Philosophers working in the nascent field of ‘experimental philosophy’ have begun using methods borrowed from psychology to collect data about folk intuitions concerning debates ranging from action theory to ethics to epistemology. In this paper we present the results of our attempts to apply this approach to the free will debate, in which philosophers on opposing sides claim that their view best accounts for and accords with folk intuitions. After discussing the motivation for such research, we describe our (...) methodology of surveying people’s prephilosophical judgments about the freedom and responsibility of agents in deterministic scenarios. In two studies, we found that a majority of participants judged that such agents act of their own free will and are morally responsible for their actions. We then discuss the philosophical implications of our results as well as various difficulties inherent in such research. (shrink)
Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not _evaluative _considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by the (...) hypothesis that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.<b> </b>. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the primary function of folk psychology lies in the prediction, explanation and control of behavior. A question arises, however, as to whether folk psychology has also been shaped in fundamental ways by the various other roles it plays in people’s lives. Here I approach that question by considering one particular aspect of folk psychology – the distinction between intentional and unintentional behaviors. The aim is to determine whether this distinction is best understood (...) as a tool used in prediction, explanation and control or whether it has been shaped in fundamental ways by some other aspect of its use. (shrink)
The central mission of cognitive science is to reveal the real nature of the mind, however familiar or foreign that nature may be to naive preconceptions. The existence of naive conceptions is also important, however. Prescientific thought and language contain concepts of the mental, and these concepts deserve attention from cognitive science. Just as scientific psychology studies folk physics (McCloskey 1983, Hayes 1985), viz., the common understanding (or misunderstanding) of physical phenomena, so it must study folk psychology, the (...) common understanding of mental states. This subfield of scientific psychology is what I mean by the phrase 'the psychology of folk psychology'. (shrink)
I discuss the possibility that there is no intrinsic unity to the capacities which are bundled under the label "folk psychology". Cooperative skills, attributional skills, and predictive skills may be scattered as parts of other non--psychological capacities. I discuss how some forms of social life bring these different skills together. I end with some remarks on how abilities that are not unified in their essential mechanisms may still form a rough practical unity. (Remark: the paper is conjectural. It describes (...) a possibility to take seriously rather than a conclusion of which I am convinced.). (shrink)
This essay in the is about how cognition constrains culture in producing science. The example is folk biology, whose cultural recurrence issues from the very same domain-specific cognitive universals that provide the historical backbone of systematic biology. Humans everywhere think about plants and animals in highly structured ways. People have similar folk-biological taxonomies composed of essence-based, species-like groups and the ranking of species into lower- and higher-order groups. Such taxonomies are not as arbitrary in structure and content, nor (...) as variable across cultures, as the assembly of entities into cosmologies, materials, or social groups. These structures are routine products of our which may in part be naturally selected to grasp relevant and recurrent An experiment illustrates that the same taxonomic rank is preferred for making biological inferences in two diverse populations: Lowland Maya and Midwest Americans. These findings cannot be explained by domain-general models of similarity because such models cannot account for why both cultures prefer species-like groups, although Americans have relatively little actual knowledge or experience at this level. This supports a modular view of folk biology as a core domain of human knowledge and as a special player, or in the selection processes by which cultures evolve. Structural aspects of folk taxonomy provide people in different cultures with the built-in constraints and flexibility that allow them to understand and respond appropriately to different cultural and ecological settings. Another set of reasoning experiments shows that Maya, American folk, and scientists use similarly structured taxonomies in somewhat different ways to extend their understanding of the world in the face of uncertainty. Although folk and scientific taxonomies diverge historically, they continue to interact. The theory of evolution may ultimately dispense with the core concepts of folk biology, including species, taxonomy, and teleology; in practice, however, these may remain indispensable to doing scientific work. Moreover, theory-driven scientific knowledge cannot simply replace folk knowledge in everyday life. Folk-biological knowledge is not driven by implicit or inchoate theories of the sort science aims to make more accurate and perfect. (shrink)
Many philosophers and psychologists argue that normal adult human beings possess a primitive or 'folk' psychological theory. Recently, however, this theory has come under challenge from the simulation alternative. This alternative view says that human bings are able to predict and explain each others' actions by using the resources of their own minds to simuate the psychological etiology of the actions of others. The thirteen essays in this volume present the foundations of theory of mind debate, and are accompanied (...) by an extensive introduction. (shrink)
