Embodied cognition often challenges standard cognitive science. In this outstanding introduction, Lawrence Shapiro sets out the central themes and debates surrounding embodied cognition, explaining and assessing the work of many of the key figures in the field, including George Lakoff, Alva Noë, Andy Clark, and Arthur Glenberg. Beginning with an outline of the theoretical and methodological commitments of standard cognitive science, Shapiro then examines philosophical and empirical arguments surrounding the traditional perspective. He introduces topics such as dynamic systems theory, ecological (...) psychology, robotics, and connectionism, before addressing core issues in philosophy of mind such as mental representation and extended cognition. Including helpful chapter summaries and annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, _Embodied Cognition_ is essential reading for all students of philosophy of mind, psychology, and cognitive science. (shrink)
A line of research within embodied cognition seeks to show that an organism’s body is a determinant of its conceptual capacities. Comparison of this claim of body determinism to linguistic determinism bears interesting results. Just as Slobin’s (1996) idea of thinking for speaking challenges the main thesis of linguistic determinism, so too the possibility of thinking for acting raises difficulties for the proponent of body determinism. However, recent studies suggest that the body may, after all, have a determining role in (...) cognitive processes of sentence comprehension. (shrink)
Since Hilary Putnam offered multiple realization as an empirical hypothesis in the 1960s, philosophical consensus has turned against the idea that mental processes are identifiable with brain processes, and multiple realization has become the keystone of the 'antireductive consensus' across philosophy of science. Thomas W. Polger and Lawrence A. Shapiro offer the first book-length investigation of multiple realization, which serves as a starting point to a series of philosophically sophisticated and empirically informed arguments that cast doubt on the generality of (...) multiple realization in the cognitive sciences. They argue that mind-brain identities have played an important role in the growth and achievements of the cognitive sciences, and suggest that there is little prospect for multiple realization in an empirically-based theory of mind. This leads Polger and Shapiro to offer an alternative framework for understanding explanations in the cognitive sciences, as well as in chemistry, biology, and other non-basic sciences. (shrink)
Shapiro tests these hypotheses against two rivals, the mental constraint thesis and the embodied mind thesis. Collecting evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and embodied cognition) he concludes that the multiple realizability thesis, accepted by most philosophers as a virtual truism, is much less obvious than commonly assumed, and that there is even stronger reason to give up the separability thesis. In contrast to views of mind that tempt us to see the mind as simply being (...) resident in a brain or body, Shapiro argues for a far more encompassing integration of mind, brain, and body than philosophers have supposed. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
Embodied cognition is one of the foremost areas of study and research in philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology and cognitive science. The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition is an outstanding guide and reference source to the key philosophers, topics and debates in this exciting subject and essential reading for any student and scholar of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Comprising over thirty chapters by a team of international contributors, the Handbook is divided into six parts: Historical Underpinnings Perspectives (...) on Embodied Cognition Applied Embodied Cognition: Perception, Language and Reasoning Applied Embodied Cognition: Social and Moral Cognition and Emotion Applied Embodied Cognition: Memory, Attention and Group Cognition Meta-Topics. The early chapters of the Handbook cover empirical and philosophical foundations of embodied cognition, focusing on Gibsonian, phenomenological and cybernetic approaches. Subsequent chapters cover additional, important themes common to work in embodied cognition, incuding embedded , extended and enactive cognition as well as chapters on embodied cognition and empirical research in perception, language, reasoning, social and moral cognition, emotion, consciousness, memory and learning and development. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim's causal exclusion argument has rarely been evaluated from an empirical perspective. This is puzzling because its conclusion seems to be making a testable claim about the world: supervenient properties are causally inefficacious. An empirical perspective, however, reveals Kim's argument to rest on a mistaken conception about how to test whether a property is causally efficacious. Moreover, the empirical perspective makes visible a metaphysical bias that Kim brings to his argument that involves a principle of non-inclusion.
