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)
Do stakes affect ordinary knowledge ascriptions? Epistemic contextualists and interest relative invariantist claim that stakes do play a role in ordinary knowledge ascription. But results from a large scale cross-cultural study we conducted suggested otherwise. We collected data on people’s judgments in response to high and low stakes versions of “Bank Cases”. The cases were translated into 14 different languages and data was collected from 4504 people across nineteen sites, spanning fifteen countries. In every site sampled, we find that stakes (...) do not play a role in ordinary knowledge ascriptions. In light of the surprising cross-cultural robustness of our findings, we suggest that the scales tilt against epistemic contextualism and interest-relative invariantism and that a version of classical invariantism about knowledge should perhaps be taken seriously. (shrink)
In this paper we propose to argue for two claims. The first is that a sizeable group of epistemological projects – a group which includes much of what has been done in epistemology in the analytic tradition – would be seriously undermined if one or more of a cluster of empirical hypotheses about epistemic intuitions turns out to be true. The basis for this claim will be set out in Section 2. The second claim is that, while the jury is (...) still out, there is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that some of those empirical hypotheses are true. Much of this evidence derives from an ongoing series of experimental studies of epistemic intuitions that we have been conducting. A preliminary report on these studies will be presented in Section 3. In light of these studies, we think it is incumbent on those who pursue the epistemological projects in question to either explain why the truth of the hypotheses does not undermine their projects, or to say why, in light of the evidence we will present, they nonetheless assume that the hypotheses are false. In Section 4, which is devoted to Objections and Replies, we’ll consider some of the ways in which defenders of the projects we are criticizing might reply to our challenge. Our goal, in all of this, is not to offer a conclusive argument demonstrating that the epistemological projects we will be criticizing are untenable. Rather, our aim is to shift the burden of argument. (shrink)
Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one’s intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g., Nisbett et al. 2001) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases (...) (Weinberg et al. 2001). In light of these findings on cultural differences, two experiments were conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. Both experiments indicate that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference. (shrink)
This article examines whether people share the Gettier intuition (viz. that someone who has a true justified belief that p may nonetheless fail to know that p) in 24 sites, located in 23 countries (counting Hong-Kong as a distinct country) and across 17 languages. We also consider the possible influence of gender and personality on this intuition with a very large sample size. Finally, we examine whether the Gettier intuition varies across people as a function of their disposition to engage (...) in “reflective” thinking. (shrink)
It is common in various quarters of philosophy to derive philosophically significant conclusions from theories of reference. In this paper, we argue that philosophers should give up on such 'arguments from reference.' Intuitions play a central role in establishing theories of reference, and recent cross-cultural work suggests that intuitions about reference vary across cultures and between individuals within a culture (Machery et al. 2004). We argue that accommodating this variation within a theory of reference undermines arguments from reference.
Recently psychologists and experimental philosophers have reported findings showing that in some cases ordinary people's moral intuitions are affected by factors of dubious relevance to the truth of the content of the intuition. Some defend the use of intuition as evidence in ethics by arguing that philosophers are the experts in this area, and philosophers' moral intuitions are both different from those of ordinary people and more reliable. We conducted two experiments indicating that philosophers and non-philosophers do indeed sometimes have (...) different moral intuitions, but challenging the notion that philosophers have better or more reliable intuitions. (shrink)
For the last 25 years discussions and debates about commonsense psychology (or “folk psychology,” as it is often called) have been center stage in the philosophy of mind. There have been heated disagreements both about what folk psychology is and about how it is related to the scientific understanding of the mind/brain that is emerging in psychology and the neurosciences. In this chapter we will begin by explaining why folk psychology plays such an important role in the philosophy of mind. (...) Doing that will require a quick look at a bit of the history of philosophical discussions about the mind. We’ll then turn our attention to the lively contemporary discussions aimed at clarifying the philosophical role that folk psychology is expected to play and at using findings in the cognitive sciences to get a clearer understanding of the exact nature of folk psychology. (shrink)
It is argued that the intuitively sanctioned distinction between beliefs and non-belief states that play a role in the proximate causal history of beliefs is a distinction worth preserving in cognitive psychology. The intuitive distinction is argued to rest on a pair of features exhibited by beliefs but not by subdoxastic states. These are access to consciousness and inferential integration. Harman's view, which denies the distinction between beliefs and subdoxastic states, is discussed and criticized.
