Although mind-wandering occupies up to half of our waking thoughts, it is seldom discussed in philosophy. My paper brings these neglected thoughts into focus. I propose that mind-wandering is unguided attention. Guidance in my sense concerns how attention is monitored and regulated as it unfolds over time. Roughly speaking, someone’s attention is guided if she would feel pulled back, were she distracted from her current focus. Because our wandering thoughts drift unchecked from topic to topic, they are unguided. One motivation (...) for my theory is what I call the “Puzzle of the Purposeful Wanderer”. On the one hand, mind-wandering seems essentially purposeless; almost by definition, it contrasts with goal-directed cognition. On the other hand, empirical evidence suggests that our minds frequently wander to our goals. My solution to the puzzle is this: mind-wandering is purposeless in one way—it is unguided—but purposeful in another—it is frequently caused, and thus motivated, by our goals. Another motivation for my theory is to distinguish mind-wandering from two antithetical forms of cognition: absorption and rumination. Surprisingly, previous theories cannot capture these distinctions. I can: on my view, absorption and rumination are guided, whereas mind-wandering is not. My paper has four parts. Section 1 spells out the puzzle. Sections 2 and 3 explicate two extant views of mind-wandering—the first held by most cognitive scientists, the second by Thomas Metzinger. Section 4 uses the limitations of these theories to motivate my own: mind-wandering is unguided attention. (shrink)
Philosophers have long been fascinated by the stream of consciousness––thoughts, images, and bits of inner speech that dance across the inner stage. Yet for centuries, such “mind-wandering” was deemed private and thus resistant to empirical investigation. Recent developments in psychology and neuroscience have reinvigorated scientific interest in the stream of thought, leading some researchers to dub this “the era of the wandering mind”. Despite this flurry of progress, scientists have stressed that mind-wandering research requires firmer philosophical foundations. The time is (...) therefore ripe for the philosophy of mind-wandering. Our review begins with a foundational question: what is mind-wandering? We then investigate the significance of mind-wandering for general philosophical topics, namely mental action, introspection, and the norms of thinking and attention. (shrink)
Can we be responsible for our attention? Can attention be epistemically good or bad? Siegel tackles these under‐explored questions in “Selection Effects”, a pathbreaking chapter of The Rationality of Perception. In this chapter, Siegel develops one of the first philosophical accounts of attention norms. Her account is inferential: patterns of attention are often controlled by inferences and therefore subject to rational epistemic norms that govern any other form of inference. Although Siegel’s account is explanatorily powerful, it cannot capture a core (...) attention norm in cognitive science: one should balance between exploratory and exploitative attention. For central cases of exploratory attention such as mind‐wandering, child‐like, and creative thinking are non‐inferential. Siegel’s view classifies them as “normative freebies” that are not subject to epistemic evaluation. We’re therefore left with a disjunctive conclusion: either Siegel’s inferentialist theory of attention norms is incomplete or cognitive scientists are wrong about the norms that govern attention. (shrink)
We present a family of counter-examples to David Christensen's Independence Criterion, which is central to the epistemology of disagreement. Roughly, independence requires that, when you assess whether to revise your credence in P upon discovering that someone disagrees with you, you shouldn't rely on the reasoning that lead you to your initial credence in P. To do so would beg the question against your interlocutor. Our counter-examples involve questions where, in the course of your reasoning, you almost fall for an (...) easy-to-miss trick. We argue that you can use the step in your reasoning where you caught the trick as evidence that someone of your general competence level likely fell for it. Our cases show that it's permissible to use your reasoning about disputed matters to disregard an interlocutor's disagreement, so long as that reasoning is embedded in the right sort of explanation of why she finds the disputed conclusion plausible, even though it's false. (shrink)
Perhaps the central question in action theory is this: what ingredient of bodily action is missing in mere behaviour? But what is an analogous question for mental action? I ask the following: what ingredient of active, goal-directed, thought is missing in mind-wandering? I answer that guidance is the missing ingredient that separates mind-wandering and directed thinking. I define mind-wandering as unguided attention. Roughly speaking, attention is guided when you would feel pulled back, were you distracted. In contrast, a wandering attention (...) drifts from topic to topic unchecked. From my discussion of mind-wandering, I extract general lessons about the causal basis, experiential character, and limits of mental action. Mind-wandering is a case study that allows us to tease apart two causal bases of mental action––guidance and motivation––that often track together and are thus easy to conflate. The contrast between mind-wandering and active thinking also sheds light on how goals are experienced during mental action. Goals are rarely the objects of awareness; rather, goals are “phenomenological frames” that carve experience into felt distractions (which we are guided away from) and relevant information (which we are guided towards). Finally, I account for a limit-case of mental action that psychologists call “intentional mind-wandering”. (shrink)
