This paper explores the ramifications of the extended cognition thesis in the philosophy of mind for contemporary epistemology. In particular, it argues that all theories of knowledge need to accommodate the ability intuition that knowledge involves cognitive ability, but that once this requirement is understood correctly there is no reason why one could not have a conception of cognitive ability that was consistent with the extended cognition thesis. There is thus, surprisingly, a straightforward way of developing our (...) current thinking about knowledge such that it incorporates the extended cognition thesis. (shrink)
We challenge a line of thinking at the fore of recent work on epistemic value: the line (suggested by Kvanvig in The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding, 2003 and others) that if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of mere true belief, then we have good reason to doubt its theoretical importance in epistemology. We offer a value-driven argument for the theoretical importance of knowledge—one that stands even if the value of knowledge is “swamped” (...) by the value of true belief. Specifically, we contend that even if knowledge itself has no special epistemic value, its relationship to other items of value—cognitive abilities—gives ample reason to locate the concept at the very core of epistemology. (shrink)
Sarah Moss argues that degrees of belief, or credences, can amount to knowledge in much the way that full beliefs can. This essay explores a new kind of objective Bayesianism designed to take us some way toward securing such knowledge-constituting credences, or “probabilistic knowledge.” Whatever else it takes for an agent's credences to amount to knowledge, their success, or accuracy, must be the product of cognitive ability or skill. The brand of Bayesianism developed here helps ensure this ability (...) condition is satisfied. Cognitive ability, in turn, helps make credences valuable in other ways: it helps mitigate their dependence on epistemic luck, for example. What we end up with, at the end of the day, are credences that are particularly good candidates for constituting probabilistic knowledge. What's more, examining the character of these credences teaches us something important about what the pursuit of probabilistic knowledge demands from us. It does not demand that we give hypotheses equal treatment, by affording them equal credence. Rather, it demands that we give them equal consideration, by affording them an equal chance of being discovered. (shrink)
Moss (2013) argues that partial beliefs, or credences can amount to knowledge in much the way that full beliefs can. This paper explores a new kind of objective Bayesianism designed to take us some way toward securing such ‘probabilistic knowledge’. Whatever else it takes for an agent’s credences to amount to knowledge, their success, or accuracy must be the product of cognitive ability or skill. The brand of Bayesianism developed here helps ensure this ability condition is satisfied. Cognitive (...)ability, in turn, helps make credences valuable in other ways: it helps mitigate their dependence on epistemic luck, for example. As a result, this new set of Bayesian tools delivers credences that are particularly good candidates for probabilistic knowledge. In addition, examining the character of these credences teaches us an important lesson about what, at bottom, cognitive ability and probabilistic knowledge demand from us: they demand that we give theoretical hypotheses equal consideration, in a certain sense, rather than equal treatment. (shrink)
Natural myside bias is the tendency to evaluate propositions from within one's own perspective when given no instructions or cues (such as within-participants conditions) to avoid doing so. We defined the participant's perspective as their previously existing status on four variables: their sex, whether they smoked, their alcohol consumption, and the strength of their religious beliefs. Participants then evaluated a contentious but ultimately factual proposition relevant to each of these demographic factors. Myside bias is defined between-participants as the mean difference (...) in the evaluation of the proposition between groups with differing prior status on the variable. Whether an individual difference variable (such as cognitive ability) is related to the magnitude of the myside bias is indicated by whether the individual difference variable interacts with the between-participants status variable. In two experiments involving a total of over 1400 university students ( n = 1484) and eight different comparisons, we found very little evidence that participants of higher cognitive ability displayed less natural myside bias. The degree of myside bias was also relatively independent of individual differences in thinking dispositions. We speculate that ideas from memetic theory and dual-process theory might help to explain why natural myside bias is quite dissociated from individual difference variables. (shrink)
Two critical thinking skills—the tendency to avoid myside bias and to avoid one-sided thinking—were examined in three different experiments involving over 1200 participants and across two different paradigms. Robust indications of myside bias were observed in all three experiments. Participants gave higher evaluations to arguments that supported their opinions than those that refuted their prior positions. Likewise, substantial one-side bias was observed—participants were more likely to prefer a one-sided to a balanced argument. There was substantial variation in both types of (...) bias, but we failed to find that participants of higher cognitive ability displayed less myside bias or less one-side bias. Although cognitive ability failed to associate with the magnitude of the myside bias, the strength and content of the prior opinion did predict the degree of myside bias shown. Our results indicate that cognitive ability—as defined by traditional psychometric indicators—turns out to be surprisingly independent of two of the most important critical thinking tendencies discussed in the literature. (shrink)
