Computation and information processing are among the most fundamental notions in cognitive science. They are also among the most imprecisely discussed. Many cognitive scientists take it for granted that cognition involves computation, information processing, or both – although others disagree vehemently. Yet different cognitive scientists use ‘computation’ and ‘information processing’ to mean different things, sometimes without realizing that they do. In addition, computation and information processing are surrounded by several myths; first and foremost, that they are the same thing. In (...) this paper, we address this unsatisfactory state of affairs by presenting a general and theory-neutral account of computation and information processing. We also apply our framework by analyzing the relations between computation and information processing on one hand and classicism and connectionism on the other. We defend the relevance to cognitive science of both computation, in a generic sense that we fully articulate for the first time, and information processing, in three important senses of the term. Our account advances some foundational debates in cognitive science by untangling some of their conceptual knots in a theory-neutral way. By leveling the playing field, we pave the way for the future resolution of the debates’ empirical aspects. (shrink)
By virtue of what do alarm calls and facial expressions carry natural information? The answer I defend in this paper is that they carry natural information by virtue of changing the probabilities of various states of affairs, relative to background data. The Probabilistic Difference Maker Theory of natural information that I introduce here is inspired by Dretske's  seminal analysis of natural information, but parts ways with it by eschewing the requirements that information transmission must be nomically underwritten, mind-independent, and (...) knowledge-yielding. PDMT includes both a qualitative account of information transmission and a measure of natural information in keeping with the basic principles of Shannon's communication theory and Bayesian confirmation theory. It also includes a new account of the informational content of a signal, understood as the combination of the incremental and overall support that the signal provides for all states of affairs at the source. Finally, I compare and.. (shrink)
Since the cognitive revolution, it has 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 theorists of cognition be explicit and careful (...) in choosing notions of computation and information and connecting them together.Keywords: Computation; Information processing; Computationalism; Computational theory of mind; Cognitivism. (shrink)
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)
Abstract: According to the Veridicality Thesis, information requires truth. On this view, smoke carries information about there being a fire only if there is a fire, the proposition that the earth has two moons carries information about the earth having two moons only if the earth has two moons, and so on. We reject this Veridicality Thesis. We argue that the main notions of information used in cognitive science and computer science allow A to have information about the obtaining of (...) p even when p is false. (shrink)
This chapter describes a perspective on emotion, according to which emotions are: 1. Designed to function in a social context: an emotion is often an act of relationship reconfiguration brought about by delivering a social signal; 2. Forms of skillful engagement with the world which need not be mediated by conceptual thought; 3. Scaffolded by the environment, both synchronically in the unfolding of a particular emotional performance and diachronically, in the acquisition of an emotional repertoire; 4. Dynamically coupled to an (...) environment which both influences and is influenced by the unfolding of the emotion We draw heavily on ‘transactional’ accounts of emotion proposed by some contemporary psychologists. Although these authors do not, to our knowledge, conceive their work as a contribution to the ‘situationist’ literature that is the focus of this volume, we contend that their proposals constitute a fairly exact, affective parallel to situationist ideas about cognition. The primary aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that a situated approach to emotion already exists and is backed by a substantial experimental literature. (shrink)
The central contention of this article is that the classificatory scheme of contemporary affective science, with its traditional categories of emotion, anger, fear, and so on, is no longer suitable to the needs of affective science. Unlike psychological constructionists, who have urged the transition from a discrete to a dimensional approach in the study of affective phenomena, I argue that we can stick to a discrete approach as long as we accept that traditional emotion categories will have to be transformed (...) in order to do any scientific work. I conclude by articulating some general rules for turning traditional emotion categories into suitable scientific tools. (shrink)
The main purpose of this article is to consider two of the most popular arguments offered in support of the view that emotions do not cause actions. One argument suggests that emotions come after actions and therefore cannot cause them. The other argument suggests that emotions are not necessarily followed by actions and therefore cannot cause them. I argue that neither of these two arguments is compelling. At the same time, some of the concerns of causation skeptics can help us (...) better understand what a theory of the causal connection between emotions and actions should explain. (shrink)
We argue that there are three coherent, nontrivial notions of basic-ness: conceptual basic-ness, biological basic-ness, and psychological basic-ness. There is considerable evidence for conceptually basic emotion categories (e.g., “anger,” “fear”). These categories do not designate biologically basic emotions, but some forms of anger, fear, and so on that are biologically basic in a sense we will specify. Finally, two notions of psychological basic-ness are distinguished, and the evidence for them is evaluated. The framework we offer acknowledges the force of some (...) of the objections to basic emotion theory whilst demonstrating that the notion of a basic emotion, once properly reformulated, is still of scientific value. (shrink)
I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. In the first part of the paper, I illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson's theory of perception. In the second part, I argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. The main purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity enriched by Gibson's visionary insight, but (...) independent of the most controversial claims of the Gibsonian movement. (shrink)