How do we determine whether some candidate causal factor is an actual cause of some particular outcome? Many philosophers have wanted a view of actual causation which fits with folk intuitions of actual causation and those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation are often charged with the task of providing a plausible account of just how and where the folk have gone wrong. In this paper, I provide a range of empirical evidence aimed (...) at showing just how and where the folk go wrong in determining whether an actual causal relation obtains. The evidence suggests that folk intuitions of actual causation are generated by two epistemically defective processes. I situate the empirical evidence within a background discussion of debunking, arguing for a two-pronged debunking explanation of folk intuitions of actual causation. I conclude that those who wish to depart from folk intuitions of actual causation should not be compelled to square their account of actual causation with the verdicts of the folk. In the dispute over actual causation, folk intuitions deserve to be rejected. (shrink)
We report the results of four empirical studies designed to investigate the extent to which an epistemic closure principle for knowledge is reflected in folk epistemology. Previous work by Turri (2015a) suggested that our shared epistemic practices may only include a source-relative closure principle—one that applies to perceptual beliefs but not to inferential beliefs. We argue that the results of our studies provide reason for thinking that individuals are making a performance error when their knowledge attributions and denials conflict (...) with the closure principle. When we used research materials that overcome what we think are difficulties with Turri’s original materials, we found that participants did not reject closure. Furthermore, when we presented Turri’s original materials to non-philosophers with expertise in deductive reasoning (viz., professional mathematicians), they endorsed closure for both perceptual and inferential beliefs. Our results suggest that an unrestricted closure principle—one that applies to all beliefs, regardless of their source—provides a better model of folk patterns of knowledge attribution than a source-relative closure principle. (shrink)
This paper relies on experimental methods to explore the psychological underpinnings of folk intuitions about free will and responsibility. In different conditions, people give conflicting responses about agency and responsibility. In some contexts, people treat agency as indeterminist; in other contexts, they treat agency as determinist. Furthermore, in some contexts people treat responsibility as incompatible with determinism, and in other contexts people treat responsibility as compatible with determinism. The paper considers possible accounts of the psychological mechanisms that underlie these (...) conflicting responses. (shrink)
When do the folk think that mereological composition occurs? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view of composition that fits with folk intuitions, and yet there has been little agreement about what the folk intuit. We aim to put the tools of experimental philosophy to constructive use. Our studies suggest that folk mereology is teleological: people tend to intuit that composition occurs when the result serves a purpose. We thus conclude that metaphysicians should dismiss folk intuitions, (...) as tied into a benighted teleological view of nature. (shrink)
This paper disputes the claim that our understanding of others is enabled by a commonsense or ‘folk’ psychology, whose ‘core’ involves the attribution of intentional states in order to predict and explain behaviour. I argue that interpersonal understanding is seldom, if ever, a matter of two people assigning intentional states to each other but emerges out of a context of interaction between them. Self and other form a coupled system rather than two wholly separate entities equipped with an internalised (...) capacity to assign mental states to the other. This applies even in those instances where one might seem to adopt a ‘detached’ perspective towards others. Thus ‘folk psychology’, as commonly construed, is not folk psychology. (shrink)
Fiery Cushman and Alfred Mele recently proposed a ‘two-and-a-half rules’ theory of folk intentionality. They suggested that laypersons attribute intentionality employing: one rule based on desire, one based on belief, and another principle based on moral judgment, which may either reflect a folk concept (and so count as a third rule) or a bias (and so not count as a rule proper) and which they provisionally count as ‘half a rule’. In this article, I discuss some cases in (...) which an agent is judged as having neither belief nor desire to bring about an action, and yet laypersons find the agent’s action to be intentional. Many lay responses apparently follow a rule, but many other seem biased. The contribution of this study is two-fold: by addressing actions performed without desire or belief, it expands Mele and Cushman’s account; it also helps discriminate between a two-rules and a three-rules theory. As a conclusion, I argue in favor of a three-and-a-half concepts theory. (shrink)
Much of experimental philosophy consists of surveying 'folk' intuitions about philosophically relevant issues. Are the results of these surveys evidence that the relevant folk intuitions cannot be predicted from the ‘armchair’? We found that a solid majority of philosophers could predict even results claimed to be 'surprising'. But, we argue, this does not mean that such experiments have no role at all in philosophy.
