, with the world. Thinking does not just affect perceiving, thinking improves perceiving. If this is true, it changes not only how we should theorize the mind, it changes how we should understand, as individuals, our place in and contact with the world. (shrink)
I argue that semantics is the study of the proprietary database of a centrally inaccessible and informationally encapsulated input–output system. This system’s role is to encode and decode partial and defeasible evidence of what speakers are saying. Since information about nonlinguistic context is therefore outside the purview of semantic processing, a sentence’s semantic value is not its content but a partial and defeasible constraint on what it can be used to say. I show how to translate this thesis into a (...) detailed compositional-semantic theory based on the influential framework of Heim and Kratzer. This approach situates semantics within an independently motivated account of human cognitive architecture and reveals the semantics–pragmatics interface to be grounded in the underlying interface between modular and central systems. (shrink)
Raftopoulos’s most recent book argues, among other things, for the cognitive impenetrability of early vision. Before we can assess any such claims, we need to know what’s meant by “early vision” and by “cognitive penetration”. In this contribution to this book symposium, I explore several different things that one might mean – indeed, that Raftopoulos might mean – by these terms. I argue that whatever criterion we choose for delineating early vision, we need a single criterion, not a mishmash of (...) distinct criteria. And I argue against defining cognitive penetration in partly epistemological terms, although it is fine to offer epistemological considerations in defending some definitions as capturing something of independent interest. Finally, I raise some questions about how we are to understand the “directness” of certain putative cognitive influences on perception and about whether there’s a decent rationale for restricting directness in the way that Raftopoulos apparently does. (shrink)
The question of whether perception is encapsulated from cognition has been a major topic in the study of perception in the past decade. One locus of debate concerns the role of attention. Some theorists argue that attention is a vehicle for widespread violations of encapsulation; others argue that certain forms of cognitively driven attention are compatible with encapsulation, especially if attention only modulates inputs. This paper argues for an extreme thesis: no effect of attention, whether on the inputs to perception (...) or on perceptual processing itself, constitutes a violation of the encapsulation of perception. (shrink)
The predictive coding (PC) theory of attention identifies attention with the optimization of the precision weighting of prediction error. Here we provide some challenges for this identification. On the one hand, the precision weighting of prediction error is too broad a phenomenon to be identified with attention because such weighting plays a central role in multimodal integration. Cases of crossmodal illusions such as the rubber hand illusion and the McGurk effect involve the differential precision weighting of prediction error, yet attention (...) does not shift as one would predict. On the other hand, the precision weighting of prediction error is too narrow a phenomenon to be identified with attention, because it cannot accommodate the full range of attentional phenomena. We review criticisms that PC cannot account for volitional attention and affect-biased attention, and we propose that it may not be able to account for feature-based and intellectual attention. (shrink)
What is human reason, how did it arise, how is it connected to animal reason? In The Enigma of Reason (ER) Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber (2017) suggest that reason evolved driven by the need to support communication and coordination in small human groups. They contrast this to the idea that the function of reason is to enable humans to make better decisions and develop more accurate beliefs. After a summation of the ER argument, the theory is critiqued and two (...) of their assumptions -- that human cognition is based on massive modularity and that reason co-evolved with and is dependent upon language -- are challenged. Alternatives to these assumptions are presented from the perspective of pattern matching processes in neural dynamical systems, which it is asserted provides a more realistic approach to the functioning of the brain and mind. (shrink)
A familiar trope of cognitive science, linguistics, and the philosophy of psychology over the past forty or so years has been the idea of the mind as a modular system-that is, one consisting of functionally specialized subsystems responsible for processing different classes of input, or handling specific cognitive tasks like vision, language, logic, music, and so on. However, one of the major achievements of neuroscience has been the discovery that the brain has incredible powers of renewal and reorganization. This "neuroplasticity," (...) in its various forms, has challenged many of the orthodox conceptions of the mind which originally led cognitive scientists to postulate hardwired mental modules. -/- This book examines how such discoveries have changed the way we think about the structure of the mind. It contends that the mind is more supple than prevailing theories in cognitive science and artificial intelligence acknowledge. The book uses language as a test case. The claim that language is cognitively special has often been understood as the claim that it is underpinned by dedicated-and innate-cognitive mechanisms. Zerilli offers a fresh take on how our linguistic abilities could be domain-general: enabled by a composite of very small and redundant cognitive subsystems, few if any of which are likely to be specialized for language. In arguing for this position, however, the book takes seriously various cases suggesting that language dissociates from other cognitive faculties. -/- Accessibly written, The Adaptable Mind is a fascinating account of neuroplasticity, neural reuse, the modularity of mind, the evolution of language, and faculty psychology. (shrink)
