In a profile in the November, 2012 issue of the magazine Architect, activist-architect Raphael Sperry, a founder of the group Architects Planners & Designers for Social Responsibility discussed his petition to amend the AIA’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to include a prohibition on “the design of spaces intended for long-term solitary isolation and execution.”1 This issue is both serious and timely. It deserves contemplative attention before any action is taken. The purpose of this letter is to provide the (...) the architecture profession a condensed analysis of the possible justification for taking the action Mr. Sperry advocates. After review and consideration, we are persuaded that Mr. Sperry’s proposal does merit action by the AIA. (shrink)
We argue that human rights are best conceived as norms arising from a fiduciary relationship that exists between states and the citizens and noncitizens subject to their power. These norms draw on a Kantian conception of moral personhood, protecting agents from instrumentalization and domination. They do not, however, exist in the abstract as timeless natural rights. Instead, they are correlates of the state's fiduciary duty to provide equal security under the rule of law, a duty that flows from the state's (...) institutional assumption of irresistible sovereign powers. (shrink)
Constitutivism is the view that it is possible to derive contentful, normatively binding demands of practical reason and morality from the constitutive features of agency. Whereas much of the debate has focused on the constitutivist's ability to derive content, David Enoch has challenged her ability to generate normativity. Even if one can derive content from the constitutive aims of agency, one could simply demur: ?Bah! Agency, shmagency?. The ?Why be moral?? question would be replaced by the ?Why be an agent?? (...) question. It is the aim of this paper to show that the shmagency objection is essentially correct, though not as originally defended by Enoch. Since Enoch posed his argument as ruling out the normative authority of agency under any conception of the constitutive features of agency, constitutivists have responded by arguing for the inescapability of certain minimal features of agency. I argue that this amounts to equivocation: the constitutivist appeals to a minimal conception of agency in answering the normative question but to a richer understanding in answering the content question. The key to the shmagency objection, as I shall defend it, is to insist that the same sense of agency must be employed in answering both questions. A shmagent can concede that there may be inescapable ways of understanding agency, but insist that any such understanding would have to be too minimal to generate substantive content. (shrink)
Covering the work of Frege, Russell, and more recent work on singular reference, this important book examines the concepts of perceptually-based demonstrative identification, thought about oneself, and recognition-based demonstrative identification.
_A provocative essay challenging the idea of Buddhist exceptionalism, from one of the world’s most widely respected philosophers and writers on Buddhism and science_ Buddhism has become a uniquely favored religion in our modern age. A burgeoning number of books extol the scientifically proven benefits of meditation and mindfulness for everything ranging from business to romance. There are conferences, courses, and celebrities promoting the notion that Buddhism is spirituality for the rational, compatible with cutting‑edge science, indeed, “a science of the (...) mind.” In this provocative book, Evan Thompson argues that this representation of Buddhism is false. In lucid and entertaining prose, Thompson dives deep into both Western and Buddhist philosophy to explain how the goals of science and religion are fundamentally different. Efforts to seek their unification are wrongheaded and promote mistaken ideas of both. He suggests cosmopolitanism instead, a worldview with deep roots in both Eastern and Western traditions. Smart, sympathetic, and intellectually ambitious, this book is a must‑read for anyone interested in Buddhism’s place in our world today. (shrink)
Both mindreading and stereotyping are forms of social cognition that play a pervasive role in our everyday lives, yet too little attention has been paid to the question of how these two processes are related. This paper offers a theory of the influence of stereotyping on mental-state attribution that draws on hierarchical predictive coding accounts of action prediction. It is argued that the key to understanding the relation between stereotyping and mindreading lies in the fact that stereotypes centrally involve character-trait (...) attributions, which play a systematic role in the action–prediction hierarchy. On this view, when we apply a stereotype to an individual, we rapidly attribute to her a cluster of generic character traits on the basis of her perceived social group membership. These traits are then used to make inferences about that individual’s likely beliefs and desires, which in turn inform inferences about her behavior. (shrink)
This paper is a test case for the claim, made famous by Myles Burnyeat, that the ancient Greeks did not recognize subjective truth or knowledge. After a brief discussion of the issue in Sextus Empiricus, I then turn to Plato's discussion of Protagorean views in the Theaetetus. In at least two passages, it seems that Plato attributes to Protagoras the view that our subjective experiences constitute truth and knowledge, without reference to any outside world of objects. I argue that these (...) passages have been misunderstood and that on the correct reading, they do not say anything about subjective knowledge. I then try out what I take to be the correct reading of the passages. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the importance of causes in Greek epistemology. (shrink)
We argue a main but underappreciated reason why the Facebook emotional contagion experiment is ethically problematic is that it co-opted user data in a way that violated identity-based norms and exploited the vulnerability of those disclosing on social media who are unable to control how personal information is presented in this technologically mediated environment.
