The renowned philosopher Jerry Fodor, a leading figure in the study of the mind for more than twenty years, presents a strikingly original theory on the basic constituents of thought. He suggests that the heart of cognitivescience is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been mistaken. Fodor argues compellingly for an atomistic theory of concepts, deals out witty and pugnacious demolitions of (...) rival theories, and suggests that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations. This lively, conversational, and superbly accessible book is the first volume in the Oxford CognitiveScience Series, where the best original work in this field will be presented to a broad readership. Concepts will fascinate anyone interested in contemporary work on mind and language. Cognitivescience will never be the same again. (shrink)
Anthropology and the other cognitivescience (CS) subdisciplines currently maintain a troubled relationship. With a debate in topiCS we aim at exploring the prospects for improving this relationship, and our introduction is intended as a catalyst for this debate. In order to encourage a frank sharing of perspectives, our comments will be deliberately provocative. Several challenges for a successful rapprochement are identified, encompassing the diverging paths that CS and anthropology have taken in the past, the degree of compatibility (...) between (1) CS and (2) anthropology with regard to methodology and (3) research strategies, (4) the importance of anthropology for CS, and (5) the need for disciplinary diversity. Given this set of challenges, a reconciliation seems unlikely to follow on the heels of good intentions alone. (shrink)
This book explores how people's subjective, felt experiences of their bodies in action provide part of the fundamental grounding for human cognition and language. Cognition is what occurs when the body engages the physical and cultural world and must be studied in terms of the dynamical interactions between people and the environment. Human language and thought emerge from recurring patterns of embodied activity that constrain ongoing intelligent behavior. We must not assume cognition to be purely internal, symbolic, computational, and disembodied, (...) but seek out the gross and detailed ways that language and thought are inextricably shaped by embodied action. Embodiment and CognitiveScience describes the abundance of empirical evidence from many disciplines, including work on perception, concepts, imagery and reasoning, language and communication, cognitive development, and emotions and consciousness, that support the idea that the mind is embodied. (shrink)
Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitivescience, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitivescience with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different ﬁelds of cognitivescience. Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, (...) and how norms should be established. These kinds of general and normative questions make philosophical reﬂection an important part of progress in cognitivescience. Philosophy operates best, however, not with a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but rather with empirically informed reﬂection on a wide range of ﬁndings in cognitivescience. (shrink)
This paper considers the past and future of Psychology within CognitiveScience. In the history section, I focus on three questions: (a) how has the position of Psychology evolved within CognitiveScience, relative to the other disciplines that make up CognitiveScience; (b) how have particular CognitiveScience areas within Psychology waxed or waned; and (c) what have we gained and lost. After discussing what’s happened since the late 1970s, when the Society (...) and the journal began, I speculate about where the field is going. (shrink)
Colour fascinates all of us, and scientists and philosophers have sought to understand the true nature of colour vision for many years. In recent times, investigations into colour vision have been one of the main success stories of cognitivescience, for each discipline within the field - neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, and philosophy - has contributed significantly to our understanding of colour. Evan Thompson's book is a major contribution to this interdisciplinary project. Colour (...) Vision provides an accessible review of the current scientific and philosophical discussions of colour vision. Thompson steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on colour, arguing for a relational account. This account develops a novel `ecological' approach to colour vision in cognitivescience and the philosophy of perception. It is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
This conclusion of the debate on anthropology’s role in cognitivescience provides some clarifications and an overview of emergent themes. It also lists, as cases of good practice, some examples of productive cross-disciplinary collaboration that evince a forward momentum in the relationship between anthropology and the other cognitive sciences.
There is much good work for philosophers to do in cognitivescience if they adopt the constructive attitude that prevails in science, work toward testable hypotheses, and take on the task of clarifying the relationship between the scientiﬁc concepts and the everyday concepts with which we conduct our moral lives.
Cognitive anthropology contributes to cognitivescience as a complement to cognitive psychology. The chief threat to its survival has not been rejection by other cognitive scientists but by other cultural anthropologists. It will remain a part of cognitivescience as long as cognitive anthropologists research, teach, and publish.
Cognitivescience views thought as computation; and computation, by its very nature, can be understood in both rational and mechanistic terms. In rational terms, a computation solves some information processing problem (e.g., mapping sensory information into a description of the external world; parsing a sentence; selecting among a set of possible actions). In mechanistic terms, a computation corresponds to causal chain of events in a physical device (in engineering context, a silicon chip; in biological context, the nervous system). (...) The discipline is thus at the interface between two very different styles of explanation—as the papers in the current special issue well illustrate, it explores the interplay of rational and mechanistic forces. (shrink)
This chapter offers a high-level overview of the philosophy of cognitivescience and an introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of CognitiveScience. The philosophy of cognitivescience emerged out of a set of common and overlapping interests among philosophers and scientists who study the mind. We identify five categories of issues that illustrate the best work in this broad field: (1) traditional philosophical issues about the mind that have been invigorated by research (...) in cognitivescience, (2) issues regarding the practice of cognitivescience and its foundational assumptions, (3) issues regarding the explication and clarification of core concepts in cognitivescience, (4) first-order empirical issues where philosophers participate in the interdisciplinary investigation of particular psychological phenomena, (5) traditional philosophical issues that aren’t about the mind but that can be informed by a better understanding of how the mind works. (shrink)
This paper reviews 30 years of progress in U.S. cognitivescience research related to education and training, as seen from the perspective of a research manager who was personally involved in many of these developments.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a core area of CognitiveScience, yet today few AI researchers attend the CognitiveScience Society meetings. This essay examines why, how AI has changed over the last 30 years, and some emerging areas of potential interest where AI and the Society can go together in the next 30 years, if they choose.
This commentary gives a personal perspective on modeling and modeling developments in cognitivescience, starting in the 1950s, but focusing on the author’s personal views of modeling since training in the late 1960s, and particularly focusing on advances since the official founding of the CognitiveScience Society. The range and variety of modeling approaches in use today are remarkable, and for many, bewildering. Yet to come to anything approaching adequate insights into the infinitely complex fields of (...) mind, brain, and intelligent systems, an extremely wide array of modeling approaches is vital and necessary. (shrink)
Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of CognitiveScience invites readers to join in up-to-the-minute conceptual discussions of the fundamental issues, problems, and opportunities in cognitivescience. Written by one of the most renowned scholars in the field, this vivid and engaging introductory text relates the story of the search for a cognitive scientific understanding of mind. This search is presented as a no-holds-barred journey from early work in artificial intelligence, through connectionist (artificial neural network) (...) counter-visions, and on to neuroscience, artificial life, dynamics, and robotics. The journey ends with some wide-ranging and provocative speculation about the complex coadaptive dance between mind, culture, and technology. Each chapter opens with a brief sketch of a major research tradition or perspective, followed by short yet substantial critical discussions dealing with key topics and problems. Ranging across both standard philosophical territory and the landscape of cutting-edge cognitivescience, Clark highlights challenging issues in an effort to engage readers in active debate. Topics covered include mental causation; machine intelligence; the nature and status of folk psychology; the hardware/software distinction; emergence; relations between life and mind; the nature of perception, cognition, and action; and the continuity (or otherwise) of high-level human intelligence with other forms of adaptive response. Numerous illustrations, text boxes, and extensive suggestions for further reading enhance the text's utility. Helpful appendices provide background information on dualism, behaviorism, identity theory, consciousness, and more. An exceptional text for introductory and more advanced courses in cognitivescience and the philosophy of mind, Mindware is also essential reading for anyone interested in these fascinating and ever-changing fields. (shrink)
The computational view of mind rests on certain intuitions regarding the fundamental similarity between computation and cognition. We examine some of these intuitions and suggest that they derive from the fact that computers and human organisms are both physical systems whose behavior is correctly described as being governed by rules acting on symbolic representations. Some of the implications of this view are discussed. It is suggested that a fundamental hypothesis of this approach is that there is a natural domain of (...) human functioning that can be addressed exclusively in terms of a formal symbolic or algorithmic vocabulary or level of analysis. Much of the paper elaborates various conditions that need to be met if a literal view of mental activity as computation is to serve as the basis for explanatory theories. The coherence of such a view depends on there being a principled distinction between functions whose explanation requires that we posit internal representations and those that we can appropriately describe as merely instantiating causal physical or biological laws. In this paper the distinction is empirically grounded in a methodological criterion called the " cognitive impenetrability condition." Functions are said to be cognitively impenetrable if they cannot be influenced by such purely cognitive factors as goals, beliefs, inferences, tacit knowledge, and so on. Such a criterion makes it possible to empirically separate the fixed capacities of mind from the particular representations and algorithms used on specific occasions. In order for computational theories to avoid being ad hoc, they must deal effectively with the "degrees of freedom" problem by constraining the extent to which they can be arbitrarily adjusted post hoc to fit some particular set of observations. This in turn requires that the fixed architectural function and the algorithms be independently validated. It is argued that the architectural assumptions implicit in many contemporary models run afoul of the cognitive impenetrability condition, since the required fixed functions are demonstrably sensitive to tacit knowledge and goals. The paper concludes with some tactical suggestions for the development of computational cognitive theories. (shrink)
This article discusses “explaining away” arguments in the cognitivescience of religion. I distinguish two rather different ways of explaining away religion, one where religion is shown to be incompatible with scientific findings and one where supernatural entities are rendered superfluous by scientific explanations. After discussing possible objections to both varieties, I argue that the latter way offers better prospects for successfully explaining away religion but that some caveats must be made. In a second step, I spell out (...) how CSR can be used to spell out an argument of the second kind. One argument renders religion superfluous by claiming that it results from a cognitive bias and one does the same by claiming religion was a useful evolutionary adaptation. I discuss some strengths and weaknesses of both arguments. (shrink)
Cognitive systems research has predominantly been guided by the historical distinction between emotion and cognition, and has focused its efforts on modelling the “cognitive” aspects of behaviour. While this initially meant modelling only the control system of cognitive creatures, with the advent of “embodied” cognitivescience this expanded to also modelling the interactions between the control system and the external environment. What did not seem to change with this embodiment revolution, however, was the attitude towards (...) affect and emotion in cognitivescience. This paper argues that cognitive systems research is now beginning to integrate these aspects of natural cognitive systems into cognitivescience proper, not in virtue of traditional “embodied cognitivescience”, which focuses predominantly on the body’s gross morphology, but rather in virtue of research into the interoceptive, organismic basis of natural cognitive systems. (shrink)
[from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz and Johan De (...) Smedt examine the cognitive origins of arguments in natural theology. They find that although natural theological arguments can be very sophisticated, they are rooted in everyday intuitions about purpose, causation, agency, and morality. Using evidence and theories from disciplines including the cognitivescience of religion, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary aesthetics, and the cognitivescience of testimony, they show that these intuitions emerge early in development and are a stable part of human cognition. -/- De Cruz and De Smedt analyze the cognitive underpinnings of five well-known arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design, the cosmological argument, the moral argument, the argument from beauty, and the argument from miracles. Finally, they consider whether the cognitive origins of these natural theological arguments should affect their rationality. (shrink)
Specifically designed to make the philosophy of mind intelligible to those not trained in philosophy, this book provides a concise overview for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences. Emphasizing the relevance of philosophical work to investigations in other cognitive sciences, this unique text examines such issues as the meaning of language, the mind-body problem, the functionalist theories of cognition, and intentionality. As he explores the philosophical issues, Bechtel draws connections between philosophical views and theoretical and experimental work (...) in such disciplines as cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology. (shrink)
The notion of levels has been widely used in discussions of cognitivescience, especially in discussions of the relation of connectionism to symbolic modeling of cognition. I argue that many of the notions of levels employed are problematic for this purpose, and develop an alternative notion grounded in the framework of mechanistic explanation. By considering the source of the analogies underlying both symbolic modeling and connectionist modeling, I argue that neither is likely to provide an adequate analysis of (...) processes at the level at which cognitive theories attempt to function: One is drawn from too low a level, the other from too high a level. If there is a distinctly cognitive level, then we still need to determine what are the basic organizational principles at that level. (shrink)
