I argue that the feeling that one is the owner of his or her mentalstates is not an intrinsic property of those states. Rather, it consists in a contingent relation between consciousness and its intentional objects. As such, there are (a variety of) circumstances, varying in their interpretive clarity, in which this relation can come undone. When this happens, the content of consciousness still is apprehended, but the feeling that the content “belongs to me” no longer (...) is secured. I discuss the implications of a mechanism enabling personal ownership for understanding a variety of clinical syndromes as well normal mental function. (shrink)
In the philosophical literature on mentalstates, the paradigmatic examples of mentalstates are beliefs, desires, intentions, and phenomenal states such as being in pain. The corresponding list in the psychological literature on mental state attribution includes one further member: the state of knowledge. This article examines the reasons why developmental, comparative and social psychologists have classified knowledge as a mental state, while most recent philosophers--with the notable exception of Timothy Williamson-- have not. (...) The disagreement is traced back to a difference in how each side understands the relationship between the concepts of knowledge and belief, concepts which are understood in both disciplines to be closely linked. Psychologists and philosophers other than Williamson have generally have disagreed about which of the pair is prior and which is derivative. The rival claims of priority are examined both in the light of philosophical arguments by Williamson and others, and in the light of empirical work on mental state attribution. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend Non-Inferentialism about mentalstates, the view that we can perceive some mentalstates in a direct, non-inferential way. First, I discuss how the question of mental state perception is to be understood in light of recent debates in the philosophy of perception, and reconstruct Non-Inferentialism in a way that makes the question at hand—whether we can perceive mentalstates or not—scientifically tractable. Next, I motivate Non-Inferentialism by showing that (...) under the assumption of the widely-accepted Principle of Cognitive Economy, any account that treats mental state perception as an inferential process commits itself to an unrealistically inefficient picture of our cognitive architecture. Drawing on research in cognitive science, I will then show that my Non-Inferentialist view receives direct support by the available empirical evidence. I conclude that there is no psychologically relevant sense in which perception of mentalstates differs from paradigmatic cases of perception, such as the perception of ordinary objects. (shrink)
The side-effect effect, in which an agent who does not speci␣cally intend an outcome is seen as having brought it about intentionally, is thought to show that moral factors inappropriately bias judgments of intentionality, and to challenge standard mental state models of intentionality judgments. This study used matched vignettes to dissociate a number of moral factors and mentalstates. Results support the view that mentalstates, and not moral factors, explain the side-effect effect. However, the (...) critical mentalstates appear not to be desires as proposed in standard models, but rather ‘deeper’ evaluative states including values and core evaluative attitudes. (shrink)
Factive mentalstates, such as knowing or being aware, can only link an agent to the truth; by contrast, nonfactive states, such as believing or thinking, can link an agent to either truths or falsehoods. Researchers of mental state attribution often draw a sharp line between the capacity to attribute accurate states of mind and the capacity to attribute inaccurate or “reality-incongruent” states of mind, such as false belief. This article argues that the contrast (...) that really matters for mental state attribution does not divide accurate from inaccurate states, but factive from nonfactive ones. (shrink)
Cognitive neuroscientists frequently talk about the brain representing the world. Some philosophers claim that this is a confusion. This paper argues that there is no confusion, and outlines one thing that might mean, using the notion of a model derived from the philosophy of science. This description is then extended to make apply to propositional attitude attributions. A number of problems about propositional attitude attributions can be solved or dissolved by treating propositional attitudes as models.
Perhaps because both explanation and prediction are key components to understanding, philosophers and psychologists often portray these two abilities as though they arise from the same competence, and sometimes they are taken to be the same competence. When explanation and prediction are associated in this way, they are taken to be two expressions of a single cognitive capacity that differ from one another only pragmatically. If the difference between prediction and explanation of human behavior is merely pragmatic, then anytime I (...) predict someone’s future behavior, I would at that moment also have an explanation of the behavior. I argue that advocates of both the theory theory and the simulation theory accept the symmetry of psychological prediction and explanation. However, there is very good reason to believe that this hypothesis is false. Just as we can predict the occurrence of some physical phenomena that we have no explanation for, we are also able to make accurate predictions of intentional behavior without having an explanation. Rather than requiring mental state attribution, I argue that the prediction of human behavior is most often accomplished by statistical induction rather than through an appeal to mentalstates. However, explanations are not given in these terms. (shrink)
Among psychologists, it is widely thought that infants well under age 3, monkeys, apes, birds, and dogs have been shown to have rudimentary capacities for representing and attributing mentalstates or relations. I believe this view to be mistaken. It rests on overinterpreting experiments. It also often rests on assuming that one must choose between taking these individuals to be mentalists and taking them to be behaviorists. This assumption underestimates a powerful nonmentalistic, nonbehavioristic explanatory scheme that centers on (...) attributing action with targets and on causation of action by interlocking, internal conative, and sensory states. Neither action with targets, nor conative states, nor sensing entails mentality. The scheme can attribute conative states and relations, efficiency, sensory states and relations, sensory retention, sensory anticipation, affect, and appreciation of individual differences. The scheme can ground explanations of false belief tests that do not require infants or nonhuman animals to use language. After the scheme is explained and applied, it is contrasted with other, superficially similar schemes proposed in the literature---for example, those of Gergely and Csibra, Wellman and Gopnik, Perner and Roessler, Flavell, and Apperly and Butterfill. Better methods for testing are briefly discussed. (shrink)
What makes certain mentalstates subject to evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, and others arational? In this paper, I develop and defend an account that explains why belief is governed by, and so appropriately subject to, evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification, one that does justice to the complexity of our evaluative practice in this domain. Then, I sketch out a way of extending the account to explain when and why other (...) kinds of mentalstates are rationally evaluable. I argue that the cognitive or psychological mechanisms that give rise to and sustain our mentalstates help to render our mentalstates appropriate targets for evaluation with respect to norms of rationality and justification when the operation of these mechanisms is responsive, in a specific way, to our judgments about which kinds of considerations constitute rationalizing and justifying reasons for being in states of the relevant sort. (shrink)
I discuss here the nature of nonconscious mentalstates and the ways in which they may differ from their conscious counterparts. I first survey reasons to think that mentalstates can and often do occur without being conscious. Then, insofar as the nature of nonconscious mentality depends on how we understand the nature of consciousness, I review some of the major theories of consciousness and explore what restrictions they may place on the kinds of states (...) that can occur nonconsciously. I close with a discussion of what makes a state mental, if consciousness is not the mark of the mental. (shrink)
Functionalists think an event's causes and effects, its 'causal role', determines whether it is a mental state and, if so, which kind. Functionalists see this causal role principle as supporting their orthodox materialism, their commitment to the neuroscientist's ontology. I examine and refute the functionalist's causal principle and the orthodox materialism that attends that principle.
: The question I address in this paper is whether there is a version of mental state welfarism that can be coherent with the thesis that we have a legitimate concern for non‐experiential goals. If there is not, then we should reject mental state welfarism. My thesis is that there is such a version. My argument relies on the distinction between “reality‐centered desires” and “experience‐centered desires”. Mental state welfarism can accommodate our reality‐centered desires and our desire that (...) they be objectively satisfied. My general strategy is, at the level of the value theory, somewhat analogous to the strategy that indirect consequentialism applies at the level of moral obligation theory. To test my argument, I appeal to Nozick's well‐known example of the Experience Machine. (shrink)
Some philosophers have conflated functionalism and computationalism. I reconstruct how this came about and uncover two assumptions that made the conflation possible. They are the assumptions that (i) psychological functional analyses are computational descriptions and (ii) everything may be described as performing computations. I argue that, if we want to improve our understanding of both the metaphysics of mentalstates and the functional relations between them, we should reject these assumptions.
Theory of mind, the capacity to understand and ascribe mentalstates, has traditionally been conceptualized as analogous to a scientific theory. However, recent work in philosophy and psychology has documented a "side-effect effect" suggesting that moral evaluations influence mental state ascriptions, and in particular whether a behavior is described as having been performed 'intentionally.' This evidence challenges the idea that theory of mind is analogous to scientific psychology in serving the function of predicting and explaining, rather than (...) evaluating, behavior. In three experiments, we demonstrate that moral evaluations do inform ascriptions of intentional action, but that this relationship arises because behavior that conforms to norms (moral or otherwise) is less informative about underlying mentalstates than is behavior that violates norms. This analysis preserves the traditional understanding of theory of mind as a tool for predicting and explaining behavior, but also suggests the importance of normative considerations in social cognition. (shrink)
The opposition between behaviour- and mind-reading accounts of data on infants and non-human primates could be less dramatic than has been thought up to now. In this paper, I argue for this thesis by analysing a possible neuro-computational explanation of early mind-reading, based on a mechanism of associative generalization which is apt to implement the notion of mentalstates as intervening variables proposed by Andrew Whiten. This account allows capturing important continuities between behaviour-reading and mind-reading, insofar as both (...) are supposed to be just different kinds of generalization from perceptual experience. Specifically, I will argue that the projection of inner experiences to others which is involved in early mind-reading does not imply a computational leap beyond associative generalization from perceptual experience. (shrink)
Certain measurement-related constructions impose a requirement that the measure function used track the part-whole structure of the domain of measurement, so that a given entity or eventuality must have a larger measurement in the chosen dimension than any of its salient proper parts. I provide evidence from English and Chinese that these constructions can be used to measure the intensity of mentalstates like hatred and love, indicating that in the natural language ontology of such states, intensity (...) correlates with part-whole structure. A natural language metaphysics of psychological intensity meeting this requirement is then developed and integrated into the semantics. Further complications arise when looking at attitudes like want, wish, and regret, which also permit measurements of intensity in the relevant constructions. To account for such attitudes, the ontology and semantics are then enriched in a way that integrates ordering and quantification over possible worlds into the part-whole structure of attitude states, so that even in these more complicated cases, the constructions at hand have a unified compositional semantics. (shrink)
Collecting the work of linguists, psychologists, neuroscientists, archaeologists, artificial intelligence researchers and philosophers this volume presents a richly varied picture of the nature and function of mentalstates. Starting from questions about the cognitive capacities of the early hominin homo floresiensis, the essays proceed to the role mental representations play in guiding the behaviour of simple organisms and robots, thence to the question of which features of its environment the human brain represents and the extent to which (...) complex cognitive skills such as language acquisition and comprehension are impaired when the brain lacks certain important neural structures. Other papers explore topics ranging from nativism to the presumed constancy of categorization across signed and spoken languages, from the formal representation of metaphor, actions and vague language to philosophical questions about conceptual schemes and colours. Anyone interested in mentalstates will find much to reward them in this fine volume. (shrink)
It is argued that Nozick's experience machine thought experiment does not pose a particular difficulty for mental state theories of well-being. While the example shows that we value many things beyond our mentalstates, this simply reflects the fact that we value more than our own well-being. Nor is a mental state theorist forced to make the dubious claim that we maintain these other values simply as a means to desirable mentalstates. Valuing more (...) than our mentalstates is compatible with maintaining that the impact of such values upon our well-being lies in their impact upon our mental lives. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper is concerned with the mental processes involved in intentional communication. I describe an agent's cognitive architecture as the set of cognitive dynamics (i.e., sequences of mentalstates with contents) she may entertain. I then describe intentional communication as one such specific dynamics, arguing against the prevailing view that communication consists in playing a role in a socially shared script. The cognitive capabilities needed for such dynamics are midreading (i.e., the ability to reason upon another (...) individual's mentalstates), and communicative planning (i.e., the ability to dynamically represent and act in a communicative situation). (shrink)
The debate between the theory-theory and simulation has largely ignored issues of cognitive architecture. In the philosophy of psychology, cognition as symbol manipulation is the orthodoxy. The challenge from connectionism, however, has attracted vigorous and renewed interest. In this paper I adopt connectionism as the antecedent of a conditional: If connectionism is the correct account of cognitive architecture, then the simulation theory should be preferred over the theory-theory. I use both developmental evidence and constraints on explanation in psychology to support (...) this claim. (shrink)
The nature of consciousness has long been a central concern for philosophers of the mind. My purpose in this paper is to argue that it is the existence of some unconscious mentalstates which poses problems for the action theory of belief. Showing their existence to be compatible with theory is not straightforward, and requires an account of unconscious belief and desire which is at odds with that favoured by many action-theorists.