The innate knowledge problem is a classical problem in philosophy, which has been known since the classical antiquity. Plato in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo formulated the doctrine of innate ideas and proposed an early version of the poverty of the stimulus argument, which is the most frequently used argument in innate knowledge debates. In the history of philosophy there was also an opposite view. This approach is often associated with J. Locke’s philosophy. Locke thought that all our knowledge about (...) the world is a product of the universal learning mechanisms whose functioning is based on perception. The question about the presence of innate ideas in the human mind still remains relevant. New findings in cognitive science and neurosciences and also some recent arguments from philosophers contribute to the contemporary discussion between the spokesmen of the rival approaches to this problem. The paper presents the investigation of one of the approaches to solving the problem of innate concepts, which is called a “concept nativism.” It highlights the outstanding characteristics of the concept nativism: (a) domain specificity position, (b) belief that domain-specific mechanisms of learning are innate and (c) belief that at least some concepts are innate. The article also proposes an analysis of notions “innateness” and “idea” which is important for understanding nativists’ approach to innate ideas theory. And finally, it describes the most popular nativists’ arguments: (a) references to empirical studies using the preferential looking technique, (b) the poverty of the stimulus argument and (c) the argument from animals. (shrink)
In their article, Thom Scott‐Phillips, Stefaan Blancke, and Christophe Heintz do a commendable job summarizing the position and misunderstandings of “cultural attraction theory” (CAT). However, they do not address a longstanding problem for the CAT framework; that while it has an encompassing theory and some well‐worked out case studies, it lacks tools for generating models or empirical hypotheses of intermediate generality. I suggest that what the authors diagnose as misunderstandings are instead superficial interpretive errors, resulting from researchers who have attempted (...) to extract generalizable hypotheses from CAT and bring them into contact with the analytical and inferential models of contemporary cultural evolutionary research. (shrink)
Many species rely on the three-dimensional surface layout of an environment to find a desired goal following disorientation. They generally do so to the exclusion of other important spatial cues. Two influential frameworks for explaining that phenomenon are provided by geometric-module theories and view-matching theories of reorientation respectively. The former posit a module that operates only on representations of the global geo- metry of three-dimensional surfaces to guide behavior. The latter place snapshots, stored representations of the subject’s two-dimensional retinal stimulation (...) at specific locations, at the heart of their accounts. In this paper, I take a fresh look at the debate between them. I begin by making a case that the empirical evidence we currently have does not clearly favor one framework over the other, and that the debate has reached something of an impasse. Then, I present a new explanatory problem—the representation selection problem—that offers the pro- spect of breaking the impasse by introducing a new type of explanatory consideration that both frameworks must address. The representation selection problem requires explaining how subjects can reliably select the relevant representation with which they initiate the reorientation process. I argue that the view-matching framework does not have the resources to address this problem, while a certain type of theory within the geometric-module framework can provide a natural response to it. In showing this, I develop a new geometric-module theory. (shrink)
Intentionalism is a research program that seeks to explain facts about meaning and communication in psychological terms, with our capacity for intention recognition playing a starring role. My aim here is to recommend a methodological reorientation in this program. Instead of a focus on intuitive counterexamples to proposals about necessary-and-sufficient conditions, we should aim to investigate the psychological mechanisms whose activities and interactions explain our capacity to communicate. Taking this methodologi- cal reorientation to heart, I sketch a theory of the (...) cognitive architecture underlying language use that I have defended elsewhere. I then show how this theory can be used to give an account of non-communicative language use—a phenomenon that has long posed a challenge to intentionalism. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychology tends to be associated with a massively modular cognitive architecture. On this framework of human cognition, an assembly of specialized information processors called modules developed under selection pressures encountered throughout the phylogenic history of hominids. The coordinated activity of domain-specific modules carries out all the processes of belief fixation, abstract reasoning, and other facets of central cognition. Against the massive modularity thesis, I defend an account of systemic functional adaptedness, according to which non-modular systems emerged because of adaptive (...) problems imposed by the intrinsic physiology of the evolving human brain. The proposed reformulation of evolutionary theorizing draws from neural network models and Cummins’ (1975) account of systemic functions to identify selection pressures that gave rise to non-modular, domain-general mechanisms in cognitive architecture. (shrink)
