The received view of dynamical explanation is that dynamical cognitive science seeks to provide covering-law explanations of cognitive phenomena. By analyzing three prominent examples of dynamicist research, I show that the received view is misleading: some dynamical explanations are mechanistic explanations and in this way resemble computational and connectionist explanations. Interestingly, these dynamical explanations invoke the mathematical framework of dynamical systems theory to describe mechanisms far more complex and distributed than the ones typically considered by philosophers. Therefore, contemporary dynamicist research reveals the need for a more sophisticated account of mechanistic explanation.
There are two related points at which J.J. Gibson’s ecological theory of visual perception remains remarkably underspecified: Firstly, the notion of information for perception is not explicated in much detail beyond the claim that it “specifies” the environment for perception, and, thus being an objective affair, enables an organism to perceive action possibilities or “affordances.” Secondly, misperceptions of affordances and perceptual illusions are not clearly distinguished from each other. Although the first claim seems to suggest that any perceptual illusion amounts to the misperception of affordances, there might be some relevant differences between various ways of getting things wrong. In this essay, Gibson’s notion of “specifying” information shall be reconstructed along the lines of Fred Dretske’s relational theory of information. This refined notion of information for perception will then be used to carve out the distinction between perceptual illusions and the misperception of affordances, with some help from the “Empirical Strategy” (developed by Purves et al.). It will be maintained that there are cases where perceptual illusions actually help an organism to correctly perceive an affordance. In such cases, the prima facie misrendered informational relations involved are kept intact by a set of appropriate transformation rules. Two of Gibson’s intuitions shall thus be preserved: the objectivity of informational relations and the empowerment of the organism as an active perceiver who uses those objective relations to his specific ends.
One of Brian Loar’s most central contributions to contemporary philosophy of mind has been the notion of phenomenal intentionality: a kind of intentional directedness fully grounded in phenomenal character. Proponents of phenomenal intentionality typically also endorse the idea of cognitive phenomenology: a sui generis phenomenal character of cognitive states such as thoughts and judgments that grounds these states’ intentional directedness. This combination of commitments creates a challenge that proponents of phenomenal intentionality have by and large not addressed focally yet, namely, the challenge of how to account for manifest phenomenological difference between perception and cognition.
This paper argues that the question, ‘where are virtues?’ demands a response from virtue theorists. Despite the polarizing nature of debates about the relevance of empirical work in psychology for virtue theory, I first show that there is widespread agreement about the underlying structure of virtue. Namely, that virtues are comprised of cognitive and affective processes. Next, I show that there are well-developed arguments that cognitive processes can extend beyond the agent. Then, I show that there are similarly well-developed arguments that affective processes can extend beyond the agent. I then introduce three cases to establish that these cognitive and affective processes are relevantly similar to the cognitive and affective processes countenanced by plausible theories of virtue. Finally, I conclude that virtue theorists must abandon default internalism, the (often implicit) view that the cognitive and affective processes comprising virtues are internal to the agent.
Mathematics is a unique body of knowledge. Among others, it is abstract, exact, efficient, symbolizable, and it provides astonishing applications to the real world. In the domain of philosophy of mathematics the study of the practice of mathematics has gradually become an important area of investigation. What aspects of the human body and mind make the peculiar practice of mathematics possible? In this article, I briefly review some cogntive dimensions that play a crucial role in the creation and consolidation of mathematics. Keywords: Mathematics, abstraction, cognition, language, practice, imagination, philosophy of mathematics.
In the first part of the article, a semiotic reading of the embodied approach to mathematics will be presented. From this perspective, the role of the sensorimotor in mathematics will be considered, by looking at some work in experimental psychology on the segmentation of formulas and at an analysis of the practice of topology as involving manipulative imagination. According to the proposed view, representations in mathematics are cognitive tools whose functioning depends on pre-existing cognitive abilities and specific training. In the second part of the paper, the view of cognitive tools as props in games of “make-believe” will be discussed; to better specify this claim, the notion of affordance will be explored in its possible extension from concrete objects to representations.