In epistemology, fake-barn thought experiments are often taken to be intuitively clear cases in which a justified true belief does not qualify as knowledge. We report a study designed to determine whether non-philosophers share this intuition. The data suggest that while participants are less inclined to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases than in unproblematic cases of knowledge, they nonetheless do attribute knowledge to protagonists in fake-barn cases. Moreover, the intuition that fake-barn cases do count as knowledge is negatively correlated with (...) age; older participants are less likely than younger participants to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases. We also found that increasing the number of defeaters (fakes) does not decrease the inclination to attribute knowledge. (shrink)
Is behavioral integration (i.e., which occurs when a subjects assertion that p matches her non-verbal behavior) a necessary feature of belief in folk psychology? Our data from nearly 6,000 people across twenty-six samples, spanning twenty-two countries suggests that it is not. Given the surprising cross-cultural robustness of our findings, we suggest that the types of evidence for the ascription of a belief are, at least in some circumstances, lexicographically ordered: assertions are first taken into account, and when an agent sincerely (...) asserts that p, non-linguistic behavioral evidence is disregarded. In light of this, we take ourselves to have discovered a universal principle governing the ascription of beliefs in folk psychology. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to this gender gap. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. In section 1 we review some of the (...) data on the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. In section 2 we explain how we use the term 'intuition,' and offer a brief account of how intuitions are invoked in philosophical argument and philosophical theory building. In the third section we set out the evidence for gender differences in philosophical intuition and mention some evidence about gender differences in decisions and behaviors that are (or should be) of considerable interest to philosophers. In the fourth section, our focus changes from facts to hypotheses. In that section we explain how differences in philosophical intuition might be an important part of the explanation for the gender gap in philosophy. The fifth section is a brief conclusion. (shrink)
Throughout the 20th century, an enormous amount of intellectual fuel was spent debating the merits of a class of skeptical arguments which purport to show that knowledge of the external world is not possible. These arguments, whose origins can be traced back to Descartes, played an important role in the work of some of the leading philosophers of the 20th century, including Russell, Moore and Wittgenstein, and they continue to engage the interest of contemporary philosophers. (e.g., Cohen 1999, DeRose 1995, (...) Hill 1996, Klein 1981, Lewis 1996, McGinn 1993, Nozick 1981, Schiffer 1996, Unger 1975, Williams 1996) Typically, these arguments make use of one or more premises which the philosophers proposing them take to be intuitively obvious. Beyond an appeal to intuition, little or no defense is offered, and in many cases it is hard to see what else could be said in support of these premises. A number of authors have suggested that the intuitions undergirding these skeptical arguments are universal – shared by everyone (or almost everyone) who thinks reflectively about knowledge. In this paper we will offer some evidence indicating that they are far from universal. Rather, the evidence suggests that many of the intuitions epistemologists invoke vary with the cultural background, socioeconomic status and educational background of the person offering the intuition. And this, we will argue, is bad news for the skeptical arguments that rely on those intuitions. The evidence may also be bad news for skepticism itself – not because it shows that skepticism is false, but rather because, if we accept one prominent account of the link between epistemic intuitions and epistemic concepts, it indicates that skepticism may be much less interesting and much less worrisome than philosophers have taken it to be. (shrink)
We have recently presented evidence for cross-cultural variation in semantic intuitions and explored the implications of such variation for philosophical arguments that appeal to some theory of reference as a premise. Devitt (2011) and Ichikawa and colleagues (forthcoming) offer critical discussions of the experiment and the conclusions that can be drawn from it. In this response, we reiterate and clarify what we are really arguing for, and we show that most of Devitt’s and Ichikawa and colleagues’ criticisms fail to address (...) our concerns. (shrink)
