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Jake Quilty-Dunn
Rutgers - New Brunswick
  1. The best game in town: The reemergence of the language-of-thought hypothesis across the cognitive sciences.Jake Quilty-Dunn, Nicolas Porot & Eric Mandelbaum - 2023 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46:e261.
    Mental representations remain the central posits of psychology after many decades of scrutiny. However, there is no consensus about the representational format(s) of biological cognition. This paper provides a survey of evidence from computational cognitive psychology, perceptual psychology, developmental psychology, comparative psychology, and social psychology, and concludes that one type of format that routinely crops up is the language-of-thought (LoT). We outline six core properties of LoTs: (i) discrete constituents; (ii) role-filler independence; (iii) predicate–argument structure; (iv) logical operators; (v) inferential (...)
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  2. What Is an Object File?E. J. Green & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (3):665-699.
    The notion of an object file figures prominently in recent work in philosophy and cognitive science. Object files play a role in theories of singular reference, object individuation, perceptual memory, and the development of cognitive capacities. However, the philosophical literature lacks a detailed, empirically informed theory of object files. In this paper, we articulate and defend the multiple-slots view, which specifies both the format and architecture of object files. We argue that object files represent in a non-iconic, propositional format that (...)
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  3. Perceptual Pluralism.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2019 - Noûs 54 (4):807-838.
    Perceptual systems respond to proximal stimuli by forming mental representations of distal stimuli. A central goal for the philosophy of perception is to characterize the representations delivered by perceptual systems. It may be that all perceptual representations are in some way proprietarily perceptual and differ from the representational format of thought (Dretske 1981; Carey 2009; Burge 2010; Block ms.). Or it may instead be that perception and cognition always trade in the same code (Prinz 2002; Pylyshyn 2003). This paper rejects (...)
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  4. Against dispositionalism: belief in cognitive science.Jake Quilty-Dunn & Eric Mandelbaum - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (9):2353-2372.
    Dispositionalism about belief has had a recent resurgence. In this paper we critically evaluate a popular dispositionalist program pursued by Eric Schwitzgebel. Then we present an alternative: a psychofunctional, representational theory of belief. This theory of belief has two main pillars: that beliefs are relations to structured mental representations, and that the relations are determined by the generalizations under which beliefs are acquired, stored, and changed. We end by describing some of the generalizations regarding belief acquisition, storage, and change.
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  5. Inferential Transitions.Jake Quilty-Dunn & Eric Mandelbaum - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):532-547.
    ABSTRACTThis paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian [2014] calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit taking, and then, to analyse explicit taking, we posit (...)
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  6. Polysemy and thought: Toward a generative theory of concepts.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (1):158-185.
    Most theories of concepts take concepts to be structured bodies of information used in categorization and inference. This paper argues for a version of atomism, on which concepts are unstructured symbols. However, traditional Fodorian atomism is falsified by polysemy and fails to provide an account of how concepts figure in cognition. This paper argues that concepts are generative pointers, that is, unstructured symbols that point to memory locations where cognitively useful bodies of information are stored and can be deployed to (...)
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  7. Problems and mysteries of the many languages of thought.Eric Mandelbaum, Yarrow Dunham, Roman Feiman, Chaz Firestone, E. J. Green, Daniel Harris, Melissa M. Kibbe, Benedek Kurdi, Myrto Mylopoulos, Joshua Shepherd, Alexis Wellwood, Nicolas Porot & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2022 - Cognitive Science 46 (12): e13225.
    “What is the structure of thought?” is as central a question as any in cognitive science. A classic answer to this question has appealed to a Language of Thought (LoT). We point to emerging research from disparate branches of the field that supports the LoT hypothesis, but also uncovers diversity in LoTs across cognitive systems, stages of development, and species. Our letter formulates open research questions for cognitive science concerning the varieties of rules and representations that underwrite various LoT-based systems (...)
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  8. Concepts and predication from perception to cognition.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2020 - Philosophical Issues 30 (1):273-292.
    Philosophical Issues, Volume 30, Issue 1, Page 273-292, October 2020.
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  9. Attention and encapsulation.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (3):335-349.
    The question of whether perception is encapsulated from cognition has been a major topic in the study of perception in the past decade. One locus of debate concerns the role of attention. Some theorists argue that attention is a vehicle for widespread violations of encapsulation; others argue that certain forms of cognitively driven attention are compatible with encapsulation, especially if attention only modulates inputs. This paper argues for an extreme thesis: no effect of attention, whether on the inputs to perception (...)
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  10. Perceptual attribution and perceptual reference.Jake Quilty-Dunn & E. J. Green - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (2):273-298.
    Perceptual representations pick out individuals and attribute properties to them. This paper considers the role of perceptual attribution in determining or guiding perceptual reference to objects. We consider three extant models of the relation between perceptual attribution and perceptual reference–all attribution guides reference, no attribution guides reference, or a privileged subset of attributions guides reference–and argue that empirical evidence undermines all three. We then defend a flexible-attributives model, on which the range of perceptual attributives used to guide reference shifts adaptively (...)