Although mind-wandering research is rapidly progressing, stark disagreements are emerging about what the term “mind-wandering” means. Four prominent views define mind-wandering as 1) task-unrelated thought, 2) stimulus-independent thought, 3) unintentional thought, or 4) dynamically unguided thought. Although theorists claim to capture the ordinary understanding of mind-wandering, no systematic studies have assessed these claims. Two large factorial studies present participants (n=545) with vignettes that describe someone’s thoughts and ask whether her mind was wandering, while systematically manipulating features relevant to the four (...) major accounts of mind-wandering. Dynamics explains between four and twenty times more variance in participants’ mind-wandering judgments than other features. Our third study (n=153) tests and supports a unique prediction of the dynamic framework—obsessive rumination contrasts with mind-wandering. Our final study (n=277) used vignettes that resemble mind-wandering experiments. Dynamics had significant and large effects, while task-unrelatedness was insignificant. These results strongly align with the dynamic conception of mind-wandering. (shrink)
Our paper serves as an introduction to a budding field: the philosophy of mind-wandering. We begin with a philosophical critique of the standard psychological definitions of mind-wandering as task-unrelated or stimulus-independent. Although these definitions have helped bring mind-wandering research onto centre stage in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, they have substantial limitations that researchers must overcome to move forward. Specifically, the standard definitions do not account for (i) the dynamics of mind wandering, (ii) task-unrelated thought that does not qualify as mind-wandering, (...) and (iii) the ways that mind-wandering can be task-related. We then survey three philosophical accounts that improve upon the current psychological definitions. We first present our account of mind-wandering as “unguided thinking”. Next we review Thomas Metzinger’s view that mind-wandering can be defined as thought lacking meta-awareness and cognitive agency, as well as Peter Carruthers’s and Fabian Dorsch’s definitions of mind-wandering as disunified thinking. We argue that these latter views are inadequate, and we show that our definition of mind-wandering as unguided thinking is not only conceptually and phenomenologically precise but also can be operationalized in a principled way for empirical research. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, ZacharyIrving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This part of the report explores the question: How does the understanding of attention in Indian philosophy bear on contemporary western debates?
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, ZacharyIrving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This portion of the report explores the question: How can we train our attention, and what are the benefits of doing so?
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, ZacharyIrving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This portion of the report explores the question: Can meditation give us moral knowledge?
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, ZacharyIrving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This portion of the report explores the question: What can Indian philosophy tell us about how we perceive the world?
This report highlights and explores five questions that arose from the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, September 21st to 22nd, 2013: 1. How does the understanding of attention in Indian philosophy bear on contemporary western debates? 2. How can we train our attention, and what are the benefits of doing so? 3. Can meditation give us moral knowledge? 4. What can Indian philosophy tell us about how we perceive the world? 5. Are there cross-cultural (...) philosophical themes? (shrink)
An often-overlooked characteristic of the human mind is its propensity to wander. Despite growing interest in the science of mind-wandering, most studies operationalize mind-wandering by its task-unrelated contents. But these contents may be orthogonal to the processes that determine how thoughts unfold over time, remaining stable or wandering from one topic to another. In this chapter, we emphasize the importance of incorporating such processes into current definitions of mind-wandering, and propose that mind-wandering and other forms of spontaneous thought (such as (...) dreaming and creativity) are mental states that arise and transition relatively freely due to an absence of constraints on cognition. We review existing psychological, philosophical and neuroscientific research on spontaneous thought through the lens of this framework, and call for additional research into the dynamic properties of the mind and brain. (shrink)
Most research on mind-wandering has characterized it as a mental state with contents that are task unrelated or stimulus independent. However, the dynamics of mind-wandering—how mental states change over time—have remained largely neglected. Here, we introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its relationship to the recruitment of large-scale brain networks. We propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a family of spontaneous-thought phenomena that also includes creative thought and dreaming. This dynamic framework can shed new (...) light on mental disorders that are marked by alterations in spontaneous thought, including depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, ZacharyIrving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This portion of the report explores the question: Are there cross-cultural philosophical themes?
