Carrie Figdor presents a critical assessment of how psychological terms are used to describe the non-human biological world. She argues against the anthropocentric attitude which takes human cognition as the standard against which non-human capacities are measured, and offers an alternative basis for naturalistic explanation of the mind.
The lack of gender parity in philosophy has garnered serious attention recently. Previous empirical work that aims to quantify what has come to be called “the gender gap” in philosophy focuses mainly on the absence of women in philosophy faculty and graduate programs. Our study looks at gender representation in philosophy among undergraduate students, undergraduate majors, graduate students, and faculty. Our findings are consistent with what other studies have found about women faculty in philosophy, but we were able to add (...) two pieces of new information. First, the biggest drop in the proportion of women in philosophy occurs between students enrolled in introductory philosophy classes and philosophy majors. Second, this drop is mitigated by the presence of more women philosophy faculty. (shrink)
Humanists argue for assigning the highest moral status to all humans over any non-humans directly or indirectly on the basis of uniquely superior human cognitive abilities. They may also claim that humanism is the strongest position from which to combat racism, sexism, and other forms of within-species discrimination. I argue that changing conceptual foundations in comparative research and discoveries of advanced cognition in many non-human species reveal humanism’s psychological speciesism and its similarity with common justifications of within-species discrimination.
Many empirically minded philosophers have used neuroscientific data to argue against the multiple realization of cognitive functions in existing biological organisms. I argue that neuroscientists themselves have proposed a biologically based concept of multiple realization as an alternative to interpreting empirical findings in terms of one‐to‐one structure‐function mappings. I introduce this concept and its associated research framework and also how some of the main neuroscience‐based arguments against multiple realization go wrong. *Received October 2009; revised December 2009. †To contact the author, (...) please write to: Department of Philosophy, 260 English‐Philosophy Building, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; e‐mail: carrie‐[email protected] (shrink)
What is the content of a mental state? This question poses the problem of intentionality: to explain how mental states can be about other things, where being about them is understood as representing them. A framework that integrates predictive coding and signaling systems theories of cognitive processing offers a new perspective on intentionality. On this view, at least some mental states are evaluations, which differ in function, operation, and normativity from representations. A complete naturalistic theory of intentionality must account for (...) both types of intentional state. (shrink)
I commend Mikhalevich & Powell for extending the discussion of cognition and its relation to moral status with their well researched and argued target article on invertebrate cognition. I have two small criticisms: that the scala naturae still retains its appeal to some in biology as well as psychology, and that drawing the line at invertebrates requires a bit more defense given the larger comparative cognitive-scientific context.
One question of the bounds of cognition is that of which things have it. A scientifically relevant debate on this question must explain the persistent and selective use of psychological predicates to report findings throughout biology: for example, that neurons prefer, fruit flies and plants decide, and bacteria communicate linguistically. This paper argues that these claims should enjoy default literal interpretation. An epistemic consequence is that these findings can contribute directly to understanding the nature of psychological capacities.
Philosophical tradition has long held that free will is necessary for moral responsibility. We report experimental results that show that the folk do not think free will is necessary for moral responsibility. Our results also suggest that experimental investigation of the relationship is ill served by a focus on incompatibilism versus compatibilism. We propose an alternative framework for empirical moral psychology in which judgments of free will and moral responsibility can vary independently in response to many factors. We also suggest (...) that, in response to some factors, the necessity relation may run from responsibility to free will. (shrink)
I separate two intrinsic/extrinsic distinctions that are often conflated: one between properties (the intrinsic/extrinsic, or I/E, distinction) and one between the ways in which properties are had by individuals (the intrinsically/extrinsically, or I-ly/E-ly, distinction). I propose an analysis of the I-ly/E-ly distinction and its relation to the I/E distinction that explains, inter alia, the puzzle of cross-classification: how it can be, for example, that the property of being square can be classified as an intrinsic property and yet individuals can be (...) square intrinsically or else extrinsically. (shrink)
Work on the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction is often motivated by its use in other areas, such as intrinsic value, real vs. Cambridge change, supervenience and other topics. With the exception of Figdor 2008, philosophers have sought to articulate a global distinction -- a distinction between kinds of properties, rather than ways in which individuals have properties. I argue that global I/E distinctions are unable to do the work that allegedly motivates them, focusing on the case of intrinsic value.