Individual differences in performance on a variety of selection tasks were examined in three studies employing over 800 participants. Nondeontic tasks were solved disproportionately by individuals of higher cognitive ability. In contrast, responses on two deontic tasks that have shown robust performance facilitationthe Drinking-age Problem and the Sears Problem-were unrelated to cognitive ability. Performance on deontic and nondeontic tasks was consistently associated. Individuals in the correct/correct cell of the bivariate performance matrix were over-represented. That is, individuals giving the (...) modal response on a nondeontic task (P and Q) were significantly less likely to give the modal response on a deontic task (P and not-Q) than were individuals who made the non-modal P and not-Q selection on nondeontic problems. The implications of the results are discussed within the heuristic-analytic framework of Evans (1996; Evans & Over, 1996) and the optimal data selection model of Oaksford and Chater (1994). (shrink)
Two types of truth table task are used to examine people's mental representation of conditionals. In two within-participants experiments, participants either receive the same task-type twice (Experiment 1) or are presented successively with both a possibilities task and a truth task (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 examines how people interpret the three-option possibilities task and whether they have a clear understanding of it. The present study aims to examine, for both task-types, how participants' cognitive ability relates to the classification of (...) the truth table cases as irrelevant, and their consistency in doing so. Looking at the answer patterns, participants' cognitive ability influences their classification of the truth table cases: A positive correlation exists between cognitive ability and the number of false-antecedent cases classified as ?irrelevant?, both in the possibilities task and the truth task. This favours a suppositional representation of conditionals. (shrink)
The notion of “cognitive ability” leads to paradoxical conclusions when invoked to explain Inhelder and Piaget's research on class inclusion reasoning and research on the inclusion rule in the heuristics-and-biases program. The vague distinction between associative and rule-based reasoning overlooks the human capacity for semantic and pragmatic inferences, and consequently, makes intelligent inferences look like reasoning errors.
This target article considers the relation of fluid cognitive functioning to general intelligence. A neurobiological model differentiating working memory/executive function cognitive processes of the prefrontal cortex from aspects of psychometrically defined general intelligence is presented. Work examining the rise in mean intelligence-test performance between normative cohorts, the neuropsychology and neuroscience of cognitive function in typically and atypically developing human populations, and stress, brain development, and corticolimbic connectivity in human and nonhuman animal models is reviewed and found to provide evidence of (...) mechanisms through which early experience affects the development of an aspect of cognition closely related to, but distinct from, general intelligence. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of emotion in fluid cognition and on research indicating fluid cognitive deficits associated with early hippocampal pathology and with dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress-response system. Findings are seen to be consistent with the idea of an independent fluid cognitive construct and to assist with the interpretation of findings from the study of early compensatory education for children facing psychosocial adversity and from behavior genetic research on intelligence. It is concluded that ongoing development of neurobiologically grounded measures of fluid cognitive skills appropriate for young children will play a key role in understanding early mental development and the adaptive success to which it is related, particularly for young children facing social and economic disadvantage. Specifically, in the evaluation of the efficacy of compensatory education efforts such as Head Start and the readiness for school of children from diverse backgrounds, it is important to distinguish fluid cognition from psychometrically defined general intelligence. (Published Online April 5 2006) Key Words: cognition; cognition-emotion reciprocity; developmental disorders; emotion; fluid cognition; Flynn effect; general intelligence; limbic system; neuroscience; phenylketonuria; prefrontal cortex; psychometrics; schizophrenia. (shrink)
Leading virtue epistemologists defend the view that knowledge must proceed from intellectual virtue and they understand virtues either as refned character traits cultivated by the agent over time through deliberate effort, or as reliable cognitive abilities. Philosophical situationists argue that results from empirical psychology should make us doubt that we have either sort of epistemic virtue, thereby discrediting virtue epistemologyâ€™s empirical adequacy. I evaluate this situationist challenge and outline a successor to virtue epistemology: abilism . Abilism delivers all the main (...) benefts of virtue epistemology and is as empirically adequate as any theory in philosophy or the social sciences could hope to be. (shrink)
This paper looks at the attribution of the ability to lie and not at lying or lies. It also departs from more familiar approaches by focussing on the appraisal of an ability and not on the ability in itself. We believe that this attribution perspective is required to bring out the cognitive and intentional basis of the ability to lie.