One of the most important recent developments in the discussion of Kierkegaard's ethics is an interpretation defended, in different forms, by Philip Quinn and Stephen Evans. Both argue that a divine-command theory of moral obligation is to be found in Works of Love . Against this view, I argue that, despite significant overlap between DCT and the view of moral obligation found in Works of Love , there is at least one essential difference between the two: the former, but not (...) the latter, is committed to the claim that, necessarily, p is morally obligatory only if God commands that p. (shrink)
Art is a creative phenomenon which changes constantly, not just insofar as it is being created continually, but also in the very meaning of ‘art.’ Finding a suitable definition of art is no easy task and it has been the subject of much inquiry throughout artistic expression. This paper suggests a crucial distinction between ‘art forms’ and ‘forms of art’ is necessary in order to better understand art. The latter of these corresponds to that which we would typically call art (...) such as painting, singing, etc. The former corresponds to the form out of which these take shape, movement, speech, etc. With this distinction set out, it becomes clearer that art and the aesthetic is rooted in the properties of the ‘thing’ such as the color, shape, and the texture, rather than the product of creation itself. Thus, the future of art will bring a new aesthetic in which these properties become recognized as art and as such there will be an aesthetic of everyday life. (shrink)
... Press for their editorial perspicacity, to the National Institutes of Health for the partial financial support they gave me while I was writing some of the chapters, and to Donald Michie for suggesting the title Good Thinking.
There are obvious benefits to be gained from the study of logic: heightened ability to express ideas clearly and concisely, increased skill in defining one's terms, enlarged capacity to formulate arguments rigorously and to analyze them critically. But the greatest benefit, in my judgment, is the recognition that reason can be applied in every aspect of human affairs.
This study tested four theoretical models of leadership with data from the ethnographic record. The first was a game-theoretical model of leadership in collective actions, in which followers prefer and reward a leader who monitors and sanctions free-riders as group size increases. The second was the dominance model, in which dominant leaders threaten followers with physical or social harm. The third, the prestige model, suggests leaders with valued skills and expertise are chosen by followers who strive to emulate them. The (...) fourth proposes that in small-scale, kin-based societies, men with high neural capital are best able to achieve and maintain positions of social influence and thereby often become polygynous and have more offspring than other men, which positively selects for greater neural capital. Using multiple search strategies we identified more than 1000 texts relevant to leadership in the Probability Sample of 60 cultures from the Human Relations Area Files. We operationalized the model with variables and then coded all retrieved text records on the presence or absence of evidence for each of these 24 variables. We found mixed support for the collective action model, broad support for components of the prestige leadership style and the importance of neural capital and polygyny among leaders, but more limited support for the dominance leadership style. We found little evidence, however, of emulation of, or prestige-biased learning toward, leaders. We found that improving collective actions, having expertise, providing counsel, and being respected, having high neural capital, and being polygynous are common properties of leaders, which warrants a synthesis of the collective action, prestige, and neural capital and reproductive skew models. We sketch one such synthesis involving high-quality decision-making and other computational services. (shrink)
Preface to the Irving Singer library edition -- Preface -- Introduction: Love and meaning -- Two myths about love -- Persons, things, ideals -- Sexual love -- Love in society -- Religious love -- Civilization and autonomy -- Love, and do as you will.
