The everyday capacity to understand the mind, or 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our ordinary lives. Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich provide a detailed and integrated account of the intricate web of mental components underlying this fascinating and multifarious skill. The imagination, they argue, is essential to understanding others, and there are special cognitive mechanisms for understanding oneself. The account that emerges has broad implications for longstanding philosophical debates over the status of folk psychology. Mindreading is another trailblazing volume (...) in the prestigious interdisciplinary Oxford Cognitive Science series. (shrink)
Explaining the mind by building machines with minds runs into the other-minds problem: How can we tell whether any body other than our own has a mind when the only way to know is by being the other body? In practice we all use some form of Turing Test: If it can do everything a body with a mind can do such that we can't tell them apart, we have no basis for doubting it has a mind. But (...) what is "everything" a body with a mind can do? Turing's original "pen-pal" version (the TT) only tested linguistic capacity, but Searle has shown that a mindless symbol-manipulator could pass the TT undetected. The Total Turing Test (TTT) calls for all of our linguistic and robotic capacities; immune to Searle's argument, it suggests how to ground a symbol manipulating system in the capacity to pick out the objects its symbols refer to. No Turing Test, however, can guarantee that a body has a mind. Worse, nothing in the explanation of its successful performance requires a model to have a mind at all. Minds are hence very different from the unobservables of physics (e.g., superstrings); and Turing Testing, though essential for machine-modeling the mind, can really only yield an explanation of the body. (shrink)
Sometime around their first birthday most infants begin to engage in relatively sustained bouts of attending together with their caretakers to objects in their environment. By the age of 18 months, on most accounts, they are engaging in full-blown episodes of joint attention. As developmental psychologists (usually) use the term, for such joint attention to be in play, it is not sufficient that the infant and the adult are in fact attending to the same object, nor that the one’s attention (...) cause the other’s. The latter can and does happen much earlier, whenever the adult follows the baby’s gaze and homes in on the same object as the baby is attending to; or, from the age of six months, when babies begin to follow the gaze of an adult. We have the relevant sense of joint attention in play only when the fact that both child and adult are attending to the same object is, to use Sperber and Wilson’s (1986) phrase, ‘mutually manifest’. Psychologists sometimes speak of such jointness as a case of attention being ‘shared’ by infant and adult, or of a ‘meeting of minds’ between infant and adult, all phrases intended to capture the idea that when joint attention occurs everything about the fact that both subjects are attending to the same object is out in the open, manifest to both participants. (shrink)
‘How, then, she had asked herself, did one know one thing or another thing about people, sealed as they were?’ So asks Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse. It is this question, rather than any concern about pretence or deception, which forms the basis for the philosophical problem of other minds. Responses to this problem have tended to cluster around two solutions: either we know others’ minds through perception; or we know others’ minds through a form of (...) inference. In the first part of this paper I argue that this debate is best understood as concerning the question of whether our knowledge of others’ minds is based on perception or based on evidence. In the second part of the paper I suggest that our ordinary ways of thinking take our knowledge of others’ minds to be both non- evidential and non-perceptual. A satisfactory resolution to the philosophical problem of other minds thus requires us to take seriously the idea that we have a way of knowing about others’ minds which is both non-evidential and non-perceptual. I suggest that our knowledge of others’ minds which is based on their expressions – our expressive knowledge - may fit this bill. (shrink)
The question of what it means to be aware of others as subjects of mental states is often construed as the question of how we are epistemically justified in attributing mental states to others. The dominant answer to this latter question is that we are so justified in virtue of grasping the role of mental states in explaining observed behaviour. This chapter challenges this picture and formulates an alternative by reflecting on the interpretation of early joint attention interactions. It argues (...) that the standard picture is committed to an implausible account of children's awareness of the co-attender's focus of attention. On a more natural interpretation, children engaged in joint attention perceptually recognize the co-attender's attitude to some object, as something like the (correct) answer to the question of what the object is like. The developmentally basic case is not that of attributing mental states as the causes of observed behaviour but of understanding perceived attitudes and actions as appropriate responses to the shared world. The chapter concludes by exploring how this developmental claim bears on mature adult knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
The problem of other minds has a distinguished philosophical history stretching back more than two hundred years. Taken at face value, it is an epistemological question: it concerns how we can have knowledge of, or at least justified belief in, the existence of minds other than our own. In recent decades, philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists and primatologists have debated a related question: how we actually go about attributing mental states to others (regardless of whether we ever achieve knowledge (...) or rational justification in this domain). Until the mid-nineties, the latter debate – which sometimes goes under the name of the “mindreading” debate – was characterized by a fairly clear-cut opposition between two theoretical outlooks: “theory-theory” (TT) and “simulation theory” (ST). Theory-theorists typically argued that we attribute mental states to others on the basis of a “theory of mind” that is either constructed in early infancy and subsequently revised and modified (Gopnik 1996), or else is the result of maturation of innate mindreading “modules” (Baron-Cohen 1995). (shrink)
Experiences justify beliefs about our environment. Sometimes the justification is immediate: seeing a red light immediately justifies believing there is a red light. Other times the justification is mediate: seeing a red light justifies believing one should brake in a way that is mediated by background knowledge of traffic signals. How does this distinction map onto the distinction between what is and what isn't part of the content of experience? Epistemic egalitarians think that experiences immediately justify whatever is part of (...) their content. Epistemic elitists deny this and think that there is some further constraint the contents of experience must satisfy to be immediately justified. Here I defend epistemic elitism, propose a phenomenological account of what the further constraint is, and explore the resulting view's consequences for our knowledge of other minds, and in particular for perceptual theories of this knowledge. (shrink)
Gödei's Theorem seems to me to prove that Mechanism is false, that is, that minds cannot be explained as machines. So also has it seemed to many other people: almost every mathematical logician I have put the matter to has confessed to similar thoughts, but has felt reluctant to commit himself definitely until he could see the whole argument set out, with all objections fully stated and properly met. This I attempt to do.
Scepticism is sometimes expressed about whether there is any interesting problem of other minds. In this paper I set out a version of the conceptual problem of other minds which turns on the way in which mental occurrences are presented to the subject and situate it in relation to debates about our knowledge of other people's mental lives. The result is a distinctive problem in the philosophy of mind concerning our relation to other people.
In this book, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin promote the cause of a radically enactive, embodied approach to cognition that holds that some kinds of minds -- basic minds -- are neither best explained by processes involving the manipulation of ...
How do I know whether there are any minds beside my own? This problem of other minds in philosophy raises questions which are at the heart of all philosophical investigations--how it is that we know, what is in the mind, and whether we can be certain about any of our beliefs. In this book, Anita Avramides begins with a historical overview of the problem from the Ancient Skeptics to Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, Reid, and Wittgenstein. The second part (...) of the book investigates the views of influential contemporary philosophers such as Strawson, Davidson, Nagel and Searle. (shrink)
In this paper I distinguish two ways of raising a sceptical problem of others' minds: via a problem concerning the possibility of error or via a problem concerning sources of knowledge. I give some reason to think that the second problem raises a more interesting problem in accounting for our knowledge of others’ minds and consider proposed solutions to the problem.
This paper dispels the Cartesian reading of Augustine’s treatment of mind and other minds by examining key passages from De Trinitate and De Civitate Dei. While Augustine does vigorously argue that mind is indubitable and immaterial, he disavows the fundamental thesis of the dualistic tradition: the separation of invisible spirit and visible body. The immediate self-awareness of mind includes awareness of life, that is, of animating a body. Each of us animates our own body; seeing other animated bodies enables (...) us to see other animating souls or minds. Augustine’s affirmation of animation lets us perceive that other minds are present, but Descartes’ denial of animation renders others ineluctably absent. Augustine’s soul is no ghost, because his body is no machine. (shrink)
The claim is frequently made that structured collections of individuals who are themselves subjects of mental and cognitive states – such collections as courts, countries, and corporations – can be, and often are, subjects of mental or cognitive states. And, to be clear, advocates for this so-called group-minds hypothesis intend their view to be interpreted literally, not metaphorically. The existing critical literature casts substantial doubt on this view, at least on the assumption that groups are claimed to instantiate the (...) same species of mental and cognitive properties as individual humans. In this essay, I evaluate a defensive move made by some proponents of the group-oriented view: to concede that group states and individual states aren’t of the same specific natural kinds, while holding that groups instantiate different species of mental or cognitive states – perhaps a different species of cognition itself – from those instantiated by humans. In order to evaluate this defense of group cognition, I develop a view of natural kinds – or at least of the sort of evidence that supports inferences to the sameness of natural kind – a view I have previous dubbed the ‘tweak-and-extend’ theory. Guided by the tweak-and-extend approach, I arrive at a tentative conclusion: that what is common to models of individual cognitive processing and models of group processing does not suffice to establish sameness of cognitive (or mental) kinds, properties, or state-types, not even at a generic or overarching level. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the conceptual problem of other minds cannot be properly addressed as long as we subscribe to an individualistic model of how we stand in relation to our own experiences and the behaviour of others. For it is commitment to this picture that sponsors the strong first/third person divide that lies at the heart of the two false accounts of experiential concept learning sketched above. This is the true source of the problem. To deal successfully with (...) it we must reconsider our assumptions about the way in which we learn our concepts of experience, self and other, and the order in which we do so. Specifically, we must recognize the intersubjective character of the learning process and we must abandon the idea that we gain a secure grasp of the self/other dichotomy prior to learning our concepts of experience. Focusing on these issues allows us to understand the asymmetrical nature of such concepts. In order to bring these points into sharp relief, the next section is devoted to reviewing the major features of Brewer’s approach to the very same problem in his contribution to this volume, ‘Emotion and Other Minds’. Although his proposal makes some moves in the right direction, I argue that he does not go far enough. In particular, in focusing exclusively on demonstrative reference, he fails to challenge crucial aspects of the individualistic model that are responsible for generating the problem. Still, using his work as a springboard, it becomes clear exactly which fundamental assumptions need to be revised if we are to understand the context in which we learn our psychological concepts. (shrink)
In Analysis, Vol. 45, June 1984, George Rea published a paper attacking my claim that there could be ‘indeterminate minds'. This paper is a reply to his attack. I claim, again, that such ‘minds’ are possible – entities such that it is indeterminate whether or not these entities are people with minds. -/- .
John McDowell’s original motivation of disjunctivism occurs in the context of a problem regarding other minds. Recent commentators have insisted that McDowell’s disjunctivism should be classed as an epistemological disjunctivism about epistemic warrant, and distinguished from the perceptual disjunctivism of Hinton, Snowdon and others. In this paper I investigate the relation between the problem of other minds and disjunctivism, and raise some questions for this interpretation of McDowell.
Our knowledge of each others’ mental features is sometimes epistemically basic or non-inferential. The alternative to this claim is Inferentialism, the view that such knowledge is always epistemically inferential. Here, I argue that Inferentialism is not plausible. My argument takes the form of an inference to the best explanation. Given the nature of the task involved in recognizing what mental features others have on particular occasions, and our capacity to perform that task, we should not expect always to find good (...) inferential explanations of our knowledge. This conclusion is an epistemological one. The motivation for it is independent of metaphysical concerns about functionalism or about the best way to model the cognitive architecture which produces our knowledge of others’ minds. Given this it is compatible both with the truth of functionalism and theory–theory construed as a cognitive model. (shrink)
We present an account of semantics that is not construed as a mapping of language to the world but rather as a mapping between individual meaning spaces. The meanings of linguistic entities are established via a “meeting of minds.” The concepts in the minds of communicating individuals are modeled as convex regions in conceptual spaces. We outline a mathematical framework, based on fixpoints in continuous mappings between conceptual spaces, that can be used to model such a semantics. If (...) concepts are convex, it will in general be possible for interactors to agree on joint meaning even if they start out from different representational spaces. Language is discrete, while mental representations tend to be continuous—posing a seeming paradox. We show that the convexity assumption allows us to address this problem. Using examples, we further show that our approach helps explain the semantic processes involved in the composition of expressions. (shrink)
We can know some things about each others' mental lives. The view that some of this knowledge is genuinely perceptual is getting traction. But the idea that we can see any of each others' mental states themselves - the Simple Perceptual Hypothesis - remains unpopular. Very often the view that we can perceptually know, for example, that James is angry, is thought to depend either on our awareness of James' expression or on the way James appears - versions of what (...) I call the Expressive Hypothesis. The Expressive Hypothesis is intuitive. But in this chapter I argue that it does not allow us to do away with the thought that we sometimes perceive people's mental states. I take my arguments to provide some tentative support for the Simple Perceptual Hypothesis. (shrink)
We ordinarily speak of being able to see that there are people on the bus, Students in the class, And children playing in the street. If human beings are understood to be conscious entities, Then one of our ways of knowing that there are other conscious entities in the world besides ourselves is by seeing that there are. We also speak of seeing that he is angry, She is depressed, And so on. It is argued that this is, Indeed, One (...) way of knowing that there are other minds (and, Hence, That the problem of other minds is not a special epistemological problem). What helps to obscure this fact is the confusion between visibility and knowability--The confusion between seeing his pain and seeing that he is in pain. (shrink)
The problem of other minds has widely been considered as a special problem within the debate about scepticism. If one cannot be sure that there is a world existing independently of one's mind, how can we be sure that there are minds - minds which we cannot even experience the way we experience material objects? This book shows, through a detailed examination of David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature, that these concerns are unfounded. By focusing on (...) Hume's discussion of sympathy - the ability to connect with the mental contents of other persons - Anik Waldow demonstrates that belief in other minds can be justified by the same means as belief in material objects. The book thus not only provides the first large-scale treatment of the function of the belief in other minds within the Treatise, thereby adding a new dimension to Hume's realism, but also serves as an invaluable guide to the complexity of the problem of other minds and its various responses in contemporary debate. (shrink)
Quassim Cassam has recently defended a perceptual model of knowledge of other minds: one on which we can see and thereby know that another thinks and feels. In the course of defending this model, he addresses issues about our ability to think about other minds. I argue that his solution to this 'conceptual problem' does not work. A solution to the conceptual problem is necessary if we wish to explain knowledge of other minds.
Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rational animal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers of semantic (...) content at all, that they are bearers of content in the same sense we are, and that they are bearer of ?as if? content. Avoiding the false trichotomy requires that we understand non-rational animals as having concepts but not as making judgments. Furthermore, we need to supplement McDowell's distinction between the logical spaces of reasons and of the realm of law with what Finkelstein calls ?the logical space of animate life?. Though McDowell has taken some recent steps to embrace a view like this, I urge a more demanding conception than what McDowell has thus far suggested. (shrink)
A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their eliminativist and their constructivist (...) variants. Third, I examine individual contributions to the dispute about the existence of group minds and actions to argue that these contributions have an implicit higher-order disagreement. This paper serves two purposes. First, it is a study to apply recent advances in meta-ontology. Second, it contributes to the debate on social ontology by illustrating how meta-ontology matters for social ontology. (shrink)
Many experimental findings with split-brain subjects intuitively suggest that each such subject has two minds. The conceptual and empirical basis of this duality intuition has never been fully articulated. This article fills that gap, by offering a reconstruction of early neuropsychological literature on the split-brain phenomenon. According to that work, the hemispheres operate independently of each other insofar as they interact via the mediation of effection and transduction—via behavior and sensation, essentially. This is how your mind and my mind (...) interact with each other, however, giving rise to the intuition that a split-brain subject has two minds. (shrink)
This paper discusses Wittgenstein's take on the problem of other minds. In opposition to certain widespread views that I collect under the heading of the “No Problem Interpretation,” I argue that Wittgenstein does address some problem of other minds. However, Wittgenstein's problem is not the traditional epistemological problem of other minds; rather, it is more reminiscent of the issue of intersubjectivity as it emerges in the writings of phenomenologists such as Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger. This is one (...) sense in which Wittgenstein's perspective on other minds might be called “phenomenological.” Yet there is another sense as well, in that Wittgenstein's positive views on this issue resemble the views defended by phenomenologists. The key to a proper philosophical grasp of intersubjectivity, on both views, lies in rethinking the mind. If we conceive of minds as essentially embodied we can understand how intersubjectivity is possible. (shrink)
Why are we conscious? What does consciousness enable us to do that cannot be done by zombies in the dark? This paper argues that introspective consciousness probably co-evolved as a "spandrel" along with our more useful ability to represent the mental states of other people. The first part of the paper defines and motivates a conception of consciousness as a kind of "double vision" – the perception of how things seem to us as well as what they are – along (...) lines recently explored by Peter Carruthers. The second part explains the basic socioepistemic function of consciousness and suggests an evolutionary pathway to this cognitive capacity that begins with predators and prey. The third part discusses the relevance of these considerations to the traditional problem of other minds. (shrink)
John Harris discusses the problem of other minds, not as it relates to other human minds, but rather as it relates to artificial intelligences. He also discusses what might be called bilateral mind-reading: humans trying to read the minds of artificial intelligences and artificial intelligences trying to read the minds of humans. Lastly, Harris discusses whether super intelligent AI – if it could be created – should be afforded moral consideration, and also how we might convince (...) super intelligent AI that we ourselves should be treated with moral consideration. In this commentary, I discuss these issues brought up by Harris. I focus specifically on robots (rather than AI in general), and I set aside future super intelligent AI to instead focus on more limited forms of AI. I argue that the human tendency to attribute minds even to robots with very limited AI and whether such robots should be given moral consideration are more pressing issues than those that Harris discusses, even though I certainly agree with Harris that the potential for super intelligent AI is a fascinating topic to speculate about. (shrink)
In contemporary Western analytic philosophy, the classic analogical argument explaining our knowledge of other minds has been rejected. But at least three alternative positive theories of our knowledge of the second person have been formulated: the theory-theory, the simulation theory and the theory of direct empathy. After sketching out the problems faced by these accounts of the ego’s access to the contents of the mind of a “second ego”, this paper tries to recreate one argument given by Abhinavagupta (Shaiva (...) philosopher of recognition) to the effect that even in another’s body, one must feel and recognize one’s own self, if one is able to address that embodied person as a “you”. The otherness of You does not take away from its subjectivity. In that sense, just as every second person to whom one could speak is, first, a person, she is also a first person. Even as I regret that I do not know exactly how some other person is feeling right now, I must have some general access to the subjective experience of that other person, for otherwise what is it that I feel so painfully ignorant about? My subjective world is mine only to the extent that I recognize its continuity with a sharable subjective world where other I-s can make a You out of me. (shrink)
