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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
In this introduction, we give a brief overview of the main concepts of modularity that have been offered in recent literature. After this, we turn to a summary of the papers collected in this volume. Our primary aim is to explain how the modularity of emotion question relates to traditional debates in emotion theory.
It is shown that the Fodor's interpretation of the frame problem is the central indication that his version of the Modularity Thesis is incompatible with computationalism. Since computationalism is far more plausible than this thesis, the latter should be rejected.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
In this paper, I define tacit knowledge as a kind of causal-explanatory structure, mirroring the derivational structure in the theory that is tacitly known. On this definition, tacit knowledge does not have to be explicitly represented. I then take the notion of a modular theory, and project the idea of modularity to several different levels of description: in particular, to the processing level and the neurophysiological level. The fundamental description of a connectionist network lies at a level between the (...) processing level and the physiological level. At this level, connectionism involves a characteristic departure from modularity, and a correlative absence of syntactic structure. This is linked to the fact that tacit knowledge descriptions of networks are only approximately true. A consequence is that strict causal systematicity in cognitive processes poses a problem for the connectionist programme. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor argues that the massive modularity thesis – the claim that (human) cognition is wholly served by domain specific, autonomous computational devices, i.e., modules – is a priori incoherent, self-defeating. The thesis suffers from what Fodor dubs the input problem: the function of a given module (proprietarily understood) in a wholly modular system presupposes non-modular processes. It will be argued that massive modularity suffers from no such a priori problem. Fodor, however, also offers what he describes as (...) a really real input problem (i.e., an empirical one). It will be suggested that this problem is real enough, but it does not selectively strike down massive modularity – it is a problem for everyone. (shrink)
This paper will sketch a model of the human mind according to which the mind’s structure is massively, but by no means wholly, modular. Modularity views in general will be motivated, elucidated, and defended, before the thesis of moderately massive modularity is explained and elaborated.
the concept of modularity of cognitive processes is introduced and a picture of mind is proposed according to which the peripheral input systems are modular whereas the central processes are not. The present paper examines this view from both a methodological and a substaintive perspective. Methodologically, a contrast between considerations of principle and of fact is made and implications for the nature of cognitive theory are discussed. Substantively, constraints on information flow are examined as they appear in various aspects (...) of psychological phenomenology, and central processes in particular. It is suggested that the notion of modularity as structural and fixed be replaced by one which is dynamic, context-dependent. This modification, it is argued, is productive for the characterization of the workings of the mind, and it defines new questions for investigation. (shrink)
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 cognitive modularity 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 cognitive modularity 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)
The premise of biological modularity is an ontological claim that appears to come out of practice. We understand that the biological world is modular because we can manipulate different parts of organisms in ways that would only work if there were discrete parts that were interchangeable. This is the foundation of the BioBrick assembly method widely used in synthetic biology. It is one of a number of methods that allows practitioners to construct and reconstruct biological pathways and devices using (...) DNA libraries of standardized parts with known functions. In this paper, we investigate how the practice of synthetic biology reconfigures biological understanding of the key concepts of modularity and evolvability. We illustrate how this practice approach takes engineering knowledge and uses it to try to understand biological organization by showing how the construction of functional parts and processes can be used in synthetic experimental evolution. We introduce a new approach within synthetic biology that uses the premise of a parts-based ontology together with that of organismal self-organization to optimize orthogonal metabolic pathways in E. coli. We then use this and other examples to help characterize semisynthetic categories of modularity, parthood, and evolvability within the discipline. (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)