A central goal of contemporary cognitive science is the explanation of cognitive abilities or capacities. [Cummins 1983] During the last three decades a wide range of cognitive capacities have been subjected to careful empirical scrutiny. The adult's ability to produce and comprehend natural language sentences and the child's capacity to acquire a natural language were among the first to be explored. [Chomsky 1965, Fodor, Bever & Garrett 1974, Pinker 1989] There is also a rich literature on the ability to solve (...) mathematical problems [Greeno 1983], the ability to recognize objects visually [Rock 1983, Gregory 1970, Marr 1982], the ability to manipulate and predict the behavior of middle sized physical objects [McClosky 1983, Hayes 1985], and a host of others. (shrink)
Intuitions play an important role in contemporary epistemology. Over the last decade, however, experimental philosophers have published a number of studies suggesting that epistemic intuitions may vary in ways that challenge the widespread reliance on intuitions in epistemology. In a recent paper, Jennifer Nagel offers a pair of arguments aimed at showing that epistemic intuitions do not, in fact, vary in problematic ways. One of these arguments relies on a number of claims defended by appeal to the psychological literature on (...) intuitive judgment and on mental state attribution (also known as “theory of mind”, “mindreading” and “folk psychology”). I call this the "theoretical argument". The other argument relies on recent experimental work carried out by Nagel and her collaborators. It is my contention that in setting out her theoretical argument, Nagel offers an account of the relevant scientific literature that is, in crucial respects, flawed and misleading. My main goal in this paper is to rectify these errors and to make it clear that, once this is done, Nagel’s theoretical argument collapses. Since Nagel’s experimental work has not yet been published, and available details are very sketchy, I do not discuss this work in detail. However, in the final section of the paper I offer some critical observations about Nagel’s strategy for dealing with empirical data that does not support her view – both other people’s and her own. (shrink)
Recent accounts of pretense have been underdescribed in a number of ways. In this paper, we present a much more explicit cognitive account of pretense. We begin by describing a number of real examples of pretense in children and adults. These examples bring out several features of pretense that any adequate theory of pretense must accommodate, and we use these features to develop our theory of pretense. On our theory, pretense representations are contained in a separate mental workspace, a Possible (...) World Box which is part of the basic architecture of the human mind. The representations in the Possible World Box can have the same content as beliefs. Indeed, we suggest that pretense representations are in the same representational ``code'' as beliefs and that the representations in the Possible World Box are processed by the same inference and UpDating mechanisms that operate over real beliefs. Our model also posits a Script Elaborator which is implicated in the embellishment that occurs in pretense. Finally, we claim that the behavior that is seen in pretend play is motivated not from a ``pretend desire'', but from a real desire to act in a way that ®ts the description being constructed in the Possible World Box. We maintain that this account can accommodate the central features of pretense exhibited in the examples of pretense, and we argue that the alternative accounts either can't accommodate or fail to address entirely some of the central features of pretense. q 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
If intuitions are associated with gender this might help to explain the fact that while the gender gap has disappeared in many other learned clubs, women are still seriously under-represented in the Philosophers Club. Since people who don’t have the intuitions that most club members share have a harder time getting into the club, and since the majority of Philosophers are now and always have been men, perhaps the under-representation of women is due, in part, to a selection effect.
In this article, we present evidence that in four different cultural groups that speak quite different languages there are cases of justified true beliefs that are not judged to be cases of knowledge. We hypothesize that this intuitive judgment, which we call “the Gettier intuition,” may be a reflection of an underlying innate and universal core folk epistemology, and we highlight the philosophical significance of its universality.