We criticize attempts to define hope in terms of other psychological states and argue that hope is a primitive mental state whose nature can be illuminated by specifying key aspects of its functional profile.
We argue that the causal account offered by analytic functionalism provides the best account of the folk psychological theory of mind, and that people ordinarily define mentalstates relative to the causal roles these states occupy in relation to environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mentalstates. We present new empirical evidence, as well as review several key studies on mental state ascription to diverse types of entities such as robots, cyborgs, corporations and God, (...) and explain how this evidence supports a functional account. We also respond to two challenges to this view based on the embodiment hypothesis, or the claim that physical realizers matter over and above functional role, and qualia. In both cases we conclude that research to date best supports a functional account of ordinary mental state concepts. (shrink)
Relatively poor memory for dreams is important evidence for Hobson et al.'s model of conscious states. We describe the time-gap experience as evidence that everyday memory for waking states may not be as good as they assume. As well as being surprisingly sparse, everyday memories may themselves be systematically distorted in the same manner that Revonsuo attributes uniquely to dreams. [Hobson et al.; Revonsuo].
The meaning and significance of Benjamin Libet’s studies on the timing of conscious will have been widely discussed, especially by those wishing to draw sceptical conclusions about conscious agency and free will. However, certain important correctives for thinking about mentalstates and processes undermine the apparent simplicity and logic of Libet’s data. The appropriateness, relevance and ecological validity of Libet’s methods are further undermined by considerations of how we ought to characterise intentional actions, conscious intention, and what it (...) means to act with conscious intent. Recent extensions of Libet’s paradigm using fMRI and decision-based tasks suffer from similar limitations. The result is that these sorts of laboratory studies of isolated, trivial, decontextualized bodily movements, in a context of extended (conscious) intentional experimental participation and cooperation, are of dubious and potentially misleading relevance to the study of agency. (shrink)
The reason for characterizing mentalstates as propositional attitudes is sentence form: ‘S Vs that p’. However, many mentalstates are not ascribed by means of such sentences, and the sentences that ascribe them cannot be appropriately paraphrased. Moreover, even if a paraphrase were always available, that in itself would not establish the characterization. And the mentalstates that are ascribable by appropriate senses do not form any natural subset of mentalstates. (...) A reason for the characterization relying on beliefs, etc., about non‐existing things is also rejected. Last, some sentences ascribing abilities and dispositions have the same grammatical form as some senses that ascribe mentalstates, so that the attempt to paraphrase the latter would obscure the conceptual relations between the two sorts. It follows that mentalstates are not relations to propositions. (shrink)
This theory regards intentions as mentalstates, e.g., attitudes, which, typically, have causal power. But we do not speak of our intentions as having such powers. Instead, we speak of a person's resolve, determination, or his anxiety, eagerness, and so forth, as the ‘powers’ that move us. Of course, one desires for various reasons to carry out his various intentions but that desire is not a component of the intentions. An intention is, roughly, the course of action that (...) one has adopted, so it has no such components. There are other characteristics of intentions which the mental state idea of intentions does not share. Intentions do not have the temporal characteristics that mentalstates have, or share the curious context dependency that intentions have. And since, according to the theory, mentalstates operate causally, it would not be possible for a person to commit himself to a course of action as we ordinarily do when we make a promise or sign an agreement or contract. (shrink)
The emergence of mentalstates from neural states by partitioning the neural phase space is analyzed in terms of symbolic dynamics. Well-deﬁned mentalstates provide contexts inducing a criterion of structural stability for the neurodynamics that can be implemented by particular partitions. This leads to distinguished subshifts of ﬁnite type that are either cyclic or irreducible. Cyclic shifts correspond to asymptotically stable ﬁxed points or limit tori whereas irreducible shifts are obtained from generating partitions of (...) mixing hyperbolic systems. These stability criteria are applied to the discussion of neural correlates of consiousness, to the deﬁnition of macroscopic neural states, and to aspects of the symbol grounding problem. In particular, it is shown that compatible mental descriptions, topologically equivalent to the neurodynamical description, emerge if the partition of the neural phase space is generating. If this is not the case, mental descriptions are incompatible or complementary. Consequences of this result for an integration or uniﬁcation of cognitive science or psychology, respectively, will be indicated. (shrink)
