This article has two goals. First, it synthesizes and critically assesses current scientific knowledge about the cognitive bases of human tool use. Second, it shows how the cognitive traits reviewed help to explain why technological accumulation evolved so markedly in humans, and so modestly in apes.
The Credit Theory of Knowledge (CTK)—as expressed by such figures as John Greco, Wayne Riggs, and Ernest Sosa—holds that knowing that p implies deserving epistemic credit for truly believing that p . Opponents have presented three sorts of counterexamples to CTK: S might know that p without deserving credit in cases of (1) innate knowledge (Lackey, Kvanvig); (2) testimonial knowledge (Lackey); or (3) perceptual knowledge (Pritchard). The arguments of Lackey, Kvanvig and Pritchard, however, are effective only in so far as (...) one is willing to accept a set of controversial background assumptions (for instance, that innate knowledge exists or that doxastic voluntarism is wrong). In this paper I mount a fourth argument against CTK, that doesn’t rest on any such controversial premise, and therefore should convince a much wider audience. In particular, I show that in cases of extended cognition (very broadly conceived), the most salient feature explaining S ’s believing the truth regarding p may well be external to S , that is, it might be a feature of S ’s (non-human, artifactual) environment. If so, the cognitive achievement of knowing that p is not (or only marginally) creditable to S , and hence, CTK is false. (shrink)
This paper contributes to explaining the rise of logical empiricism in mid-twentieth century (North) America and to a better understanding of American philosophy of science before the dominance of logical empiricism. We show that, contrary to a number of existing histories, philosophy of science was already a distinct subfield of philosophy, one with its own approaches and issues, even before logical empiricists arrived in America. It was a form of speculative philosophy with a concern for speculative metaphysics, normative issues relating (...) to science and society and issues which later were associated with logical empiricist philosophy of science, issues such as confirmation, scientific explanation, reductionism and laws of nature. Further, philosophy of science was not primarily pragmatist in orientation. We also show, with the help of our historical characterization, that a recent account of the emergence of analytic philosophy applies to the rise of logical empiricism. It has been argued that the emergence of American analytic philosophy is partly explained by analytic philosophers’ use of key institutions, including of journals, to marginalize speculative philosophy and promote analytic philosophy. We argue that this use of institutions included the marginalization of speculative and value-laden philosophy of science and the promotion of logical empiricism. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper is concerned with the reasons for the emergence and dominance of analytic philosophy in America. It closely examines the contents of, and changing editors at, The Philosophical Review, and provides a perspective on the contents of other leading philosophy journals. It suggests that analytic philosophy emerged prior to the 1950s in an environment characterized by a rich diversity of approaches to philosophy and that it came to dominate American philosophy at least in part due to its effective promotion (...) by The Philosophical Review’s editors. Our picture of mid-twentieth-century American philosophy is different from existing ones, including those according to which the prominence of analytic philosophy in America was basically a matter of the natural affinity between American philosophy and analytic philosophy and those according to which the political climate at the time was hostile towards non-analytic approaches. Furthermore, our reconstruction suggests a new perspective on the nature of 1950s analytic philosophy. (shrink)
At some point during the 1950s, mainstream American philosophy of science began increasingly to avoid questions about the role of non-cognitive values in science and, accordingly, increasingly to avoid active engagement with social, political and moral concerns. Such questions and engagement eventually ceased to be part of the mainstream. Here we show that the eventual dominance of 'value-free' philosophy of science can be attributed, at least in part, to the policies of the U.S. National Science Foundation's "History and Philosophy of (...) Science" sub-program. In turn, the sub-program's policies were set by logical empiricists who espoused value-free philosophy of science; these philosophers' actions, we also point out, fit a broad pattern, one in which analytic philosophers used institutional control to marginalize rival approaches to philosophy. We go on to draw on existing knowledge of this pattern to suggest two further, similar, contributors to the withdrawal from value-laden philosophy of science, namely decisions by the editors of Philosophy of Science and by the editors of The Journal of Philosophy. Political climate was, we argue, at most an indirect contributor to the withdrawal and was neither a factor that decided whether it occurred nor one that was sufficient to bring it about. Moreover, we argue that the actions at the National Science Foundation went beyond what was required by its senior administrators and are better viewed as part of what drove, rather than as what was being driven by, the adoption of logical empiricism by the philosophy of science community. (shrink)