Hursthouse :57–68, 1991) argues that arational actions—e.g. kicking a door out of anger—cannot be explained by belief–desire pairs. The Humean Response to Hursthouse :25–38, 2000b) defends the Humean model from Hursthouse’s challenge. We argue that the Humean Response fails because belief–desire pairs are neither necessary nor sufficient for causing emotional actions. The Emotionist Response is to embrace Hursthouse’s conclusion that emotions provide an independent source of explanation for intentional actions. We consider Döring’s :214–230, 2003) feeling-based Emotionist account and argue that (...) it fails to explain arational actions. Finally, we develop our own Emotionist account, grounded in the Motivational Theory of Emotions one of us has developed. On our account, arational actions form a non-homogeneous class, some members of which must be understood as instrumental actions and some members of which must be understood as displacement behaviors of the kind animals display when their motivations are thwarted or in conflict. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that the scientific study of emotions should focus on discrete categories such as fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, shame, guilt, and so on. This view has recently been questioned by the emergence of the “core affect movement,” according to which discrete emotions are not natural kinds. Affective science, it is argued, should focus on core affect, a blend of hedonic and arousal values. Here, I argue that the empirical evidence does not support the thesis that core (...) affect is a more “natural” category than discrete emotions. I conclude by recommending a splitting strategy in our search for natural affective kinds. †To contact the author, please write to: Andrea Scarantino, Department of Philosophy and Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 4089, Atlanta, GA 30302‐4089; email: [email protected]. (shrink)
This paper suggests that art cannot be defined in terms of individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions. Instead, we propose that there are several sufficient conditions for something's being art, and that a successful definition will consist of a disjunction of minimally sufficient conditions. Our proposal owes much to the insights of Berys Gaut's ‘“Art” as a Cluster Concept’ but offers a much simpler logical formulation, which, in addition, is immune to the objections that have been raised to Gaut's account. (...) This paper agrees with Gaut's claim that there are borderline cases of art, and suggests that they arise from indeterminacy about the content of some of the minimally sufficient conditions. It is argued that this disjunctive account is superior to classical theories, resemblance-to-paradigm theories, and prototype theories of art. (shrink)
The theoretical construct of functional reference is the main tool used by animal communication researchers to explore how animals refer to the world in the absence of a language. Functionally referential signals are commonly defined as signals elicited by a specific class of stimuli and capable of causing behaviors adaptive to such stimuli in the absence of contextual cues. I will argue that this definition is conceptually flawed and propose an alternative definition according to which signals can functionally refer to (...) things that rarely cause them while relying on the essential contribution of contextual cues. (shrink)
Adolphs and Andler’s methodological functionalism recommends that affective science focuses on what emotions do rather than on what emotions are physically constituted by or how emotions feel. In addition, it is suggested that the functional roles of emotions should be extrapolated from a set of “features” emotions intuitively appear to have. In this brief commentary, I discuss both prescriptions, focusing on the concept of function and on the role folk psychological platitudes should play in a functionalist theory of emotions.
Lindquist et al. have assumed that functional specialization requires a one-to-one mapping between brain regions and discrete emotions. This assumption is in tension with the fact that regions can have multiple functions in the context of different, possibly distributed, networks. Once we open the door to other forms of functional specialization, neuroimaging data no longer favor constructionist models over natural kind models.
Cohen and Meskin 2006 have recently proposed a novel counterfactual account of information. I argue that it is a step down from its intended target, namely Dretske's 1981 theory of information. Thinking of the information carried by signals in terms of counterfactuals leads to falsely diagnosing bona fide instances of information transmission as not being instances of information transmission at all, with major loss of explanatory power.
I argue that Machery stacks the deck against hybrid theories of concepts by relying on an unduly restrictive understanding of coordination between concept parts. Once a less restrictive notion of coordination is introduced, the empirical case for hybrid theories of concepts becomes stronger, and the appeal of concept eliminativism weaker.
Research on the emotions is proliferating in philosophy and the hard cognitive sciences and has cognate, areas of interest in sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines. The Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory brings together advances on foundational issues from this widespread field, synthesizing work for a broad readership of advanced students and researchers. Focusing on the groundwork of theoretical research, the volume is a required resource for anyone working in emotions research. The Handbook includes 51 chapters--written exclusively for this volume by (...) an interdisciplinary team of scholars--a general introduction, comprehensive bibliography, and detailed subject index. It is written and edited for a multidisciplinary audience of advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers across a multitude of disciplines. (shrink)
In this article I articulate the Theory of Affective Pragmatics, which combines insights from the Basic Emotion View and the Behavioral Ecology View of emotional expressions. My core thesis is that emotional expressions are ways of manifesting one’s emotions but also of representing states of affairs, directing other people’s behaviors, and committing to future courses of actions. Since these are some of the main things we can do with language, my article’s take home message is that, from a communicative point (...) of view, much of what we can do with language we can also do with nonverbal emotional expressions. (shrink)
How should UNOS deal with the presence of scientific controversies on the risk factors for organ rejection when designing its allocation policies? The answer I defend in this paper is that the more undesirable the consequences of making a mistake in accepting a scientific hypothesis, the higher the degree of confirmation required for its acceptance. I argue that the application of this principle should lead to the rejection of the hypothesis that ‘less than perfect’ Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) matches are (...) an important determinant of kidney graft survival. The scientific community has been divided all along on the significance of partial antigen matches. Yet reliance on partial matches has emerged as one of the primary factors leading blacks to spend a much longer time than whites on the waiting list for kidneys, thereby potentially impacting the justice of the kidney allocation policy. My case study illustrates one of the legitimate roles non-epistemic values can play in science and calls into question the ideal of a value-free science. (shrink)
In this brief reply, which cannot do justice to all of the valuable points my commentators have raised, I defend the view that the notion of natural kind I have introduced satisfies the ontological independence criterion and is in keeping with the commitments of realism. I also further clarify the scope of my argument against basic emotion theory, and reiterate that we should stop looking for universal theories of discrete emotions.
This chapter contains sections titled: Information and the Veridicality Thesis Information as a Mongrel Concept Natural Information Without Truth Nonnatural Information: The Case for the Veridicality Thesis Nonnatural Information Without Truth An Objection Conclusion Acknowledgments References.
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 5: Development, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology.