There is an argument that has recently been deployed in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly (or even exclusively) composed of cognitive modules; an argument that draws from some ideas and concepts of evolutionary and of developmental biology. In a nutshell, the argument concludes that a mind that is massively composed of cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular (henceforth, c-modular) is more evolvable than a mind that is not c-modular (or that is scarcely c-modular), since a (...)cognitive mechanism that is c-modular is likely to be biologically modular (henceforth, b-modular), and b-modular characters are more evolvable (e.g., Sperber 2002, Carruthers 2005). In evolutionary biology, the evolvability of a character in an organism is understood as the “organism’s capacity to facilitate the generation of non-lethal selectable phenotypic variation from random mutation” with respect to that character. Here I will argue that the notion of cognitivemodularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence; that is, it will have to be understood in such a way that a cognitive feature is c-modular only if few or no other morphological changes (cognitive and not) are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population. I will also argue that all –except for (possibly) one—of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of cognitivemodularity widely accepted in some of the mainstream currents of thought in classical cognitive science, are simply irrelevant to the argument. In order to argue for this, I will have to examine the question as to whether there are any strong theoretical connections between (1) those connotations and (2) notions of modularity accepted in biology, specially in evolutionary and in developmental biology, that are thought to be most relevant to arguments to the effect that biological modularity enhances evolvability. (shrink)
Ever since Chomsky, language has become the paradigmatic example of an innate capacity. Infants of only a few months old are aware of the phonetic structure of their mother tongue, such as stress-patterns and phonemes. They can already discriminate words from non-words and acquire a feel for the grammatical structure months before they voice their first word. Language reliably develops not only in the face of poor linguistic input, but even without it. In recent years, several scholars have extended this (...) uncontroversial view into the stronger claim that natural language is a human-speciﬁc adaptation. As I shall point out, this position is more problematic because of a lack of conceptual clarity over what human-specific cognitive adaptations are, and how they relate to modularity, the notion that mental phenomena arise from several domain-speciﬁc cognitive structures. The main aim of this paper is not to discuss whether or not language is an adaptation, but rather, to examine the concept of modularity with respect to the evolution and development of natural language. . (shrink)
Currently, there is widespread skepticism that higher cognitive processes, given their apparent flexibility and globality, could be carried out by specialized computational devices, or modules. This skepticism is largely due to Fodor’s influential definition of modularity. From the rather flexible catalogue of possible modular features that Fodor originally proposed has emerged a widely held notion of modules as rigid, informationally encapsulated devices that accept highly local inputs and whose opera- tions are insensitive to context. It is a mistake, (...) however, to equate such features with computational devices in general and therefore to assume, as Fodor does, that higher cognitive processes must be non-computational. Of the many possible non-Fodorean architectures, one is explored here that offers possible solutions to computational problems faced by conventional modular systems: an ‘enzymatic’ architecture. Enzymes are computational devices that use lock-and-key template matching to iden- tify relevant information (substrates), which is then operated upon and returned to a common pool for possible processing by other devices. Highly specialized enzymes can operate together in a common pool of information that is not pre-sorted by information type. Moreover, enzymes can use molecular ‘tags’ to regulate the operations of other devices and to change how particular substrates are construed and operated upon, allowing for highly interactive, context-specific processing. This model shows how specialized, modular processing can occur in an open system, and suggests that skepti- cism about modularity may largely be due to failure to consider alternatives to the standard model. (shrink)
Introduction to Special Issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology. Overview of the central issues in cognitive architecture, epistemology, and ethics surrounding cognitive penetrability. Special issue includes papers by philosophers and psychologists: Gary Lupyan, Fiona Macpherson, Reginald Adams, Anya Farennikova, Jona Vance, Francisco Marchi, Robert Cowan.
Is innate cognitivemodularity consistent with a lack of innate neural modularity? Quartz & Sejnowski's implicit negative answer to his question fuels their antinativist and antimodular cognitive conclusions. I attempt here to suggest a positive answer and to solicit discussion of this crucial issue.
I examine an argument that has recently appeared in the cognitive science literature in favor of thinking that the mind is mostly composed of Fodorian-type cognitive modules; an argument that concludes that a mind that is massively composed of classical cognitive mechanisms that are cognitively modular is more evolvable than a mind that is not cognitively modular, since a cognitive mechanism that is cognitively modular is likely to be biologically modular, and biologically modular characters are more (...) evolvable. I argue that the notion of cognitivemodularity needed to make this argument plausible will have to be understood in terms of the biological notion of variational independence, as follows: a cognitive feature is cognitively modular only if few or no other morphological changes are significantly correlated with variations of that feature arising in members of the relevant population as a result of ontogeny. I also argue that most of the connotations contained in a cluster of notions of classical cognitivemodularity are, as far as we know, irrelevant to the argument, and that only the presence of selective impairments—also known as cognitive dissociations—can be considered as strong indicators of the type of modularity that genuinely enhances evolvability. (shrink)
: Currently, there is widespread skepticism that higher cognitive processes, given their apparent flexibility and globality, could be carried out by specialized computational devices, or modules. This skepticism is largely due to Fodor's influential definition of modularity. From the rather flexible catalogue of possible modular features that Fodor originally proposed has emerged a widely held notion of modules as rigid, informationally encapsulated devices that accept highly local inputs and whose operations are insensitive to context. It is a mistake, (...) however, to equate such features with computational devices in general and therefore to assume, as Fodor does, that higher cognitive processes must be non‐computational. Of the many possible non‐Fodorean architectures, one is explored here that offers possible solutions to computational problems faced by conventional modular systems: an ‘enzymatic’ architecture. Enzymes are computational devices that use lock‐and‐key template matching to identify relevant information, which is then operated upon and returned to a common pool for possible processing by other devices. Highly specialized enzymes can operate together in a common pool of information that is not pre‐sorted by information type. Moreover, enzymes can use molecular ‘tags’ to regulate the operations of other devices and to change how particular substrates are construed and operated upon, allowing for highly interactive, context‐specific processing. This model shows how specialized, modular processing can occur in an open system, and suggests that skepticism about modularity may largely be due to failure to consider alternatives to the standard model. (shrink)
Much of cognitive science is committed to the modular approach to the study of cognition. The core of this approach consists of a pair of assumptions - the anatomical and the functional modularity assumptions - which motivate two kinds of inference: the anatomical and the functional modularity inferences. The legitimacy of both of these inferences has been strongly challenged, a situation that has had surprisingly little impact on most theorizing in the field. Following the introduction of an (...) important, yet rarely made, distinction between two functional concepts - the distinction between cognitive working and cognitive role - this paper analyses these kinds of inference, and refocuses the attention on new aspects of their main limitations. It is argued that both the anatomical and functional modularity inferences can, and do, operate in three distinct modes in contemporary cognitive science, and that seeing this is essential to understanding both the power and the limitations of these methodological tools. (shrink)
Over the past century or more, cognitive neuropsychologists have discussed many of the issues raised in this volume. On the basis of this literature, we argue that autism is not a single homogeneous condition, and so can have no single cause. Instead, each of its symptoms has a cause, and the proper study of autism is the separate study of each of these symptoms and its cause. We also offer evidence to support the radical view advanced by Stoljar and (...) Gold in this volume, namely, that in explaining such syndromes the cognitive level of explanation has priority over the neuroscientific. (shrink)
Farah argues that nonlocal models explain clinical data better. However, the locality assumption does not seem so implausible if different sorts of data are taken into account. In particular, priming experiments using evoked response potentials support modularity. I describe some ERP studies relevant to this issue.
Since the publication of Fodor's (1983) The Modularity of Mind, there have been quite a few discussions of cognitivemodularity among cognitive scientists. Generally, in those discussions, modularity means a property of specialized cognitive processes or a domain-specific body of information. In actuality, scholars understand modularity in many different ways. Different characterizations of modularity and modules were proposed and discussed, but they created misunderstanding and confusion. In this article, I classified and analyzed (...) different approaches to modularity and argued for the unity of modularity. Modularity is a multidimensional property consisting of features from several dimensions specifying different aspects of cognition. Among those, there are core features of modularity, and these core features form a cross-dimensional unity. Despite the diverse and liberal characterizations, modularity contributes to cognitive science because of the unity of the core features. (shrink)
Debates about the modularity of cognitive architecture have been ongoing for at least the past three decades, since the publication of Fodor’s landmark book The Modularity of Mind (1983). According to Fodor, modularity is essentially tied to informational encapsulation, and as such is only found in the relatively low-level cognitive systems responsible for perception and language. According to Fodor’s critics in the evolutionary psychology camp, modularity simply reflects the fine-grained functional specialization dictated by natural (...) selection, and it characterizes virtually all aspects of cognitive architecture, including high-level systems for judgment, decision making, and reasoning. Though both of these perspectives on modularity have garnered support, the current state of evidence and argument suggests that a broader skepticism about modularity may be warranted. (shrink)
Research in vision science, developmental psychology, and the foundations of cognitive science has led some theorists to posit referential mechanisms similar to indices. This hypothesis has been framed within a Fodorian conception of the early vision module. The article shows that this conception is mistaken, for it cannot handle the ‘interface problem’—roughly, how indexing mechanisms relate to higher cognition and conceptual thought. As a result, I reject the inaccessibility of early vision to higher cognition and make some constructive remarks (...) on the perception–cognition interface. -/- 1 The Case for Visual Indices 1.1 Preliminary assumptions 1.2 Transcendental arguments 1.3 Evidence from vision science 2 Visual Indices, Object Files, and Fodorian Modularity 3 The Interface Problem 3.1 Top-down attention and modularity 3.2 Selective attention and information 4 Revising the Indexing Hypothesis 4.1 Revising the perception–cognition interface 4.2 Revising the modularity of early vision 5 Concluding Remarks. (shrink)
The broad issue in this paper is the relationship between cognitive psychology and neuroscience. That issue arises particularly sharply for cognitive neurospsychology, some of whose practitioners claim a methodological autonomy for their discipline. They hold that behavioural data from neuropsychological impairments are sufficient to justify assumptions about the underlying modular structure of human cognitive architecture, as well as to make inferences about its various components. But this claim to methodological autonomy can be challenged on both philosophical and (...) empirical grounds. A priori considerations about (cognitive) multiple realisability challenge the thesis on philosophical grounds, and neuroscientific findings from developmental disorders substantiate that challenge empirically. The conclusion is that behavioural evidence alone is inadequate for scientific progress since appearances of modularity can be thoroughly deceptive, obscuring both the dynamic processes of neural development and the endstate network architecture of real cognitive systems. (shrink)
According to the cognitive penetrability hypothesis, our beliefs, desires, and possibly our emotions literally affect how we see the world. This book elucidates the nature of the cognitive penetrability and impenetrability hypotheses, assesses their plausibility, and explores their philosophical consequences. It connects the topic's multiple strands (the psychological findings, computationalist background, epistemological consequences of cognitive architecture, and recent philosophical developments) at a time when the outcome of many philosophical debates depends on knowing whether and how cognitive (...) states can influence perception. All sixteen chapters were written especially for the book. The first chapters provide methodological and conceptual clarification of the topic and give an account of the relations between penetrability, encapsulation, modularity, and cross-modal interactions in perception. Assessments of psychological and neuroscientific evidence for cognitive penetration are given by several chapters. Most of the contributions analyse the impact of cognitive penetrability and impenetrability on specific philosophical topics: high-level perceptual contents, the epistemological consequences of penetration, nonconceptual content, the phenomenology of late perception, metacognitive feelings, and action. The book includes a comprehensive introduction which explains the history of the debate, its key technical concepts (informational encapsulation, early and late vision, the perception-cognition distinction, hard-wired perceptual processing, perceptual learning, theory-ladenness), and the debate's relevance to current topics in the philosophy of mind and perception, epistemology, and philosophy of psychology. (shrink)
Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitive penetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
Although the study of visual perception has made more progress in the past 40 years than any other area of cognitive science, there remain major disagreements as to how closely vision is tied to general cognition. This paper sets out some of the arguments for both sides and defends the position that an important part of visual perception, which may be called early vision or just vision, is prohibited from accessing relevant expectations, knowledge and utilities - in other words (...) it is cognitively impenetrable. That part of vision is complex and articulated and provides a representation of the 3-D surfaces of objects sufficient to serve as an index into memory, with somewhat different outputs being made available to other systems such as those dealing with motor control. The paper also addresses certain conceptual and methodological issues, including the use of signal detection theory and event-related potentials to assess cognitive penetration of vision. A distinction is made among several stages in visual processing. These include, in addition to the inflexible early-vision stage, a pre-perceptual attention allocation stage and a post-perceptual evaluation, memory-accessing, and inference stage which provide several different highly constrained ways in which cognition can affect the outcome of visual perception. The paper discusses arguments that have been presented in both computer vision and psychology showing that vision is "intelligent" and involves elements of problem solving". It is suggested that these cases do not show cognitive penetration, but rather they show that certain natural constraints on interpretation, concerned primarily with optical and geometrical properties of the world, have been compiled into the visual system. The paper also examines a number of examples where instructions and "hints" are alleged to affect. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists have recently taken renewed interest in cognitive penetration, in particular, in the cognitive penetration of perceptual experience. The question is whether cognitive states like belief influence perceptual experience in some important way. Since the possible phenomenon is an empirical one, the strategy for analysis has, predictably, proceeded as follows: define the phenomenon and then, definition in hand, interpret various psychological data. However, different theorists offer different and apparently inconsistent definitions. And (...) so in addition to the usual problems (e.g., definitions being challenged by counterexample), an important result is that different theorists apply their definitions and accordingly get conflicting answers to the question “Is this a genuine case of cognitive penetration?”. This hurdle to philosophical and scientific progress can be remedied, I argue, by returning attention to the alleged consequences of the possible phenomenon. There are three: theory-ladenness of perception in contexts of scientific theory choice, a threat to the general epistemic role of perception, and implications for mental architecture. Any attempt to characterize or define, and then empirically test for, cognitive penetration should be constrained by these consequences. This is a method for interpreting and acquiring experimental data in a way that is agreeable to both sides of the cognitive penetration debate. Put crudely, the question shifts to “Is this a cognitive-perceptual relation that results in (or constitutes) one or more of the relevant consequences?” In answering this question, relative to various data, it may turn out that there is no single unified phenomenon of cognitive penetration. But this should be no matter, since it is the consequences that are of central importance to philosophers and scientists alike. (shrink)
This chapter critically assesses recent arguments that acquiring the ability to categorize an object as belonging to a certain high-level kind can cause the relevant kind property to be represented in visual phenomenal content. The first two arguments, developed respectively by Susanna Siegel (2010) and Tim Bayne (2009), employ an essentially phenomenological methodology. The third argument, developed by William Fish (2013), by contrast, is supported by an array of psychophysical and neuroscientific findings. I argue that while none of these arguments (...) ultimately proves successful, there is a substantial body of empirical evidence that information originating outside the visual system can nonetheless modulate the way an object’s low-level attributes visually appear. Visual phenomenal content, I show, is not only significantly influenced by crossmodal interactions between vision and other exteroceptive senses such as touch and audition, but also by interactions between vision and non-perceptual systems involved in motor planning and construction of the proprioceptive body-image. (shrink)
This essay in the is about how cognition constrains culture in producing science. The example is folk biology, whose cultural recurrence issues from the very same domain-specific cognitive universals that provide the historical backbone of systematic biology. Humans everywhere think about plants and animals in highly structured ways. People have similar folk-biological taxonomies composed of essence-based, species-like groups and the ranking of species into lower- and higher-order groups. Such taxonomies are not as arbitrary in structure and content, nor as (...) variable across cultures, as the assembly of entities into cosmologies, materials, or social groups. These structures are routine products of our which may in part be naturally selected to grasp relevant and recurrent An experiment illustrates that the same taxonomic rank is preferred for making biological inferences in two diverse populations: Lowland Maya and Midwest Americans. These findings cannot be explained by domain-general models of similarity because such models cannot account for why both cultures prefer species-like groups, although Americans have relatively little actual knowledge or experience at this level. This supports a modular view of folk biology as a core domain of human knowledge and as a special player, or in the selection processes by which cultures evolve. Structural aspects of folk taxonomy provide people in different cultures with the built-in constraints and flexibility that allow them to understand and respond appropriately to different cultural and ecological settings. Another set of reasoning experiments shows that Maya, American folk, and scientists use similarly structured taxonomies in somewhat different ways to extend their understanding of the world in the face of uncertainty. Although folk and scientific taxonomies diverge historically, they continue to interact. The theory of evolution may ultimately dispense with the core concepts of folk biology, including species, taxonomy, and teleology; in practice, however, these may remain indispensable to doing scientific work. Moreover, theory-driven scientific knowledge cannot simply replace folk knowledge in everyday life. Folk-biological knowledge is not driven by implicit or inchoate theories of the sort science aims to make more accurate and perfect. (shrink)