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  11. Is Iconic Memory Iconic?Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (3):660-682.
    Short‐term memory in vision is typically thought to divide into at least two memory stores: a short, fragile, high‐capacity store known as iconic memory, and a longer, durable, capacity‐limited store known as visual working memory (VWM). This paper argues that iconic memory stores icons, i.e., image‐like perceptual representations. The iconicity of iconic memory has significant consequences for understanding consciousness, nonconceptual content, and the perception–cognition border. Steven Gross and Jonathan Flombaum have recently challenged the division between iconic memory and VWM by (...)
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  12. Iconicity and the Format of Perception.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2016 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (3-4):255-263.
    According to one important proposal, the difference between perception and cognition consists in the representational formats used in the two systems (Carey, 2009; Burge, 2010; Block, 2014). In particular, it is claimed that perceptual representations are iconic, or image-like, while cognitive representations are discursive, or language-like. Taking object perception as a test case, this paper argues on empirical grounds that it requires discursive label-like representations. These representations segment the perceptual field, continuously pick out objects despite changes in their features, and (...)
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  13. Believing in Perceiving: Known Illusions and the Classical Dual‐Component Theory.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (4):550-575.
    According to a classic but nowadays discarded philosophical theory, perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual sensory states and full-blown propositional beliefs. This classical dual-component theory of experience is often taken to be obsolete. In particular, there seem to be cases in which perceptual experience and belief conflict: cases of known illusions, wherein subjects have beliefs contrary to the contents of their experiences. Modern dual-component theories reject the belief requirement and instead hold that perceptual experience is a complex of nonconceptual (...)
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  14. Unconscious perceptual justification.Jacob Berger, Bence Nanay & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (5-6):569-589.
    Perceptual experiences justify beliefs. A perceptual experience of a dog justifies the belief that there is a dog present. But there is much evidence that perceptual states can occur without being conscious, as in experiments involving masked priming. Do unconscious perceptual states provide justification as well? The answer depends on one’s theory of justification. While most varieties of externalism seem compatible with unconscious perceptual justification, several theories have recently afforded to consciousness a special role in perceptual justification. We argue that (...)
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  15. Believing without Reason, or: Why Liberals Shouldn’t Watch Fox News.Eric Mandelbaum & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2015 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 22:42-52.
  16. Unconscious perception and phenomenal coherence.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):461-469.
    It is an orthodoxy in cognitive science that perception can occur unconsciously. Recently, Hakwan Lau, Megan Peters and Ian Phillips have argued that this orthodoxy may be mistaken. They argue that many purported cases of unconscious perception fail to rule out low degrees of conscious awareness while others fail to establish genuine perception. This paper presents a case of unconscious perception that avoids these problems. It also advances a general principle of ‘phenomenal coherence’ that can insulate some forms of evidence (...)
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  17.  59
    Concept Appraisal.Sapphira R. Thorne, Jake Quilty-Dunn, Joulia Smortchkova, Nicholas Shea & James A. Hampton - 2021 - Cognitive Science 45 (5):e12978.
    This paper reports the first empirical investigation of the hypothesis that epistemic appraisals form part of the structure of concepts. To date, studies of concepts have focused on the way concepts encode properties of objects and the way those features are used in categorization and in other cognitive tasks. Philosophical considerations show the importance of also considering how a thinker assesses the epistemic value of beliefs and other cognitive resources and, in particular, concepts. We demonstrate that there are multiple, reliably (...)
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  18. Non-Inferential Transitions: Imagery and Association.Eric Mandelbaum & Jake Quilty-Dunn - forthcoming - In Timothy Chan & Anders Nes (eds.), Inference and Consciousness. New York, NY, USA:
    Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the “symmetry condition” on Associationism (the idea that associative links and (...)
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  19. The language-of-thought hypothesis as a working hypothesis in cognitive science.Jake Quilty-Dunn, Nicolas Porot & Eric Mandelbaum - 2023 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46:e292.
    The target article attempted to draw connections between broad swaths of evidence by noticing a common thread: Abstract, symbolic, compositional codes, that is, language-of-thoughts (LoTs). Commentators raised concerns about the evidence and offered fascinating extensions to areas we overlooked. Here we respond and highlight the many specific empirical questions to be answered in the next decade and beyond.
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  20. Remnants of Perception: Comments on Block and the Function of Visual Working Memory.Jake Quilty-Dunn - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    This commentary critically examines the view of the relationship between perception and memory in Ned Block's *The Border Between Seeing and Thinking*. It argues that visual working memory often stores the outputs of perception without altering their formats, allowing online visual perception to access these memory representations in computations that unfold over longer timescales and across eye movements. Since Block concedes that visual working memory representations are not iconic, we should not think of perceptual representations as exclusively iconic either.
