There is a new way of thinking about the mind that does not locate mental processes exclusively "in the head." Some think that this expanded conception of the mind will be the basis of a new science of the mind. In this book, leading philosopher Mark Rowlands investigates the conceptual foundations of this new science of the mind. The new way of thinking about the mind emphasizes the ways in which mental processes are embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended. The new (...) way of thinking about the mind, Rowlands writes, is actually an old way of thinking that has taken on new form. Rowlands describes a conception of mind that had its clearest expression in phenomenology -- in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. He builds on these views, clarifies and renders consistent the ideas of embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended mind, and develops a unified philosophical treatment of the novel conception of the mind that underlies the new science of the mind. (shrink)
According to the thesis of the extended mind (EM) , at least some token cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are (partly) composed of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. EM has attracted four ostensibly distinct types of objection. This paper has two goals. First, it argues that these objections all reduce to one basic sort: all the objections can be resolved by the provision of an (...) adequate and properly motivated criterion—or mark—of the cognitive. Second, it provides such a criterion—one made up of four conditions that are sufficient for a process to count as cognitive. (shrink)
In this book, Mark Rowlands challenges the Cartesian view of the mind as a self-contained monadic entity, and offers in its place a radical externalist or environmentalist model of cognitive processes. Cognition is not something done exclusively in the head, but fundamentally something done in the world. Drawing on both evolutionary theory and a detailed examination of the processes involved in perception, memory, thought and language use, Rowlands argues that cognition is, in part, a process whereby creatures manipulate and exploit (...) relevant objects in their environment. It is not simply an internal process of information processing; equally significantly, it is an external process of information processing. This innovative book provides a foundation for an unorthodox but increasingly popular view of the nature of cognition. (shrink)
It is commonly held that our thoughts, beliefs, desires and feelings - the mental phenomena that we instantiate - are constituted by states and processes that occur inside our head. The view known as externalism, however, denies that mental phenomena are internal in this sense. The mind is not purely in the head. Mental phenomena are hybrid entities that straddle both internal state and processes and things occurring in the outside world. The development of externalist conceptions of the mind is (...) one of the most controversial, and arguably one of the most important, developments in the philosophy of mind in the second half of the twentieth century. Yet, despite its significance most recent work on externalism has been highly technical, clouding its basic ideas and principles. Moreover, very little work has been done to locate externalism within philosophical developments in both analytic and continental traditions. In this book, Mark Rowlands aims to remedy both these problems and present for the reader a clear and accessible introduction to the subject grounded in wider developments in the history of philosophy. Rowlands shows that externalism has significant and respectable historical roots that make it much more important than a specific eruption that occurred in late twentieth-century analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The extended mind is the thesis that some mental—typically cognitive—processes are partly composed of operations performed by cognizing organisms on the world around them. The operations in question are ones of manipulation, transformation, or exploitation of environmental structures. And the structures in question are ones that carry information pertinent to the success or efficacy of the cognitive process in question. This essay examines the thesis of the extended mind and evaluates the arguments for and against it.
Can animals act morally? Philosophical tradition answers 'no,' and has apparently convincing arguments on its side. Cognitive ethology supplies a growing body of empirical evidence that suggests these arguments are wrong. This groundbreaking book assimilates both philosophical and ethological frameworks into a unified whole and argues for a qualified 'yes.'.
According to the view that has become known as the extended mind , some token mental processes extend into the cognizing organism’s environment in that they are composed (partly) of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. Enactivist models understand mental processes as (partly) constituted by sensorimotor knowledge and by the organism’s ability to act, in appropriate ways, on environmental structures. Given the obvious similarities between the two views, it is both tempting and common (...) to regard them as essentially variations on the same theme. In this paper, I shall argue that the similarities between enactivist and extended models of cognition are relatively superficial, and the divergences are deeper than commonly thought. (shrink)
In The Nature of Consciousness, Mark Rowlands develops an innovative account of the nature of phenomenal consciousness, one that has significant consequences for attempts to find a place for it in the natural order. The most significant feature of consciousness is its dual nature: consciousness can be both the directing of awareness and that upon which awareness is directed. Rowlands offers a clear and philosophically insightful discussion of the main positions in this fast-moving debate, and argues that the phenomenal aspects (...) of conscious experience are aspects that exist only in the directing of experience towards non-phenomenal objects, a theory that undermines reductive attempts to explain consciousness in terms of what is not conscious. His book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in the philosophy of mind and language, psychology and cognitive science. (shrink)
Animal rights and moral theories -- Arguing for one's species -- Utilitarianism and animals : Peter Singer's case for animal liberation -- Tom Regan : animal rights as natural rights -- Virtue ethics and animals -- Contractarianism and animal rights -- Animal minds.