Cognitive penetration of perception is the idea that what we see is influenced by such states as beliefs, expectations, and so on. A perceptual belief that results from cognitive penetration may be less justified than a nonpenetrated one. Inferentialism is a kind of internalist view that tries to account for this by claiming that some experiences are epistemically evaluable, on the basis of why the perceiver has that experience, and the familiar canons of good inference provide the appropriate (...) standards by which experiences are evaluated. I examine recent defenses of inferentialism by Susanna Siegel, Peter Markie, and Matthew McGrath and argue that the prospects for inferentialism are dim. (shrink)
One sceptical rejoinder to those who claim that sensory perception is cognitively penetrable is to appeal to the involvement of attention. So, while a phenomenon might initially look like one where, say, a perceiver’s beliefs are influencing her visual experience, another interpretation is that because the perceiver believes and desires as she does, she consequently shifts her spatial attention so as to change what she senses visually. But, the sceptic will urge, this is an entirely familiar phenomenon, and it hardly (...) involves some special or theoretically important cognitive effect on sensory perception. Even supposing that the sceptic is correct about cases that are accurately described in this way, the rejoinder oversimplifies the possible roles that attention may play in mediating cognition and perception. This paper aims to identify these different roles, and by emphasis on empirical research on feature-based and object-based attention. What emerges is a plausible and well- evidenced mental schema that describes attention -mediated cognitive penetration. At the very least, the burden of proof is shifted to the sceptic, as he then must show that there are no mental phenomena involving attention in the more nuanced ways described here. One additional benefit of this analysis is that it illuminates various features of attention and its relation to both cognition and phenomenal consciousness. Therefore the analysis should be of interest to a broad range of theorists of the mind, and not just those invested in the cognitive penetration debate. (shrink)
Perceptual processes, in particular modular processes, have long been understood as being mandatory. But exactly what mandatoriness amounts to is left to intuition. This paper identifies a crucial ambiguity in the notion of mandatoriness. Discussions of mandatory processes have run together notions of automaticity and ballisticity. Teasing apart these notions creates an important tool for the modularist's toolbox. Different putatively modular processes appear to differ in their kinds of mandatoriness. Separating out the automatic from the ballistic can help the modularist (...) diagnose and explain away some putative counterexamples to multimodal and central modules, thereby helping us to better evaluate the evidentiary status of modularity theory. (shrink)
Fiona Macpherson (2012) argues that various experimental results provide strong evidence in favor of the cognitive penetration of perceptual color experience. Moreover, she proposes a mechanism for how such cognitive penetration occurs. We argue, first, that the results on which Macpherson relies do not provide strong grounds for her claim of cognitive penetrability; and, second, that, if the results do reflect cognitive penetrability, then time-course considerations raise worries for her proposed mechanism. We base our arguments in (...) part on several of our own experiments, reported herein. (shrink)
Anderson suggests that theories of sensorimotor grounding are too narrow to account for his findings of widespread supporting multiple different cognitive I call some of the methodological assumptions underlying this conclusion into question, and suggest that his examples reaffirm rather than undermine the special status of sensorimotor processes in cognitive evolution.
This chapter takes a naturalized approach to the philosophy of science using evidence from cognitive psychology and from the history of science. It first describes the problem of the theory ladenness of perception. Then it provides a general top-down/bottom-up framework from cognitive psychology that is used to organize and evaluate the evidence for theory ladenness throughout the process of carrying out science (perception, attention, thinking, experimenting, memory, and communication). The chapter highlights both the facilitatory and inhibitory role of (...) theory in the scientific process. Both the historical record and the evidence from cognitive psychology suggest that the top-down factors have their greatest impact when the bottom-up information is weak or degraded. There is a short discussion of the normative implications of the material in the chapter for carrying out science. (shrink)
After presenting evidence about categorization behavior, this paper argues for the following theses: 1) that there is a border between perception and cognition; 2) that the border is to be characterized by perception being modular (and cognition not being so); 3) that perception outputs conceptualized representations, so views that posit that the output of perception is solely non-conceptual are false; and 4) that perceptual content consists of basic-level categories and not richer contents.