A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of the mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain. Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing. When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, (...) we project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future. As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state. If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream. Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer. Finally, as we meditate--either in the waking state or in a lucid dream--we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me." We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self. Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity. Thompson weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions. Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives. (shrink)
Traditionally, theories of mindreading have focused on the representation of beliefs and desires. However, decades of social psychology and social neuroscience have shown that, in addition to reasoning about beliefs and desires, human beings also use representations of character traits to predict and interpret behavior. While a few recent accounts have attempted to accommodate these findings, they have not succeeded in explaining the relation between trait attribution and belief-desire reasoning. On my account, character-trait attribution is part of a hierarchical system (...) for action prediction, and serves to inform hypotheses about agents’ beliefs and desires, which are in turn used to predict and interpret behavior. (shrink)
Is there such a thing as natural knowledge of God? C. Stephen Evans presents the case for understanding theistic arguments as expressions of natural signs in order to gain a new perspective both on their strengths and weaknesses. Three classical, much-discussed theistic arguments - cosmological, teleological, and moral - are examined for the natural signs they embody. At the heart of this book lie several relatively simple ideas. One is that if there is a God of the kind accepted by (...) Christians, Jews, and Muslims, then it is likely that a 'natural' knowledge of God is possible. Another is that this knowledge will have two characteristics: it will be both widely available to humans and yet easy to resist. If these principles are right, a new perspective on many of the classical arguments for God's existence becomes possible. We understand why these arguments have for many people a continued appeal but also why they do not constitute conclusive 'proofs' that settle the debate once and for all. Touching on the interplay between these ideas and contemporary scientific theories about the origins of religious belief, particularly the role of natural selection in predisposing humans to form beliefs in God or gods, Evans concludes that these scientific accounts of religious belief are fully consistent, even supportive, of the truth of religious convictions. (shrink)
The enactive approach offers a distinctive view of how mental life relates to bodily activity at three levels: bodily self-regulation, sensorimotor coupling, and intersubjective interaction. This paper concentrates on the second level of sensorimotor coupling. An account is given of how the subjectively lived body and the living body of the organism are related via dynamic sensorimotor activity, and it is shown how this account helps to bridge the explanatory gap between consciousness and the brain. Arguments by O'Regan, Noë, and (...) Myin that seek to account for the phenomenal character of perceptual consciousness in terms of ‘bodiliness’ and ‘grabbiness’ are considered. It is suggested that their account does not pay sufficient attention to two other key aspects of perceptual phenomenality: the autonomous nature of the experiencing self or agent, and the pre-reflective nature of bodily self-consciousness. (shrink)
Colour fascinates all of us, and scientists and philosophers have sought to understand the true nature of colour vision for many years. In recent times, investigations into colour vision have been one of the main success stories of cognitive science, for each discipline within the field - neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, and philosophy - has contributed significantly to our understanding of colour. Evan Thompson's book is a major contribution to this interdisciplinary project. Colour Vision provides (...) an accessible review of the current scientific and philosophical discussions of colour vision. Thompson steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on colour, arguing for a relational account. This account develops a novel `ecological' approach to colour vision in cognitive science and the philosophy of perception. It is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...) point. Then, adopting the view of Armstrong and others that causation is grounded in a second-order relation between universals, he explores a range of topics for which the resulting analysis of causation has systematic implications. In particular, causal identity conditions for physical universals are proposed, which generate a new argument for Platonism. The nature of space and time is discussed, with arguments against backward causation and for the view that space and time can exist independently of matter or causal process. Many of Professor Fales's conclusions seem to run counter to received opinion among contemporary empiricists. Yet his method is classically empiricist in spirit, and a chief motive for these metaphysical explorations is epistemological. The final chapters investigate the perennial question of whether an empiricist, internalist and foundational epistemology can support scientific realism. (shrink)