This paper critically examines Jerry Fodor's latest attacks on evolutionary psychology. Contra Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, Fodor argues (i) there is no reason to think that human cognition is a Darwinian adaptation in the first place, and (ii) there is no valid inference from adaptationism about the mind to massive modularity. However, Fodor maintains (iii) that there is a valid inference in the converse direction, from modularity to adaptationism, but (iv) that the language module is an exception (...) to the validity of this inference. I explore Fodor's arguments for each of these claims, and the interrelations between them. I argue that Fodor is incorrect on point (i), correct on point (ii), partially correct on point (iii), and incorrect on point (iv). Overall, his critique fails to show that adopting a broadly Darwinian approach to cognition is intellectually indefensible. (shrink)
Can emotions be rational or are they necessarily irrational? Are emotions universally shared states? Or are they socio-cultural constructions? Are emotions perceptions of some kind? Since the publication of Jerry Fodor’s The Modularity of Mind (1983), a new question about the philosophy of emotions has emerged: are emotions modular? A positive answer to this question would mean, minimally, that emotions are cognitive capacities that can be explained in terms of mental components that are functionally dissociable from other parts of (...) the mind. But depending on the kind of modules that are considered, be they Chomskyan, Fodorian, Darwinian, or some other kind, the answer to this question might well be different. The twelve new essays in this volume address the question of whether emotions, or at least some of them, are, in some sense of the word, modules, and explore how this could potentially influence our understanding of emotional phenomena. (shrink)
Since the publication of Fodor's (1983) The Modularity of Mind, there have been quite a few discussions of cognitive modularity 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)
This paper critically examines the argument structure of Fodor's theory of modularity. Fodor claims computational autonomy as the essential properly of modular processing. This property has profound consequences, burdening modularity theory with corollaries of rigidity, non-plasticity, nativism, and the old Cartesian dualism of sensing and thinking. However, it is argued that Fodor's argument for computational autonomy is crucially dependent on yet another postulate of Fodor's theory, viz. his thesis of strong modularity, ie. the view that functionally distinct (...) modules must also have physical counterparts in the neural architecture of the brain. Yet, Fodor offers little or no independent support for this neurological speculation. Moreover, due to the cognitivist underpinnings of Fodor's theory his view of modules as 'mental organs'faces an untenable dilemma that is to be traced back to the earliest history of modem cognitive science, viz. to the rationalist-computationalist research program initiated by Descartes and Male-branche. The tension characteristic for the Cartesian program was one that arose between information correlation and information processing accounts of the transactions between body and mind. Similarly, the tension characteristic for Fodor's theory of modularity is one between a causal account of modules on the model of simple detection mechanisms, and an information processing account of modules on the model of vast and elaborate cognitive systems. It is argued that the resulting concept of a cognitive module Fodorian style constitutes an amalgam of incompatible desiderata that fails to stake out a natural kind for cognitive science. As an alternative account, the final section shows connectionism to be capable of encompassing both Gibsonian and 'new look' accounts of cognitive achievements within one theoretical perspective, thus providing a fruitful interfield theory capable of combining the theoretical resources of the ecological approach with the indispensable theoretical complement provided by psychological processing accounts. This change of perspective would ultimately involve recasting the symbo-functionalist notion of cognitive function along bio-psychological lines. (shrink)
The paper treats issues concerning the modular modelisation of musical mental processes. Some musical phenomena, like musical illusions, are explained in the framework of modularity and hypotheses are advanced in which the modular model seems very promising for the study of musical perception and cognition. In addition, arguments are proposed to distinguish between levels of abstraction and knowledge in musical cognitive processes.Moreover, some aspects about the theory of musical competence and the theory of musical processing are identified and the (...) possibilities for the integration of varying theoretical assertions are considered in light of these distinctions. (shrink)
In this paper, I suggest that the notion of module explicitly defined by Peter Carruthers in The Architecture of The Mind (Carruthers 2006) is not really In use in the book. Instead, a more robust notion seems to be actually in play. The more robust notion, albeit implicitly assumed, seems to be far more useful for making claims about the modularity of mind. Otherwise, the claims would become trivial. This robust notion will be reconstructed and improved upon by putting (...) it into a more general framework of mental architecture. I defend the view that modules are the outcome of structural rather than functional decomposition and that they should be conceived as near decomposable systems. (shrink)