It is widely accepted, by both friends and foes of animal rights, that contractarianism is the moral theory least likely to justify the assigning of direct moral status to non-human animals. These are not, it is generally supposed, rational agents, and contractarian approaches can grant direct moral status only to such agents. I shall argue that this widely accepted view is false. At least some forms of contractarianism, when properly understood, do, in fact, entail that non-human animals possess direct moral (...) status, independently of their utility for rational agents, and independently of whatever interests rational agents may have in them. The version of contractarianism I shall focus upon is that defended by John Rawls. (shrink)
The question of whether cognition requires representations has engendered heated discussion during the last two decades. I shall argue that the question is, in all likelihood, a spurious one. There may or may not be a fact of the matter concerning whether a given item qualifies as a representation. However, even if there is, attempts to establish whether cognition requires representation have neither practical nor theoretical utility.
Non-human animals (henceforth, “animals”) are typically regarded as moral patients rather than moral agents. Let us define these terms as follows: 1) X is a moral patient if and only if X is a legitimate object of moral concern: that is, roughly, X is something whose interests should be taken into account when decisions are made concerning it or which otherwise impact on it. 2) X is a moral agent if and only if X can be morally evaluated–praised or blamed (...) (broadly understood)–for its motives and actions. Nothing in (1) and (2), of course, rules out one and the same individual being both a moral agent and a patient. Most humans are both. The notion of a moral agent is typically run together with that of a moral subject: 3) X is a moral subject if and only if X is, at least sometimes, motivated to act by moral considerations. However, (2) and (3) are not equivalent: the motivation for an action is one thing, the evaluation of the action quite another; indeed evaluation is often of motivation. As a matter of practice these are, for obvious reasons, run together. But motivation and evaluation are conceptually distinct. This is a claim that many will regard with surprise. In effect, the bulk of this paper can be regarded as an attempt to defend this claim as it applies to the case of animals. In this section, I merely offer some preliminary remarks in its defense. Suppose that my wife, worn down by the domestic squalor that goes with two young boys, a very large dog, and a slovenly husband, has me (unknowingly) hypnotized. Now, whenever she utters the word ‘Rosebud’, I experience an uncontrollable desire to mop the floor. This desire is, it seems, a motivational state, one that when combined with relevant cognitive states (the belief that this is a mop, the belief that this is a floor, and so on) will, ceteris paribus, result in a certain sort of behavior on my part. This floor-mopping, however, is not something for which I can be praised or blamed. Ex hypothesi, it is the result of a motivational state that is outside my control.. (shrink)
Teleological theories of content are thought to suffer from two related difficulties. According to the problem of indeterminacy, biological function is indeterminate in the sense that, in the case of two competing interpretations of the function of an evolved mechanism, there is often no fact of the matter capable of determining which function is the correct one. Therefore, any attempts to construct content out of biological function entail the indeterminacy of content. According to the problem of transparency, statements of biological (...) function are transparent in that a statement of the form 'the function of evolved mechanism M is to represent Fs' can be substituted salva veritate by a statement of the form 'the function of evolved mechanism M is to represent Gs' provided that the statement 'F iff G' is counterfactual supporting. Therefore, any attempt to construct content out of biological function must fail to capture the intensionality of psychological ascriptions. This paper argues that the teleological account is undermined by neither of these problems. Failure to appreciate this point stems from a conflation of two types of proper function - organismic and algorithmic - possessed by an evolved mechanism. These functions underwrite attributions of content to distinct objects. The algorithmic proper function of a mechanism underwrites attributions of content to the mechanism itself, while the organismic proper function of a mechanism underwrites attribution of content to the organism that possesses the mechanism. However the problems of indeterminacy and transparency arise only if the attributions of content attach to the same object. (shrink)
This paper explores certain facets of Christine Korsgaard’s paper, ‘Prospects for a Naturalistic Explanation of the Good’. Korsgaard’s account requires that an animal be able to experience ‘herself trying to get or avoid something’. The claim that animals possess such self-awareness is regarded by many as problematic and, if this is correct, it would jeopardize Korsgaard’s account. This paper argues that animals can, in fact, be aware of themselves in the way required by Korsgaard’s account.