Nativists about theory of mind have typically explained why children below the age of four fail the false belief task by appealing to the demands that these tasks place on children’s developing executive abilities. However, this appeal to executive functioning cannot explain a wide range of evidence showing that social and linguistic factors also affect when children pass this task. In this paper, I present a revised nativist proposal about theory of mind development that is able to accommodate these findings, (...) which I call the pragmatic development account. According to this proposal, we can gain a better understanding of the shift in children’s performance on standard false-belief tasks around four years of age by considering how children’s experiences with the pragmatics of belief discourse affect the way they interpret the task. (shrink)
This book explores the idea that much of our behaviour is controlled by automatic and intuitive mental processes, which shape and compete with our conscious thinking and decision making. Accessibly written, and assuming no prior knowledge of the field, the book will be fascinating reading for all those interested in human behaviour.
According to the two-systems account of mindreading, our mature perspective-taking abilities are subserved by two distinct mindreading systems: a fast but inflexible, “implicit” system, and a flexible but slow “explicit” one. However, the currently available evidence on adult perspective-taking does not support this account. Specifically, both Level-1 and Level-2 perspective-taking show a combination of efficiency and flexibility that is deeply inconsistent with the two-systems architecture. This inconsistency also turns out to have serious consequences for the two-systems framework as a whole, (...) both as an account of our mature mindreading abilities and of the development of those abilities. What emerges from this critique is a conception of context-sensitive, spontaneous mindreading that may provide insight into how mindreading functions in complex social environments. This in turn offers a bulwark against skepticism about the role of mindreading in everyday social cognition. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the differences between the enactive approach in cognitive science and the extended mind thesis. We review the key enactive concepts of autonomy and sense-making . We then focus on the following issues: (1) the debate between internalism and externalism about cognitive processes; (2) the relation between cognition and emotion; (3) the status of the body; and (4) the difference between ‘incorporation’ and mere ‘extension’ in the body-mind-environment relation.
This paper focuses on two enduring features of Gareth Evans’s work. The first is his rethinking of standard ways of understanding the Fregean notion of sense and the second his sustained attempt to undercut the standard opposition between Russellian and Fregean approaches to understanding thought and language.I explore the peculiar difficulties that ‘I’ poses for a Fregean theory and show how Evans’s account of the sense of the first person pronoun can be modified to meet those difficulties.
Character judgments play an important role in our everyday lives. However, decades of empirical research on trait attribution suggest that the cognitive processes that generate these judgments are prone to a number of biases and cognitive distortions. This gives rise to a skeptical worry about the epistemic foundations of everyday characterological beliefs that has deeply disturbing and alienating consequences. In this paper, I argue that this skeptical worry is misplaced: under the appropriate informational conditions, our everyday character-trait judgments are in (...) fact quite trustworthy. I then propose a mindreading-based model of the socio-cognitive processes underlying trait attribution that explains both why these judgments are initially unreliable, and how they eventually become more accurate. (shrink)
C. Stephen Evans explains and defends Kierkegaard's account of moral obligations as rooted in God's commands, the fundamental command being `You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. The work will be of interest not only to those interested in Kierkegaard, but also to those interested in the relation between ethics and religion, especially questions about whether morality can or must have a religious foundation. As well as providing a comprehensive reading of Kierkegaard as an ethical thinker, Evans puts him into (...) conversation with contemporary moral theorists. Kierkegaard's divine command theory is shown to be an account that safeguards human flourishing, as well as protecting the proper relations between religion and state in a pluralistic society. (shrink)
Evan Thompson’s paper has four parts. First, he says more about what he means when he asks, “what is living?” Second, he presents his way of answering this question, which is that living is sense-making in precarious conditions. Third, he responds to Welton’s considerations about what he calls the “affective entrainment” of the living being by the environment. Finally, he addresses Protevi’s remarks about panpsychism.