What can features of cognitive architecture, e.g. the information encapsulation of certain emotion processing systems, tell us about emotional rationality? de Sousa proposes the following hypothesis: “the role of emotions is to supply the insufficiency of reason by imitating the encapsulation of perceptual modes” (de Sousa 1987: 195). Very roughly, emotion processing can sometimes occur in a way that is insensitive to what an agent already knows, and such processing can assist reasoning by restricting the response-options she considers. This paper (...) aims to provide an exposition and assessment of de Sousa’s hypothesis. I argue information encapsulation is not essential to emotion-driven reasoning, as emotions can determine the relevance of response-options even without being encapsulated. However, I argue encapsulation can still play a role in assisting reasoning by restricting response-options more efficiently, and in a way that ensures which options emotions deem relevant are not overridden by what the agent knows. I end by briefly explaining why this very feature also helps explain how emotions can, on occasion, hinder reasoning. (shrink)
Debates about modularity invariably involve a crucial premise about how visual illusions are experienced. This paper argues that these debates are wrongheaded, and that experience of illusions is orthogonal to the core issue of the modularity hypothesis: informational encapsulation.
I develop a cognitive account of how humans make skeptical judgments (of the form “X does not know p”). In my view, these judgments are produced by a special purpose metacognitive "skeptical" mechanism which monitors our reasoning for hasty or overly risky assumptions. I argue that this mechanism is modular and shaped by natural selection. The explanation for why the mechanism is adaptive essentially relies on an internalized principle connecting knowledge and action, a principle central to pragmatic encroachment theories. I (...) end the paper by sketching how we can use the account I develop here to respond to the skeptic. (shrink)
The main thesis of Heyes' book is that all of the domain-specific learning mechanisms that make the human mind so different from the minds of other animals are culturally created and culturally acquired gadgets. The only innate differences are some motivational tweaks, enhanced capacities for associative learning, and enhanced executive function abilities. But Heyes' argument depends on contrasting cognitive gadgets with cognitive instincts, which are said to be innately specified. This ignores what has for some years been the mainstream nativist/anti-empiricist (...) view, which commits only to partially specified learning systems that become elaborated and built through domain-specific learning. (shrink)
Design plays an integral role in the functions of modern society. Yet the abstract process by which designers carry out their work is not obvious. The study of design thinking has grown in recent years into a major area of academic research, yet it presently lacks a clear theoretical basis; and as a discipline, its methodologies are disparate. Here, we outline and clarify the framework of the scholarly study of design thinking, introducing the major ideas and concepts upon which the (...) field is based. We then discuss in detail the various methodological issues of the field, and argue that, in its current state, the field of design thinking cannot sustain itself as an independent area of academic research. We suggest that design thinking may best be studied from a sociological or science, technology, and society (STS) studies perspective. (shrink)
Evidence of the pervasiveness of neural reuse in the human brain has forced a revision of the standard conception of modularity in the cognitive sciences. One persistent line of argument against such revision, however, cites the evidence of cognitive dissociations. While this article takes the dissociations seriously, it contends that the traditional modular account is not the best explanation. The key to the puzzle is neural redundancy. The article offers both a philosophical analysis of the relation between reuse and redundancy (...) as well as a plausible solution to the problem of dissociations. (shrink)
Cognitive science of religion is a fairly young discipline with the aim of studying the cognitive basis of religious belief. Despite the great variation in theories a number of common features can be distilled and most theories can be situated in the cognitivist and modular paradigm. In this paper, I investigate how cognitive science of religion (CSR) can be made better by insights from John Dewey. I chose Dewey because he offered important insights in cognition long before there was cognitive (...) science and because his ideas are influential in the recent enactivist movement. The relevance of Dewey’s thought for CSR will be discussed under three headers: embodiedness, embeddedness and anti-modularity. I focus on these points because embodiedness and embeddedness are important features of Dewey’s view on cognition and because his ideas are useful for criticizing modularity. I will first give a brief overview of the most influential theories in CSR. Then I will discuss how existing theories in CSR can be improved on the first two points and criticized on the third. (shrink)
