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Robert A. Wilson
La Trobe University
  1.  13
    Sociobiology.Robert A. Wilson - 2014 - Eugenics Archives.
    Sociobiology developed in the 1960s as a field within evolutionary biology to explain human social traits and behaviours. Although sociobiology has few direct connections to eugenics, it shares eugenics’ optimistic enthusiasm for extending biological science into the human domain, often with reckless sensationalism. Sociobiology's critics have argued that sociobiology also propagates a kind of genetic determinism and represents the zealous misapplication of science beyond its proper reach that characterized the eugenics movement. More recently, evolutionary psychology represents a sophistication of sociobiology (...)
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  2.  49
    Eugenics Never Went Away.Robert A. Wilson - 2018 - Aeon 2018.
    Eugenics does not feel so distant from where I stand. This essay explains why.
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  3. How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Take its Course.Robert A. Wilson & Andy Clark - 2009 - In Murat Aydede & P. Robbins (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 55--77.
    1. The Situation in Cognition 2. Situated Cognition: A Potted Recent History 3. Extensions in Biology, Computation, and Cognition 4. Articulating the Idea of Cognitive Extension 5. Are Some Resources Intrinsically Non-Cognitive? 6. Is Cognition Extended or Only Embedded? 7. Letting Nature Take Its Course.
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  4. Boundaries of the Mind: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences - Cognition.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Cambridge University Press.
    Where does the mind begin and end? Most philosophers and cognitive scientists take the view that the mind is bounded by the skull or skin of the individual. Robert Wilson, in this provocative and challenging 2004 book, provides the foundations for the view that the mind extends beyond the boundary of the individual. The approach adopted offers a unique blend of traditional philosophical analysis, cognitive science, and the history of psychology and the human sciences. A forthcoming companion volume Genes and (...)
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  5.  38
    Externalism and Internalism in the Philosophy of Mind.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - Oxford Bibliographies.
    Annotated bibliography of works on externalism and internalism in the philosophy of mind.
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  6.  29
    Well-Being, Disability, and Choosing Children.Matthew J. Barker & Robert A. Wilson - forthcoming - Mind:fzy039.
    The view that it is better for life to be created free of disability is pervasive in both common sense and philosophy. We cast doubt on this view by focusing on an influential line of thinking that manifests it. That thinking begins with a widely-discussed principle, Procreative Beneficence, and draws conclusions about parental choice and disability. After reconstructing two versions of this argument, we critique the first by exploring the relationship between different understandings of well-being and disability, and the second (...)
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  7. When Traditional Essentialism Fails.Robert A. Wilson, Matthew J. Barker & Ingo Brigandt - 2007 - Philosophical Topics 35 (1-2):189-215.
    Essentialism is widely regarded as a mistaken view of biological kinds, such as species. After recounting why (sections 2-3), we provide a brief survey of the chief responses to the “death of essentialism” in the philosophy of biology (section 4). We then develop one of these responses, the claim that biological kinds are homeostatic property clusters (sections 5-6) illustrating this view with several novel examples (section 7). Although this view was first expressed 20 years ago, and has received recent discussion (...)
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  8. Extended Mind and Identity.Robert A. Wilson & Bartlomiej Lenart - 2014 - In Jens Clausen & Neil Levy (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer. pp. 423-439.
    Dominant views of personal identity in philosophy take some kind of psychological continuity or connectedness over time to be criterial for the identity of a person over time. Such views assign psychological states, particularly those necessary for narrative memory of some kind, special importance in thinking about the nature of persons. The extended mind thesis, which has generated much recent discussion in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, holds that a person’s psychological states can physically extend beyond that person’s (...)
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  9.  51
    Genes and the Agents of Life: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences Biology.Robert A. Wilson - 2005 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
    Genes and the Agents of Life undertakes to rethink the place of the individual in the biological sciences, drawing parallels with the cognitive and social sciences. Genes, organisms, and species are all agents of life but how are each of these conceptualized within genetics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and systematics? The book includes highly accessible discussions of genetic encoding, species and natural kinds, and pluralism above the levels of selection, drawing on work from across the biological sciences. The book is (...)
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  10.  24
    Group-Level Cognizing, Collaborative Remembering, and Individuals.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - In Penny Van Bergen Michelle Meade (ed.), Collaborative Remembering: Theories, Research, and Applications. New York, NY, USA: pp. 248-260.
