Daniel Dennett's distinction between personal and subpersonal explanations was fundamental in establishing the philosophical foundations of cognitive science. Since it was first introduced in 1969, the personal/subpersonal distinction has been adapted to fit different approaches to the mind. In one example of this, the ‘Pittsburgh school’ of philosophers attempted to map Dennett's distinction onto their own distinction between the ‘space of reasons’ and the ‘space of causes’. A second example can be found in much contemporary philosophy of psychology, where Dennett's (...) distinction has been presumed to be equivalent to Stephen Stich's distinction between doxastic and subdoxastic states. Both these interpretations of the personal/subpersonal distinction, and also Dennett's own philosophical views of the mind, go beyond the personal/subpersonal distinction itself. They each involve supplementing the distinction between personal and subpersonal explanations with metaphysical claims about the relationship between the two kinds of explanation and the entities they posit. (shrink)
In this paper, I claim that the personal/subpersonal distinction is first and foremost a distinction between two kinds of psychological theory or explanation: it is only in this form that we can understand why the distinction was first introduced, and how it continues to earn its keep. I go on to examine the different ontological commitments that might lead us from the primary distinction between personal and subpersonal explanations to a derivative distinction between personal and subpersonal states. I argue that (...) on one of the most common metaphysical interpretations of the explanatory distinction, talk of a distinction between personal and subpersonal states simply makes no sense. When people insist on applying the personal/subpersonal terminology to psychological states, I allow that they are often making a genuine distinction, but one that it is best understood in terms of Stich's (1978) distinction between doxastic and subdoxastic states. I end the paper by considering some other common misinterpretations of the personal/subpersonal distinction, such as those involving consciousness, normativity, or autonomy. (shrink)
Many models of cognitive ability and disability rely on the idea of cognition as abstract reasoning processes implemented in the brain. Research in cognitive science, however, emphasizes the way that our cognitive skills are embodied in our more basic capacities for sensing and moving, and the way that tools in the external environment can extend the cognitive abilities of our brains. This chapter addresses the implications of research in embodied cognition and extended cognition for how we think about cognitive impairment (...) and rehabilitation, how cognitive reserve mitigates neural impairment, and the distinction between medical and social models of disability. (shrink)
Modular approaches to the architecture of the mind claim that some mental mechanisms, such as sensory input processes, operate in special-purpose subsystems that are functionally independent from the rest of the mind. This assumption of modularity seems to be in tension with recent claims that the mind has a predictive architecture. Predictive approaches propose that both sensory processing and higher-level processing are part of the same Bayesian information-processing hierarchy, with no clear boundary between perception and cognition. Furthermore, it is not (...) clear how any part of the predictive architecture could be functionally independent, given that each level of the hierarchy is influenced by the level above. Both the assumption of continuity across the predictive architecture and the seeming non-isolability of parts of the predictive architecture seem to be at odds with the modular approach. I explore and ultimately reject the predictive approach’s apparent commitments to continuity and non-isolation. I argue that predictive architectures can be modular architectures, and that we should in fact expect predictive architectures to exhibit some form of modularity. (shrink)
Predictive approaches to the mind claim that perception, cognition, and action can be understood in terms of a single framework: a hierarchy of Bayesian models employing the computational strategy of predictive coding. Proponents of this view disagree, however, over the extent to which perception is direct on the predictive approach. I argue that we can resolve these disagreements by identifying three distinct notions of perceptual directness: psychological, metaphysical, and epistemological. I propose that perception is plausibly construed as psychologically indirect on (...) the predictive approach, in the sense of being constructivist or inferential. It would be wrong to conclude from this, however, that perception is therefore indirect in a metaphysical or epistemological sense on the predictive approach. In the metaphysical case, claims about the inferential properties of constructivist perceptual mechanisms are consistent with both direct and indirect solutions to the metaphysical problem of perception (e.g. naïve realism, representationalism, sense datum theory). In the epistemological case, claims about the inferential properties of constructivist perceptual mechanisms are consistent with both direct and indirect approaches to the justification of perceptual belief. In this paper, I demonstrate how proponents of the predictive approach have conflated these distinct notions of perceptual directness and indirectness, and I propose alternative strategies for developing the philosophical consequences of the approach. (shrink)