Moral psychologists have shown that people’s past moral experiences can affect their subsequent moral decisions. One prominent finding in this line of research is that when people make a judgment about the Trolley dilemma after considering the Footbridge dilemma, they are significantly less likely to decide it is acceptable to redirect a train to save five people. Additionally, this ordering effect is asymmetrical, as making a judgment about the Trolley dilemma has little to no effect on people’s judgments about the (...) Footbridge dilemma. We argue that this asymmetry is the result of a difference in how each dilemma affects people’s beliefs about the importance of saving lives. In two experiments, we show that considering the Footbridge dilemma disconfirms these beliefs, while considering the Trolley dilemma does not significantly affect them. Consistent with predictions of sequential learning models, our findings offer a clear and parsimonious account of the asymmetry in the ordering effect. (shrink)
In 1984, Irving Singer published the first volume of what would become a classic and much acclaimed trilogy on love. Trained as an analytical philosopher, Singer first approached his subject with the tools of current philosophical methodology. Dissatisfied by the initial results, he turned to the history of ideas in philosophy and the arts for inspiration. He discovered an immensity of speculation and artistic practice that reached wholly beyond the parameters he had been trained to consider truly philosophical. In (...) his three-volume work The Nature of Love, Singer tried to make sense of this historical progression within a framework that reflected his precise distinction-making and analytical background. In this new book, he maps the trajectory of his thinking on love. It is a "partial" summing-up of a lifework: partial because it expresses the author's still unfolding views, because it is a recapitulation of many published pages, because love--like any subject of that magnitude--resists a neatly comprehensive, all-inclusive formulation. Adopting an informal, even conversational, tone, Singer discusses, among other topics, the history of romantic love, the Platonic ideal, courtly and nineteenth-century Romantic love; the nature of passion; the concept of merging ; ideas about love in Freud, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dewey, Santayana, Sartre, and other writers; and love in relation to democracy, existentialism, creativity, and the possible future of scientific investigation. Singer's writing on love embodies what he has learned as a contemporary philosopher, studying other authors in the field and "trying to get a little further." This book continues his trailblazing explorations. (shrink)
This paper attempts to establish that, and explain why, the practice of punishing offenders is in principle morally permissible. My account is a nonstandard version of the fair play view, according to which punishment 's permissibility derives from reciprocal obligations shared by members of a political community, understood as a mutually beneficial, cooperative venture. Most fair play views portray punishment as an appropriate means of removing the unfair advantage an offender gains relative to law-abiding members of the community. Such views (...) struggle, however, to provide a plausible account of this unfairly gained benefit. By contrast, on my account punishment 's permissibility follows more straightforwardly from the fair play view of political obligation: Specifically, the rule instituting punishment is itself among those rules with which members of the political community are obliged to comply. For criminal offenders, compliance requires submitting to the prospect of punishment. (shrink)
A semantic theory aims to make predictions that are accurate and comprehensive. Sometimes, though, a semantic theory falls short of this aim, and there is a mismatch between prediction and data. In such cases, defenders of the semantic theory often attempt to rescue it by appealing to Gricean pragmatics. The hope is that we can rescue the theory as long as we can use pragmatics to explain away its predictive failures. This pragmatic rescue strategy is one of the most popular (...) moves in philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and formal semantics. In this paper I argue that this strategy fails whenever the predictive failures at issue can be recast in epistemological or metaphysical terms. This general “reformulation argument” undermines a wide variety of pragmatic rescue attempts. (shrink)
A large body of research has indicated international students in the United States and abroad experience difficulties understanding what academic integrity is and how to avoid academic misconduct, 159–172 2011; Brown & Howell, 2001; Gullifer and Tyson Studies in Higher Education, 39, 1202-1218 2014). While most studies focus on academic misconduct and academic corruption in research ethics, 339-358 2014), this study analyzes the length, English-language readability, and translation of academic integrity policies of 453 four-year U.S. institutions of higher education. Findings (...) indicate average academic integrity policies are over 2000 words long, are written above the 16th-grade reading level, and are very rarely translated into a language other than English. In addition, no institutions published their academic integrity policies in full on their institutional international student website, possibly rendering the policy difficult to locate on the institution’s website for international students. Implications for research, policy, and practice are addressed. (shrink)