This article responds to two unresolved and crucial problems of cognitivescience: (1) What is actually accomplished by functions of the nervous system that we ordinarily describe in the intentional idiom? and (2) What makes the information processing involved in these functions semantic? It is argued that, contrary to the assumptions of many cognitive theorists, the computational approach does not provide coherent answers to these problems, and that a more promising start would be to fall back on (...) mathematical communication theory and, with the help of evolutionary biology and neurophysiology, to attempt a characterization of the adaptive processes involved in visual perception. Visual representations are explained as patterns of cortical activity that are enabled to focus on objects in the changing visual environment by constantly adjusting to maintain levels of mutual information between pattern and object that are adequate for continuing perceptual control. In these terms, the answer proposed to (1) is that the intentional functions of vision are those involved in the establishment and maintenance of such representations, and to (2) that semantic features are added to the information processes of vision with the focus on objects that these representations accomplish. The article concludes with proposals for extending this account of intentionality to the higher domains of conceptualization and reason, and with speculation about how semantic information-processing might be achieved in mechanical systems. (shrink)
Though nativist hypotheses have played a pivotal role in the development of cognitivescience, it remains exceedingly obscure how they—and the debates in which they ﬁgure—ought to be understood. The central aim of this paper is to provide an account which addresses this concern and in so doing: a) makes sense of the roles that nativist theorizing plays in cognitivescience and, moreover, b), explains why it really matters to the contemporary study of cognition. I conclude (...) by outlining a range of further implications of this account for current debate in cognitivescience. (shrink)
One of the most fruitful interdisciplinary boundaries in contemporary scholarship is that between philosophy and cognitivescience. Now that solid empirical results about the activities of the human mind are available, it is no longer necessary for philosophers to practice armchair psychology.In this short, accessible, and entertaining book, Alvin Goldman presents a masterly survey of recent work in cognitivescience that has particular relevance to philosophy. Besides providing a valuable review of the most suggestive work in (...)cognitive and social psychology, Goldman demonstrates conclusively that the best work in philosophy in a surprising number of different fields—including philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics as well as philosophy of mind—must take into account empirical breakthroughs in psychology.One of those rare texts that will also be useful for professionals, Philosophical Applications of CognitiveScience is appropriate for students in a wide range of philosophy courses. It will also interest researchers and students in psychology who are intrigued by the wider theoretical implications of their work. (shrink)
While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitivescience, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this book, Anthony Chemero describes this nonrepresentational approach, puts it in historical and conceptual context, and applies it to traditional problems in the philosophy of mind. Radical embodied cognitivescience is a direct descendant of the American naturalist psychology (...) of William James and John Dewey, and follows them in viewing perception and cognition to be understandable only in terms of action in the environment. Chemero argues that cognition should be described in terms of agent-environment dynamics rather than in terms of computation and representation. After outlining this orientation to cognition, Chemero proposes a methodology: dynamical systems theory, which would explain things dynamically and without reference to representation. He also advances a background theory: Gibsonian ecological psychology, "shored up" and clarified. Chemero then looks at some traditional philosophical problems through the lens of radical embodied cognitivescience and concludes that the comparative ease with which it resolves these problems, combined with its empirical promise, makes this approach to cognitivescience a rewarding one. "Jerry Fodor is my favorite philosopher," Chemero writes in his preface, adding, "I think that Jerry Fodor is wrong about nearly everything." With this book, Chemero explains nonrepresentational, dynamical, ecological cognitivescience as clearly and as rigorously as Jerry Fodor explained computational cognitivescience in his classic work The Language of Thought. (shrink)