In a series of five experiments, we demonstrate that moral judgments and folk intuitions are often predictably fragmented. Drawing on the domains of ethics and action theory, we illustrate ways in which judgment tends to be associated with stable individual differences such as personality traits and reflective cognitive styles. We argue that these individual differences pose several unique challenges as well as provide opportunities for further theoretical development in the emerging field of experimental philosophy. Implications are briefly discussed.
It has commonly been argued that certain types of mental descriptions, specifically those characterized in terms of propositional attitudes, are part of a folk psychological understanding of the mind. Recently, however, it has also been argued that this is the case even when such descriptions are employed as part of scientific theories in domains like social psychology and comparative psychology. In this paper, I argue that there is no plausible way to understand the distinction between folk and scientific (...) psychology that can support such claims. Moreover, these sorts of claims can have adverse consequences for the neuroscientific study of the brain by downplaying the value of many psychological theories that provide information neuroscientists need in order to build and test neurological models. (shrink)
I argue that everyday folk-psychological skill might best be explained in terms of the deployment of something like a model, in a specific sense drawn from recent philosophy of science. Theoretical models in this sense do not make definite commitments about the systems they are used to understand; they are employed with a particular kind of flexibility. This analysis is used to dissolve the eliminativism debate of the 1980s, and to transform a number of other questions about the status (...) and role of folk psychology. (shrink)
Moral realists believe that there are objective moral truths. According to one of the most prominent arguments in favour of this view, ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming, and we have therefore prima facie reason to believe that realism is true. Some proponents of this argument have claimed that the hypothesis that ordinary people experience morality as realist-seeming is supported by psychological research on folk metaethics. While most recent research has been thought to contradict this claim, four prominent earlier (...) studies (by Goodwin and Darley, Wainryb et al., Nichols, and Nichols and Folds-Bennett) indeed seem to suggest a tendency towards realism. My aim in this paper is to provide a detailed internal critique of these four studies. I argue that, once interpreted properly, all of them turn out in line with recent research. They suggest that most ordinary people experience morality as “pluralist-” rather than realist-seeming, i.e., that ordinary people have the intuition that realism is true with regard to some moral issues, but variants of anti-realism are true with regard to others. This result means that moral realism may be less well justified than commonly assumed. (shrink)
I argue that folk psychology does not serve the purpose of facilitating prediction of others' behaviour but if facilitating cooperative action. (See my subsequent book *The Importance of Being Understood*.
If folk science means individuals having well worked out mechanistic theories of the workings of the world, then it is not feasible. Laypeople’s explanatory understandings are remarkably coarse, full of gaps, and often full of inconsistencies. Even worse, most people overestimate their own understandings. Yet recent views suggest that formal scientists may not be so different. In spite of these limitations, science somehow works and its success offers hope for the feasibility of folk science as well. The success (...) of science arises from the ways in which scientists learn to leverage understandings in other minds and to outsource explanatory work through sophisticated methods of deference and simplification of complex systems. Three studies ask whether analogous processes might be present not only in laypeople but also in young children and thereby form a foundation for supplementing explanatory understandings almost from the start of our first attempts to make sense of the world. (shrink)
In this paper, I distinguish between two error theories of morality: one couched in terms of truth ; the other in terms of justification. I then present two arguments: the Poisoned Presupposition Argument for ET1; and the Evolutionary Debunking Argument for ET2. I go on to show how assessing these arguments requires paying attention to empirical moral psychology, in particular, work on folk metaethics. After criticizing extant work, I suggest avenues for future research.
Nichols and Bruno claim that the folk judge that psychological continuity is necessary for personal identity. In this article, we evaluate this claim. First, we argue that it is likely that in thinking about hypothetical cases of transformations, the folk do not use a unitary concept of personal identity, but instead rely on different concepts of ‘person’, ‘identity’, and ‘individual’. Identity can be ascribed even when post-transformation individuals are no longer categorized as persons. Second, we provide new empirical (...) evidence suggesting that the folk do not consider psychological continuity to be necessary for an individual to be categorized as a person or for ascribing identity over time and through transformations. In this, we assume, along with Nichols and Bruno, that folk judgments about identity can be read off the use of proper names. Furthermore, we raise some doubts about the ability of current experimental designs to adequately distinguish between qualitative and numerical identity jud.. (shrink)
My topic in this paper is social understanding. By this I mean the cognitive skills underlying social behaviour and social coordination. Normal, encultured, non-autistic and non-brain-damaged human beings are capable of an impressive degree of social coordination. We navigate the social world with a level of skill and dexterity fully comparable to that which we manifest in navigating the physical world. In neither sphere, one might think, would it be a trivial matter to identify the various competences which underly this (...) impressive level of performance. Nonetheless, at least as far as interpersonal interactions are concerned, philosophers show a rare degree of unanimity. What grounds our success in these interactions is supposed to be our common mastery of folk psychology. (shrink)
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folk psychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folk psychology.