This paper argues that Gareth Evans' treatment of first person reference based on the myriad ways we have of receiving information about our bodies and location, cannot secure the guaranteed reference exhibited by first person reference. It faces a problem both when a subject fails to receive such information about herself, and when she receives misinformation.
Several writers have argued for the implausibility of there being naturalistic explanations of mystical experience. These writers recognize that the evidential significance of mystical experiences for theism depends upon whether explanations that exclude supernatural agency can be discounted; but they seem unaware of some of the best scientific work done in this area. Part I of the present paper introduces the theory of I. M. Lewis, an anthropologist, and tests it against the case of St Teresa. I use Teresa because (...) of her prominence, and because we have considerable biographical data for her. I conclude that Lewis's approach, suitably supplemented, is strikingly successful in explaining this case. (shrink)
Kant's short essay is a reflection on the contemporary structure of academic studies; he examines this structure in terms of the functions of the State and of the Universities which form part of it. His analysis links the empirical facts with conceptual distinctions, in ways that are familiar from his more general and abstract philosophy. His main aim is to ground a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate ways in which different Faculties of the University may approach intellectual issues that are (...) of common interest to them. I then consider to what extent and how a Kantian analysis might be applied to our contemporary University situation. Despite the societal and intellectual differences between Kant's environment and ours, I argue that significant parallels exist between the two cases and that Kant's proposals and strictures for his own time have application for us today. (shrink)
This is a transcript of a conversation between P F Strawson and Gareth Evans in 1973, filmed for The Open University. Under the title 'Truth', Strawson and Evans discuss the question as to whether the distinction between genuinely fact-stating uses of language and other uses can be grounded on a theory of truth, especially a 'thin' notion of truth in the tradition of F P Ramsey.
In chapter 7 of The Varieties of Reference, Gareth Evans claimed to have an argument that would present "an antidote" to the Cartesian conception of the self as a purely mental entity. On the basis of considerations drawn from philosophy of language and thought, Evans claimed to be able to show that bodily awareness is a form of self-awareness. The apparent basis for this claim is the datum that sometimes judgements about one’s position based on body sense are immune to (...) errors of misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun 'I'. However, Evans’s argument suffers from a crucial ambiguity. 'I' sometimes refers to the subject's mind, sometimes to the person, and sometimes to the subject's body. Once disambiguated, it turns out that Evans’s argument either begs the question against the Cartesian or fails to be plausible at all. Nonetheless, the argument is important for drawing our attention to the idea that bodily modes of awareness should be taken seriously as possible forms of self-awareness. (shrink)
'If' is one of the most important words in the English language, being used to express hypothetical thought. The use of conditional terms such as 'if' distinguishes human intelligence from that of all other animals. In this volume, Jonathan Evans and David Over present a new theoretical approach to understanding conditionals. The book draws on studies from the psychology of judgement and decision making, as well as philosophical logic.