    This chapter steps back from the important psychological work on collaborative remembering at the heart of the present volume to take up some broader questions about the place of memory in Western cultural thought, both historically and in contemporary society, offering the kind of integrative and reflective perspective for which philosophy is often known. In particular, the text aims to shed some light on the relationship between collaborative memory and the other two topics in this title—group-level cognizing and individuals—beginning with (...)
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  11. A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory.Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, Celia Harris & Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1):33-51.
    In this paper, we aim to show that the framework of embedded, distributed, or extended cognition offers new perspectives on social cognition by applying it to one specific domain: the psychology of memory. In making our case, first we specify some key social dimensions of cognitive distribution and some basic distinctions between memory cases, and then describe stronger and weaker versions of distributed remembering in the general distributed cognition framework. Next, we examine studies of social influences on memory in cognitive (...)
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  12. Wide Computationalism.Robert A. Wilson - 1994 - Mind 103 (411):351-72.
    The computational argument for individualism, which moves from computationalism to individualism about the mind, is problematic, not because computationalism is false, but because computational psychology is, at least sometimes, wide. The paper provides an early, or perhaps predecessor, version of the thesis of extended cognition.
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  13. Embodied Cognition.A. Wilson Robert & Foglia Lucia - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Cognition is embodied when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent's body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing. In general, dominant views in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science have considered the body as peripheral to understanding the nature of mind and cognition. Proponents of embodied cognitive science view this as a serious mistake. Sometimes the nature of the (...)
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  14. What Computations Can't Do: Jerry Fodor on Computation and Modularity.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (sup1):407-425.
    Fodor's thinking on modularity has been influential throughout a range of the areas studying cognition, chiefly as a prod for positive work on modularity and domain-specificity. In _The Mind Doesn't Work That Way_, Fodor has developed the dark message of _The Modularity of Mind_ regarding the limits to modularity and computational analyses. This paper offers a critical assessment of Fodor's scepticism with an eye to highlighting some broader issues in play, including the nature of computation and the role of recent (...)
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  15. Meaning Making and the Mind of the Externalist.Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - In Richard Menary (ed.), The Extended Mind. MIT Press. pp. 167--188.
    This paper attempts to do two things. First, it recounts the problem of intentionality, as it has typically been conceptualized, and argues that it needs to be reconceptualized in light of the radical form of externalism most commonly referred to as the extended mind thesis. Second, it provides an explicit, novel argument for that thesis, what I call the argument from meaning making, and offers some defense of that argument. This second task occupies the core of the paper, and in (...)
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  16. Kinship Past, Kinship Present: Bio-Essentialism in the Study of Kinship.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - American Anthropologist 118 (3).
    In this article, I reconsider bio-essentialism in the study of kinship, centering on David Schneider’s influential critique that concluded that kinship was “a non-subject” (1972:51). Schneider’s critique is often taken to have shown the limitations of and problems with past views of kinship based on biology, genealogy, and reproduction, a critique that subsequently led those reworking kinship as relatedness in the new kinship studies to view their enterprise as divorced from such bio-essentialist studies. Beginning with an alternative narrative connecting kinship (...)
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  17. Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays.Robert A. Wilson - 1999 - MIT Press.
    This collection of original essays--by philosophers of biology, biologists, and cognitive scientists--provides a wide range of perspectives on species. Including contributions from David Hull, John Dupre, David Nanney, Kevin de Queiroz, and Kim Sterelny, amongst others, this book has become especially well-known for the three essays it contains on the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, papers by Richard Boyd, Paul Griffiths, and Robert A. Wilson.
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  18. Eugenics and Disability.Robert A. Wilson & Joshua St Pierre - 2016 - In Beatriz Mirandaa-Galarza Patrick Devlieger (ed.), Rethinking Disability: World Perspectives in Culture and Society. Antwerp, Belgium: pp. 93-112.
    In the intersection between eugenics past and present, disability has never been far beneath the surface. Perceived and ascribed disabilities of body and mind were one of the core sets of eugenics traits that provided the basis for institutionalized and sterilization on eugenic grounds for the first 75 years of the 20th-century. Since that time, the eugenic preoccupation with the character of future generations has seeped into what have become everyday practices in the realm of reproductive choice. As Marsha Saxton (...)
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  19. Collective Memory, Group Minds, and the Extended Mind Thesis.Robert A. Wilson - 2005 - Cognitive Processing 6 (4).