Our concept of choice is integral to the way we understand others and ourselves, especially when considering ourselves as free and responsible agents. Despite the importance of this concept, there has been little empirical work on it. In this paper we report four experiments that provide evidence for two concepts of choice—namely, a concept of choice that is operative in the phrase having a choice and another that is operative in the phrase making a choice. The experiments indicate that the (...) two concepts of choice can be differentiated from each other on the basis of the kind of alternatives to which each is sensitive. The results indicate that the folk concept of choice is more nuanced than has been assumed. This new, empirically informed understanding of the folk concept of choice has important implications for debates concerning free will, responsibility, and other debates spanning psychology and philosophy. -/- Specifically, 'having a choice' appears to require genuinely open alternatives, or alternative possibilities that are actually realizable, while 'making a choice' appears to only require psychological open alternatives, or the ability to consider alternatives independent of whether these alternatives are actually realizable. We argue that these findings are relevant to the free will debate because choice is central to the folk concept of free will and many philosophical analysis of free will. The kinds of alternatives required for having a choice appear to be incompatibilist in nature, while the kinds of alternatives required for making a choice appear to be compatibilist in nature. If free will requires having choices, then this is perhaps evidence against compatibilism. If free will requires making choices, then this is perhaps evidence in favor of--or at least consistent with--compatibilism. (shrink)
This paper promotes the view that our childhood engagement with narratives of a certain kind is the basis of sophisticated folk psychological abilities —i.e. it is through such socially scaffolded means that folk psychological skills are normally acquired and fostered. Undeniably, we often use our folk psychological apparatus in speculating about why another may have acted on a particular occasion, but this is at best a peripheral and parasitic use. Our primary understanding and skill in folk (...) psychology derives from and has its primary application in special kinds of second-personal engagements. (shrink)
I suggest a pluralistic account of folk psychology according to which not all predictions or explanations rely on the attribution of mental states, and not all intentional actions are explained by mental states. This view of folk psychology is supported by research in developmental and social psychology. It is well known that people use personality traits to predict behavior. I argue that trait attribution is not shorthand for mental state attributions, since traits are not identical to beliefs or (...) desires, and an understanding of belief or desire is not necessary for using trait attributions. In addition, we sometimes predict and explain behavior through appeal to personality traits that the target wouldn't endorse, and so could not serve as the target's reasons. I conclude by suggesting that our folk psychology includes the notion that some behavior is explained by personality traits—who the person is—rather than by beliefs and desires—what the person thinks. Consequences of this view for the debate between simulation theory and theory theory, as well as the debate on chimpanzee theory of mind are discussed. (shrink)
Lisa Bortolotti argues convincingly that opponents of the doxastic view of delusion are committed to unnecessarily stringent standards for belief attribution. Folk psychology recognises many non-rational ways in which beliefs can be caused, and our attributions of delusions may be guided by a sense that delusions are beliefs that we cannot explain in any folk psychological terms.