You are asked to call out the letters on a chart during an eyeexamination: you see and then read out the letters ‘U’, ‘R’, and ‘X’. Commonsense says that your perceptual experiences causally control your calling out the letters. Or suppose you are playing a game of chess intent on winning: you plan your strategy and move your chess pieces accordingly. Again, commonsense says that your intentions and plans causally control your moving the chess pieces. These causal judgements are as (...) plain and evident as any can be. (shrink)
Interactionists about folk psychology argue that embodied interactions constitute the primary way we understand one another and thus oppose more standard accounts according to which the understanding is mostly achieved through belief and desire attributions. However, also interactionists need to explain why people sometimes still resort to attitude ascription. In this paper, it is argued that this explanatory demand presents a genuine challenge for interactionism and that a popular proposal which claims that belief and desire attributions are needed to make (...) sense of counternormative behavior is problematic. Instead, the most promising conception of belief and desire ascriptions is the communicative conception which locates them in the context of declarative and imperative communication, respectively. Such a communication can take both verbal and non-verbal form. (shrink)
The dominant philosophical conceptions of obsessive-compulsive behavior present its subject as having a deficiency, usually characterized as volitional, due to which she lacks control and choice in acting. Compulsions (mental or physical) tend to be treated in isolation from the obsessive thoughts that give rise to them. I offer a different picture of compulsive action, one that is, I believe, more faithful to clinical reality. The clue to (most) obsessive-compulsive behavior seems to be the way obsessive thoughts, which are (...) grounded in an irrational cognitive style in matters of risk, danger, and responsibility, motivate compulsions through bizarre means–end reasoning. I show that the patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not weak and passive with regard to the compulsive act; rather, the act is voluntary and regarded by the patient as an instrument of control. I also defend the idea that OCD-related cognitions are either beliefs or mentalstates with relevantly similar functional roles. (shrink)
Knowledge is standardly taken to be belief that is both true and justified (and perhaps meets other conditions as well). Timothy Williamson rejects the standard epistemology for its inability to solve the Gettier problem. The moral of this failure, he argues, is that knowledge does not factor into a combination that includes a mental state (belief) and an external condition (truth), but is itself a type of mental state. Knowledge is, according to his preferred account, the most general (...) factive mental state. I argue, however, that Gettier cases pose a serious problem for Williamson’s epistemology: in these cases, thesubject may have a factive mental state that fails to be cognitive. Hence, knowledge cannot be the most general factive mental state. (shrink)
Behavior oftentimes allows for many possible interpretations in terms of mentalstates, such as goals, beliefs, desires, and intentions. Reasoning about the relation between behavior and mentalstates is therefore considered to be an effortful process. We argue that people use simple strategies to deal with high cognitive demands of mental state inference. To test this hypothesis, we developed a computational cognitive model, which was able to simulate previous empirical findings: In two-player games, people apply (...) simple strategies at first. They only start revising their strategies when these do not pay off. The model could simulate these findings by recursively attributing its own problem solving skills to the other player, thus increasing the complexity of its own inferences. The model was validated by means of a comparison with findings from a developmental study in which the children demonstrated similar strategic developments. (shrink)
The title of the target article suggests an agenda for research on cognitive evolution that is doubly flawed. It implies that we can learn directly about animals' mentalstates, and its focus on human uniqueness impels a search for an existence proof rather than for understanding what components of given cognitive processes are shared among species and why.
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