Husserlian phenomenology, as the study of conscious experience, has often been accused of solipsism. Husserl’s method, it is argued, does not have the resources to provide an account of consciousness of other minds. This chapter will address this issue by providing a brief overview of the multiple angles from which Husserl approached the theme of intersubjectivity, with specific focus on the details of his account of the concrete interpersonal encounter – “empathy.” Husserl understood empathy as a direct, quasi-perceptual form (...) of intentionality through which the sense of the Other is constituted. Furthermore, his account of empathy is holistically integrated with his overall theory of intersubjectivity, including his discussions of the objectivity of nature, and the social, historical, and communal aspects of subjectivity. Husserl’s theory of empathy continues to cast a long shadow, influencing both the analytic and continental approaches to the problem of other minds, as well as contemporary account of social cognition in the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
The problem of other minds is a collection of problems centering upon the extent to which our belief in other minds or other's minds can be justified. Swedish psychologist, Gunnar Borg has developed a principle called "the range principle" which helps fill out our "knowledge" of other minds. Borg developed this principle partly in response to the skeptical challenge of Harvard psychophysicist S S Stevens. Stevens claimed that the intersubjective comparison of experience was scientifically impossible. Borg (...) postulates that the range of individual experience is roughly identical for all individuals. We can test Borg's principle or theory is we include the similarity of physical range for individuals. We have an interesting case of experimental work casting light on a traditional philosophical problem. (shrink)
What is the relation between emotional experience and its behavioural expression? As very preliminary clarification, I mean by ‘emotional experience’ such things as the subjective feeling of being afraid of something, or of being angry at someone. On the side of behavioural expression, I focus on such things as cowering in fear, or shaking a fist or thumping the table in anger. Very crudely, this is behaviour intermediate between the bodily changes which just happen in emotional arousal, such as sweating (...) or the secretion of adrenalin, and reasoned actions done ‘out of an emotion’, such as breathing deeply to clam down, or writing a letter of complaint, for which a standard rationalizing explanation can be given.1 I pursue the relation between this experience and expression in a somewhat roundabout manner. First, I note an analogy between a problem of other minds, and Berkeley’s (1975) challenge to Locke’s (1975) realism. Second, I sketch what I regard as the correct strategy for meeting this challenge. Third, I develop and defend a parallel response to the problem of other minds, as this applies to certain basic directed emotions. This yields the following answer to my opening question. Reference to the appropriate expressive behaviour is essential to the identification of the way in which various emotional experiences present their worldly objects. (shrink)
We find it natural to say that creatures with minds can be understood ‘from the inside’. The paper explores what could be meant by this attractive but, on reflection, somewhat mysterious idea. It suggests that it may find a hospitable placement, which makes its content and appeal clearer, in one version of the so-called ‘simulation theory’ approach to grasp of psychological concepts. Simulation theory suggests that ability to use imagination in rethinking others’ thoughts and in recreating their trains of (...) reasoning is central to our grasp and use of psychological concepts.On this view to think of another’s mind is not to think of some intricate quasi-mechanical assemblage of items in the other’s head which causally explain her behavior. If this is all that the ‘inside’ of another person, i.e. her mind, were like, then there would be no question of anything being ‘from’ it. The simulation view, however, emphasizes that thoughts essentially have content and that identifying another’s thought, and working out its possible effects, involves identifying its content and oneself entertaining thoughts with the same content.So, on this approach, to think of another’s mind is to think of a complex but rationally unified set of thoughts, a set which is conceived as had by one subject but where the contents and relations can be grasped and appreciated by another. Some of these thoughts will be indexical and the whole can thus be said to constitute the subject’s point of view on the world, both literally and metaphorically. Grasping this point of view is, the paper suggests, what is meant by speaking of ‘understanding from the inside’. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the issue of authenticity in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of psychology. In the manuscripts published as Letzte Schriften über die Philosophie der Psychologie – Das Innere und das Äußere, the German term Echtheit is mostly translated as ‘genuineness’. In these manuscripts, Wittgenstein frequently uses the term as referring to a feature of the expression of feeling and emotion: -/- […] I want to say that there is an original genuine expression of pain; that the expression of pain (...) therefore is not equally connected to the pain and to the pretence. (LW II, p. 55) -/- “This weeping gives the impression of being genuine” – so there is such a thing as genuine weeping. […]. (LW II, p. 87) -/- […] Genuineness and falseness are not the only essential characteristics of an expression of feeling. […]. (LW II, p. 90) -/- Wittgenstein contrasts the genuineness of the expressions with the possibility that the expressions are feigned. It seems to me that Wittgenstein is trying to discredit a specific version of the sceptical claim that we do not know other minds. I will refer to it as the sceptical innuendo. The sceptical innuendo says that every expression of feeling and emotion may be pretended. Wittgenstein’s approach to the issue reflects his later interest in the philosophy of psychology and, in particular, the problem of the ascription of psychological states (P-ascriptions) on the basis of someone else’s expression of feeling or emotion. Thus, the attempt to reject the sceptical innuendo is done mainly by means of conceptual and psychological arguments. Let’s look at this short dialogue between the sceptic and Wittgenstein. The former asks „How do you know that someone else is in a certain psychological state?