Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the one’s attention (...) cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
Gareth Evans famously affirmed an explanatory connection between answering the question whether p and knowing whether one believes that p. This is commonly interpreted in terms of the idea that judging that p constitutes an adequate basis for the belief that one believes that p. This paper formulates and defends an alternative, more modest interpretation, which develops from the suggestion that one can know that one believes that p in judging that p.
Commonsense epistemology regards perceptual experience as a distinctive source of knowledge of the world around us, unavailable in ‘blindsight’. This is often interpreted in terms of the idea that perceptual experience, through its representational content, provides us with justifying reasons for beliefs about the world around us. I argue that this analysis distorts the explanatory link between perceptual experience and knowledge, as we ordinarily conceive it. I propose an alternative analysis, on which representational content plays no explanatory role: we make (...) perceptual knowledge intelligible by appeal to experienced objects and features. I also present an account of how the commonsense scheme, thus interpreted, is to be defended: not by tracing the role of experience to its contribution in meeting some general condition on propositional knowledge (such as justification), but by subverting the assumption that it has to be possible to make the role of experience intelligible in terms of some such contribution. (shrink)
In recent years there has been much psychological and neurological work purporting to show that consciousness and self-awareness play no role in causing actions, and indeed to demonstrate that free will is an illusion. The essays in this volume subject the assumptions that motivate such claims to sustained interdisciplinary scrutiny. The book will be compulsory reading for psychologists and philosophers working on action explanation, and for anyone interested in the relation between the brain sciences and consciousness.
This paper has two themes. One is the question of how to understand the relation between inner speech and knowledge of one’s own thoughts. My aim here is to probe and challenge the popular neo-Rylean suggestion that we know our own thoughts by ‘overhearing our own silent monologues’, and to sketch an alternative suggestion, inspired by Ryle’s lesser-known discussion of thinking as a ‘serial operation’. The second theme is the question whether, as Ryle apparently thought, we need two different accounts (...) of the epistemology of thinking, corresponding to the distinction between thoughts with respect to which we are active vs passive. I suggest we should be skeptical about the assumption that there is a single distinction here. There are a number of interesting ways in which thinking can involve passivity, but they provide no support for a ‘bifurcationist’ approach to the epistemology of thinking. (shrink)
According to Jaspers, claims to the effect that one's thoughts, impulses, or actions are controlled by others belong to those schizophrenic symptoms that are not susceptible to any psychological explanation. In opposition to Jaspers, it has recently been suggested that such claims can be made intelligible by distinguishing two ingredients in our common sense notion of ownership of a thought: It is one thing for a thought to occur in my stream of consciousness; it is another for it to be (...) interpretable in terms of my propositional attitudes. I argue that this distinction cannot be sustained and pursue an alternative suggestion, drawing on Louis Sass's "solipsist interpretation" of schizophrenia. (shrink)
This chapter argues that recent attempts to make sense of the delusion of thought insertion in terms of a distinction between two notions of thought ownership have been unsuccessful. It also proposes an alternative account, in which the delusion is to be interpreted in the light of its prehistory.
According to David Velleman, it is part of the ‘commonsense psychology’ of intentional agency that an agent can know what she will do without relying on evidence, in virtue of intending to do it. My question is how this claim is to be interpreted and defended. I argue that the answer turns on the commonsense conception of calculative practical reasoning, and the link between such reasoning and warranted claims to knowledge. I also consider the implications of this argument for Velleman's (...) project of vindicating the commonsense view by showing it to be consistent with an ‘evidentialist’ epistemology. (shrink)
We argue for teleology as a description of the way in which we ordinarily understand others’ intentional actions. Teleology starts from the close resemblance between the reasoning involved in understanding others’ actions and one’s own practical reasoning involved in deciding what to do. We carve out teleology’s distinctive features more sharply by comparing it to its three main competitors: theory theory, simulation theory, and rationality theory. The plausibility of teleology as our way of understanding others is underlined by developmental data (...) in its favour. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be aware of others as subjects of mental states is often construed as the question of how we are epistemically justified in attributing mental states to others. The dominant answer to this latter question is that we are so justified in virtue of grasping the role of mental states in explaining observed behaviour. This chapter challenges this picture and formulates an alternative by reflecting on the interpretation of early joint attention interactions. It argues (...) that the standard picture is committed to an implausible account of children's awareness of the co-attender's focus of attention. On a more natural interpretation, children engaged in joint attention perceptually recognize the co-attender's attitude to some object, as something like the (correct) answer to the question of what the object is like. The developmentally basic case is not that of attributing mental states as the causes of observed behaviour but of understanding perceived attitudes and actions as appropriate responses to the shared world. The chapter concludes by exploring how this developmental claim bears on mature adult knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