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  21.  9
    Is Concept Appraisal Modulated by Procedural or Declarative Manipulations?Sapphira R. Thorne, Joulia Smortchkova, Jake Quilty-Dunn, Nicholas Shea & James A. Hampton - 2022 - Frontiers in Psychology 13.
    A recent study has established that thinkers reliably engage in epistemic appraisals of concepts of natural categories. Here, five studies are reported which investigated the effects of different manipulations of category learning context on appraisal of the concepts learnt. It was predicted that dimensions of concept appraisal could be affected by manipulating either procedural factors or declarative factors. While known effects of these manipulations on metacognitive judgements such as category learning judgements and confidence at test were replicated, procedural factors had (...)
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  22. Sensory binding without sensory individuals.Jake Quilty-Dunn - forthcoming - In Aleksandra Mroczko-Wasowicz & Rick Grush (eds.), Sensory Individuals, Properties, & Perceptual Objects: Unimodal and Multimodal Perspectives.
    The capacity for feature binding is typically explained in terms of the attribution model: a perceptual state selects an individual and attributes properties to it (Kahneman & Treisman 1984; Clark 2004; Burge 2010). Thus features are bound together in virtue of being attributed to the same individual. While the attribution model successfully explains some cases of binding in perception, not all binding need be understood as property attribution. This chapter argues that some forms of binding—those involving holistic iconic representations, which (...)
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  23. The outlier paradox: The role of iterative ensemble coding in discounting outliers.Michael Epstein, Jake Quilty-Dunn, Eric Mandelbaum & Tatiana Emmanouil - forthcoming - Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1.
    Ensemble perception—the encoding of objects by their group properties—is known to be resistant to outlier noise. However, this resistance is somewhat paradoxical: how can the visual system determine which stimuli are outliers without already having derived statistical properties of the ensemble? A simple solution would be that ensemble perception is not a simple, one-step process; instead, outliers are detected through iterative computations that identify items with high deviance from the mean and reduce their weight in the representation over time. Here (...)
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  24.  67
    Stand‐Up Comedy, Authenticity, and Assertion.Jesse Rappaport & Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2020 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (4):477-490.
    Stand‐up comedy is often viewed in two contrary ways. In one view, comedians are hailed as providing genuine social insight and telling truths. In the other, comedians are seen as merely trying to entertain and not to be taken seriously. This tension raises a foundational question for the aesthetics of stand‐up: Do stand‐up comedians perform genuine assertions in their performances? This article considers this question in the light of several theories of assertion. We conclude that comedians on stage do not (...)
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  25.  76
    Rationalization is irrational and self-serving, but useful.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43:e42.
    Rationalization through reduction of cognitive dissonance does not have the function of representational exchange. Instead, cognitive dissonance is part of the “psychological immune system” (Gilbert 2006; Mandelbaum 2019) and functions to protect the self-concept against evidence of incompetence, immorality, and instability. The irrational forms of attitude change that protect the self-concept in dissonance reduction are useful primarily for maintaining motivation.
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  26. Unconscious Rationalization, or: How (Not) to Think about Awfulness and Death.Jake Quilty-Dunn - manuscript
    Many contemporary epistemologists take rational inference to be a conscious action performed by the thinker (Boghossian 2014; 2018; Valaris 2014; Malmgren 2018). It is tempting to think that rational evaluability requires responsibility, which in turn requires conscious action. In that case, unconscious cognition involves merely associative or otherwise arational processing. This paper argues instead for deep rationalism: unconscious inference often exhibits the same rational status and richly structured logical character as conscious inference. The central case study is rationalization, in which (...)
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  27.  62
    Believing Our Eyes: The Role of False Belief in the Experience of Cinema BSA Prize Essay, 2014.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2015 - British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (3):269-283.
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  28.  57
    Reid's Doxastic Theory of Perception.Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    Reid endorsed a doxastic theory of perception, on which beliefs are constituents of perceptual experiences. This theory faces the problem of known illusions: we can perceive that p while believing that not-p. Some scholars argue that the problem of known illusions and other problems entail that Reid’s view cannot be charitably interpreted as a doxastic theory. This paper explores Reid’s theoretical commitments with respect to belief acquisition and uses textual evidence to show that his theory is genuinely doxastic. It then (...)
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  29.  60
    Was Reid a Direct Realist?Jake Quilty-Dunn - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (2):302 - 323.
    There are issues in Reid scholarship as well as the primary texts that seem to suggest that Reid is not a direct realist about visual perception. In this paper, I examine two key issues ? colour perception and visible figure ? and attempt to defend the direct realism of Reid's theory through an interpretation of ?directness? as well as what Reid calls ?acquired perception?, which is ?mediate? in that it requires prior perception of signs, but nonetheless constitutes direct perception.
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