This article tries to create a bridge of understanding between cognitive scientists and phenomenologists who work on attention. In light of a phenomenology of attention and current psychological and neuropsychological literature on attention, I translate and interpret into phenomenological terms 20 key cognitivescience concepts as examined in the laboratory and used in leading journals. As a preface to the lexicon, I outline a phenomenology of attention, especially as a dynamic three-part structure, which I have freely amended (...) from the work of phenomenologist and Gestalt philosopher Aron Gurwitsch (1901â1973). As a conclusion, I discuss the nature of subjectivity in attention and attention research, and whether attention might be the same as consciousness. (shrink)
Despite being there from the beginning, philosophical approaches have never had a settled place in cognitive research and few cognitive researchers not trained in philosophy have a clear sense of what its role has been or should be. We distinguish philosophy in cognitive research and philosophy of cognitive research. Concerning philosophy in cognitive research, after exploring some standard reactions to this work by nonphilosophers, we will pay particular attention to the methods that philosophers use. Being (...) neither experimental nor computational, they can leave others bewildered. Thought experiments are the most striking example but not the only one. Concerning philosophy of cognitive research, we will pay particular attention to its power to generate and test normative claims, claims about what should and should not be done. (shrink)
Which notion of computation (if any) is essential for explaining cognition? Five answers to this question are discussed in the paper. (1) The classicist answer: symbolic (digital) computation is required for explaining cognition; (2) The broad digital computationalist answer: digital computation broadly construed is required for explaining cognition; (3) The connectionist answer: sub-symbolic computation is required for explaining cognition; (4) The computational neuroscientist answer: neural computation (that, strictly, is neither digital nor analogue) is required for explaining cognition; (5) The extreme (...) dynamicist answer: computation is not required for explaining cognition. The first four answers are only accurate to a first approximation. But the “devil” is in the details. The last answer cashes in on the parenthetical “if any” in the question above. The classicist argues that cognition is symbolic computation. But digital computationalism need not be equated with classicism. Indeed, computationalism can, in principle, range from digital (and analogue) computationalism through (the weaker thesis of) generic computationalism to (the even weaker thesis of) digital (or analogue) pancomputationalism. Connectionism, which has traditionally been criticised by classicists for being non-computational, can be plausibly construed as being either analogue or digital computationalism (depending on the type of connectionist networks used). Computational neuroscience invokes the notion of neural computation that may (possibly) be interpreted as a sui generis type of computation. The extreme dynamicist argues that the time has come for a post-computational cognitivescience. This paper is an attempt to shed some light on this debate by examining various conceptions and misconceptions of (particularly digital) computation. (shrink)
A variety of inaccurate claims about Gold's Theorem have appeared in the cognitivescience literature. I begin by characterizing the logic of this theorem and its proof. I then examine several claims about Gold's Theorem, and I show why they are false. Finally, I assess the significance of Gold's Theorem for cognitivescience.
Hume was a cognitive scientist of religion avant la lettre. His Natural History of Religion (1757 ) locates the origins of religion in human nature. This paper explores similarities between some of his ideas and the cognitivescience of religion, the multidisciplinary study of the psychological origins of religious beliefs. It also considers Hume’s distinction between two questions about religion: its foundation in reason (the domain of natural theology and philosophy of religion) and its origin in human (...) nature (the domain of cognitivescience of religion). (shrink)
My purpose in this brief paper is to consider the implications of a radically different computer architecure to some fundamental problems in the foundations of CognitiveScience. More exactly, I wish to consider the ramifications of the 'Gödel-Minds-Machines' controversy of the late 1960s on a dynamically changing computer architecture which, I venture to suggest, is going to revolutionize which 'functions' of the human mind can and cannot be modelled by (non-human) computational automata. I will proceed on the presupposition (...) that the reader is familiar with some of the fundamentals of computational theory and mathematical logic. (shrink)
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible (...) theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitivescience. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstract ideas in cognitivescience has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
This article aims at a constructive and argumentative engagement between the cognitivescience of religion (CSR) and philosophical and theological reflection on the imago Dei. The Swiss theologian Emil Brunner argued that the theological notion that humans were created in the image of God entails that there is a “point of contact” for revelation to occur. This article argues that Brunner's notion resonates quite strongly with the findings of the CSR. The first part will give a short overview (...) of the CSR. The second part deals with Brunner's idea of the imago Dei and the “point of contact.” The third and final part of the article outlines a model of revelation that is in line with Brunner's thought and the CSR. The aim of this article is to show how the naturalistic methodology of the CSR provides a fertile new perspective on several theological issues and thereby enriches theological reflection. (shrink)