“ Wittgenstein’s first reply is „I know that he is glad because I see him“. But the sceptic cannot be very happy with this reply. The sceptic’s next question is: „How do you know that he is really glad and he is not pretending?“ Wittgenstein’s response is not a direct refutation but is composed of a number of related reasons. These may be summed up in three arguments: -/- (i) A psychological argument from the very nature of the expressions. The expressions are meant to be natural symptoms of someone else’s psychological state (P-state). -/- (ii) A conceptual argument about the nature of pretence. It claims that pretence is a psychological property which is rightly ascribed when an observer has evidence for it. -/- (iii) A psychological argument from genuineness. It claims that we are committed to accept people’s expressions of feeling and emotion as genuine. (shrink)
In 'A Constitution of Many Minds' Cass Sunstein argues that the three major approaches to constitutional interpretation – Traditionalism, Populism and Cosmopolitanism – all rely on some variation of a ‘many-minds’ argument. Here we assess each of these claims through the lens of the Condorcet Jury Theorem. In regard to the first two approaches we explore the implications of sequential influence among courts (past and foreign, respectively). In regard to the Populist approach, we consider the influence of opinion (...) leaders. (shrink)
It is sometimes suggested that Berkeley adheres to an empirical criterion of meaning, on which a term is meaningful just in case it signifies an idea (i.e., an immediate object of perceptual experience). This criterion is thought to underlie his rejection of the term ‘matter’ as meaningless. As is well known, Berkeley thinks that it is impossible to perceive matter. If one cannot perceive matter, then, per Berkeley, one can have no idea of it; if one can have no idea (...) of it, then one cannot speak meaningfully of it. But if this is Berkeley’s position, then there is a puzzle, because Berkeley also explicitly claims that it is impossible to perceive/have ideas of minds. So if he is relying on a criterion on which terms get their meaning by referring to ideas, then, just as Berkeley rejects talk of material substance, so, too, must he reject talk of mental substance. Famously, however, Berkeley insists that there is no parity between the cases of material and mental substance. It is typically suggested that the disparity between matter and minds rests on the fact that although one cannot strictly speaking perceive minds, nonetheless Berkeley thinks that one can have experiential access to minds via reflection, and that this access allows for meaningful talk of minds. Of course, one can only have reflective experience of one’s own mind. But what of other minds, which one cannot reflectively experience? Here the usual tactic is to suppose that, although one cannot have direct reflective experience of other minds, nonetheless one can indirectly experience such minds via analogy to our own minds, and that this indirect experience grounds the meaningfulness of talk of other minds. In this paper, I argue that the reasoning behind Berkeley’s ‘likeness principle,’ that an idea can only be like another idea, can be generalized to argue against this experience-based account of our access to other minds. I claim instead that Berkeley allows for the meaningfulness of talk of other minds by expanding the criterion of meaning in a different way. I argue that Berkeley holds a criterion of meaning on which a term is meaningful just in case it signifies either an object of experience or an object that one has reason to posit on the basis of experience, i.e., an object that is necessary to explain our experiences. When an object is neither experienced nor explains our experiences, then and only then is Berkeley willing to reject it as meaningless. Thus he writes of “the word matter,” that “it is no matter whether there is such a thing or no, since it no way concerns us: and I do not see the advantage there is in disputing about we know not what, and we know not why” (Principles, §77.) The word is not meaningless merely because we do not know what matter might be; it is meaningless because we also do not know why it should be. Correspondingly, I argue that the term ‘mind’ is meaningful because although we have no experience of minds, nonetheless they play an important role in explaining our experiences. (shrink)
I Would like to draw attention to the basic defect in the argument used by Mr J. R. Lucas. Mr Lucas there states that Gödel's theorem shows that any consistent formal system strong enough to produce arithmetic fails to prove, within its own structure, theorems that we, as humans, can nevertheless see to be true. From this he argues that ‘minds’ can do more than machines, since machines are essentially formal systems of this same type, and subject to the (...) limitation implied by Godel's theorem. (shrink)
A review of Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism, by Gary E. Varner. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xv + 336. H/b £40.23. and The Philosophy of Animal Minds, edited by Robert W. Lurz. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 320. P/b £20.21.
