Quinean social skills: Empirical evidence from eye-gaze against information encapsulation

Biology and Philosophy 24 (1):1-19 (2009)
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Since social skills are highly significant to the evolutionary success of humans, we should expect these skills to be efficient and reliable. For many Evolutionary Psychologists efficiency entails encapsulation: the only way to get an efficient system is via information encapsulation. But encapsulation reduces reliability in opaque epistemic domains. And the social domain is darkly opaque: people lie and cheat, and deliberately hide their intentions and deceptions. Modest modularity [Currie and Sterelny (2000) Philos Q 50:145–160] attempts to combine efficiency and reliability. Reliability is obtained by placing social skills in un-encapsulated central cognition; efficiency by having the social system sensitive to encapsulated socially tagged cues. In this paper, I argue that this approach fails. I focus on eye-gaze as a plausible example of a socially significant encapsulated cue. I demonstrate contra modest modularity that eye-gaze is subject to influence from central cognition.



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Mitch Parsell
Macquarie University

Citations of this work

Idealist Origins: 1920s and Before.Martin Davies & Stein Helgeby - 2014 - In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), History of Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 15-54.
The Epistemology of Geometry I: the Problem of Exactness.Anne Newstead & Franklin James - 2010 - Proceedings of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science 2009.
A expressão da modularidade.César Ades - 2009 - Scientiae Studia 7 (2):283-308.

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