The term phenomenology can be used in a generic sense to cover a variety of areas related to the problem of consciousness. In this sense it is a title that ranges over issues pertaining to first-person or subjective experience, qualia, and what has become known as "the hard problem" (Chalmers 1995). The term is sometimes used even more generally to signify a variety of approaches to studying such issues, including contemplative, meditative, and mystical studies, and transpersonal psychology.(1) Within the disciplines (...) of philosophy and psychology, however, phenomenology has a more specialized meaning. In this case it refers to the methodology and philosophy initiated by the philosopher Edmund Husserl at the beginning of the twentieth-century and developed in various ways by theorists such as Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Schutz. I restrict the scope of this review to phenomenology in this more specialized sense. In the light of several recent publications, the general questions I address are: What is and what ought to be the relationship between phenomenology and cognitivescience? and What, if any, recent contributions has phenomenology made to the science of consciousness? (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the new Tweety puzzle. The original Tweety puzzle was addressed by approaches in non-monotonic logic, which aim to adequately represent the Tweety case, namely that Tweety is a penguin and, thus, an exceptional bird, which cannot fly, although in general birds can fly. The new Tweety puzzle is intended as a challenge for probabilistic theories of epistemic states. In the first part of the paper we argue against monistic Bayesians, who assume that epistemic states can (...) at any given time be adequately described by a single subjective probability function. We show that monistic Bayesians cannot provide an adequate solution to the new Tweety puzzle, because this requires one to refer to a frequency-based probability function. We conclude that monistic Bayesianism cannot be a fully adequate theory of epistemic states. In the second part we describe an empirical study, which provides support for the thesis that monistic Bayesianism is also inadequate as a descriptive theory of cognitive states. In the final part of the paper we criticize Bayesian approaches in cognitivescience, insofar as their monistic tendency cannot adequately address the new Tweety puzzle. We, further, argue against monistic Bayesianism in cognitivescience by means of a case study. In this case study we show that Oaksford and Chater’s (2007, 2008) model of conditional inference—contrary to the authors’ theoretical position—has to refer also to a frequency-based probability function. (shrink)
Review of THEO C. MEYERING, Historical Roots of CognitiveScience : The Rise of a Cognitive Theory of Perception from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Kluwer, xix + 250 pp. $69.00. Examines the author's interpretation of Aristotelian theories of perceptual cognition, early modern theories, and Helmholtz's theory.
Thirty years after the publication of Marr's seminal book Vision the papers in this topic consider the contemporary status of his influential conception of three distinct levels of analysis for information-processing systems, and in particular the role of the algorithmic and representational level with its cognitive-level concepts. This level has been downplayed or eliminated both by reductionist neuroscience approaches from below that seek to account for behavior from the implementation level and by Bayesian approaches from above that seek to (...) account for behavior in purely computational-level terms. (shrink)
Neuroethology is a branch of biology that studies the neural basis of naturally occurring animal behavior. This science, particularly a recent program called computational neuroethology, has a similar structure to the interdisciplinary endeavor of cognitivescience. I argue that it would be fruitful to conceive of cognitivescience as the computational neuroethology of humans. However, there are important differences between the two sciences, including the fact that neuroethology is much more comparative in its perspective. Neuroethology (...) is a biological science and as such, evolution is a central notion. Its target organisms are studied in the context of their evolutionary history. The central goal of this paper is to argue that cognitivescience can and ought to be more comparative in its approach to cognitive phenomena in humans. I show how the domain of cognitive phenomena can be divided up into four different classes, individuated by the relative phylogenetic uniqueness of the behavior. I then describe how comparative evidence can enrich our understanding in each of these different arenas. (shrink)
CognitiveScience is a promising field of research that deals with one of the most fundamental questions ever: how do beings know? However, despite the long and extensive tradition of the field it has not yet become an area of knowledge with scientific identity. This is primarily due to three reasons: the lack of boundaries in defining the object of study, i.e. cognition, the lack of a precise, robust and consistent scientific methodology and results, and the inner problems (...) derived from its interdisciplinary nature. This paper presents a background review, a theoretical frame and a humble reflection on these topics in order to arouse the internal debate among readers once more. (shrink)