Armchair philosophers have questioned the significance of recent work in experimental philosophy by pointing out that experiments have been conducted on laypeople and undergraduate students. To challenge a practice that relies on expert intuitions, so the armchair objection goes, one needs to demonstrate that expert intuitions rather than those of ordinary people are sensitive to contingent facts such as cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, or educational background. This article does exactly that. Based on two empirical studies on populations of 573 and 203 (...) trained philosophers, respectively, it demonstrates that expert intuitions vary dramatically according to at least one contingent factor, namely, the linguistic background of the expert: philosophers make different intuitive judgments if their native language is English rather than Dutch, German, or Swedish. These findings cast doubt on the common armchair assumption that philosophical theories based on armchair intuitions are valid beyond the linguistic background against which they were developed. (shrink)
Michael Weisberg has argued that robustness analysis is useful in evaluating both scientific models and their implications and that robustness analysis comes in three types that share their form and aim. We argue for three cautionary claims regarding Weisberg's reconstruction: robustness analysis may be of limited or no value in evaluating models and their implications; the unificatory reconstruction conceals that the three types of robustness differ in form and role; there is no confluence of types of robustness. We illustrate our (...) central first claim with a case study: the application of Lotka-Volterra models to technology diffusion. (shrink)
In 2006, in a special issue of this journal, several authors explored what they called the dual nature of artefacts. The core idea is simple, but attractive: to make sense of an artefact, one needs to consider both its physical nature—its being a material object—and its intentional nature—its being an entity designed to further human ends and needs. The authors construe the intentional component quite narrowly, though: it just refers to the artefact’s function, its being a means to realize a (...) certain practical end. Although such strong focus on functions is quite natural , I argue in this paper that an artefact’s intentional nature is not exhausted by functional considerations. Many non-functional properties of artefacts—such as their marketability and ease of manufacture—testify to the intentions of their users/designers; and I show that if these sorts of considerations are included, one gets much more satisfactory explanations of artefacts, their design, and normativity.Keywords: Artefacts; Dual Nature program; Function; Intentionality; Normativity. (shrink)
Ronald Giere embraces the perspective of distributed cognition to think about cognition in the sciences. I argue that his conception of distributed cognition is flawed in that it bears all the marks of its predecessor; namely, individual cognition. I show what a proper (i.e. non-individual) distributed framework looks like, and highlight what it can and cannot do for the philosophy of science.
Elsewhere, I have challenged virtue epistemology and argued that it doesn’t square with mundane cases of extended cognition. Kelp (forthcoming, this journal) and Greco (forthcoming) have responded to my charges, the former by questioning the force of my argument, the latter by developing a new virtue epistemology. Here I consider both responses. I show first that Kelp mischaracterizes my challenge. Subsequently, I identify two new problems for Greco’s new virtue epistemology.
This article is concerned with one of the notable but forgotten research strands that developed out of French nineteenth-century positivism, a strand that turned attention to the study of scientific discovery and was actively pursued by French epistemologists around the turn of the nineteenth century. I first sketch the context in which this research program emerged. I show that the program was a natural offshoot of French neopositivism; the latter was a current of twentieth-century thought that, even if implicitly, challenged (...) the positivism of first-generation positivists such as Comte. I then survey what French epistemologists—including Ernest Naville, Élie Rabier, Pierre Duhem, Édouard Le Roy, Abel Rey, André Lalande, Théodule-Armand Ribot, Edmond Goblot, and Jacques Picard, among others—had to say about the logic, psychology, and sociology of discovery. My story demonstrates the inaccuracy of existing historical accounts of the philosophical study of scientific discovery. (shrink)
This chapter provides the background to the American women philosophers’ works that are introduced and collected in Knowledge, Mind and Reality: An Introduction by Early Twentieth-Century American Women Philosophers. We describe the institutional context which made these works possible and their methodological and theoretical background. We also provide biographies for their authors.