    While memory is conceptualized predominantly as an individual capacity in the cognitive and biological sciences, the social sciences have most commonly construed memory as a collective phenomenon. Collective memory has been put to diverse uses, ranging from accounts of nationalism in history and political science to views of ritualization and commemoration in anthropology and sociology. These appeals to collective memory share the idea that memory ‘‘goes beyond the individual’’ but often run together quite different claims in spelling out that idea. (...)
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  20. Two Views of Realization.Robert A. Wilson - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 104 (1):1-31.
    This paper examines the standard view of realization operative incontemporary philosophy of mind, and proposes an alternative, generalperspective on realization. The standard view can be expressed, insummary form, as the conjunction of two theses, the sufficiency thesis andthe constitutivity thesis. Physicalists of both reductionist and anti-reductionist persuasions share a conception of realization wherebyrealizations are determinative of the properties they realize and physically constitutive of the individuals with those properties. Centralto the alternative view that I explore here is the idea that (...)
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  21.  64
    Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds: Individualism and the Sciences of the Mind.Robert Andrew Wilson - 1995 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book offers the first sustained critique of individualism in psychology, a view that has been the subject of debate between philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tyler Burge for many years. The author approaches individualism as an issue in the philosophy of science and by discussing issues such as computationalism and the mind's modularity he opens the subject up for non-philosophers in psychology and computer science. Professor Wilson carefully examines the most influential arguments for individualism and identifies the main (...)
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  22.  12
    Collective Intentionality in Non-Human Animals.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - In Marija Jankovic and Kirk Ludwig (ed.), Routledge Handbook on Collective Intentionality. New York, NY, USA: pp. 420-432.
    I think there is something to be said in a positive and constructive vein about collective intentionality in non-human animals. Doing so involves probing at the concept of collective intentionality fairly directly (Section 2), considering the various forms that collective intentionality might take (Section 3), showing some sensitivity to the history of appeals to that concept and its close relatives (Section 4), and raising some broader questions about the relationships between sociality, cognition, and institutions by discussing two different possible cases (...)
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  23. Ten Questions Concerning Extended Cognition.Robert A. Wilson - 2014 - Philosophical Psychology 27 (1):19-33.
    This paper considers ten questions that those puzzled by or skeptical of extended cognition have posed. Discussion of these questions ranges across substantive, methodological, and dialectical issues in the ongoing debate over extended cognition, such as whether the issue between proponents and opponents of extended cognition is merely semantic or a matter of convention; whether extended cognition should be treated in the same way as extended biology; and whether conscious mental states pose a special problem for the extended mind thesis. (...)
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  24.  43
    The Biological Notion of Individual.Robert A. Wilson & Matthew J. Barker - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Individuals are a prominent part of the biological world. Although biologists and philosophers of biology draw freely on the concept of an individual in articulating both widely accepted and more controversial claims, there has been little explicit work devoted to the biological notion of an individual itself. How should we think about biological individuals? What are the roles that biological individuals play in processes such as natural selection (are genes and groups also units of selection?), speciation (are species individuals?), and (...)
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  25.  11
    Eugenic Thinking.Robert A. Wilson - forthcoming - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology.
    The Eugenic Mind Project explores and critiques both past and present eugenic thinking. Informed by the perspectives of Canadian eugenics survivors in the province of Alberta and standpoint theory, The Eugenic Mind Project draws on both my intimate acquaintance with eugenics in Canada and my previous thinking about the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, the fragile sciences, in Boundaries of the Mind (2004) and Genes and the Agents of Life (2005). It recounts the history of eugenics and the thinking that (...)
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  26. Cohesion, Gene Flow, and the Nature of Species.Matthew J. Barker & Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (2):59-77.
    A far-reaching and influential view in evolutionary biology claims that species are cohesive units held together by gene flow. Biologists have recognized empirical problems facing this view; after sharpening the expression of the view, we present novel conceptual problems for it. At the heart of these problems is a distinction between two importantly different concepts of cohesion, what we call integrative and response cohesion. Acknowledging the distinction problematizes both the explanandum of species cohesion and the explanans of gene flow that (...)
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  27. The Sound of Music: Externalist Style.Luke Kersten & Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (2):139-154.
    Philosophical exploration of individualism and externalism in the cognitive sciences most recently has been focused on general evaluations of these two views (Adams & Aizawa 2008, Rupert 2008, Wilson 2004, Clark 2008). Here we return to broaden an earlier phase of the debate between individualists and externalists about cognition, one that considered in detail particular theories, such as those in developmental psychology (Patterson 1991) and the computational theory of vision (Burge 1986, Segal 1989). Music cognition is an area in the (...)