The notion of an extended simple region (henceforth ESR) has recently been marshalled in the service of arguments for a variety of conclusions. Exactly how to understand the idea of extendedness as it applies to simple regions, however, has been largely ignored, or, perhaps better, assumed. In this paper we first (§1) outline what we take to be the standard way that philosophers are thinking about extendedness, namely as an intrinsic property of regions. We then introduce an alternative picture (§2), (...) according to which extendedness is extrinsic. In §3 we argue that it matters which way of thinking about extendedness is the right one, since how ESRs behave is sensitive to what extendedness consists in, and various arguments that appeal to ESRs turn out to be unsound if extendedness is extrinsic rather than intrinsic. (shrink)
This paper reports on a study of crowd-sourcing ‘study aid’ web platforms. Students are sharing completed academic coursework through a growing network of ‘study aid’ web platforms like CourseHero.com. These websites facilitate the crowd-sourced exchange of coursework, and effectively support plagiarism. However, virtually no data exists concerning the scope or extent of coursework being shared through these platforms. This paper reports on two experiments to monitor the frequency of coursework from a sample university uploaded onto CourseHero.com. Ultimately, both experiments failed (...) to produce a clear or meaningful measurement of coursework upload frequency. The apparently widespread use of these crowd-sourcing ‘study aid’ websites and the failure of these experiments demonstrates the need for further investigation into how much coursework is being shared through such platforms, how frequently it is shared, and what kind of coursework is being shared. Addressing these issues is an important step into measuring the impact of these wellsprings of academically dishonest behavior. (shrink)
Constitutivist accounts of self-knowledge argue that a noncontingent, conceptual relation holds between our first-order mental states and our introspective awareness of them. I explicate a constitutivist account of our knowledge of our own beliefs and defend it against criticisms recently raised by Christopher Peacocke. According to Peacocke, constitutivism says that our second-order introspective beliefs are groundless. I show that Peacocke’s arguments apply to reliabilism not to constitutivism per se, and that by adopting a functionalist account of direct accessibility a constitutivist (...) can avoid reliabilism. I then argue that the resulting view is preferable to Peacocke’s own account of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Although scientists dating back to Darwin have noted the importance of the body in communicating emotion, current research on emotion communication tends to emphasize the face. In this article we review the evidence for bodily expressions of emotions—that is, the handful of emotions that are displayed and recognized from certain bodily behaviors. We also review the previously developed coding systems available for identifying emotions from bodily behaviors. Although no extant coding system provides an exhaustive list of bodily behaviors known to (...) communicate a panoply of emotions, our review provides the foundation for developing such a system. (shrink)
Paul Griffiths and John Matthewson argue that selected effects play the key role in determining whether a state is pathological. In response, it is argued that a selected effects account faces a number of difficulties in light of modern genomic research. Firstly, a modern history approach to selection is problematic as a basis for assigning function to human traits in light of the small population sizes in the hominin lineage, which imply that selection has played a limited role in shaping (...) these genomes in the evolutionarily recent past. Secondly, determining both the genetic basis of disease and selective histories of the various alleles involved may be experimentally intractable. Thirdly, the existence of “selected disorders” is well supported, and yet on the other hand many other common diseases may not reduce evolutionary fitness. In summary, the biological ends promoted by natural selection, as best modeled in recent research, do not adequately ground a concept of dysfunction that aligns well with the interests of human health. (shrink)
Individuals convicted of crimes are often subject to numerous restrictions — on housing, employment, the vote, public assistance, and other goods — well after they have completed their sentences, and in some cases permanently. The question of whether — and if so, when — ex-offender restrictions are morally permissible has received surprisingly little philosophical scrutiny. This article first examines the significance of completing punishment, of paying one's debt to society, and contends that when offenders' debts are paid, they should be (...) restored to full standing as citizens. Thus all ex-offender restrictions are presumptively unjustified. Nonconsequentialist defences of these restrictions are ultimately unsuccessful in defeating the presumption against them. In a limited range of cases, consequentialist considerations — namely, of risk reduction — may be sufficient to override the presumptive case against these restrictions. The article concludes by suggesting a number of criteria for assessing whether particular restrictive measures are permissible on grounds of risk reduction. (shrink)
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