To demarcate the limits of experimental knowledge, we probe the limits of what might be called an experiment. By appeal to examples of scientific practice from astrophysics and analogue gravity, we demonstrate that the reliability of knowledge regarding certain phenomena gained from an experiment is not circumscribed by the manipulability or accessibility of the target phenomena. Rather, the limits of experimental knowledge are set by the extent to which strategies for what we call ‘inductive triangulation’ are available: that is, the (...) validation of the mode of inductive reasoning involved in the source-target inference via appeal to one or more distinct and independent modes of inductive reasoning. When such strategies are able to partially mitigate reasonable doubt, we can take a theory regarding the phenomena to be well supported by experiment. When such strategies are able to fully mitigate reasonable doubt, we can take a theory regarding the phenomena to be established by experiment. There are good reasons to expect the next generation of analogue experiments to provide genuine knowledge of unmanipulable and inaccessible phenomena such that the relevant theories can be understood as well supported. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue ‘The next generation of analogue gravity experiments’. (shrink)
A dispositional theory of skill, such as that defended by Stanley and Williamson, might seem promising. Such a theory looks to provide a unified intellectualist account of skill reflecting insights from cognitive science and philosophy. I argue that any theory of the kind fails given that skill is broadly answerable to the will. A person may be characteristically disposed both against the exercise of her skill and against any associated intentional forming of knowledge. Clearly she does not cease thereby to (...) be skilled. I consider four replies, none of which vindicate this kind of theory. (shrink)
Henry Wellman and colleagues have provided evidence of a robust developmental progression in theory-of-mind (or as we will say, “mindreading”) abilities, using verbal tasks. Understanding diverse desires is said to be easier than understanding diverse beliefs, which is easier than understanding that lack of perceptual access issues in ignorance, which is easier than understanding false belief, which is easier than understanding that people can hide their true emotions. These findings present a challenge to nativists about mindreading, and are said to (...) support a social-constructivist account of mindreading development instead. This article takes up the challenge on behalf of nativism. Our goal is to show that the mindreading-scale findings fail to support constructivism because well-motivated alternative hypotheses have not yet been controlled for and ruled out. These have to do with the pragmatic demands of verbal tasks. (shrink)
Was love invented by European poets in the middle ages, as C. S. Lewis claimed, or is it part of human nature? Will winning the lottery really make you happy? Is it possible to build robots that have feelings? These are just some of the intriguing questions explored in this new guide to the latest thinking about the emotions. Drawing on a wide range of scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (...) takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart. Illustrating his points with entertaining examples from fiction, film, and popular culture, Dylan Evans ranges from the evolution of the emotions to the nature of love and happiness to the language of feelings, offering readers the most recent thinking on real life topics that touch us all. But Emotion is also a book filled with surprises. Readers will discover, for instance, that the basic emotions are felt the world over--whether we live in the shadow of Times Square or in the depths of the rain forest, we all feel the emotions of disgust, joy, surprise, anger, fear, and distress. We find out that, according to research, winning the lottery does not cause a lasting increase in happiness--a short-lived euphoria is followed in almost every case with a return to our usual emotional state, if not worse. And we meet Kismet, an MIT robot that can express a wide range of emotions, from fear to happiness. Fun to read and based on the latest scientific thinking, here is a stimulating look at our emotions. (shrink)
This talk, delivered at De l''autopoièse à la neurophénoménologie: un hommage à Francisco Varela; from autopoiesis to neurophenomenology: a tribute to Francisco Varela, June 18–20, at the Sorbonne in Paris, explicates several links between Varela''s neurophenomenology and his biological concept of autopoiesis.
• An adequate conceptual framework is still needed to account for phenomena that (i) have a first-person, subjective-experiential or phenomenal character; (ii) are (usually) reportable and describable (in humans); and (iii) are neurobiologically realized.2 • The conscious subject plays an unavoidable epistemological role in characterizing the explanadum of consciousness through first-person descriptive reports. The experimentalist is then able to link first-person data and third-person data. Yet the generation of first-person data raises difficult epistemological issues about the relation of second-order awareness (...) or meta-awareness to first-order experience (e.g. (shrink)
Different explanations of color vision favor different philosophical positions: Computational vision is more compatible with objectivism (the color is in the object), psychophysics and neurophysiology with subjectivism (the color is in the head). Comparative research suggests that an explanation of color must be both experientialist (unlike objectivism) and ecological (unlike subjectivism). Computational vision's emphasis on optimally prespecified features of the environment (i.e., distal properties, independent of the sensory-motor capacities of the animal) is unsatisfactory. Conceiving of visual perception instead as the (...) visual guidance of activity in an environment that is determined largely by that very activity suggests new directions for research. (shrink)
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