This paper explores the concept of _sensorimotor activity_ that is central to the enactive model of visual perception developed in Alva Noë’s book, _Action in Perception_. The appeal to sensorimotor activity is, I shall argue, subject to a dilemma. On one interpretation, such activity presupposes representational states, and therefore is unable to aid us in the project of understanding how an organism is able to represent the world. On the other interpretation, sensorimotor activity fails to accommodate the essential normativity of (...) representational states, and is therefore also unable to aid us in the project of understanding representation. The solution, I argue, lies in a new conception of sensorimotor activity, according to which such activity is normative, but where this normativity is not inherited from prior representational states. (shrink)
The concept of action is playing an increasingly prominent role in attempts to explain how subjects can represent the world. The idea is that at least some of the role traditionally assigned to internal representations can, in fact, be played by the ability of subjects to act on the world, and the exercise of that ability on appropriate occasions. This paper argues that the appeal to action faces a serious dilemma. If the concept of action employed is a representational one, (...) then the appeal to action is circular: representation has been presupposed rather than explained. However, if the concept of action employed is a non-representational one, then the appeal to action will be inadequate: in particular, the appeal will fail to account for the normativity of representation. The way out of this dilemma is to develop a conception of action that is normative, but where this normativity is not inherited from the action's connection to distinct representational states. The normative status of such actions would be sui generis. This paper argues that such a conception of action is available. (shrink)
The question of the nature and extent of our moral obligations to non-human animals has featured prominently in recent moral debate. This book defends the novel position that a contradictarian moral theory can be used to justify the claim that animals possess a substantial and wide-ranging set of moral rights. Critiquing the rival accounts of Peter Singer and Tom Regan, this study shows how an influential form of the social contract idea can be extended to make sense of the concept (...) of animal rights. (shrink)
Through the examination of the lives of several immortal beings, this paper defends a version of Moritz Schlick’s claim that the meaning of life is play. More precisely: a person’s life has meaning to the extent it there are things in it that the person values intrinsically rather than merely instrumentally and above a certain threshold of intensity. This is a subjectivist account of meaning in life. I defend subjectivism about meaning in life from common objections by understanding statements about (...) life’s meaning in quasi-realist terms. (shrink)
Much recent work on cognition is characterized by an augmentation of the role of action coupled with an attenuation of the role of representation. This coupling is no accident. The appeal to action is seen either as a way of explaining representation or explaining it away. This paper argues that the appeal to action as a way of explaining, supplementing, or even supplanting, representation can lead to a serious dilemma. On the one hand, the concept of action to which we (...) appeal cannot, on pain of circularity, be a representational concept. Such an appeal would presuppose representation and therefore can neither explain it nor explain it away. On the other hand, I shall argue, if the concept of action to which we appeal is not a representational one, there is every reason for supposing that it will not be the sort of thing that can explain, or supplement, let alone supplant, representation. The resulting dilemma, I shall argue, is not fatal. But avoiding it requires us to embrace a certain thesis about the nature of action, a thesis whose broad outline this paper delineates. Anyone who wishes to employ action as a way of explaining or explaining away representation should, I shall argue, take this conception of action very seriously indeed. I am going to discuss these issues with respect to a influential recent contribution to this debate: the sensorimotor or enactive model of perception developed by Kevin O’Regan and Alva Noë. (shrink)
This chapter begins with a presentation of Frege’s reflections on the concept of sense and how it has been misread as leading to a philosophy based on psychologism. This is helpful because the focus of this chapter is based on the psychological—specifically, conscious experiences defined by there being something it is like to have them. An extended account of states that are both conscious and intentional is also discussed, claiming that the intentional directedness of experiences consists in disclosing activity, and (...) that this disclosing activity typically involves neural processes, bodily processes, and things done in and to the world. This intentional directedness is used to argue the point for an extended model of conscious experience. (shrink)