The causal theory of action is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency--the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology. Some of the contributors defend the theory while others criticize it; some draw from historical sources while others (...) focus on recent developments; some rely on the tools of analytic philosophy while others cite the latest empirical research on human action. All agree, however, on the centrality of the CTA in the philosophy of action. The contributors first consider metaphysical issues, then reasons-explanations of action, and, finally, new directions for thinking about the CTA. They discuss such topics as the tenability of some alternatives to the CTA; basic causal deviance; the etiology of action; teleologism and anticausalism; and the compatibility of the CTA with theories of embodied cognition. Two contributors engage in an exchange of views on intentional omissions that stretches over four essays, directly responding to each other in their follow-up essays. As the action-oriented perspective becomes more influential in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, this volume offers a long-needed debate over foundational issues. Contributors: Fred Adams, Jesus H. Aguilar, John Bishop, Andrei A. Buckareff, Randolph Clarke, Jennifer Hornsby, Alicia Juarrero, Alfred R. Mele, Michael S. Moore, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Josef Perner, Johannes Roessler, David-Hillel Ruben, Carolina Sartorio, Michael Smith, Rowland Stout. (shrink)
First-person present-tense self-ascriptions of belief are often used to tell others what one believes. But they are also naturally taken to express the belief they ostensibly report. I argue that this second aspect of self-ascriptions of belief holds the key to making the speaker's knowledge of her belief, and so the authority of her act of telling, intelligible. For a basic way to know one's beliefs is to be aware of what one is doing in expressing them. This account suggests (...) that we need to reconsider the terms of the standard alternative between “epistemic” and “non-epistemic” explanations of first-person authority. In particular, the natural view that the authority we accord to self-ascriptions reflects a distinctive way we have of knowing our own beliefs should not be conflated with the traditional epistemological thesis that such knowledge reflects a private “mode of access”. (shrink)
Perceptual experience, that paradigm of subjectivity, constitutes our most immediate and fundamental access to the objective world. At least, this would seem to be so if commonsense realism is correct — if perceptual experience is (in general) an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects, and a source of direct knowledge of what such objects are like. Commonsense realism raises many questions. First, can we be more precise about its commitments? Does it entail any particular conception of the nature of perceptual experience (...) and its relation to perceived objects, or any particular view of the way perception yields knowledge? Second, what explains the apparent intuitive appeal of commonsense realism? Should we think of it as a kind of folk theory held by most human adults or is there a sense in which we are pre-theoretically committed to it — in virtue of the experience we enjoy or in virtue of the concepts we use or in virtue of the explanations we give? Third, is commonsense realism defensible, in the face of formidable challenges from epistemology, metaphysics and cognitive science? The project of the present volume is to advance our understanding of these issues and thus to shed light on the commitments and credentials of commonsense realism. As you may have guessed from the title, the volume also aims to highlight the key role the concept of causation plays in these debates. Central issues to be addressed include the status and nature of causal requirements on perception, the causal role of perceptual experience, and the relation between objective perception and causal thinking — issues that, as many chapters in the volume bring out, are inseparable from concerns with the very nature of causation. (shrink)
There is converging evidence that over the course of the second year children become good at various fairly sophisticated forms of pro-social activities, such as helping, informing and comforting. Not only are toddlers able to do these things, they appear to do them routinely and almost reliably. A striking feature of these interventions, emphasized in the recent literature, is that they show precocious abilities in two different domains: they reflect complex ‘ theory of mind’ abilities as well as ‘altruistic motivation’. (...) Our aim in this paper is to present a theoretical hypothesis that bears on both kinds of developments. The suggestion is that children’s ‘instrumental helping’ reflects their budding understanding of practical reasons. We can put the basic idea in the familiar terminology of common coding : toddlers conceive of the goals of others’ actions in the same format as the goals of their own actions: in terms of features of their situation that provide us with reasons to act. (shrink)
Leading philosophers & psychologists offer an assessment of the commonsense view that perceptual experience is an immediate awareness of mind-independent objects. They examine the nature of perception, its role in the acquisition of knowledge, the role of causation in perception, & how perceptual understanding develops in humans.
How are causal judgements such as 'The ice on the road caused the traffic accident' connected with counterfactual judgements such as 'If there had not been any ice on the road, the traffic accident would not have happened'? This volume throws new light on this question by uniting, for the first time, psychological and philosophical approaches to causation and counterfactuals. Traditionally, philosophers have primarily been interested in connections between causal and counterfactual claims on the level of meaning or truth-conditions. More (...) recently, however, they have also increasingly turned their attention to psychological connections between causal and counterfactual understanding or reasoning. At the same time, there has been a surge in interest in empirical work on causal and counterfactual cognition amongst developmental, cognitive, and social psychologists--much of it inspired by work in philosophy. In this volume, twelve original contributions from leading philosophers and psychologists explore in detail what bearing empirical findings might have on philosophical concerns about counterfactuals and causation, and how, in turn, work in philosophy might help clarify the issues at stake in empirical work on the cognitive underpinnings of, and relationships between, causal and counterfactual thought. (shrink)
_The Sub ject of Con scious ness_ is a rich, strik ingly orig i nal and ambi tious work. It makes an impor tant and timely con tri bu tion to cur rent debates on a num ber of issues which over the last few years have been tak ing cen tre stage in the phi los o phy of mind: for exam ple, self-consciousness, selec tive atten tion and the nature of bodily aware ness. What makes this achieve ment (...) some what unusual, and all the more remark able, is that _The Sub ject of Con scious ness_ was pub lished thirty years ago (Evans, 1970). The reviews it received at the time ranged from the hos tile to the deri sory. (shrink)