Intellectualism is the claim that practical knowledge or ‘know-how’ is a kind of propositional knowledge. The debate over Intellectualism has appealed to two different kinds of evidence, semantic and scientific. This paper concerns the relationship between Intellectualist arguments based on truth-conditional semantics of practical knowledge ascriptions, and anti-Intellectualist arguments based on cognitive science and propositional representation. The first half of the paper argues that the anti-Intellectualist argument from cognitive science rests on a naturalistic approach to metaphysics: its proponents assume that (...) findings from cognitive science provide evidence about the nature of mental states. We demonstrate that this fact has been overlooked in the ensuing debate, resulting in inconsistency and confusion. Defenders of the semantic approach to Intellectualism engage with the argument from cognitive science in a way that implicitly endorses this naturalistic metaphysics, and even rely on it to claim that cognitive science support Intellectualism. In the course of their arguments, however, they also reject that scientific findings can have metaphysical import. We argue that this situation is preventing productive debate about Intellectualism, which would benefit from both sides being more transparent about their metaphilosophical assumptions. (shrink)
How does the philosophical debate between naive realism and intentionalism relate to the psychological debate between ecological theories and constructivist theories? The participants in each debate take themselves to be doing something distinctive, but I show that characterizing the distinction is difficult: the theories in both debates use inference to the best explanation to draw contingent conclusions about the constitutive nature of perception. I argue that both debates concern the metaphysics of perception, and that philosophers of perception are wrong to (...) think that constructivist and ecological theories are engaged in a distinct and non-metaphysical task. (shrink)
The past twenty years have seen an increase in the importance of the body in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. This 'embodied' trend challenges the orthodox view in cognitive science in several ways: it downplays the traditional 'mind-as-computer' approach and emphasizes the role of interactions between the brain, body, and environment. In this article, I review recent work in the area of embodied cognitive science and explore the approaches each takes to the ideas of consciousness, computation and representation. Finally, (...) I look at the current relationship between orthodox cognitive science and the study of mental disorder, and consider the implications that the embodied trend could have for issues in psychopathology. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between several ideas about the mind and cognition. The hypothesis of extended cognition claims that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head, that elements of the world around us can actually become parts of our cognitive systems. It has recently been suggested that the hypothesis of extended cognition is entailed by one of the foremost philosophical positions on the nature of the mind: functionalism, the thesis that mental states are defined by their functional (...) relations rather than by their physical constituents. Furthermore, it has been claimed that functionalism entails a version of extended cognition which is sufficiently radical as to be obviously false. I survey the debate and propose several ways of avoiding this conclusion, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing the hypothesis of extended cognition from the related notion of the extended mind. (shrink)
The neural vehicles of mental representation play an explanatory role in cognitive psychology that their realizers do not. In this paper, I argue that the individuation of realizers as vehicles of representation restricts the sorts of explanations in which they can participate. I illustrate this with reference to Rupert’s (2011) claim that representational vehicles can play an explanatory role in psychology in virtue of their quantity or proportion. I propose that such quantity-based explanatory claims can apply only to realizers and (...) not to vehicles, in virtue of the particular causal role that vehicles play in psychological explanations. (shrink)
Explanations in psychology are described as personal when they attribute psychological phenomena to the person, as when we attribute beliefs and thought processes to each other, for example. By contrast, explanations in psychology are described as subpersonal when they attribute psychological phenomena below the level of the person, as occurs when scientists describe parts of the brain as representing or evaluating, for example. The practice of subpersonal psychology raises a number of philosophical issues: whether it is acceptable to attribute psychological (...) phenomena to parts of persons, for example, and whether such attributions can yield any explanatory benefit. Even those who endorse subpersonal psychology do not necessarily agree on what this entails: there are several distinct ways of understanding the relationship between subpersonal psychology and personal psychology, which depend in part on how the ontological commitments of subpersonal explanations are understood. (shrink)
Carrie Figdor argues for literalism, a semantic claim about psychological predicates, on the basis of a scientific claim about the nature of psychological properties. I argue that her scientific claim is based on controversial interpretations of scientific modelling, and that even if it were correct it would not justify her claims that psychological predicates are undergoing radical conceptual change.
This unpublished article was written around 2009 for a journal special issue of a journal which never materialized. In 2018, the article was rewritten and published in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability. It can be found on PhilPapers as Drayson and Clark (2018), 'Cognitive Disability and the Embodied, Extended Mind'.