There has been a long-standing interest in the putative roles that various so-called ‘theory of mind’ abilities might play in enabling us to understand and enjoy narratives. Of late, as our understanding of the complexity and diversity of everyday psychological capacities has become more nuanced and variegated, new possibilities have been articulated: (i) that our capacity for a sophisticated, everyday understanding of actions in terms of reason (our folk psychology) may itself be best characterized as a kind of narrative (...) practice and (ii) that acquiring the capacity for supplying and digesting reasons explana- tions might (at least normally) depend upon having a special training with narratives. This introductory paper to the volume situates the claims of those who support the narrative approach to folk psychology against the backdrop of some traditional and new thinking about intersubjectivity, social cognition and ‘theory of mind’ abilities. Special emphasis is laid on the different reasons for being interested in these claims about narrative practice and folk psychology in light of various empirical and philosophical agendas. (shrink)
In this paper, I review recent attempts by experimental philosophers and psychologists to study folk metaethics empirically and discuss some of the difficulties that researchers face when trying to construct the right kind of research materials and interpreting the results that they obtain. At first glance, the findings obtained so far do not look good for the thesis that people are everywhere moral realists about every moral issue. However, because of difficulties in interpreting these results, I argue that better (...) research is needed to move the debate forward. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the success of the connectionist program in cognitive science would threaten folk psychology. I articulate and defend a "minimalist" construal of folk psychology that comports well with empirical evidence on the folk understanding of belief and is compatible with even the most radical developments in cognitive science.
Kristin Andrews proposes a new framework for thinking about folk psychology, which she calls Pluralistic Folk Psychology. Her approach emphasizes kinds of psychological prediction and explanation that don't rest on propositional attitude attribution. Here I review some elements of her theory and find that, although the approach is very promising, there's still work to be done before we can conclude that the manners of prediction and explanation she identifies don't involve implicit propositional attitude attribution.
There is a long-standing debate in the philosophy of action and the philosophy of science over folk psychological explanations of human action: do the (perhaps implicit) generalizations that underwrite such explanations purport to state contingent, empirically established connections between beliefs, desires, and actions, or do such generalizations serve rather to define, at least in part, what it is to have a belief or desire, or perform an action? This question has proven important because of certain traditional assumptions made about (...) the role of law-statements in scientific explanations. According to this tradition, law-statements take the form of generalizations, and the laws we find in well-established sciences are contingent and empirical; as such, if the kinds of generalizations at work in folk psychological explanations of human action act like definitions, or state conceptual connections, then such generalizations could not play the kind of explanatory role we find in mature sciences. This paper argues that the aforementioned way of framing the debate reflects a still powerful but impoverished conception of the role laws play in scientific explanations, a conception that, moreover, cannot be reconciled with a good deal of actual scientific practice. When we update the philosophy of science, we find the concerns that are raised for folk psychological explanations largely evaporate or are found not to be specific to such explanations. (shrink)
Ramsey, Stick and Garon (1991) argue that if the correct theory of mind is some parallel distributed processing theory, then folk psychology must be false. Their idea is that if the nodes and connections that encode one representation are causally active then all representations encoded by the same set of nodes and connections are also causally active. We present a clear, and concrete, counterexample to RSG's argument. In conclusion, we suggest that folk psychology and connectionism are best understood (...) as complementary theories. Each has different limitations, yet each will co-evolve with the other in an overlapping domain of 'normal' psychology. (shrink)
My commentary on Hurley is concerned with foundational issues. Hurley's investigation of animal cognition is cast within a particular framework—basically, a philosophically refined version of folk psychology. Her discussion has a complicated relationship to unresolved debates about the nature and status of folk psychology, especially debates about the extent to which folk psychological categories are aimed at picking out features of the causal organization of the mind.