When conceived as an empirical claim, it is natural to wonder how one might test the hypothesis of multiple realization. I consider general issues of testability, show how they apply specifically to the hypothesis of multiple realization, and propose an auxiliary assumption that, I argue, must be conjoined to the hypothesis of multiple realization to ensure its testability. I argue further that Bechtel and Mundale go astray because they fail to appreciate the need for this auxiliary assumption. †To contact the (...) author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Carl Gillett has defended what he calls the “dimensioned” view of the realization relation, which he contrasts with the traditional “flat” view of realization (2003, 2007; see also Gillett 2002). Intuitively, the dimensioned approach characterizes realization in terms of composition whereas the flat approach views realization in terms of occupiers of functional roles. Elsewhere we have argued that the general view of realization and multiple realization that Gillett advances is not able to discharge the theoretical duties of those relations (Shapiro (...) 2004, unpublished manuscript; Polger 2004, 2007, forthcoming). Here we focus on an internal objection to Gillett’s account and then raise some broader reasons to reject it. (shrink)
Christian List and Peter Menzies 2009 have looked to interventionist theories of causation for an answer to Jaegwon Kim's causal exclusion problem. Important to their response is the idea of realization-insensitivity. However, this idea becomes mired in issues concerning multiple realization, leaving it unable to fulfil its promise to block exclusion. After explaining why realization-insensitivity fails as a solution to Kim's problem, I look to interventionism to describe a different kind of solution.
Many who advocate dynamical systems approaches to cognitive science believe themselves committed to the thesis of extended cognition and to the rejection of representation. I argue that this belief is false. In part, this misapprehension rests on a warrantless re-conception of cognition as intelligent behavior. In part also, it rests on thinking that conceptual issues can be resolved empirically. Once these issues are sorted out, the way is cleared for a dynamical systems approach to cognition that is free to retain (...) the standard conception of cognition as taking place in the head, and over representations. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Proponents of mechanistic explanation have recently suggested that all explanation in the cognitive sciences is mechanistic, even functional explanation. This last claim is surprising, for functional explanation has traditionally been conceived as autonomous from the structural details that mechanistic explanations emphasize. I argue that functional explanation remains autonomous from mechanistic explanation, but not for reasons commonly associated with the phenomenon of multiple realizability. 1Introduction 2Mechanistic Explanation: A Quick Primer 3Functional Explanation: An Example 4Autonomy as Lack of Constraint 5The Price (...) of Autonomy 6Another Argument against Autonomy 7Conclusion: Autonomy and Multiple Realization. (shrink)
_Arguing About the Mind_ is an accessible, engaging introduction to the core questions in the philosophy of mind. This collection offers a selection of thought-provoking articles that examine a broad range of issues from the mind and body relation to animal and artificial intelligence. Topics addressed include: the problem of consciousness; the nature of the mind; the relationship between the mind, body and world; the notion of selfhood; pathologies and behavioural problems; animal, machine and extra-terrestrial intelligence. The editors provide lucid (...) introductions to each section, give an overview of the debate and outline the arguments of the papers. An original and stimulating reader, _Arguing About the Mind_ is ideal for students new to the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Issues of identity and reduction have monopolized much of the philosopher of mind’s time over the past several decades. Interestingly, while investigations of these topics have proceeded at a steady rate, the motivations for doing so have shifted. When the early identity theorists, e.g. U. T. Place ( 1956 ), Herbert Feigl ( 1958 ), and J. J. C. Smart ( 1959 , 1961 ), fi rst gave voice to the idea that mental events might be identical to brain processes, (...) they had as their intended foil the view that minds are immaterial substances. But very few philosophers of mind today take this proposal seriously. Why, then, the continued interest in identity and reduction? Th e concern, as philosophers like Hilary Putnam and Jerry Fodor have expressed it, is that a victory for identity or reduction is a defeat for psychology. For if minds are physical, or if mental events are physical events, then psychologists might as well disassemble their laboratories, making room for the neuroscientists and molecular biologists who are in a better position to explain those phenomena once misdescribed as “psychological.” Th e worry nowadays is not that locating thought in immaterial souls will make psychology intractable, but that locating thoughts in material brains will make it otiose. (shrink)
Fodor (1990) argues that the theory of evolution by natural selection will not help to save naturalistic accounts of representation from the disjunction problem. This is because, he claims, the context 'was selected for representing things as F' is transparent to the substitution of predicates coextensive with F. But, I respond, from an evolutionary perspective representational contexts cannot be transparent: only under particular descriptions will a representational state appear as a "solution" to a selection "problem" and so be adaptive. Only (...) when we construe representational states as opaque in this manner are the generalizations of branches of evolutionary theory, like foraging theory, possible. (shrink)
Quite unexpectedly, cognitive psychologists find their field intimately connected to a whole new intellectual landscape that had previously seemed remote, unfamiliar, and all but irrelevant. Yet the proliferating connections tying together the cognitive and evolutionary communities promise to transform both fields, with each supplying necessary principles, methods, and a species of rigor that the other lacks. (Cosmides and Tooby, 1994, p. 85).