Cultural evolutionists typically emphasize the informational aspect of social transmission, that of the learning, stabilizing, and transformation of mental representations along cultural lineages. Social transmission also depends on the production of public displays such as utterances, behaviors, and artifacts, as these displays are what social learners learn from. However, the generative processes involved in the production of public displays are usually abstracted away in both theoretical assessments and formal models. The aim of this paper is to complement the informational view (...) with a generative dimension, emphasizing how the production of public displays both enable and constrain the production of modular cultural recipes through the process of innovation by recombination. In order to avoid a circular understanding of cultural recombination and cultural modularity, we need to take seriously the nature and structure of the generative processes involved in the maintenance of cultural traditions. A preliminary analysis of what recombination and modularity consist of is offered. It is shown how the study of recombination and modularity depends on a finer understanding of the generative processes involved in the production phase of social transmission. Finally, it is argued that the recombination process depends on the inventive production of an interface between modules and the complex recipes in which they figure, and that such interfaces are the direct result of the generative processes involved in the production of these recipes. The analysis is supported by the case study of the transition from the Oldowan to the Early Acheulean flake detachment techniques. (shrink)
Modules, as Marr and Fodor conceive of them, lie between sensory and central processes. Modules have the functional property of representing that portion of the world which turns them on, and nine non-functional or structural properties that facilitate carrying out that function. Fodor has proposed that the processing of linguistic information is carried out by a language module , which therefore has the functional and structural features of modules. We argue that the proposed LM does not have the functional property (...) of modules in general . And we argue that Fodor's candidate for the output of the LM, interpreted syntactic form, does not satisfy important structural properties of modules . We propose another candidate, speech act potential, and argue that it fits almost all of Fodor's conditions . We next report on some pilot sentence completion studies suggesting that speech act information can influence the course of a parse and hence are a part of the LM . Finally, we outline possible experiments to test the modularity of speech act information by online methods of priming. (shrink)
Is vision informationally encapsulated from cognition or is it cognitively penetrated? I shall argue that intentions penetrate vision in the experience of visual spatial constancy: the world appears to be spatially stable despite our frequent eye movements. I explicate the nature of this experience and critically examine and extend current neurobiological accounts of spatial constancy, emphasizing the central role of motor signals in computing such constancy. I then provide a stringent condition for failure of informational encapsulation that emphasizes a computational (...) condition for cognitive penetration: cognition must serve as an informational resource for visual computation. This requires proposals regarding semantic information transfer, a crucial issue in any model of informational encapsulation. I then argue that intention provides an informational resource for computation of visual spatial constancy. Hence, intention penetrates vision. (shrink)
The central problem for pragmatics is that sentence meaning vastly underdetermines speaker’s meaning. The goal of pragmatics is to explain how the gap between sentence meaning and speaker’s meaning is bridged. This paper defends the broadly Gricean view that pragmatic interpretation is ultimately an exercise in mind-reading, involving the inferential attribution of intentions. We argue, however, that the interpretation process does not simply consist in applying general mind-reading abilities to a particular (communicative) domain. Rather, it involves a dedicated comprehension module, (...) with its own special principles and mechanisms. We show how such a metacommunicative module might have evolved, and what principles and mechanisms it might contain. (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.
It is unreasonable to assume that our pre-scientific emotion vocabulary embodies all and only those distinctions required for a scientific psychology of emotion. The psychoevolutionary approach to emotion yields an alternative classification of certain emotion phenomena. The new categories are based on a set of evolved adaptive responses, or affect-programs, which are found in all cultures. The triggering of these responses involves a modular system of stimulus appraisal, whose evoluations may conflict with those of higher-level cognitive processes. Whilst the structure (...) of the adaptive responses is innate, the contents of the system which triggers them are largely learnt. The circuits subserving the adaptive responses are probably located in the limbic system. This theory of emotion is directly applicable only to a small sub-domain of the traditional realm of emotion. It can be used, however, to explain the grouping of various other phenomena under the heading of emotion, and to explain various characteristic failings of the pre-scientific conception of emotion. (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.