We resist Schilbach et al.’s characterization of the “social perception” approach to social cognition as a “spectator theory” of other minds. We show how the social perception view acknowledges the crucial role interaction plays in enabling social understanding. We also highlight a dilemma Schilbach et al. face in attempting to distinguish their second person approach from the social perception view.
The general idea of enactive perception is that actual and potential embodied activities determine perceptual experience. Some extended mind theorists, such as Andy Clark, refute this claim despite their general emphasis on the importance of the body. I propose a compromise to this opposition. The extended mind thesis is allegedly a consequence of our commonsense understanding of the mind. Furthermore, extended mind theorists assume the existence of non-human minds. I explore the precise nature of the commonsense understanding of the (...) mind, which accepts both extended minds and non-human minds. In the area of philosophy of mind, there are two theories of intentionality based on such commonsense understandings: neo-behaviorism defended, e.g., by Daniel Dennett, and neo-pragmatism advocated, e.g., by Robert Brandom. Neither account is in full agreement with how people ordinarily use their commonsense understanding. Neo-pragmatism, however, can overcome its problem—its inability to explain why people routinely find intentionality in non-humans—by incorporating the phenomenological suggestion that interactional bodily skills determine how we perceive others’ intentionality. I call this integrative position embodied neo-pragmatism . I conclude that the extended view of the mind makes sense, without denying the existence of non-human minds, only by assuming embodied neo-pragmatism and hence the general idea of enactive perception. (shrink)
From early modernity, philosophers have engaged in skeptical discussions concerning knowledge of the existence, state, and standing of other minds. The analogical move from self to other unfolds as controversy. This paper reposes the problem as an argumentation predicament and examines analogy as an opening to the study of rhetorical cognition. Rhetorical cognition is identified as a productive process coming to terms with an other through testing sustainable risk. The paper explains how self-sustaining risk is theorized by Aristotle’s virtue (...) ethics in the polis. Moral hazard is identified as a threat to modern argument communities. (shrink)
This article describes some of the main arguments for the existence of other minds, and intersubjectivity more generally, that depend upon a transcendental justification. This means that our focus will be largely on ‘continental’ philosophy, not only because of the abiding interest in this tradition in thematising intersubjectivity, but also because transcendental reasoning is close to ubiquitous in continental philosophy. Neither point holds for analytic philosophy. As such, this essay will introduce some of the important contributions of Edmund Husserl, (...) Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Karl-Otto Apel, all of whom use transcendental reasoning as a key part of their analyses of intersubjectivity, and we also consider the work of Peter Strawson who does likewise in the analytic tradition. (shrink)
William james's views on the other minds problem are a serious lacuna in jamesian scholarship. this essay systematically collects together and examines his encounter with this problem. james consistently held to a teleological criterion for mindedness, which appeals to certain eidetic features which living things manifest. the essay also examines the implications of this view for james's ethical theory, especially his 'privacy defense' of democracy.