This essay grows out of the conviction that recent work by psychologists studying human reasoning has important implications for a broad range of philosophical issues. To illustrate our thesis we focus on Nelson Goodman's elegant and influential attempt to "dissolve" the problem of induction. In the first section of the paper we sketch Goodman's account of what it is for a rule of inference to be justified. We then marshal empirical evidence indicating that, on Goodman's account of justification, patently invalid (...) inferential rules turn out to be "justified." We conclude that something is seriously wrong with Goodman's story about justification. In the second section we attempt to patch Goodman's account. The notion of epistemic authority and the social aspect of justification play central roles in the alternative account of justification that we propose. (shrink)
A number of studies have shown that seemingly morally irrelevant factors influence the moral judgments of ordinary people. Some argue that philosophers are experts and are significantly less susceptible to such effects. We tested whether an unconscious cleanliness prime – the smell of Lysol – affects the judgments of both non-philosophers and professional philosophers. Our results suggest that the direction of cleanliness effects depends both on the respondent and whether the question is framed in the second or third person. They (...) also provide evidence that cleanliness cues affect the moral judgments of both non-philosophers and philosophers, challenging the philosopher-as-expert view. (shrink)
Over the last two decades, debates over the viability of commonsense psychology have been center stage in both cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. Eliminativists have argued that advances in cognitive science and neuroscience will ultimately justify a rejection of our "folk" theory of the mind, and of its ontology. In the first half of this book Stich, who was at one time a leading advocate of eliminativism, maintains that even if the sciences develop in the ways that eliminativists (...) foresee, none of the arguments for ontological elimination are tenable. Rather than being resolved by science, he contends, these ontological disputes will be settled by a pragmatic process in which social and political considerations have a major role to play. In later chapters, Stich argues that the widespread worry about "naturalizing" psychological properties is deeply confused, since there is no plausible account of what naturalizing requires on which the failure of the naturalization project would lead to eliminativism. He also offers a detailed analysis of the many different notions of folk psychology to be found in philosophy and psychology, and argues that simulation theory, which purports to be an alternative to folk psychology, is not supported by recent experimental findings. (shrink)
Since the heyday of ordinary language philosophy, Anglophone epistemologists have devoted a great deal of attention to the English word ‘know’ and to English sentences used to attribute knowledge. Even today, many epistemologists, including contextualists and subject-sensitive invariantists are concerned with the truth conditions of “S knows that p,” or the proposition it expresses. In all of this literature, the method of cases is used, where a situation is described in English, and then philosophers judge whether it is true that (...) S knows that p, or whether saying “S knows that p” is false, deviant, etc. in that situation. However, English is just one of over 6000 languages spoken around the world, and is the native language of less than 6% of the world’s population. When Western epistemology first emerged, in ancient Greece, English did not even exist. So why should we think that facts about the English word “know,” the concept it expresses, or subtle semantic properties of “S knows that p” have important implications for epistemology? Are the properties of the English word “know” and the English sentence ‘S knows that p’ shared by their translations in most or all languages? If that turned out to be true, it would be a remarkable fact that cries out for an explanation. But if it turned out to be false, what are the implications for epistemology? Should epistemologists study knowledge attributions in languages other than English with the same diligence they have shown for the study of English knowledge attributions? If not, why not? In what ways do the concepts expressed by ‘know’ and its counterparts in different languages differ? And what should epistemologists make of all this? (shrink)
The philosophy of cognitive science has recently become one of the most exciting and fastest growing domains of philosophical inquiry and analysis. Until the early 1980s, nearly all of the models developed treated cognitive processes -- like problem solving, language comprehension, memory, and higher visual processing -- as rule-governed symbol manipulation. However, this situation has changed dramatically over the last half dozen years. In that period there has been an enormous shift of attention toward connectionist models of cognition that are (...) inspired by the network-like architecture of the brain. Because of their unique architecture and style of processing, connectionist systems are generally regarded as radically different from the more traditional symbol manipulation models. This collection was designed to provide philosophers who have been working in the area of cognitive science with a forum for expressing their views on these recent developments. Because the symbol-manipulating paradigm has been so important to the work of contemporary philosophers, many have watched the emergence of connectionism with considerable interest. The contributors take very different stands toward connectionism, but all agree that the potential exists for a radical shift in the way many philosophers think of various aspects of cognition. Exploring this potential and other philosophical dimensions of connectionist research is the aim of this volume. (shrink)
We begin, in section 2, with a brief sketch of a cluster of assumptions about human desires, beliefs, actions, and motivation that are widely shared by historical and contemporary authors on both sides in the debate. With this as background, we’ll be able to offer a more sharply focused account of the debate. In section 3, our focus will be on links between evolutionary theory and the egoism/altruism debate. There is a substantial literature employing evolutionary theory on each side of (...) the issue. However, it is our contention that neither camp has offered a convincing case. We are much more sanguine about recent research on altruism in social psychology, which will be our topic in section 4. Though we don’t think this work has resolved the debate, we will argue that it has made illuminating progress – progress that philosophers interested in the question cannot afford to ignore. (shrink)
During the last 25 years, researchers studying human reasoning and judgment in what has become known as the “heuristics and biases” tradition have produced an impressive body of experimental work which many have seen as having “bleak implications” for the rationality of ordinary people (Nisbett and Borgida 1975). According to one proponent of this view, when we reason about probability we fall victim to “inevitable illusions” (Piattelli-Palmarini 1994). Other proponents maintain that the human mind is prone to “systematic deviations from (...) rationality” (Bazerman & Neale 1986) and is “not built to work by the rules of probability” (Gould 1992). It has even been suggested that human beings are “a species that is uniformly probability-blind” (Piattelli-Palmarini 1994). This provocative and pessimistic interpretation of the experimental findings has been challenged from many different directions over the years. One of the most recent and energetic of these challenges has come from the newly emerging field of evolutionary psychology, where it has been argued that it’s singularly implausible to claim that our species would have evolved with no “instinct for probability” and, hence, be “blind to chance” (Pinker 1997, 351). Though evolutionary psychologists concede that it is possible to design experiments that “trick our probability.. (shrink)
Sober and Wilson have propose a cluster of arguments for the conclusion that “natural selection is unlikely to have given us purely egoistic motives” and thus that psychological altruism is true. I maintain that none of these arguments is convincing. However, the most powerful of their arguments raises deep issues about what egoists and altruists are claiming and about the assumptions they make concerning the cognitive architecture underlying human motivation.