Inner speech is a pervasive feature of our conscious mental lives. Yet its function and character remain an issue of philosophical debate. The present paper focuses on the relation between inner speech and natural language and on the cognitive functions that various contributors have ascribed to inner speech. In particular, it is argued that inner speech does not consist of bare, context-free internal presentations of sentential (or subsentential) content, but rather has an ineliminably perspectival element. The proposed model of inner (...) speech, which characterizes inner speech as akin to the testimony of an inner interlocutor, accounts for this perspectival element and, it is argued, is explanatorily superior, insofar as it better explains, amongst other phenomena, the often condensed character of inner speech. (shrink)
Evolutionary psychologists claim that the mind contains “hundreds or thousands” of “genetically speciﬁed” modules, which are evolutionary adaptations for their cognitive functions. We argue that, while the adult human mind/brain typically contains a degree of modularization, its “modules” are neither genetically speciﬁed nor evolutionary adaptations. Rather, they result from the brain’s developmental plasticity, which allows environmental task demands a large role in shaping the brain’s information-processing structures. The brain’s developmental plasticity is our fundamental psychological adaptation, and the “modules” that result (...) from it are adaptive responses to local conditions, not past evolutionary environments. If different individuals share common environ- ments, however, they may develop similar “modules,” and this process can mimic the development of genetically speciﬁed modules in the evolutionary psychologist’s sense. (shrink)
The claim that the human cognitive system tends to allocate resources to the processing of available inputs according to their expected relevance is at the basis of relevance theory. The main thesis of this chapter is that this allocation can be achieved without computing expected relevance. When an input meets the input condition of a given modular procedure, it gives this procedure some initial level of activation. Input-activated procedures are in competition for the energy resources that would allow them to (...) follow their full course. What determines which of the procedures in competition get sufficient resources to trigger their full operation is the dynamics of their activation. This dynamics depend both on the prior degree of mobilisation of a modular procedure and on the activation that propagates from other active modules. It is quite conceivable also that the mobilisation of some procedures has inhibitory effects on some others. The relevance-theoretic claim is that, at every instant, this dynamics of activation provides rough physiological indicators of expected relevance. The flow of energy in the system is locally regulated by these indicators. As a result, those input-procedure combinations that have the greatest expected relevance are the more likely ones to receive sufficient energy to follow their course. (shrink)
In this paper I review some leading developments in the empirical theory of affect. I argue that (1) affect is a distinct perceptual representation governed system, and (2) that there are significant modular factors in affect. The paper concludes with the observation thatfeeler (affective perceptual system) may be a natural kind within cognitive science. The main purpose of the paper is to explore some hitherto unappreciated connections between the theory of affect and the computational theory of mind.
Fodor argues that speech perception is accomplished by a module. Typically, modular processing is taken to be bottom-up processing. Yet there is ubiquitous empirical evidence that speech perception is influenced by top-down processing. Fodor attempts to resolve this conflict by denying that modular processing must be exclusively bottom-up. It is argued, however, that Fodor's attempt to reconcile top-down and modular processing fails, because: (i) it undermines Fodor's own conception of modular processing; and (ii) it cannot account for the contextually varying (...) top-down influences that characterize speech perception. (shrink)
Performance on the Wason selection task varies with content. This has been taken to demonstrate that there are different cognitive modules for dealing with different conceptual domains. This implication is only legitimate if our underlying cognitive architecture is formal. A non-formal system can explain content-sensitive inference without appeal to independent inferential modules.
This chapter examines the extent to which there are continuities between the cognitive processes and epistemic practices engaged in by human hunter-gatherers, on the one hand, and those which are distinctive of science, on the other. It deploys anthropological evidence against any form of 'no-continuity' view, drawing especially on the cognitive skills involved in the art of tracking. It also argues against the 'child-as-scientist' accounts put forward by some developmental psychologists, which imply that scientific thinking is present in early infancy (...) and universal amongst humans who have sufficient time and resources to devote to it. In contrast, a modularist kind of 'continuity' account is proposed, according to which the innately channelled architecture of human cognition provides all the materials necessary for basic forms of scientific reasoning in older children and adults, needing only the appropriate sorts of external support, social context, and background beliefs and skills in order for science to begin its advance. (shrink)