This paper considers two models of embodied mathematical cognition (a modular model and a dynamic model), and analyses the image of mathematics that they support. Keywords: Mathematical cognition, Walter Freeman, embodied cognition, popular view of mathematics. RESUMEN: Este artículo considera dos modelos de cognición matemática corporizada (un modelo modular y un modelo dinámico), y analiza la imagen de las matemáticas que apoyan. Palabras clave: Cognición matemática, Walter Freeman, cognición corporizada, visión popular de las matemáticas.
The content thesis figures prominently in the work of thinkers as different as Evans (1982), Searle (1983), Peacocke (1983), McDowell (1994), Dretske (1995), Tye (1995), Chalmers (1996), and Byrne (2001) and can be traced back to at least Kant. It has, however, been questioned by austere relationalists such as Campbell (2002), Travis (2004), Soteriou (2005), Brewer (2006), Fish (2009), Logue (2012), and Genone (2014) among others. According to austere relationalists, perception is not representational, but rather constitutively a matter of a subject being perceptually related to mind-independent objects, properties, or events; alternatively, perception is understood as the event in which such relations obtain. Needless to say, one can endorse the content thesis while holding that, at least in the case of accurate perception, we are perceptually related to particulars in our environment. As I will explain in more detail, the question at stake is how much is built into the perceptual relation and, in particular, whether this relation is an acquaintance relation.
This paper discusses Baker’s Enhanced Indispensability Argument (EIA) for mathematical realism on the basis of the indispensable role mathematics plays in scientific explanations of physical facts, along with various responses to it. I argue that there is an analogue of causal explanation for mathematics which, of several basic types of explanation, holds the most promise for use in the EIA. I consider a plausible case where mathematics plays an explanatory role in this sense, but argue that such use still does not support realism about mathematical objects.
In recent years, much discussion has been devoted to the relations between cognition and mathematical practice, thanks to the work of cognitive scientists, philosophers and historians of mathematics dedicated to this topic. Initially, the investigation focused in particular on the question which ‘core’ cognitive systems might ground several mathematical notions and results —especially the number concept. More recently it has moved towards discussion of mathematics as a product of embodied cognition, evaluating the role of conceptual metaphors, bodily experience, and external representations in mathematical practice and mathematical understanding. Some of these proposals claim that mathematics is a unique type of human conceptual system, sustained by specific neural activity and bodily functions, and brought forth via the recruitment of everyday cognitive mechanisms that make human imagination, abstraction, and semiotic processes (work on notations) possible. The question of the nature of mathematics has been addressed as an empirical issue subject to methodological investigations of an interdisciplinary nature, involving hypothesis testing. At the same time, however, such claims have been received with skepticism, be it that they are considered premature or because their actual links with mathematical knowledge, properly speaking, are found wanting.
I've become increasingly worried about slippery slope arguments concerning the presence or absence of (phenomenal) consciousness. Partly this is in response to Peter Carruthers' new draft article on animal consciousness, partly it's because I'm revisiting some of my thought experiments about group minds, and partly it's just something I've been worrying about for a while. …
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On Aesthetics and The Problem of Tragedy in De Grouchy
The sympathy we feel for physical suffering, and which constitutes part of what we call humanity, would be a sentiment too transient to be often useful, my dear C***, were we not capable of reflection as well as sensation. …
What is the motivational profile of admiration? In this paper I will investigate what form of connection between admiration and motivation there may be good reason to accept. A number of philosophers have advocated a connection between admiration and motivation to emulate. I will start by examining this view. I will present three problems for this view. Before suggesting an expanded account of the connection between admiration and motivation according to which admiration involves motivation to promote the value that is judged to be present in the object of admiration. Finally I will examine the implications of this account for the use of admiration in education.