Whilst much has been said about the implications of predictive processing for our scientific understanding of cognition, there has been comparatively little discussion of how this new paradigm fits with our everyday understanding of the mind, i.e. folk psychology. This paper aims to assess the relationship between folk psychology and predictive processing, which will first require making a distinction between two ways of understanding folk psychology: as propositional attitude psychology and as a broader folk psychological discourse. (...) It will be argued that folk psychology in this broader sense is compatible with predictive processing, despite the fact that there is an apparent incompatibility between predictive processing and a literalist interpretation of propositional attitude psychology. The distinction between these two kinds of folk psychology allows us to accept that our scientific usage of folk concepts requires revision, whilst rejecting the suggestion that we should eliminate folk psychology entirely. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the scientific respectability of delusion as a psychiatric category. First, I present the essentialist objection to the natural kindhood of psychiatric categories, as well as non-essentialism about natural kinds as a response to that objection. Second, I present a nuanced classification of kinds of kinds. Third, drawing on the claim that the attribution of delusion relies on a folk psychological underpinning, I present the mind-dependence objection to the natural kind status of delusion. Finally, I (...) argue that even if delusion as a generic kind stands little chance of being vindicated as a non-essentialist natural kind, we stand to gain from a natural kind methodology regarding subtypes of delusion for which there is evidence of genuine causal signatures and mechanisms. (shrink)
Proponents of mindshaping argue that third-person folk psychology is not primarily about "reading" mental states for the purpose of behavior prediction and explanation. Instead, they claim that third-person folk psychology is first and foremost a regulative practice -- one that "shapes" mental states in accordance with the norms of a shared folk psychological framework. This paper investigates to what extent the core assumptions behind the mindshaping hypothesis are compatible with an account of first-person folk psychology that (...) is based on the notion of "self-regulative agency.". (shrink)
Cognitive scientists of religion promise to lay bare the cognitive mechanisms that generate religious beliefs in human beings. Defenders of the debunking argument believe that the cognitive mechanisms studied in this field pose a threat to folk theism. A number of influential responses to the debunking argument rely on making two sets of distinctions: proximate/ultimate explanations and specific/general religious beliefs. I argue, however, that such responses have drawbacks and do not make room for folk theism. I suggest that (...) a detour through the literature in the philosophy of mind regarding the problem of mental causation regarding nonreductive physicalism can provide a way for preserving folk theism without doing violence to the way cognitive science of religion is being practiced today. More specifically, I believe there is a way of responding to the debunking argument that does not require a rejection of the causal premise. (shrink)
Often implicit in visual display design and development is a gold standard of photorealism. By approximating direct perception, photorealism appeals to users and designers by being both attractive and apparently effortless. The vexing result from numerous performance evaluations, though, is that increasing realism often impairs performance. Smallman and St. John (2005) labeled misplaced faith in realistic information display Naïve Realism and theorized it resulted from a triplet of folk fallacies about perception. Here, we illustrate issues associated with the wider (...) trend towards realism by focusing on a specific current trend for high-fidelity perspective view (3D) geospatial displays. In two experiments, we validated Naïve Realism for different terrain understanding tasks, explored whether certain individuals are particularly prone to Naïve Realism, and determined the ability of task feedback to mitigate Naïve Realism. Performance was measured for laying and judging a concealed route across realistic terrain shown in different display formats. Task feedback was either implicit, in Experiment 1, or explicit in Experiment 2. Prospective and retrospective intuitions about the best display formats for the tasks were recorded and then related to task performance and participant spatial ability. Participants generally intuited they would perform tasks better with more realism than they actually required. For example, counter to intuitions, lowering fidelity of the terrain display revealed the gross scene layout needed to lay a well-concealed route. Individuals of high spatial ability calibrated their intuitions with only implicit task feedback, whereas those of low spatial ability required salient, explicit feedback to calibrate their intuitions about display realism. Results are discussed in the wider context of applying perceptual science to display design, and combating folk fallacies. (shrink)
I survey the previous 20 years work on the nature of folk psychology, with particular emphasis on the original debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists, and the positions that have emerged from this debate.
In this paper it is argued that we would not be logically obliged or rationally inclined to reject the ontology of contentful psychological states postulated by folk psychology even if the explanations advanced by folk psychology turned out to be generally inaccurate or inadequate. Moreover, it is argued that eliminativists such as Paul Churchland do not establish that folk psychological explanations are, or are likely to prove, generally inaccurate or inadequate. Most of Churchland's arguments—based upon developments within (...) connectionist neuroscience—only cast doubt upon the adequacy of 'sentential' theories of cognitive processing, not upon scientifically developed forms of folk psychological explanation of behavior, such as those offered by contemporary social psychology. Finally, it is noted that Churchland's brand of eliminativism rests upon a crude reductive criterion of theoretical adequacy that has little to recommend it, and suggested that the recognized theoretical limitations of contemporary social psychology may be precisely due to its historical commitment to this reductive criterion. (shrink)
