In this paper, we argue that several recent ‘wide’ perspectives on cognition (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive, and distributed) are only partially relevant to the study of cognition. While these wide accounts override traditional methodological individualism, the study of cognition has already progressed beyond these proposed perspectives towards building integrated explanations of the mechanisms involved, including not only internal submechanisms but also interactions with others, groups, cognitive artifacts, and their environment. The claim is substantiated with reference to recent developments in the (...) study of “mindreading” and debates on emotions. We claim that the current practice in cognitive (neuro)science has undergone, in effect, a silent mechanistic revolution, and has turned from initial binary oppositions and abstract proposals towards the integration of wide perspectives with the rest of the cognitive (neuro)sciences. (shrink)
In this paper, we consider a few actual cases of mnemonic strategies among older subjects (older than 65). The cases are taken from an ethnographic study, examining how elderly adults cope with cognitive decline. We believe that these cases illustrate that the process of remembering in many cases involve a complex distributed web of processes involving both internal or intracranial and external sources. Our cases illustrate that the nature of distributed remembering is shaped by and subordinated to the dynamic characteristics (...) of the on-going activity and to our minds suggest that research on memory and distributed cognition should focus on the process of remembering through detailed descriptions and analysis of naturally occurring situations. (shrink)
In discussions of Fitch’s paradox, it is usually assumed without further argument that knowledge is factive, that if a subject knows that p, then p is true. It is argued that this common assumption is not as well-founded as it should be, and that there in fact are certain reasons to be suspicious of the unrestricted version of the factiveness claim. There are two kinds of reason for this suspicion. One is that unrestricted factiveness leads to paradoxes and unexpected results, (...) the other is that the usual arguments for factiveness are not as compelling as is commonly thought. There may in fact be some kinds of contexts, where factiveness doesn’t hold for knowledge—the usual arguments for factiveness don’t suffice to support the claim that knowledge is unrestrictedly factive. Perhaps all that can be shown is that knowledge is at times factive, or that it is default factive, as it were: this doesn’t show that there can’t be counterexamples, however. Certain aspects of knowledge without unrestricted factiveness are examined briefly. (shrink)
This note presents an argument to show that trope theory, as usually conceived, gets into difficulties in handling certain ways in which two objects can resemble one another. Ways out of the difficulties are discussed briefly.
Frank Jackson's knowledge argument against physicalism has caused an extensive debate. In this paper, I sketch and examine a new argument against Jackson's view, an argument which appears to retain more of physicalism than other replies to Jackson. this argument draws strength from a causal theory of knowledge, and hold that there is no knowledge of epiphenomenal qualia, hence that Jackson's main conclusions from the thought experiment are incorrect. There are still problems with this argument, however, so the question remains (...) how much of the mental that can be accounted for in physicalist terms. (shrink)
This paper examines some aspects of Strawson’s conception of descriptive metaphysics, as it is developed in Individuals. Descriptive metaphysics sets out to describe ”the actual structure of our thought about the world”. Three specific problems for this project are discussed. First, isn’t the description of our actual thought about the world mainly an empirical task? Second, how determinate and consistent is the stuff we find, how determinate and consistent is our conceptual scheme? Third, who are “we” here? Answers to these (...) sets of questions are mainly negative in spirit. But all this will probably not mean that there will be no place for metaphysics, descriptive or revisionary, as a subject. The whole enterprise is perhaps more fraught with difficulties than Strawson thought, however. (shrink)
I am the world’s leading expert on the current contents of my left pocket. I can also lay claim to being the world’s leading expert on the contents of my mind – if I say that I think it is too warm in here, I can be assumed to be right about this. But the two cases are perhaps only superficially alike. No one else knows much about the current contents of my pockets, because no one else has checked my (...) pockets. If someone else were to go through the steps needed to check my pockets, she would know as much as I do about their contents. The persons checking my pockets could find out that I had made a mistake – perhaps I had overlooked a subway ticket. The steps required for finding out such things are essentially the same as the steps I have to take. This does not hold for the contents of my mind. My claim to know what I am thinking right now seems to be of a different kind, when compared with my knowledge of the contents of my pockets. My thoughts are mine, and I have a special relation to them. This relation seems to be special in many ways. Perhaps even the idea of being an expert on the contents of one’s own mind is misguided; perhaps the analogy with ordinary experts is misleading – there seems to be nothing like getting better and better at judging something that is there for the experts to judge. Perhaps the whole idea of there being something there to be an expert about is wrong. When trying to come to grips with questions concerning the first person, we quickly get entangled in a whole bunch of tricky issues, issues that have occupied philosophers at least since Descartes. Descartes’ particular views on what there is to know about the contents of my own mind, and how I could come to be so good at this, have to a great extent set the agenda for virtually all later discussions of the first person, even though there is a widespread agreement that Descartes got most things wrong. (shrink)