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  28.  95
    Extended Vision.Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - In Nivedita Gangopadhyay, Michael Madary & Finn Spicer (eds.), Perception, Action and Consciousness. Oxford University Press..
    Vision constitutes an interesting domain, or range of domains, for debate over the extended mind thesis, the idea that minds physically extend beyond the boundaries of the body. In part this is because vision and visual experience more particularly are sometimes presented as a kind of line in the sand for what we might call externalist creep about the mind: once all reasonable concessions have been made to externalists about the mind, visual experience marks a line beyond which lies a (...)
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  29. Intentionality and Phenomenology.Robert A. Wilson - 2003 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (4):413-431.
  30. The Drink You Have When You're Not Having a Drink.Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (3):273–283.
    The Architecture of the Mind is itself built on foundations that deserve probing. In this brief commentary I focus on these foundations—Carruthers’ conception of modularity, his arguments for thinking that the mind is massively modular in structure, and his view of human cognitive architecture.
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  31.  6
    Contemporary Forms of Eugenics.Robert A. Wilson - 2017 - eLS Wiley Online.
    Eugenics is commonly thought of as having endured as science and social movement only until 1945. With the advance of both reproductive and enhancement technologies, however, concern has arisen that eugenics has resurfaced in new forms. In particular, the eugenic potential of the Human Genome Project led to talk of the rise of ‘newgenics’ and of a backdoor to eugenics. This article focuses on such concerns deriving from the practice of prenatal screening and technologies that increase our ability to generate (...)
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  32. Thinking About Relations: Strathern, Sahlins, and Locke on Anthropological Knowledge.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - Anthropological Theory 4 (16):327-349.
    John Locke is known within anthropology primarily for his empiricism, his views of natural laws, and his discussion of the state of nature and the social contract. Marilyn Strathern and Marshall Sahlins, however, have offered distinctive, novel, and broad reflections on the nature of anthropological knowledge that appeal explicitly to a lesser-known aspect of Locke’s work: his metaphysical views of relations. This paper examines their distinctive conclusions – Sahlins’ about cultural relativism, Strathern’s about relatives and kinship – both of which (...)
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  33.  82
    A Puzzle About Material Constitution and How to Solve It: Enriching Constitution Views in Metaphysics.Robert A. Wilson - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7:1-20.
    Are materially constituted entities, such as statues and glasses of liquid, something more than their material constituents? The puzzle that frames this paper stems from conflicting answers to this question. At the core of the paper is a distinctive way of thinking about material constitution that posits two concepts of constitution, compositional and ampliative constitution, with the bulk of the discussion devoted to developing distinct analyses for these concepts. Distinguishing these concepts solves our initial puzzle and enriches the space of (...)
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  34. Primary and Secondary Qualities.Robert A. Wilson - 2016 - In Matthew Stuart (ed.), A Companion to Locke. Blackwell. pp. 193-211.
    The first half of this review article on Locke on primary and secondary qualities leads up to a fairly straightforward reading of what Locke says about the distinction in Essay II.viii, one that, in its general outlines, represents a sympathetic understanding of Locke’s discussion. The second half of the paper turns to consider a few of the ways in which interpreting Locke on primary and secondary qualities has proven more complicated. Here we take up what is sometimes called the Berkeleyan (...)
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  35.  85
    MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences.Robert A. Wilson & Frank C. Keil (eds.) - 1999 - MIT Press.
  36. The Transitivity of Material Constitution.Robert A. Wilson - 2009 - Noûs 43 (2):363-377.
    In metaphysics, the view that material constitution is transitive is ubiquitous, an assumption expressed by both proponents and critics of constitution views. Likewise, it is typically assumed within the philosophy of mind that physical realization is a transitive relation. In both cases, this assumption of transitivity plays a role in discussion of the broader implications of a metaphysics that invokes either relation. Here I provide reasons for questioning this assumption and the uses to which this appeal to transitivity is put. (...)
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  37. Realization.Carl F. Craver & Robert A. Wilson - 2006 - In P. Thagard (ed.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.
    For the greater part of the last 50 years, it has been common for philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists to invoke the notion of realization in discussing the relationship between the mind and the brain. In traditional philosophy of mind, mental states are said to be realized, instantiated, or implemented in brain states. Artificial intelligence is sometimes described as the attempt either to model or to actually construct systems that realize some of the same psychological abilities that we and (...)