Questions regarding the nature of moral judgment loom large in moral philosophy. Perhaps the most basic of these questions asks how, exactly, moral judgments and moral rules are to be defined; what features distinguish them from other sorts of rules and judgments? A related question concerns the extent to which emotion and reason guide moral judgment. Are moral judgments made mainly on the basis of reason, or are they primarily the products of emotion? As an example of the former view, (...) Kant held all moral requirements to be derived from a principle of rationality (the categorical imperative). As an example of the latter, Hume famously claimed that reason is “the slave of the passions” and that moral judgments stem from the moral emotions. When addressing these issues, philosophers have largely relied on the traditional tools of philosophical analysis, along with introspection, anecdotal evidence and armchair speculation. In recent years, however, a rich body experimental psychology has emerged which, in the view of a growing number of philosophers, casts important new light on these venerable questions. Our aim, in this chapter, is to illustrate how empirical methods can help move traditional philosophical debates forward in interesting and important ways. Since space does not permit an exhaustive survey of the relevant experimental work, we will focus on a few of the most compelling examples. (shrink)
The topic of self-awareness has an impressive philosophical pedigree, and sustained discussion of the topic goes back at least to Descartes. More recently, selfawareness has become a lively issue in the cognitive sciences, thanks largely to the emerging body of work on “mindreading”, the process of attributing mental states to people (and other organisms). During the last 15 years, the processes underlying mindreading have been a major focus of attention in cognitive and developmental psychology. Most of this work has been (...) concerned with the processes underlying the attribution of mental states to other people. However, a number of psychologists and philosophers have also proposed accounts of the mechanisms underlying the attribution of mental states to oneself. This process of reading one’s own mind or becoming self- aware will be our primary concern in this paper. (shrink)
Moral psychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
1. When we attribute beliefs, desires, and other states of common sense psychology to a person, or for that matter to an animal or an artifact, we are assuming or presupposing that the person or object can be treated as an intentional system. 2. An intentional system is one which is rational through and through; its beliefs are those it ought to have, given its perceptual capacities, its epistemic needs, and its biography…. Its desires are those it ought to have, (...) given its biological needs and the most practicable means of satisfying them…. And its behavior will consist of those acts that it would be rational for an agent with those beliefs and desires to perform. [beliefs + desires action] 3. If rationality is absent, we cannot coherently ascribe beliefs at all. 4. Therefore, no experiment could demonstrate that people systematically invoke invalid or irrational inferential strategies. (shrink)
Beller, Bender, and Medin argue that a reconciliation between anthropology and cognitive science seems unlikely. We disagree. In our view, Beller et al.’s view of the scope of what anthropology can offer cognitive science is too narrow. In focusing on anthropology’s role in elucidating cultural particulars, they downplay the fact that anthropology can reveal both variation and universals in human cognition, and is in a unique position to do so relative to the other subfields of cognitive science. Indeed, without cross-cultural (...) research, the universality of any aspect of human cognition cannot truly be established. Therefore, if the goal of cognitive science is to understand the cognitive capacities of our species as a whole, then it cannot do without anthropology. We briefly review a growing body of anthropological work aimed at answering questions about human cognition and offer suggestions for future work. (shrink)