When a society is characterized by a climate of distrust, how does this impact the professional practices of news journalism? I focus on the practice of balance, or fair presentation of both sides in a story. I articulate a two-step model of how trust modulates the acceptance of tes-timony and draw out its implications for justifying the practice of balance.
I review a widely accepted argument to the conclusion that the contents of our beliefs, desires and other mental states cannot be causally efficacious in a classical computational model of the mind. I reply that this argument rests essentially on an assumption about the nature of neural structure that we have no good scientific reason to accept. I conclude that computationalism is compatible with wide semantic causal efficacy, and suggest how the computational model might be modified to accommodate this possibility.
I argue that an explicit distinction between cognitive characters and cognitive phenotypes is needed for empirical progress in the cognitive sciences and their integration with evolution-guided sciences. I elaborate what ontological commitment to characters involves and how such a commitment would clarify ongoing debates about the relations between human and nonhuman cognition and the extent of cognitive abilities across biological species. I use theoretical proposals in episodic memory, language, and sociocultural bases of cognition to illustrate how cognitive characters are being (...) introduced in scientific practice. (shrink)
This chapter describes the conceptual foundations of cognitive science during its establishment as a science in the 20th century. It is organized around the core ideas of individual agency as its basic explanans and information-processing as its basic explanandum. The latter consists of a package of ideas that provide a mathematico-engineering framework for the philosophical theory of materialism.
This Editorial summarizes the papers in a Frontiers in Communication Research Topic that looks at science journalism’s mediating role between the production of scientific knowledge and its public uptake. The four papers in the Research Topic consider science communication and journalism from the perspective of philosophy of science and epistemology. Framing the Research Topic is a conceptual analysis of the multiple aims of science communication and an assessment of empirical evidence to date regarding whether these aims are being met. The (...) other papers consider the practices of science journalism, the public reception of science information, and how the process of science is presented in three major mass media outlets. (shrink)
Animal models have long been used to investigate human mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. This practice is usually justified in terms of the benefits (to humans) outweighing the costs (to the animals). I argue on utility maximization grounds that we should phase out animal models in neuropsychiatric research. Our leading theories of how human minds and behavior evolved invoke sociocultural factors whose relation to nonhuman minds, societies, and behavior has not been homologized. Thus it is not at all (...) clear that we are gaining the epistemic or clinical benefits we want from this animal-based research. (shrink)
This paper argues that the cognitive neuroscientific use of ordinary mental terms to report research results and draw implications can contribute to public confusion and misunderstanding regarding neuroscience results. This concern is raised at a time when cognitive neuroscientists are increasingly required by funding agencies to link their research to specific results of public benefit, and when neuroethicists have called for greater attention to public communication of neuroscience. The paper identifies an ethical dimension to the problem and presses for greater (...) sensitivity and responsibility among neuroscientists regarding their use of such terms. (shrink)
This article clarifies three principles that should guide the development of any cognitive ontology. First, that an adequate cognitive ontology depends essentially on an adequate task ontology; second, that the goal of developing a cognitive ontology is independent of the goal of finding neural implementations of the processes referred to in the ontology; and third, that cognitive ontologies are neutral regarding the metaphysical relationship between cognitive and neural processes.
Many media critics believe news reports are inevitably biased and have urged journalists to abandon the objectivity norm. I show that the main arguments for inevitable bias fail but identify factors that make producing objective news difficult. I indicate what the next steps should be to understand bias in the news and to combat it.
I introduce and defend verbialism, a metaphysical framework appropriate for accommodating the mind within the natural sciences and the mechanistic model of explanation that ties the natural sciences together. Verbialism is the view that mental phenomena belong in the basic ontological category of activities. If mind is what brain does, then explaining the mind is explaining how it occurs, and the ontology of mind is verbialist -- at least, it ought to be. I motivate verbialism by revealing a kind of (...) inattentional blindness philosophers of mind have shown when it comes to conceiving of their explanandum as a kind of complex activity. I also show how the project of naturalizing the mind is altered when we correct for this inattention. (shrink)
In this essay I raise a dilemma for science journalists based on recent skepticism raised by scientists about the credibility of published results in many fields. Due to systematic biases in the publication record, most published findings in these fields (including psychology and biological subfields) are almost certainly false. So should science reporters stop reporting these findings, given their mission to report verified truths? Or should they report the findings while saying they are almost certainly false?