Enactivism has, perhaps, come to mean different things to different people. The version of enactivism that I am going to build on in this paper is that defended in my book The New Science of the Mind (henceforth NSM). That view is, I think, recognizably enactivist. Others might disagree, and I myself not only characterized it in other terms but was careful to distinguish it from other views that fall under the rubric "enactivist." However, the view I defended is, I (...) think, recognizably enactivist to the extent it regards cognition as, in part, made up of processes whereby an individual manipulates, transforms, and/or exploits structures in its environment. These structures carry information that is relevant to the cognitive task in which the individual is engaged, and the processes are ones that transform this information from information that is merely present to information that is available to the individual. This was a common theme of all my ruminations on this topic, all the way back to The Body in Mind. (shrink)
Most recent discussions of phenomenal consciousness are predicated on two deeply entrenched assumptions. The first is objectualism, the claim that what it is like to undergo an experience is something of which we are or can be aware in the having of that experience. The second is internalism, the claim that what it is like to undergo an experience is constituted by states, events and processes that are located inside the skins of experiencing subjects. This paper argues that both assumptions (...) should be rejected. What it is like to undergo an experience is not an object of consciousness but something that exists in the directing of consciousness towards objects. What it is like to undergo an experience is not something of which we are aware, but something in virtue of which we are aware. And there is little reason for supposing that the directing of consciousness towards its objects is something that occurs exclusively inside the skins of experiencing subjects. On the contrary, directing of consciousness towards its objects is often extended, involving acts of worldly probing and exploration. (shrink)
Phenomenal consciousness, what it is like to have or undergo an experience, is typically understood as an empirical item â an actual or possible object of consciousness. Accordingly, the problem posed by phenomenal consciousness for materialist accounts of the mind is usually understood as an empirical problem: a problem of showing how one sort of empirical item â a conscious state â is produced or constituted by another â a neural process. The development of this problem, therefore, has usually consisted (...) in the articulation of an intuition: no matter how much we know about the brain, this will not allow us to see how it produces or constitutes phenomenal consciousness. Developing a theme first explored by Kant, and then later by Sartre, this paper argues that the real problem posed by phenomenal consciousness is quite different. Consciousness, it will be argued, is not an empirical but a transcendental feature of the world. That is, what it is like to have an experience is not something of which we are aware in the having of that experience, but an item in virtue of which the genuine objects of our consciousness are revealed as being the way they are. Phenomenal consciousness, that is, is not an empirical object of awareness but a transcendental condition of the possibility of there being empirical objects of awareness. (shrink)
This paper argues that an ecological approach to psychology of the sort advanced by J. J. Gibson provides a coherent and powerful alternative to the computational, information-processing, paradigm. The paper argues for two principles. Firstly, one cannot begin to understand what internal information processing an organism must accomplish until one understands what information is available to the organism in its environment. Secondly, an organism can process information by acting on or manipulating physical structures in its environment. An attempt is made (...) to show how these principles can be extended to cognition as a whole. It is suggested that these principles may have a foundation in evolutionary biology. (shrink)
There is a problem of representation and an apparatus of representations that was devised to solve this problem. This paper has two purposes. First, it will show why the problem of representation outstrips the apparatus of representations in the sense that the problem survives the demise of the apparatus. Secondly, it will argue that the question of whether cognition does or not involve representations is a poorly defined question, and far too crude to be helpful in understanding the nature of (...) cognitive processes. (shrink)
To adopt a first-person perspective on consciousness is typically understood as a matter of inwardly engaging one's awareness in such a way as to make one's conscious states and their properties into objects of awareness. When awareness is thus inwardly engaged, experience functions as both act and object of awareness. As objects of awareness, an experience-token and its various properties are items of which a subject is aware. As an act of awareness, an experience-token is that in virtue of which (...) items - in this case, other experience-tokens and their properties - can appear, to a subject, as objects of awareness. The precise nature of the relation between experience functioning as act and as object is a matter of dispute. However, two broad possibilities can be distinguished: (1) as acts of awareness, experiences reveal other experiences to subjects by way of a form of direct, unmediated, acquaintance, (2) as acts of awareness experiences reveal other experiences to subjects by way of modes of presentation of those experiences. I shall argue against (1). Possibility (2), I shall argue, entails a form of representationalism about experiences: experiences are defined by their representational role. However, (2) also yields a crucial but largely neglected consequence of representationalism: necessarily, in any given experience, there is an aspect of this experience that must be understood in terms of its representational role but cannot be understood in terms of its representational content. I shall call this the ineliminable intentional core of the experience. The ineliminable intentional core of the experience is, necessarily, not an object of inwardly engaged awareness. This entails a significant revision in the way we think about the concept of the first-person perspective, and of what it is to study consciousness from the inside. (shrink)