To what extent are cognitive capacities, especially perceptual capacities, informationally encapsulated and to what extent are they cognitively penetrable? And why does this matter? Two reasons we care about encapsulation/penetrability are: (a) encapsulation is sometimes held to be definitional of modularity, and (b) penetrability has epistemological implications independent of modularity. I argue that modularity does not require encapsulation; that modularity may have epistemological implications independently of encapsulation; and that the epistemological implications of the cognitive (...) penetrability of perception are messier than is sometimes thought. (shrink)
The Modularity of Mind proposes an alternative to the or view of cognitive architecture that has dominated several decades of cognitive science. Whereas interactionism stresses the continuity of perceptual and cognitive processes, modularity theory argues for their distinctness. It is argued, in particular, that the apparent plausibility of New Look theorizing derives from the failure to distinguish between the (correct) claim that perceptual processes are inferential and the (dubious) claim that they are unencapsidated, that is, (...) that they are arbitrarily sensitive to the organism's beliefs and desires. In fact, according to modularity theory, perceptual processes are computationally isolated from much of the background knowledge to which cognitive processes have access. The postulation of autonomous, domain-specific psychological mechanisms underlying perceptual integration connects modularity theory with the tradition of faculty psychology, in particular, with the work of Franz Joseph Call. Some of these historical affinities, and some of the relations between faculty psychology and Cartesianism, are discussed in the book. (shrink)
Amongst philosophers and cognitive scientists, modularity remains a popular choice for an architecture of the human mind, primarily because of the supposed explanatory value of this approach. Modular architectures can vary both with respect to the strength of the notion of modularity and the scope of the modularity of mind. We propose a dilemma for modular architectures, no matter how these architectures vary along these two dimensions. First, if a modular architecture commits to the informational encapsulation (...) of modules, as it is the case for modularity theories of perception, then modules are on this account impenetrable. However, we argue that there are genuine cases of the cognitive penetrability of perception and that these cases challenge any strong, encapsulated modular architecture of perception. Second, many recent massive modularity theories weaken the strength of the notion of module, while broadening the scope of modularity. These theories do not require any robust informational encapsulation, and thus avoid the incompatibility with cognitive penetrability. However, the weakened commitment to informational encapsulation greatly weakens the explanatory force of the theory and, ultimately, is conceptually at odds with the core of modularity. (shrink)
Flanagan (1991) was the first contemporary philosopher to suggest that a modularity of morals hypothesis (MMH) was worth consideration by cognitive science. There is now a serious empirically informed proposal that moral competence is best explained in terms of moral modules-evolutionarily ancient, fast-acting, automatic reactions to particular sociomoral experiences (Haidt & Joseph, 2007). MMH fleshes out an idea nascent in Aristotle, Mencius, and Darwin. We discuss the evidence for MMH, specifically an ancient version, “Mencian Moral Modularity,” which (...) claims four innate modules, and “Social Intuitionist Modularity,” which claims five innate modules. We compare these two moral modularity models, discuss whether the postulated modules are best conceived as perceptual/Fodorian or emotional/Darwinian, and consider whether assuming MMH true has any normative ethical consequences whatsoever. The discussion of MMH reconnects cognitive science with normative ethics in a way that involves the reassertion of the “is-ought” problem. We explain in a new way what this problem is and why it would not yield. The reason does not involve the logic of “ought,” but rather the plasticity of human nature and the realistic options to “grow” and “do” human nature in multifarious legitimate ways. (shrink)
The "New Synthesis" in cognitive science is committed to the computational theory of mind (CTM), massive modularity, nativism, and adaptationism. In The mind doesn't work that way , Jerry Fodor argues that CTM has problems explaining abductive or global inference, but that the New Synthesis offers no solution, since massive modularity is in fact incompatible with global cognitive processes. I argue that it is not clear how global human mentation is, so whether CTM is imperiled is (...) an open question. Massive modularity also lacks some of the invidious commitments Fodor ascribes to it. Furthermore, Fodor's anti-adaptationist arguments are in tension with his nativism about the contents of modular systems. The New Synthesis thus has points worth preserving. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers have recently been exploring whether the mechanisms which underlie the acquisition of ‘theory of mind’ (ToM) are best charac- terized as cognitive modules or as developing theories. In this paper, we attempt to clarify what a modular account of ToM entails, and why it is an attractive type of explanation. Intuitions and arguments in this debate often turn on the role of _develop-_ _ment_: traditional research on ToM focuses on various developmental sequences, whereas cognitive modules (...) are thought to be static and ‘anti-developmental’. We suggest that this mistaken view relies on an overly limited notion of modularity, and we explore how ToM might be grounded in a cognitive module and yet still afford development. Modules must ‘come on-line’, and even fully developed modules may still develop _internally_, based on their constrained input. We make these points con- crete by focusing on a recent proposal to capture the development of ToM in a module via _parameterization_. (shrink)