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  38.  30
    The Shadows and Shallows of Explanation.Frank C. Keil & Robert A. Wilson - 2000 - In Frank C. Keil & Robert A. Wilson (eds.), Minds and Machines. MIT Press.. pp. 137-159.
    Reprinted, with modification, from Wilson and Keil 1998.
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  39.  40
    Review of Robert D. Rupert, Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind[REVIEW]Robert A. Wilson - 2010 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (3).
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  40.  38
    Explanation and Cognition.Frank C. Keil & Robert A. Wilson - 2000 - MIT Press.
    These essays draw on work in the history and philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind and language, the development of concepts in children, conceptual..
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  41. Metarepresentations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective.Robert A. Wilson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
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  42.  4
    Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds.Robert A. Wilson - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (188):392-395.
    This book offers a sustained critique of individualism in psychology, a view that has been the subject of debate between philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tyler Burge for many years. The author approaches individualism as an issue in the philosophy of science and by discussing issues such as computationalism and the mind's modularity he opens the subject up for non-philosophers in psychology and computer science. Professor Wilson carefully examines the most influential arguments for individualism and identifies the main metaphysical (...)
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  43. The Role of Oral History in Surviving a Eugenic Past.Robert A. Wilson - 2015 - In Steven High (ed.), Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence. pp. 119-138.
    Despite the fact that the history of eugenics in Canada is necessarily part of the larger history of eugenics, there is a special role for oral history to play in the telling of this story, a role that promises to shift us from the muddled middle of the story. Not only has the testimony of eugenics survivors already played perhaps the most important role in revealing much about the practice of eugenics in Canada, but the willingness and ability of survivors (...)
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  44.  59
    The Shadows and Shallows of Explanation.Robert A. Wilson & Frank C. Keil - 1998 - Minds and Machines 8 (1):137-159.
    We introduce two notions–the shadows and the shallows of explanation–in opening up explanation to broader, interdisciplinary investigation. The shadows of explanation refer to past philosophical efforts to provide either a conceptual analysis of explanation or in some other way to pinpoint the essence of explanation. The shallows of explanation refer to the phenomenon of having surprisingly limited everyday, individual cognitive abilities when it comes to explanation. Explanations are ubiquitous, but they typically are not accompanied by the depth that we might, (...)
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  45. What Computers (Still, Still) Can't Do: Jerry Fodor on Computation and Modularity.Robert A. Wilson - 2008 - In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), New Essays in Philosophy of Language and Mind. University of Calgary Press. pp. 407-425.
    Fodor's thinking on modularity has been influential throughout a range of the areas studying cognition, chiefly as a prod for positive work on modularity and domain-specificity. In The Mind Doesn't Work That Way, Fodor has developed the dark message of The Modularity of Mind regarding the limits to modularity and computational analyses. This paper offers a critical assessment of Fodor's scepticism with an eye to highlighting some broader issues in play, including the nature of computation and the role of recent (...)
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  46. Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays.Robert A. Wilson - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (2):404-407.
     
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  47.  70
    Group-Level Cognition.Robert A. Wilson - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 3 (September):S262-S273.
    David Sloan Wilson has recently revived the idea of a group mind as an application of group selectionist thinking to cognition. Central to my discussion of this idea is the distinction between the claim that groups have a psychology and what I call the social manifestation thesis-a thesis about the psychology of individuals. Contemporary work on this topic has confused these two theses. My discussion also points to research questions and issues that Wilson's work raises, as well as their connection (...)
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  48. Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception (Review).Robert A. Wilson - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):117-132.
    This is a critical notice of Mohan Matthen's 2005 book "Seeing, Doing, and Knowing".
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  49.  3
    Cartesian Psychology and Physical Minds: Individualism and the Sciences of the Mind.Alva Noe & Robert A. Wilson - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (3):434.
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  50. The Mind Beyond Itself.Robert A. Wilson - 2000 - In Dan Sperber (ed.), Metarepresentations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. Oxford University Press.
    This paper argues that the metarepresentational systems we posses are wide or extended, rather than individualistic. There are two basic ideas. The first is that metarepresentation inherits its width from the mental representation of its objects. The second is that mental processing often operates on internal and external symbols, and this suggests that cognitive systems extend beyond the heads that house them.
     
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