In this chapter, the focus switches from perception to memory. I shall argue that the sort of principles which emerged in the discussion of perception also apply to the case of memory. More precisely, I shall argue that precise analogues of the principles P1–P4 occur for at least some memory processes. Consequently, at least some memory processes can be understood not as purely internal processes, but as a series of interactions between a remembering organism and its environment. For at least (...) some memory processes, that is, there is no respectable theoretical reason for regarding them as purely internal processes. On the contrary, although not all forms of remembering necessarily involve interactions between organisms and environments, none the less the type of memory peculiar to modern human beings is typically made up of both internal and external processes, and, hence, the cognitive structures responsible for this type of memory are essentially environment-involving. (shrink)
The Philosopher at the End of the Universe demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacular, expensive, high-octane films on the planet. Learn about: The Nature of Reality from The Matrix, Good and Evil from Star Wars, Morality from Aliens, (...) Personal Identity from Total Recall, The Mind-Body dilemma from Terminator, Free Will from Minority Report, Death and the Meaning of Life from Blade Runner, and much more. A search for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us with a star-studded cast that includes: Tom Cruise, Plato, Harrison Ford, Immanuel Kant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigourney Weaver, René Descartes, and Keanu Reeves. Rowlands anchors his discussions in easily understood everyday terms and relates them in a manner easy to identify with. Interspersed with a ready joke or two, he wonderfully explains why those SciFi movies we love so much are much deeper than they appear to be on the surface. Mark Rowlands's entertaining and stimulating guide is perfect for anyone searching for knowledge of the world around us. If Keanu can understand Descartes surely everyone can. (shrink)
The ability to engage in reflexive thought—in thought about thought or about other mental states more generally—is regarded as a complex intellectual achievement that is beyond the capacities of most nonhuman animals. To the extent that reflexive thought capacities are believed necessary for the possession of many other psychological states or capacities, including consciousness, belief, emotion, and empathy, the inability of animals to engage in reflexive thought calls into question their other psychological abilities. This chapter attacks the idea that reflexive (...) thought is required in this pervasive way and holds that supposing that it is derives from a tendency among philosophers and scientists toward overcomplication. Against this tendency, it recommends an aponoian framework, from apó, “away from” and noûs, “intelligence” or “thought,” arguing that seemingly complex psychological abilities are often not as complex as they seem, and do not require the ability to engage in reflexive thought. (shrink)
In an influential critique, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn point to the existence of a potentially devastating dilemma for connectionism (Fodor and Pylyshyn ). Either connectionist models consist in mere associations of unstructured representations, or they consist in processes involving complex representations. If the former, connectionism is mere associationism, and will not be capable of accounting for very much of cognition. If the latter, then connectionist models concern only the implementation of cognitive processes, and are, therefore, not informative at the (...) level of cognition. I shall argue that Fodor and Pylyshyn's argument is based on a crucial misunderstanding, the same misunderstanding which motivates the entire language of thought hypothesis. (shrink)
The theses of embodied and extended cognition are usually regarded as recherché doctrines, at odds with common sense. They are also, typically, regarded as theses that must be evaluated by way of their implications for the development of cognitive science. If they cohere with the likely trajectory of cognitive science they can be accepted. If they do not, they must be rejected. This paper argues against both these claims. At the conceptual heart of the theses of embodied and extended cognition (...) is an analysis of intentionality as revealing activity, and the theses are mundane implications of this analysis. Moreover, since the analysis is not something that can be gleaned from cognitive science or philosophical reflections on cognitive science, the theses of embodied and extended cognition are not ones that can be adjudicated by appeals to what cognitive science does or is likely to do in the future. The theses of embodied and extended cognition are philosophical theses—not theses of cognitive science—and none the worse for that. (shrink)