Modular approaches to the architecture of the mind claim that some mental mechanisms, such as sensory input processes, operate in special-purpose subsystems that are functionally independent from the rest of the mind. This assumption of modularity seems to be in tension with recent claims that the mind has a predictive architecture. Predictive approaches propose that both sensory processing and higher-level processing are part of the same Bayesian information-processing hierarchy, with no clear boundary between perception and cognition. Furthermore, it is not (...) clear how any part of the predictive architecture could be functionally independent, given that each level of the hierarchy is influenced by the level above. Both the assumption of continuity across the predictive architecture and the seeming non-isolability of parts of the predictive architecture seem to be at odds with the modular approach. I explore and ultimately reject the predictive approach’s apparent commitments to continuity and non-isolation. I argue that predictive architectures can be modular architectures, and that we should in fact expect predictive architectures to exhibit some form of modularity. (shrink)
Zenon Pylyshyn argues that cognitively driven attentional effects do not amount to cognitive penetration of early vision because such effects occur either before or after early vision. Critics object that in fact such effects occur at all levels of perceptual processing. We argue that Pylyshyn’s claim is correct—but not for the reason he emphasizes. Even if his critics are correct that attentional effects are not external to early vision, these effects do not satisfy Pylyshyn’s requirements that the effects be direct (...) and exhibit semantic coherence. In addition, we distinguish our defense from those found in recent work by Raftopoulos and by Firestone and Scholl, argue that attention should not be assimilated to expectation, and discuss alternative characterizations of cognitive penetrability, advocating a kind of pluralism. (shrink)
After presenting evidence about categorization behavior, this paper argues for the following theses: 1) that there is a border between perception and cognition; 2) that the border is to be characterized by perception being modular (and cognition not being so); 3) that perception outputs conceptualized representations, so views that posit that the output of perception is solely non-conceptual are false; and 4) that perceptual content consists of basic-level categories and not richer contents.
Modularity is a fundamental doctrine in the cognitive sciences. It holds a preeminent position in cognitive psychology and generative linguistics, as well as a long history in neurophysiology, with roots going all the way back to the early nineteenth century. But a mature field of neuroscience is a comparatively recent phenomenon and has challenged orthodox conceptions of the modular mind. One way of accommodating modularity within the new framework suggested by these developments is to go for increasingly soft versions of (...) modularity. One such version, which I call the “system” view, is so soft that it promises to meet practically any challenge neuroscience can throw at it. In this paper, I reconsider afresh what we ought to regard as the sine qua non of modularity and offer a few arguments against the view that an insipid “system” module could be the legitimate successor of the traditional notion. (shrink)
According to an influential view, the detection of action possibilities and the selection of a plan for action are two segregated steps throughout the processing of visual information. This classical approach is committed with the assumption that two independent types of processing underlie visual perception: the semantic one, which is at the service of the identification of visually presented objects, and the pragmatic one which serves the execution of actions directed to specific parts of the same objects. However, as our (...) knowledge of vision has improved over the years, this established view has turned out to be only an approximation. This paper sets out the details of a non-modularist approach to visual perception of action possibilities and explains how to resist the lure of cognitive segregation. (shrink)
In cognitive science, the concept of dissociation has been central to the functional individuation and decomposition of cognitive systems. Setting aside debates about the legitimacy of inferring the existence of dissociable systems from ‘behavioural’ dissociation data, the main idea behind the dissociation approach is that two cognitive systems are dissociable, and thus viewed as distinct, if each can be damaged, or impaired, without affecting the other system’s functions. In this article, I propose a notion of functional independence that does not (...) require dissociability, and describe an approach to the functional decomposition and modelling of cognitive systems that complements the dissociation approach. I show that highly integrated cognitive and neurocognitive systems can be decomposed into non-dissociable but functionally independent components, and argue that this approach can provide a general account of cognitive specialization in terms of a stable structure–function relationship. 1 Introduction2 Functional Independence without Dissociability3 FI Systems and Cognitive Architecture4 FI Systems and Cognitive Specialization. (shrink)