Male superiority in mathematical ability (along with female superiority in verbal fluency) may reflect the operation of an X-Y homologous gene (the right-shift-factor) influencing the relative rates of development of the cerebral hemispheres. Alleles at the locus on the Y chromosome will be selected at a later mean age than alleles on the X, and only by females.
An analytic cognitive style denotes a propensity to set aside highly salient intuitions when engaging in problem solving. We assess the hypothesis that an analytic cognitive style is associated with a history of questioning, altering, and rejecting supernatural claims, both religious and paranormal. In two studies, we examined associations of God beliefs, religious engagement, conventional religious beliefs and paranormal beliefs with performance measures of cognitive ability and analytic cognitive style. An analytic cognitive style negatively predicted both religious and paranormal (...) beliefs when controlling for cognitive ability as well as religious engagement, sex, age, political ideology, and education. Participants more willing to engage in analytic reasoning were less likely to endorse supernatural beliefs. Further, an association between analytic cognitive style and religious engagement was mediated by religious beliefs, suggesting that an analytic cognitive style negatively affects religious engagement via lower acceptance of conventional religious beliefs. Results for types of God belief indicate that the association between an analytic cognitive style and God beliefs is more nuanced than mere acceptance and rejection, but also includes adopting less conventional God beliefs, such as Pantheism or Deism. Our data are consistent with the idea that two people who share the same cognitive ability, education, political ideology, sex, age and level of religious engagement can acquire very different sets of beliefs about the world if they differ in their propensity to think analytically. (shrink)
Do AI programs just make it quicker and easier for humans to do what they can do already, or can the range of do-able things be extended? This paper suggests that cognitively-oriented technology can make it possible for humans to construct and carry out mental operations, which were previously impossible. Probable constraints upon possible human mental operations are identified and the impact of cognitive technology upon them is evaluated. It is argued that information technology functions as a cognitive prosthetic enhancing (...) human intelligence and planning capabilities. Boundaries and constraints which Kant, Whorf, and many post-modernist theorists have seen as intrinsic to human cognition now cease to apply. (shrink)
What is the nature of knowledge? A popular answer to that long-standing question comes from robust virtue epistemology, whose key idea is that knowing is just a matter of succeeding cognitively—i.e., coming to believe a proposition truly—due to an exercise of cognitive ability. Versions of robust virtue epistemology further developing and systematizing this idea offer different accounts of the relation that must hold between an agent’s cognitive success and the exercise of her cognitive abilities as well as of the (...) very nature of those abilities. This paper aims to give a new robust virtue epistemological account of knowledge based on a different understanding of the nature and structure of the kind of abilities that give rise to knowledge. (shrink)
Virtue epistemology is faced with the challenge of establishing the degree to which a knower’s cognitive success is attributable to her cognitive ability. As Duncan Pritchard notes, in some cases one is inclined to a strong version of virtue epistemology, one that requires cognitive success to be because of the exercise of the relevant cognitive abilities. In other cases, a weak version of virtue epistemology seems preferable, where cognitive success need only be the product of cognitive ability. Pritchard’s (...) preference, with his anti-luck virtue epistemology, is for the latter. But as Christoph Kelp has recently argued, this preference is not without controversy. Notably, Kelp argues that Pritchard on the basis of his anti-luck virtue epistemology is impelled to cast the wrong judgment in a case that Pritchard himself discusses many times in his writings, the so-called ‘Temp case’. Though Pritchard argues that Temp lacks knowledge because his cognitive success is not a result of his cognitive ability, I concur with Kelp that Pritchard’s epistemology should in fact attribute knowledge to Temp, and show this by locating weaknesses in three distinct arguments Pritchard uses to show that Temp lacks knowledge. I subsequently argue that if Pritchard wishes to persist in denying knowledge to Temp, he should endorse what I call the ‘true description’ requirement. I close the paper by providing an argument for this requirement, controversial though it is. (shrink)