Philosophers and psychologists have experimentally explored various aspects of people’s understandings of subjective experience based on their responses to questions about whether robots “see red” or “feel frustrated,” but the intelligibility of such questions may well presuppose that people understand robots as experiencers in the first place. Departing from the standard approach, I develop an experimental framework that distinguishes 20 between “phenomenal consciousness” as it is applied to a subject (an experiencer) and to an (experiential) mental state and experimentally test (...)folk understandings of both subjective experience and experiencers. My findings (1) reveal limitations in experimental approaches using “artificial experiencers” like robots, (2) indicate that the standard philosophical conception of subjective experience in terms of qualia is distinct from that of the folk, and (3) show that folk intuitions do support a conception of qualia that departs from the philosophical conception in that it is physical rather than metaphysical. These findings have implications for the “hard problem” of consciousness. (shrink)
It is often assumed that cognitive science is built upon folk psychology, and that challenges to folk psychology are therefore challenges to cognitive science itself. We argue that, in practice, cognitive science and folk psychology treat entirely non-overlapping domains: cognitive science considers aspects of mental life which do not depend on general knowledge, whereas folk psychology considers aspects of mental life which do depend on general knowledge. We back up our argument on theoretical grounds, and also (...) illustrate the separation between cognitive scientific and folk psychological phenomena in a number of cognitive domains. We consider the methodological and theoretical significance of our arguments for cognitive science research. (shrink)
Folk experiments in agriculture are often inspired by new ideas blended with old ones, motivated by economic and environmental change. They tend to save labor or capital. These notions are illustrated with nine short case studies from Nicaragua and El Salvador. The new ideas that catalyze folk experiments may be provided by development agencies, but paradoxically, the folk experiments are so common that the agencies that inspire them usually pay little attention to them. Some folk experiments (...) are original, but others simply copy innovations that farmers have seen somewhere else. Unlike formal scientific research, in which results are consistently written, folk experiments are rarely “inscribed,” because the results are for use by individual farmers and need not be shared with an audience. (shrink)
This paper is about the contemporary debate concerning folk psychology – the debate between the proponents of the theory theory of folk psychology and the friends of the simulation alternative.1 At the outset, we need to ask: What should we mean by this term ‘folk psychology’?
This article describes two uses of folk psychology in scientific psychology. Use 1 deals with the way in which folk theories and beliefs are imported into social psychological models on the basis that they exert causal influences on cognition or behavior (regardless of their validity or scientific usefulness). Use 2 describes the practice of mining elements from folk psychology for building an overarching psychological theory that goes beyond common sense (and assumes such elements are valid or scientifically (...) useful). This distinction is then applied to both common practices within psychology and the philosophical arguments concerning the scientific validity of folk psychology. Adopting a social psychological perspective, I argue that (a) the two uses are often conflated in psychology with deleterious consequences; and (b) that the arguments for the elimination of folk psychology as a basis for scientific psychology presented by Churchland and others, are weakened by the failure to attend to this distinction. (shrink)
The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any (...) particular conscious or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
This article looks at two approaches to the human brain and to the causation of behaviour: the objective approach of neuroscience, which treats the brain as a physical system operating in accordance with physical laws of general application; and the subjective approach of folk psychology, which treats people, and thus their brains and minds, as making choices or decisions on the basis of beliefs, desires, etc. It suggests three ways in which these two approaches might be related, two physicalist (...) and one non-physicalist; and argues, with reference to ethical and legal issues,ues that there are strong commonsense grounds for preferring the non-physicalist alternative, and that science does not justify its rejection. It is suggested that a considerable onus of proof lies on proponents of physicalist approaches, having regard to the implications of such approaches for important issues of justice and human rights.In this paper, I outline two approaches to the human brain, involving two different views of the causation of human behaviour; and I consider how these two approaches might be linked or related. The first is the objective approach of neuroscience, which treats the human brain as a physical object, operating in accordance with the same physical laws as other physical objects. The second is the subjective approach of folk psychology, which we apply both in our ordinary interactions with other people and in our thinking about our own behaviour; and which treats people as choosing or deciding what to do on the basis of their beliefs, desires and so on. (shrink)
Three major questions should be answered by any theory of “folk psychology”, or mentalizing. The first question concerns the contents of mental concepts; the second concerns the processes of mental-state attribution ; and the third concerns the development or acquisition of mentalizing skills. Some major problems are presented for different variants of the “theory-theory” approach, namely, philosophical functionalism, the child-scientist approach, and the modularist approach. The approach favored here is an “introspection-simulation” approach: introspection as an account of first-person mental-state (...) attribution, and simulation as an account of third-person mental-state attribution. The simulationist part of the story is clarified and defended in some detail, including a discussion of the relation between knowledge and simulation. Special attention is given to empirical findings that support the notion that pretend states could really be “facsimiles” of their genuine counterparts, a relationship that seems to be required if simulation is to produce successful mental-state attributions. (shrink)