About three decades ago, the late Ronald Giere introduced a new framework for teaching scientific reasoning to science students. Giere’s framework presents a model-based alternative to the traditional statement approach—in which scientific inferences are reconstructed as explicit arguments, composed of (single-sentence) premises and a conclusion. Subsequent research in science education has shown that model-based approaches are particularly effective in teaching science students how to understand and evaluate scientific reasoning. One limitation of Giere’s framework, however, is that it covers only one (...) type of scientific reasoning, namely the reasoning deployed in hypothesis-driven research practices. In this paper, we describe an extension of the framework. More specifically, we develop an additional model-based scheme that captures reasoning in application-oriented practices (which are very well represented in contemporary science). Our own teaching experience suggests that this extended framework is able to engage a wider audience than Giere’s original. With an eye on going beyond such anecdotal evidence, we invite our readers to test out the framework in their own teaching. (shrink)
Dennett has argued that when people interpret artifacts and other designed objects ( such as biological items ) they rely on optimality considerations , rather than on designer's intentions. On his view , we infer an item's function by finding out what it is best at; and such functional attribution is more reliable than when we depend on the intention it was developed with. This paper examines research in cognitive psychology and archaeology , and argues that Dennett's account is implausible. (...) We conclude that , quite in contrast to Dennett , intentional considerations play a crucial role in artifact hermeneutics , and even stronger , are necessary for the sake of simplicity and precision. Finally , we question Dennett's contention that the interpretation of artifacts is the same project as the interpretation of any other designed entity. (shrink)
This chapter uses the distinction between speculative and analytic philosophy as a background against which to present the summaries of the articles on the nature of philosophy by Mary Whiton Calkins, Dorothy Walsh and Marjorie Glicksman. Calkins and Walsh (in her first contribution) examine the relationship between philosophy and metaphysics: Calkins identifies philosophy with speculative metaphysics while Walsh argues that any ethical theory requires some underlying speculative metaphysics. In Walsh’s second contribution, she further argues that philosophical language rightly is characteristically (...) different from the languages of science, logic and poetry. Glicksman, finally, addresses the question how to deal with the multiplicity of views concerning the nature of philosophy. (shrink)
This chapter introduces the articles by Marie C. Swabey, Thelma Z. Lavine, Grace A. de Laguna and Dorothy Walsh on the objectivity of scientific knowledge. We will see Swabey placing herself outside the historicist traditions of (later) authors (e.g., Thomas Kuhn), and arguing that the rationality and objectivity of science are grounded in synthetic a priori justified logical principles. Lavine and de Laguna, by contrast, embrace socio-historical approaches to the study of science, thus anticipating later developments in philosophy of science. (...) Still, whereas Lavine embraces a relativist notion of objectivity, de Laguna argues that science, at least in some respects, actually is universally valid. Walsh, finally, like Swabey, believes in context-independent objectivity that is grounded in metaphysics, but like de Laguna and Lavine, contends that such objectivity is discipline-specific. (shrink)
There is a surge of attempts to draw out the epistemological consequences of views according to which cognition is deeply embedded, embodied and/or extended. The principal machinery used for doing so is that of analytic epistemology. Here I argue that Dewey's pragmatic epistemology may be better fit to the task. I start by pointing out the profound similarities between Dewey's view on cognition and that emerging from literature of more recent date. Crucially, the benefit of looking at Dewey is that (...) Dewey, unlike contemporary writers, also devises a corresponding epistemology. I then identify two senses in which contemporary analytic epistemology conflicts with e-cog—concluding from that the superiority of the Deweyian framework, at least as it concerns accommodating e-cog. (shrink)
Dubreuil (Biol Phil 25:53–73, 2010b , this journal) argues that modern-like cognitive abilities for inhibitory control and goal maintenance most likely evolved in Homo heidelbergensis , much before the evolution of oft-cited modern traits, such as symbolism and art. Dubreuil’s argument proceeds in two steps. First, he identifies two behavioral traits that are supposed to be indicative of the presence of a capacity for inhibition and goal maintenance: cooperative feeding and cooperative breeding. Next, he tries to show that these behavioral (...) traits most likely emerged in Homo heidelbergensis . In this paper, I show that neither of these steps are warranted in light of current scientific evidence, and thus, that the evolutionary background of human executive functions, such as inhibition and goal maintenance, remains obscure. Nonetheless, I suggest that cooperative breeding might mark a crucial step in the evolution of our species: its early emergence in Homo erectus might have favored a social intelligence that was required to get modernity really off the ground in Homo sapiens. (shrink)
Evolutionary anthropologists and archaeologists have been considerably successful in modelling the cumulative evolution of culture, of technological skills and knowledge in particular. Recently, one of these models has been introduced in the philosophy of science by De Cruz and De Smedt (Philos Stud 157:411–429, 2012), in an attempt to demonstrate that scientists may collectively come to hold more truth-approximating beliefs, despite the cognitive biases which they individually are known to be subject to. Here we identify a major shortcoming in that (...) attempt: De Cruz & De Smedt’s mathematical model makes one particularly strong tractability assumption that causes the model to largely miss its target (namely, truth accumulation in science), and that moreover conflicts with empirical observations. The second, more constructive part of the paper presents an alternative, agent-based model, which allows one to much better examine the conditions for scientific progress and decline. (shrink)
