Although we are enthusiastic about a Darwinian approach to culture, we argue that the overview presented in the target article does not sufficiently emphasize the crucial explanatory role that psychology plays in the study of culture. We use a number of examples to illustrate the variety of ways by which appeal to psychological factors can help explain cultural phenomena. (Published Online November 9 2006).
In recent years there has been a great deal of discussion about the prospects of developing a ‘naturalized epistemology’, though different authors tend to interpret this label in quite different ways. One goal of this paper is to sketch three projects that might lay claim to the ‘naturalized epistemology’ label, and to argue that they are not all equally attractive. Indeed, I'll maintain that the first of the three—the one I'll attribute to Quine—is simply incoherent. There is no way we (...) could get what we want from an epistemological theory by pursuing the project Quine proposes. The second project on my list is a naturalized version of reliabilism. This project is not fatally flawed in the way that Quine's is. However, it's my contention that the sort of theory this project would yield is much less interesting than might at first be thought. (shrink)
In this defense of Reliabilism, I argue that there has been 'selection for' accurate indexical beliefs. I offer empirical evidence and examples to suggest that SteveStich's defense of the opposite claim in The Fragmentation of Reason is misguided.
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)
I argue that Stich's Syntactic Theory of Mind (STM) and a naturalistic narrow content functionalism run on a Language of Though story have the same exact structure. I elaborate on the argument that narrow content functionalism is either irremediably holistic in a rather destructive sense, or else doesn't have the resources for individuating contents interpersonally. So I show that, contrary to his own advertisement, Stich's STM has exactly the same problems (like holism, vagueness, observer-relativity, etc.) that he claims (...) plague content-based psychologies. So STM can't be any better than the Representational Theory of Mind (RTM) in its prospects for forming the foundations of a scientifically respectable psychology, whether or not RTM has the problems that Stich claims it does. (shrink)
Humans interpret others. We are able to anticipate both the actions and intentional states of other agents. We do not do so perfectly, but since we are complex and flexible creatures even limited success needs explanation. For some years now SteveStich (frequently in collaboration with Shaun Nichols) has been both participant in, and observer of, debates about the foundation of these capacities (Stich and Nichols 1992; Stich and Nichols 1995). As a commentator on this debate, (...)Stich (with Nichols) gave explicit and fair-minded sketches of the cognitive architectures presupposed by the various theories of mindreading. As a participant, Stich has mostly been a defender of the theory-theory, the view that normal human agents have an internally represented theory of other agents and they use that theory in interpreting other agents. The main recent rival to this position, simulationism, claims that agents use their own decision-making mechanisms as a model of those of other agents, and derive their predictions by modelling others in something like the way aeronautical engineers derive predictions from the use of scale models in wind-tunnels. Stich has been sceptical about this alternative, for on his view simulation theory makes mistaken predictions about both the development of interpretive competence and about the pattern of interpretive success and failure. (shrink)
From Descartes to Popper, philosophers have criticized and tried to improve the strategies of reasoning invoked in science and in everyday life. In recent years leading cognitive psychologists have painted a detailed, controversial, and highly critical portrait of common sense reasoning. Stephen Stich begins with a spirited defense of this work and a critique of those writers who argue that widespread irrationality is a biological or conceptual impossibility.Stich then explores the nature of rationality and irrationality: What is it (...) that distinguishes good reasoning from bad? He rejects the most widely accepted approaches to this question approaches which unpack rationality by appeal to truth, to reflective equilibrium or conceptual analysis. The alternative he defends grows out of the pragmatic tradition in which reasoning is viewed as a cognitive tool. Stich's version of pragmatism leads to a radical epistemic relativism and he argues that the widespread abhorrence of relativism is ill founded. (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)
In this paper we compare two theories about the cognitive architecture underlying morality. One theory, proposed by Sripada and Stich (forthcoming), posits an interlocking set of innate mechanisms that internalize moral norms from the surrounding community and generate intrinsic motivation to comply with these norms and to punish violators. The other theory, which we call the M/C model was suggested by the widely discussed and influential work of Elliott Turiel, Larry Nucci and others on the “moral/conventional task”. This theory (...) posits two distinct mental domains, the moral and the conventional, each of which gives rise to a characteristic suite of judgments about rules in that domain and about transgressions of those rules. We give an overview of both theories and of the data each was designed to explain. We go on to consider a growing body of evidence that suggests the M/C model is mistaken. That same evidence, however, is consistent with the Sripada and Stich theory. Thus, we conclude that the M/C model does not pose a serious challenge for the Sripada and Stich theory. (shrink)