Prominent defenders of the extended cognition thesis have looked to evolutionary theory for support. Roughly, the idea is that natural selection leads one to expect that cognitive strategies should exploit the environment, and exploitation of the right sort results in a cognitive system that extends beyond the head of the organism. I argue that proper appreciation of evolutionary theory should create no such expectation. This leaves open whether cognitive systems might in fact bear a relationship to the environment that leads (...) to their extension. *Received July 2009; revised January 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, 600 North Park Street, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Frances Egan argues that the states of computational theories of vision are individuated individualistically and, as far as the theory is concerned, are not intentional. Her argument depends on equating the goals and explanatory strategies of computational psychology with those of its algorithmic level. However, closer inspection of computational psychology reveals that the computational level plays an essential role in explaining visual processes and that explanations at this level are nonindividualistic and intentional. In conclusion, I sketch an account of content (...) in which content does the sort of explanatory work that Egan denies is possible. (shrink)
Successful athletic performance requires precision in many respects. A batter stands behind home plate awaiting the arrival of a ball that is less than three inches in diameter and moving close to 100 mph. His goal is to hit it with a bat that is also less than three inches in diameter. This impressive feat requires extraordinary temporal and spatial coordination. The sweet spot of the bat must be at the same place, at the same time, as the ball. A (...) basketball player must keep a ball bouncing as she speeds from one end of the court to another, evading defensive players. She may never break pace as she lifts from the ground, throwing the ball fifteen feet toward a hoop that is eighteen inches in diameter. One task facing a psychologist involves explaining how the body does such things within the sometimes very demanding spatial and temporal constraints that a given task imposes. Part of the goal of this chapter is to sketch the commitments of an embodied approach to such an explanation. We shall see that an embodied account of motor skills draws concepts that depart radically from more traditional cognitivist theories of motor activity. Similarly, because an embodied approach to cognition introduces new ways to understand the human capacity for social interaction, it also promises to shed new light on how athletes coordinate their actions with each other. (shrink)
In The Bounds of Cognition, Fred Adams and Kenneth Aizawa treat the arguments for extended cognition to withering criticism. I summarize their main arguments and focus special attention on their distinction between the extended cognitive system hypothesis and the extended cognition hypothesis, as well as on their demand for a mark of the mental.
Unifying traditional cognitive science is the idea that thinking is a process of symbol manipulation, where symbols lead both a syntactic and a semantic life. The syntax of a symbol comprises those properties in virtue of which the symbol undergoes rule-dictated transformations. The semantics of a symbol constitute the symbolsÕ meaning or representational content. Thought consists in the syntactically determined manipulation of symbols, but in a way that respects their semantics. Thus, for instance, a calculating computer sensitive only to the (...) shape of symbols might produce the symbol Ô5Õ in response to the inputs Ô2Õ, Ô+Õ, and Ô3Õ. As far as the computer is concerned, these symbols have no meaning, but because of its program it will produce outputs that, to the user, Òmake senseÓ given the meanings the user attributes to the symbols. (shrink)
While there is controversy over which of several naturalistic theories of the mental is most plausible, there is consensus regarding the desideratum of a naturalistically respectable theory. A naturalistic theory of the mental, it is agreed, must explicate representation in nonintentional terms. I argue that this constraint does not get at the heart of what it is to be natural. On the one hand, it fails to provide us with a meaningful distinction between the natural and the unnatural. On the (...) other hand, it unfairly suggests that we withhold judgment on those successes our sciences of the mind have already achieved until a convincing decomposition of the mental is available. I urge a new conception of naturalism that focuses less upon ontological considerations and more upon methodological ones. (shrink)
Jaegwon Kim has argued that if psychological kinds are multiply realizable then no single psychological theory can describe regularities ranging over psychological states. Instead, psychology must be fractured, with human psychology covering states realized in the human way, martian psychology covering states realized in the martian way, and so on. I show that even if one accepts the principles that motivate Kim.