Research in vision science, developmental psychology, and the foundations of cognitive science has led some theorists to posit referential mechanisms similar to indices. This hypothesis has been framed within a Fodorian conception of the early vision module. The article shows that this conception is mistaken, for it cannot handle the ‘interface problem’—roughly, how indexing mechanisms relate to higher cognition and conceptual thought. As a result, I reject the inaccessibility of early vision to higher cognition and make some constructive remarks on (...) the perception–cognition interface. -/- 1 The Case for Visual Indices 1.1 Preliminary assumptions 1.2 Transcendental arguments 1.3 Evidence from vision science 2 Visual Indices, Object Files, and Fodorian Modularity 3 The Interface Problem 3.1 Top-down attention and modularity 3.2 Selective attention and information 4 Revising the Indexing Hypothesis 4.1 Revising the perception–cognition interface 4.2 Revising the modularity of early vision 5 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
Karl Popper (2002) once instructed a group of physics students to carefully write down what they observed. Popper relates that the students asked what he wanted them to observe and said that the sole instruction to “observe” was absurd. This story motivated Popper’s claim that, especially in science: Observation is always selective. It needs a chosen object, a definite task, an interest, a point of view, a problem. And its description presupposes a descriptive language . . . , which in (...) its turn presupposes interests, points of view, and problems. (2002, p. 62) In Discovering the Human Connectome, the problem is how the brain works, and from Olaf Sporns’ point of view, the brain can be understood as a network (p. ix). One of Sporns’ main goals in his previous book (2011) was to introduce neuroscientists to the theory and methods of network science. That book was Sporns’ attempt to answer the “how?” questions of integrating the methods of network science with neuroscience. The current book builds on the previous one and attempts to answer more theoretical questions such as why network science is an appropriate framework for investigating the brain. (shrink)
There are various approaches to ontology metamodelling, and the notion of biologically inspired modular knowledge representation systems can provide insight in the workings of such phenomena as emergent properties of network structures. What is more relevant from knowledge engineering standpoint, such approach could provide innovation and enhancement of the level of expression as well as overall functionality of modular ontologies. To do so, one needs to find biological structures that would be the basis for modularity on different levels of hierarchy (...) within the artificial system. Network analysis tools as well as systems biology and biocomputing provide a framework for research in this field. (shrink)
This book introduces an account of cognitive architecture, Cognitive Pluralism, on which the basic units of understanding are models of particular content domains. Having many mental models is a good adaptive strategy for cognition, but models can be incompatible with one another, leading to paradoxes and inconsistencies of belief, and it may not be possible to integrate the understanding supplied by multiple models into a comprehensive and self-consistent "super model". The book applies the theory to explaining intuitive reasoning and cognitive (...) illusions and explores implications for epistemology, semantics, and disunity of science. (shrink)
Innate cognitive capacities are widely posited in cognitive science, yet both philosophers and scientists have criticized the concept of innateness as being hopelessly confused. Despite a number of recent attempts to define or characterize innateness, critics have charged that it is associated with a diverse set of properties and encourages unwarranted inferences among properties that are frequently unrelated. This criticism can be countered by showing that the properties associated with innateness cluster together in reliable ways, at least in the context (...) of the study of cognition. Even though the causal connections between these cognitive properties are not always strict, they are robust enough to warrant considering innateness to be a natural kind as used in contemporary cognitive science. (shrink)
Can beliefs that are not consciously formulated serve as part of an agent's evidence for other beliefs? A common view says no, any belief that is psychologically immediate is also epistemically immediate. I argue that some unconscious beliefs can serve as evidence, but other unconscious beliefs cannot. Person-level beliefs can serve as evidence, but subpersonal beliefs cannot. I try to clarify the nature of the personal/subpersonal distinction and to show how my proposal illuminates various epistemological problems and provides a principled (...) framework for solving other problems. (shrink)
In the present paper I analyse the modularity thesis and, more specifically, the thesis of domain-specificity of processing. I argue that this thesis is not trivial only under the assumption of a variety of processes which differ from each other at the implementation level; otherwise, the variety of cognitive processes can only be explained as emergent on the basic mechanism of associative activation in that it operates on domain-specific representations, which is something that no one would deny. But that assumption (...) is untenable: there are no other processes than associative activation (and inhibition) at the implementation level. Any claim to the contrary is the result of a conceptual confusion between two senses of “associative”: a behavioural one, relative to which there are cognitive processes that exceed the ability to code elementary spatio-temporal contingencies, and one that lies instead at the implementation level. Since the assumption of a plurality of processes at the implementation level is untenable, the only viable interpretation of modularism (as far as domain-specificity is concerned) is a trivial one. By this I do not mean that the thesis is devoid of any content. However, its content is scarcely debatable, and far less thrilling than the debate has suggested so far. (shrink)