The debate over off-line simulation has largely focussed on the capacity to predict behavior, but the basic idea of off-line simulation can be cast in a much broader framework. The central claim of the off-line account of behavior prediction is that the practical reasoning mechanism is taken off-line and used for predicting behavior. However, there's no reason to suppose that the idea of off-line simulation can't be extended to mechanisms other than the practical reasoning system. In principle, any cognitive component (...) can be taken off-line and used to perform some other function. On this view of off-line simulation, such accounts differ radically from traditional information-based accounts of cognitive capacities. And cognitive penetrability provides a wedge for empirically determining whether a capacity requires an information-based account or an off-line simulation account. Stich and Nichols (1992) argued that the simulation theory of behavior prediction was inadequate because behavior prediction seemed to be cognitively penetrable. We present empirical evidence that supports the claim that the behavior prediction is cognitively penetrable. As a result, the simulation account of behavior prediction still seems unpromising. However, off-line simulation might provide accounts of other cognitive capacities. Indeed, off- line simulation accounts have recently been offered for a strikingly diverse set of capacities including counterfactual reasoning, empathy and mental imagery. Goldman, for instance, maintains that counterfactual reasoning and empathy clearly demand off-line simulation accounts. We argue that there are alternative information-based explanations of these phenomena. Nonetheless, the off-line accounts of these phenomena are interesting and clearly worthy of further exploration. (shrink)
Samuels and Stich explore the debate over the extent to which ordinary human reasoning and decision making is rational. One prominent cluster of views, often associated with the heuristics and biases tradition in psychology, maintains that human reasoning is, in important respects, normatively problematic or irrational. Samuels and Stich start by sketching some key experimental findings from this tradition and describe a range of pessimistic claims about the rationality of ordinary people that these and related findings are sometimes (...) taken to support. Such pessimistic interpretations of the experimental findings have not gone unchallenged however: Samuels and Stich outline some of the research on reasoning that has been done by evolutionary psychologists and sketch a cluster of more optimistic theses about ordinary reasoning that such psychologists defend. Although Samuels and Stich think that the most dire pronouncements made by writers in the heuristics and biases tradition are unwarranted, they also maintain that the situation is rather more pessimistic than sometimes suggested by evolutionary psychologists. They conclude by defending this “middle way” and sketch a family of “dual processing” theories of reasoning which, they argue, offer some support for the moderate interpretation they advocate. (shrink)
In this book, Stich unravels - or deconstructs - the doctrine called "eliminativism". Eliminativism claims that beliefs, desires, and many other mental states we use to describe the mind do not exist, but are fiction posits of a badly mistaken theory of "folk psychology". Stich makes a u-turn in his book, opening up new and controversial positions.
This volume collects the best and most influential essays that Stephen Stich has published in the last 40 years on topics in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. They discuss a wide range of topics including grammar, innateness, reference, folk psychology, eliminativism, connectionism, evolutionary psychology, simulation theory, social construction, and psychopathology. However, they are unified by two central concerns. The first is the viability of the commonsense conception of the mind in the face of challenges posed (...) by both philosophical arguments and empirical findings. The second is the philosophical implications of research in the cognitive sciences which, in the last half century, has transformed both our understanding of the mind and the ways in which the mind is studied. The volume includes a new introductory essay that elaborates on these themes and offers an overview of the papers that follow. (shrink)
The everyday capacity to understand the mind, fancifully dubbed 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our lives. In the latter half of the 20th century mindreading became the object of sustained scientific and theoretical research, capturing the attention of a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, developmental psychology, behavioral ecology, anthropology, and cognitive psychopathology. What has been missing is a detailed and integrated account of the mental components that underlie this remarkable capacity. Nichols and Stich develop and defend a (...) new account of the psychological mechanisms underlying mindreading. They maintain that it is, as common sense would suggest, vital to distinguish between reading others' minds and reading one's own. In reading other minds, the imagination plays a central role. As a result, the authors begin with an explicit and systematic account of pretence and imagination which proposes that pretence representations are contained in a separate mental workspace, the 'Possible World Box', which is part of the basic architecture of the human mind. The mechanisms underlying pretence get recruited when people attempt to understand others and predict their behaviour. In some cases, we use our own mental mechanisms to simulate the mental processes of another, as suggested by the 'simulation theory' of mindreading. However, mindreading also implicates very different kinds of mechanisms that rely on rich bodies of information, as suggested by information-based accounts of mindreading. In addition, the authors argue, reading other minds involves important processes that don't fit into either category. None of these mechanisms, though, explain how we read our own minds, which, according to the authors, requires invoking an entirely independent set of mechanisms.What we find, then, is an intricate web of mental components to explain our fascinating and multifarious knack of understanding minds. This account provides a valuable framework for future work on mindreading and has broad implications for philosophical debates that have surrounded the issue for the last quarter century. (shrink)
This volume collects the best and most influential essays on knowledge, rationality and morality that Stephen Stich has published in the last 40 years. The volume includes a new introductory essay that offers an overview of the papers and traces the history of how they emerged.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