This book is a comprehensive development and defense of one of the guiding assumptions of evolutionary psychology: that the human mind is composed of a large number of semi-independent modules. The Architecture of the Mind has three main goals. One is to argue for massive mental modularity. Another is to answer a 'How possibly?' challenge to any such approach. The first part of the book lays out the positive case supporting massive modularity. It also outlines how the thesis (...) should best be developed, and articulates the notion of 'module' that is in question. Then the second part of the book takes up the challenge of explaining how the sorts of flexibility and creativity that are distinctive of the human mind could possibly be grounded in the operations of a massive number of modules.Peter Carruthers's third aim is to show how the various components of the mind are likely to be linked and interact with one another - indeed, this is crucial to demonstrating how the human mind, together with its familiar capacities, can be underpinned by a massively modular set of mechanisms. He outlines and defends the basic framework of a perception / belief / desire / planning / motor-control architecture, as well as detailing the likely components and their modes of connectivity. Many specific claims about the place within this architecture of natural language, of a mind-reading system, and others are explained and motivated. A number of novel proposals are made in the course of these discussions, one of which is that creative human thought depends upon a prior kind of creativity of action.Written with unusual clarity and directness, and surveying an extensive range of research in cognitive science, this book will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the nature and organization of the mind. (shrink)
Fodor claims that cognitive modules can be thought of as constituting a psychological natural kind in virtue of their possession of most or all of nine specified properties. The challenge to this considered here comes from synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a type of cross-modal association: input to one sensory modality reliably generates an additional sensory output that is usually generated by the input to a distinct sensory modality. The most common form of synaesthesia manifests Fodor's nine specified properties of (...) class='Hi'>modularity, and hence, according to Segal (1997), it should be understood as involving an extra module. Many psychologists believe that synaesthesia involves a breakdown in modularity. After outlining how both theories can explain the manifestation of the nine alleged properties of modularity in synaesthesia, I discuss the two concepts of function which initially motivate the respective theories. I argue that only a teleological concept of function is properly able to adjudicate between the two theories. The upshot is a further application of so-called externalist considerations to mental phenomena. (shrink)
Linguists often sharply distinguish the different modules that support linguistics competence, e.g., syntax, semantics, pragmatics. However, recent work has identified phenomena in syntax (polarity sensitivity) and pragmatics (implicatures), which seem to rely on semantic properties (monotonicity). We propose to investigate these phenomena and their connections as a window into the modularity of our linguistic knowledge. We conducted a series of experiments to gather the relevant syntactic, semantic and pragmatic judgments within a single paradigm. The comparison between these quantitative data (...) leads us to four main results, (i) Our results support a departure from one element of the classical Gricean approach, thus helping to clarify and settle an empirical debate. This first outcome also confirms the soundness of the methodology, as the results align with standard contemporary accounts of scalar implicature (SI), (ii) We confirm that the formal semantic notion of monotonicity underlies negative polarity item (NPI) syntactic acceptability, but (iii) our results indicate that the notion needed is perceived monotonicity. We see results (ii) and (iii) as the main contribution of this study: (ii) provides an empirical interpretation and confirmation of one of the insights of the model-theoretic approach to semantics, while (iii) calls for an incremental, cognitive implementation of the current generalizations, (iv) Finally, our results do not indicate that the relationship between NPI acceptability and monotonicity is mediated by pragmatic features related to Sis: this tells against elegant attempts to unify polarity sensitivity and Sis (pioneered by Krifka and Chierchia). These results illustrate a new methodology for integrating theoretically rigorous work in formal semantics with an experimentally-grounded cognitively-oriented view of linguistic competence. (shrink)
Fodor's thinking on modularity has been influential throughout a range of the areas studying cognition, chiefly as a prod for positive work on modularity and domain-specificity. In The Mind Doesn't Work That Way, Fodor has developed the dark message of The Modularity of Mind regarding the limits to modularity and computational analyses. This paper offers a critical assessment of Fodor's scepticism with an eye to highlighting some broader issues in play, including the nature of computation and (...) the role of recent empirical developments in the cognitive sciences in assessing Fodor's position. (shrink)