The consensus among cultural evolutionists seems to be that human cultural evolution is cumulative, which is commonly understood in the specific sense that cultural traits, especially technological traits, increase in complexity over generations. Here we argue that there is insufficient credible evidence in favor of or against this technological complexity thesis. For one thing, the few datasets that are available hardly constitute a representative sample. For another, they substantiate very specific, and usually different versions of the complexity thesis or, even (...) worse, do not point to complexity increases. We highlight the problems our findings raise for current work in cultural-evolutionary theory, and present various suggestions for future research. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Currie and Meneganzin (Biol Phil, 2022, 37, 50) critically engage with a recent demographic explanation of the demise of Neanderthals (Vaesen et al. 2019). Currie and Meneganzin suggest that, contrary to how it is (supposedly) presented, Vaesen et al.’s explanation is not (and in fact, could never be) ‘stand-alone’, i.e., competition and environmental factors always interfere with demographic ones. Here I argue that Currie and Meneganzin misconstrue what the study in question does and does not purport (...) to show. I conclude that, in the relevant sense, the explanation Vaesen et al. provide is a standalone demographic one. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that there are — at least — two kinds of normativity in technological practice. The first concerns what engineers ought to do and the second concerns normative statements about artifacts. The claim is controversial, since the standard approach to normativity, namely normative realism, actually denies artifacts any kind of normativity; according to the normative realist, normativity applies exclusively to human agents. In other words, normative realists hold that only “human agent normativity” is a genuine form (...) of normativity.I will argue that normative realism is mistaken on this point. I will mainly draw on material of Daniel Dennett and Philip Pettit to show that it makes sense to talk about artifactual normativity. We claim that this approach can also make sense of human agent normativity — or more specifically “engineer normativity”. Moreover, it avoids some of the problems formulated by opponents of normative realism. Thus I will develop a strategy which: (i) makes sense of artifactual normativity; and (ii) makes sense of “human agent normativity”, specifically “engineer normativity”. (shrink)
This book is the first volume featuring the work of American women philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. It provides selected papers authored by Mary Whiton Calkins, Grace Andrus de Laguna, Grace Neal Dolson, Marjorie Glicksman Grene, Marjorie Silliman Harris, Thelma Zemo Lavine, Marie Collins Swabey, Ellen Bliss Talbot, Dorothy Walsh and Margaret Floy Washburn. The book also provides the historical and philosophical background to their work. The papers focus on the nature of philosophy, knowledge, the philosophy (...) of science, the mind-matter nexus, the nature of time, and the question of freedom and the individual. The material is suitable for scholars, researchers and advanced philosophy students interested in (history of) philosophy; theories of knowledge; philosophy of science; mind, and reality. (shrink)
In my response to the commentaries from a collection of esteemed researchers, I reassess and eventually find largely intact my claim that human tool use evidences higher social and non-social cognitive ability. Nonetheless, I concede that my examination of individual-level cognitive traits does not offer a full explanation of cumulative culture yet. For that, one needs to incorporate them into population-dynamic models of cultural evolution. I briefly describe my current and future work on this.
In his attempt to find cognitive traits that set humans apart from nonhuman primates with respect to tool use, Vaesen overlooks the primacy of the environment toward the use of which behavior evolves. The occurrence of a particular behavior is a result of how that behavior has evolved in a complex and changing environment selected by a unique population.
In this chapter, Dorothy Walsh examines the natures of the language of science and logic, the language of poetry, and the language of philosophy. She argues that each of these languages has its own distinct form of excellence.
Chimpanzees, but very few other animals, figure prominently in attempts to reconstruct the evolution of uniquely human traits. In particular, the chimpanzee is used to identify traits unique to humans, and thus in need of reconstruction; to initialize the reconstruction, by taking its state to reflect the state of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees; as a baseline against which to test evolutionary hypotheses. Here I point out the flaws in this three-step procedure, and show how they can (...) be overcome by taking advantage of much broader phylogenetic comparisons. More specifically, I explain how such comparisons yield more reliable estimations of ancestral states and how they help to resolve problems of underdetermination inherent to chimpocentric accounts. To illustrate my points, I use a recent chimpocentric argument by Kitcher. (shrink)
This paper defends the claim that there are — at least — two kinds of normativity in technological practice. The first concerns what engineers ought to do and the second concerns normative statements about artifacts. The claim is controversial, since the standard approach to normativity, namely normative realism, actually denies artifacts any kind of normativity; according to the normative realist, normativity applies exclusively to human agents. In other words, normative realists hold that only “human agent normativity” is a genuine form (...) of normativity.I will argue that normative realism is mistaken on this point. I will mainly draw on material of Daniel Dennett and Philip Pettit to show that it makes sense to talk about artifactual normativity. We claim that this approach can also make sense of human agent normativity — or more specifically “engineer normativity”. Moreover, it avoids some of the problems formulated by opponents of normative realism. Thus I will develop a strategy which: makes sense of artifactual normativity; and makes sense of “human agent normativity”, specifically “engineer normativity”. (shrink)
We argue that Osirak's and Reynaud's technological-reasoning hypothesis raises conceptual and methodological challenges. Interrelations between technical potential and expertise leave it unclear exactly what the technical-reasoning hypothesis encompasses. We submit that it is compatible with a range of hypotheses that are difficult to differentiate empirically.