Fictionalists propose that some apparently fact-stating discourses do not aim to convey factual information about the world, but rather allow us to engage in a fiction or pretense without incurring ontological commitments. Some philosophers have suggested that using mathematical, modal, or moral discourse, for example, need not commit us to the existence of mathematical objects, possible worlds, or moral facts. The mental fictionalist applies this reasoning to our mental discourse, suggesting that we can use ‘belief’ and ‘desire’ talk without committing (...) to the existence of beliefs and desires as mental entities. Most arguments for mental fictionalism are based on two key suppositions: first, that there are ontological concerns about mental entities; and second, that these ontological concerns justify a fictionalist interpretation of mental discourse. This paper challenges both suppositions and argues that the standard arguments for mental fictionalism are substantially weaker than arguments for other forms of fictionalism in the philosophical literature. (shrink)
Contemporary scientific and philosophical literature on perception often focuses on the relationship between perception and action, emphasizing the ways in which perception can be understood as geared towards action or ‘action-oriented’. In this paper I provide a framework within which to classify approaches to action-oriented perception, and I highlight important differences between the distinct approaches. I show how talk of perception as action-oriented can be applied to the evolutionary history of perception, neural or psychological perceptual mechanisms, the semantic content or (...) phenomenal character of perceptual states, or to the metaphysical nature of perception. I argue that there are no straightforward inferences from one kind of action-oriented perception to another. Using this framework and its insights, I then explore the notion of action-oriented perceptual representation which plays a key role in some approaches to embodied cognitive science. I argue that the concept of action-oriented representation proposed by Clark and Wheeler is less straightforward than it might seem, because it seems to require both that the mechanisms of perceptual representation are action-oriented and that the content of these perceptual representations are action-oriented. Given that neither of these claims can be derived from the other, proponents of action-oriented representation owe us separate justification for each claim. I will argue that such justifications are not forthcoming in the literature, and that attempts to reconstruct them run into trouble: the sorts of arguments offered for the representational mechanisms being action-oriented seem to undermine the sorts of arguments offered for the representational content being action-oriented, and vice-versa. (shrink)
In some situations, we attribute intentional mental states to a person despite their inability to articulate the contents in question: these are implicit mental states. Attributions of implicit mental states raise certain philosophical challenges related to rationality, concept possession, and privileged access. In the philosophical literature, there are two distinct strategies for addressing these challenges, depending on whether the content attributions are personal-level or subpersonal-level. This paper explores the difference between personal-level and subpersonal-level approaches to implicit mental state attribution and (...) investigates the relationship between the two approaches. It concludes by highlighting the methodological and metaphilosophical commitments which can result in different perspectives on the relative priority of personal-level and subpersonal-level theories. (shrink)
Detecting conscious awareness in a patient emerging from a coma state is problematic, because our standard attributions of conscious awareness rely on interpreting bodily movement as intentional action. Where there is an absence of intentional bodily action, as in the vegetative state, can we reliably assume that there is an absence of conscious awareness? Recent neuroimaging work suggests that we can attribute conscious awareness to some patients in a vegetative state by interpreting their brain activity as intentional mental action. I (...) suggest that this change of focus, from the interpretation of motor behaviour as intentional bodily action to the interpretation of neural activity as intentional mental action, raises philosophical issues that affect the interpretation of the neuroimaging data. (shrink)
Two very different forms of externalism about mental states appear prima facie unrelated: Williamson’s (1995, 2000) claim that knowledge is a mental state, and Clark & Chalmers’ (1998) extended mind hypothesis. I demonstrate, however, that the two approaches justify their radically externalist by appealing to the same argument from explanatory generality. I argue that if one accepts either Williamson’s claims or Clark & Chalmers’ claims on considerations of explanatory generality then, ceteris paribus, one should accept the other. This conclusion has (...) implications for philosophy of mind, epistemology, and cognitive science. (shrink)
In Thinking and Perceiving, Stokes challenges “the pernicious cognitive effects assumption”: the assumption that it would be epistemically problematic if our thoughts were to directly influence our perceptual experience. In doing so, Stokes takes himself to be supplementing the epistemological claims of philosophers like Siegel and Lyons with descriptive claims about human psychology. I argue that his conclusions are more radical than they first appear, to the extent that Stokes’s project is at odds with the standard epistemological discussions of cognitive (...) penetration. (shrink)
Neurath (1932) suggests that in our quest for scientific knowledge “we are like sailors who have to rebuild their ship on the open sea, without ever being able to dismantle it in dry-dock and reconstruct it from its best components”. Neurath's boat features in discussions of various philosophical ideas, including the debate with foundationalism and coherentism about justification, the ethics literature on reflective equilibrium, and naturalistic approaches to metaphilosophy.