This paper summarizes recent and ongoing experimental work regarding the reality, nature, effects, and causes of the underrepresentation of women in academic philosophy. We first present empirical data on several aspects of underrepresentation, and then consider various reasons why this gender imbalance is problematic. We then turn to the published and preliminary results of empirical work aimed at identifying factors that might explain it.
This chapter discusses the nature of objective news and the debate regarding its possibility. It then assesses the main arguments for the unattainability of objective news. A close examination of these arguments shows that, contrary to widespread belief, journalists who try to provide objective news are not striving in vain. The chapter discusses the effect of competing journalistic aims and other limitations on our efforts to generate objective news. It suggests that the unwarranted skepticism regarding the possibility of objective news (...) is an artifact of the changing priorities of journalists and inadequate journalistic methods, and that the only real issue is how we can better train those journalists who want to generate objective news. (shrink)
Internal mechanisms that uphold the reliability of published scientific results have failed across many sciences, including some that are major sources of science news. Traditional methods for reporting science in the mass media do not effectively compensate for this unreliability. I argue for a new conceptual framework in which science journalists and scientists form a complex knowledge community, with science news as the interdisciplinary product. This approach motivates forms of collaboration and training that can improve the epistemic reliability of science (...) news. (shrink)
A leading theoretical framework for naturalistic explanation of mind holds that we explain the mind by positing progressively "stupider" capacities ("homunculi") until the mind is "discharged" by means of capacities that are not intelligent at all. The so-called homuncular fallacy involves violating this procedure by positing the same capacities at subpersonal levels. I argue that the homuncular fallacy is not a fallacy, and that modern-day homunculi are idle posits. I propose an alternative view of what naturalism requires that reflects how (...) the cognitive sciences are actually integrating mind and matter. (shrink)
This paper considers the cognitive penetrability of our experiences of the durations of everyday events. I defend an account of subjective duration based in contemporary psychological and neurobiological research. I show its philosophical adequacy by demonstrating its utility in explain-ing the phenomenology of duration experiences. I then consider whether cognitive penetrability is a problem for these experiences. I argue that, to the contrary, the problem presupposes a relationship between perception and belief that duration perceptions and beliefs do not exhibit. In-stead, (...) the assignment of epistemic features to particular processing stages appears to answer to pragmatic needs, not psychological facts. (shrink)
Big Data has the potential to enable unprecedentedly rigorous quantitative modeling of complex human social relationships and social structures. When such models are extended to nonhuman domains, they can undermine anthropocentric assumptions about the extent to which these relationships and structures are specifically human. Discoveries of relevant commonalities with nonhumans may not make us less human, but they promise to challenge fundamental views of what it is to be human.
In this commentary on Marino and Merskin's "Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep", I argue that their literature review provides further evidence of the fundamental theoretical shift in psychology towards a non-anthropocentric psychological taxonomy, in which cognitive capacities are classified in a structure that provides an overall understanding of the place of mind (including human minds) throughout nature.
In "Cognition Beyond the Human Domain", Angel Garcia Rodriguez provides critical commentary on Pieces of Mind: The proper domain of psychological predicates (Oxford UP, 2018). In this reply, I argue that his alternative "No-Core" semantic proposal is not an alternative to the Literalist view I defend, but rather one way of elaborating that position.
Fred Dretske?s (1988) account of the causal role of intentional mental states was widely criticized for missing the target: he explained why a type of intentional state causes the type of bodily motion it does rather than some other type, when what we wanted was an account of how the intentional properties of these states play a causal role in each singular causal relation with a token bodily motion. I argue that the non-reductive metaphysics that Dretske defends for his account (...) of behavior can be extended to the case of intentional states, and that this extension provides a way to show how intentional properties can play the causal role that we wanted explained. (shrink)
In Pieces of Mind: The Proper Domain of Psychological Predicates (Oxford UP, 2018), I argue that psychological predicates used to ascribe cognitive capacities to many nonhuman biological species should be interpreted literally with the same reference for humans and nonhumans alike. In this Mind & Language book symposium, I respond to comments and criticisms by Zoe Drayson, Edouard Machery, and Eric Schwitzgebel, and conclude that the Literalist position is still the best interpretation of these uses.