From his earliest work forward, phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty attempted to develop a new ontology of nature that would avoid the antinomies of realism and idealism by showing that nature has its own intrinsic sense which is prior to reflection. The key to this new ontology was the concept of form, which he appropriated from Gestalt psychology. However, Merleau-Ponty struggled to give a positive characterization of the phenomenon of form which would clarify its ontological status. Evan Thompson has recently taken up (...) Merleau-Ponty’s ontology as the basis for a new, “enactive” approach to cognitivescience, synthesizing it with concepts from dynamic systems theory and Francisco Varela’s theory of autopoiesis. However, Thompson does not quite succeed in resolving the ambiguities in Merleau-Ponty’s account of form. This article builds on an indication from Thompson in order to propose a new account of form as asymmetry, and of the genesis of form in nature as symmetry-breaking. These concepts help us to escape the antinomies of Modern thought by showing how nature is the autoproduction of a sense which can only be known by an embodied perceiver. (shrink)
In this paper, I outline two strands of evidence for the conclusion that the dynamical approach to cognitivescience both seeks and provides covering law explanations. Two of the most successful dynamical models—Kelso’s model of rhythmic finger movement and Thelen et al.’s model of infant perseverative reaching—can be seen to provide explanations which conform to the famous explanatory scheme first put forward by Hempel and Oppenheim. In addition, many prominent advocates of the dynamical approach also express the provision (...) of this kind of explanation as a goal of dynamical cognitivescience. I conclude by briefly outlining two consequences. First, dynamical cognitivescience’s explanatory style may strengthen its links to the so-called “situated” approach to cognition, but, secondly, it may also undermine the widespread intuition that dynamics is related to emergentism in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of theological concepts is influenced by content biases (...) that also underlie the reception of ordinary religious concepts. (shrink)
While the extended cognition (EC) thesis has gained more followers in cognitivescience and in the philosophy of mind and knowledge, our main goal is to discuss a different area of significance of the EC thesis: its relation to philosophy of science. In this introduction, we outline two major areas: (I) The role of the thesis for issues in the philosophy of cognitivescience, such as: How do notions of EC figure in theories or research (...) programs in cognitivescience? Which versions of the EC thesis appear, and with which arguments to support them? (II) The potentials and limits of the EC thesis for topics in general philosophy of science, such as: Can naturalism perhaps be further advanced by means of the more recent EC thesis? Can we understand “big science” or laboratory research better by invoking some version of EC? And can the EC thesis help in overcoming the notorious cognitive/social divide in science studies? (shrink)
The last 15 years or so has seen the development of a fascinating new area of cognitivescience: the cognitivescience of religion (CSR). Scientists in this field aim to explain religious beliefs and various other religious human activities by appeal to basic cognitive structures that all humans possess. The CSR scientific theories raise an interesting philosophical question: do they somehow show that religious belief, more specifically belief in a god of some kind, is irrational? (...) In this paper I investigate this question and argue that CSR does not show that belief in god is irrational. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: * Introduction * The CognitiveScience of Religion * The Internal Witness: The Sensus Divinitatis * Reformed Epistemology * Reformed Epistemology and CognitiveScience * Obstinacy in Belief * The External Witness: The Order of the Cosmos * The External Witness and the CognitiveScience of Religion * Conclusion * Notes * Bibliography.
In a 2008 paper, Walmsley argued that the explanations employed in the dynamical approach to cognitivescience, as exemplified by the Haken, Kelso and Bunz model of rhythmic finger movement, and the model of infant preservative reaching developed by Esther Thelen and her colleagues, conform to Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim’s deductive-nomological model of explanation (also known as the covering law model). Although we think Walmsley’s approach is methodologically sound in that it starts with an analysis of scientific (...) practice rather than a general philosophical framework, we nevertheless feel that there are two problems with his paper. First, he focuses only on the deductivenomological model and so neglects the important fact that explanations are causal. Second, the explanations offered by the dynamical approach do not take the deductive-nomological format, because they do not deduce the explananda from exceptionless laws. Because of these two points, Walmsley makes the dynamical explanations in cognitivescience appear problematic, while in fact they are not. (shrink)