Humans are unique in the animal world in the extent to which their day-to-day behavior is governed by a complex set of rules and principles commonly called norms. Norms delimit the bounds of proper behavior in a host of domains, providing an invisible web of normative structure embracing virtually all aspects of social life. People also find many norms to be deeply meaningful. Norms give rise to powerful subjective feelings that, in the view of many, are an important part of (...) what it is to be a human agent. Despite the vital role of norms in human lives and human behavior, and the central role they play in explanations in the social sciences, there has been very little systematic attention devoted to norms in cognitive science. Much existing research is partial and piecemeal, making it difficult to know how individual findings cohere into a comprehensive picture. Our goal in this essay is to offer an account of the psychological mechanisms and processes underlying norms that integrates what is known and can serve as a framework for future research. (shrink)
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)
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)
A venerable view, still very much alive, holds that human action is to be explained at least in part in terms of beliefs and desires. Those who advocate the view expect that the psychological theory which explains human behavior will invoke the concepts of belief and desire in a substantive way. I will call this expectation the belief-desire thesis. Though there would surely be a quibble or a caveat here and there, the thesis would be endorsed by an exceptionally heterogeneous (...) collection of psychologists and philosophers ranging from Freud and Hume, to Thomas Szasz and Richard Brandt. Indeed, a number of philosophers have contended that the thesis, or something like it, is embedded in our ordinary, workaday concept of action. If they are right, and I think they are, then insofar as we use the concept of action we are all committed to the belief-desire thesis. My purpose in this paper is to explore the tension between the belief-desire thesis and a widely held assumption about the nature of explanatory psychological theories, an assumption that serves as a fundamental regulative principle for much of contemporary psychological theorizing. This assumption, which for want of a better term I will call the principle of psychological autonomy, will be the focus of the first of the sections below. In the second section I will elaborate a bit on how the belief-desire thesis is to be interpreted, and try to extract from it a principle that will serve as a premise in the argument to follow. In the third section I will set out an argument to the effect that large numbers of belief-desire explanations of action, indeed perhaps the bulk of such explanations, are incompatible with the principle of autonomy. Finally, in the last section, I will fend off a possible objection to my argument. In the process, I will try to make clear just why the argument works and what price we should have to pay if we were resolved to avoid its consequences. (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.
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)
Many philosophical naturalists eschew analysis in favor of discovering metaphysical truths from the a posteriori, contending that analysis does not lead to philosophical insight. A countercurrent to this approach seeks to reconcile a certain account of conceptual analysis with philosophical naturalism; prominent and influential proponents of this methodology include the late David Lewis, Frank Jackson, Michael Smith, Philip Pettit, and David Armstrong. Naturalistic analysis is a tool for locating in the scientifically given world objects and properties we quantify over in (...) everyday discourse. This collection gathers work from a range of prominent philosophers who are working within this tradition, offering important new work as well as critical evaluations of the methodology. Its centerpiece is an important posthumous paper by David Lewis, "Ramseyan Humility," published here for the first time. The contributors first address issues of philosophy of mind, semantics, and the new methodology's a priori character, then turn to matters of metaphysics, and finally consider problems regarding normativity. Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism is one of the first efforts to apply this approach to such a wide range of philosophical issues. _Contributors: _David Braddon-Mitchell, Mark Colyvan, Frank Jackson, Justine Kingsbury, Fred Kroon, David Lewis, Dustin Locke, Kelby Mason, Jonathan McKeown-Green, Peter Menzies, Robert Nola, Daniel Nolan, Philip Pettit, Huw Price, Denis Robinson, SteveStich, Daniel Stoljar The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket. (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)
Frank Jackson has given us an elegant and important book. It is, by a long shot, the most sophisticated defense of the use of conceptual analysis in philosophy that has ever been offered. But we also we find it a rather perplexing book, for we can’t quite figure out what Jackson thinks a conceptual analysis is. And until we get clearer on that, we’re not at all sure that conceptual analysis, as Jackson envisions it, is possible. The main reason for (...) our perplexity is that Jackson seems to be making some empirical assumptions about people’s intuitions and the psychological mechanisms that give rise to them, though it is far from clear exactly what these empirical assumptions are. Moreover, on what is perhaps the most natural reading, he is making at least one assumption about which many cognitive scientists who study concepts have serious doubts. In the first of our two sections, we will elaborate this theme. Our goal, in that section, is not so much to criticize as to seek clarification. It is a great virtue of this journal’s multiple review format that critics can pose questions to authors, and the authors get to reply. So we hope that in his reply Jackson will help us understand his defense of conceptual analysis by explaining more clearly what his empirical assumptions are; and if he is indeed making an assumption that many cognitive scientists would challenge, we hope he will tell us why he thinks that challenge is misguided. In the second section, our stance will be more critical. There is one empirical assumption about which Jackson is admirably clear and explicit. However, we think there is now good reason to think that this assumption is false. (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)
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)