The discovery of mirror neurons has been hailed as one of the most exciting developments in neuroscience in the past few decades. These neurons discharge in response to the observation of others’ actions. But how are we to understand the function of these neurons? In this paper I defend the idea that mirror neurons are best conceived as components of a sensory system that has the function to perceive action. In short, mirror neurons are part of a hitherto unrecognized “sixth (...) sense”. In this spirit, research should move toward developing a psychophysics of mirror neurons. (shrink)
Ketelaar and Ellis have provided a remarkably clear and succinct statement of Lakatosian philosophy of science and have also argued compellingly that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution fills the Lakatosian criteria of progressivity. We find ourselves in agreement with much of what Ketelaar and Ellis say about Lakatosian philosophy of science, but have some questions about (1) the place of evolutionary psychology in a Lakatosian framework, and (2) the extent to which evolutionary psychology truly predicts new findings.
Many philosophers and psychologists who approach the issue of representation from a computational or measurement theoretical perspective end up having to deny the possibility of junk representations?representations present in an organism's head but that enter into no psychological processes or produce no behaviour. However, I argue, a more functional perspective makes the possibility of junk representations intuitively quite plausible?so much so that we may wish to question those views of representation that preclude the possibility of junk representations. I explore some (...) of the reasons we should care about the possibility of junk representations and conclude with some speculation about whether junk representations are in fact present in our heads. (shrink)
Andy Clark's Supersizing the Mind begins as a manifesto in which the components of an embodied theory of mind are carefully moved into place, proceeds to a defense of these components from recent critical attacks, and ends with words of caution to those who would seek to extract too much from the embodied perspective. Readers unfamiliar with Clark's earlier works are likely to find the result dazzling -- an exciting, novel, and coherent conception of the mind that dares one to (...) abandon nearly every vestige of a comfortably Cartesian view of mind. Of course, philosophers of mind have, for the most part, already jettisoned the idea that minds are an ethereal sort of non-physical substance. We can now assert with no great temerity that Descartes was wrong about that. Even so, one might still agree with Descartes that minds are in some sense distinct from bodies. They are, as it were, in the head. Yet, if Clark's case for embodiment is on track, minds are not in the head. The supervenience base for a mind (and not simply mental content) can include pieces of the extracranial body and, indeed, objects in the world beyond. (shrink)
Since the founding of psychophysics in the latter half of the nineteenth century, controversy has raged over the subject matter of psychophysical laws. Originally, Fechner characterized psycho physics as the science describing the relation between physical magnitudes and the sensations these magnitudes produce in us. Today many psycho-physicists would deny that sensation is or could be a topic of psycho-physical investigation. I consider Savage's (1970) influential objections to the possibility of such an investigation and argue that they depend upon (i) (...) holding psychophysics to higher standards than those to which we hold other sciences; and (ii) misrepresenting Fechner's stated goals for psychophysics. (shrink)
By now, even the kid down the street must be familiar with the functionalist's response to type-identity physicalism. Mental kinds like pain, love, the belief that Madison sits on an isthmus, etc., are not identical to physical kinds because it's conceptually possible that entities physically distinct in kind from human beings experience pain, love, beliefs that Madison sits on an isthmus, etc. Type-identity physicalism, in short, is baselessly chauvinistic in its rejection of the possibility of nonhuman minds.