Early modern experimental philosophers often appear to commit to, and utilise, corpuscular and mechanical hypotheses. This is somewhat mysterious: such hypotheses frequently appear to be simply assumed, odd for a research program which emphasises the careful experimental accumulation of facts. Isaac Newton was one such experimental philosopher, and his optical work is considered a clear example of the experimental method. Focusing on his optical investigations, I identify three roles for hypotheses. Firstly, Newton introduces a hypothesis to explicate his abstract theory. The purpose here is primarily to improve understanding or uptake of the theory. Secondly, he uses a hypothesis as a platform from which to generate some crucial experiments to decide between competing accounts. The purpose here is to suggest experiments in order to bring a dispute to empirical resolution. Thirdly, he uses a hypothesis to suggest an underlying physical cause, which he then operationalises and represents abstractly in his formal theory. The second and third roles are related in that they are both cases of scaffolding: hypotheses provide a temporary platform from which further experimental work and/or theorising can be carried out. In short, the entities and processes included in Newton’s optical hypothesis are not simply assumed hypothetical posits. Rather, they play instrumental roles in Newton’s experimental philosophy.
Naïve Realists think that the ordinary mind-independent objects that we perceive are constitutive of the character of experience. Some understand this in terms of the idea that experience is diaphanous: that the conscious character of a perceptual experience is entirely constituted by its objects. My main goal here is to argue that Naïve Realists should reject this, but I’ll also highlight some suggestions as to how Naïve Realism might be developed in a non-diaphanous direction.
As it is standardly presented, epistemological disjunctivism involves the idea that paradigm cases of visual perceptual knowledge are based on visual perceptual states which are propositional – states of seeing that p (McDowell (1982, 1995, 2008), Haddock and Macpherson (2008b), Pritchard (2012, 2016)). I look at the crow perched in the tree, in excellent perceptual conditions, with fully functioning perceptual and cognitive capacities, I come to know that the crow is black. I know this on the basis of visual perception. And the epistemo-logical disjunctivist spells this out as follows: I have this knowledge in virtue of the fact that I can see that the crow is black.
Over the past decade or so there has been increasing interest, in both philosophy and psychology, in the claim that we should appeal to various forms of social interaction in explaining our knowledge of other minds, where this is presented as an alternative to what is referred to as the dominant approach, usually identified as the ‘theory-theory’. Such claims are made under a variety of headings: the ‘social interaction’ approach, the ‘intersubjectivity approach’, the ‘second person approach’, the ‘collective intentionality’ approach, and more. A multitude of claims are made under these various headings, both about the kind of social interaction we should be appealing to, and about how exactly this or that interaction provides an alternative to this or that ingredient in the ‘dominant approach’. Faced with this plethora of claims and characterizations one may well find oneself wondering whether there is an interesting, well-formulated debate to be had in this area I believe that there is a least one such debate, and in what follows I begin to sketch out how I think it should be formulated, and why I think it reveals fundamental issues about the nature of our knowledge of other minds. The debate turns on pitting two claims against each other. I will call one the ‘Observation Claim’, a claim that does, I think, capture a very widely held view about the basis and nature of our knowledge of other minds, and is rightly labeled ‘dominant’. The other I label the ‘Communication Claim’. It says we should give particular forms of interpersonal communication a foundational role in explaining our knowledge of each other’s minds. Although I think some version of the Communication Claim is right, my main aim is not so much to argue for it but, somewhat programmatically, to put on the table some of the central claims I believe would need to be made good if it is to an interesting and serious alternative to the Observation Claim.
This, then, is the end for which I strive, to attain to such a character myself, and to endeavor that many should attain to it with me. (2) In other words, it is part of my happiness to lend a helping hand, that many others may understand even as I do, so that their understanding and desire may entirely agree with my own. …
Learning consists in the acquisition of new psychological traits, including abilities, knowledge and concepts. The improvement of some measure of performance when carrying out some task is the main source of evidence for learning. Reasoning consists in a change in view, where certain beliefs or intentions are taken to provide reasons for acquiring, retaining, dropping, or updating some other belief, or for acting in a certain way (Harman 2008). Learning and reasoning are prominent targets of research in computational cognitive science. Central questions include: On what kinds of innate knowledge and biases does learning rely? Does the human mind deploy multiple kinds of learning and reasoning systems? How are these learning and reasoning systems neurally realized? How do they interact? When are human learning and reasoning optimal or rational? This chapter will explore some of these questions in the light of recent advances in computational cognitive science such as the following two success stories.
This article is on a precise kind of color primitivism, ‘ostensivism.’ This is the view that it is in the nature of the colors that they are phenomenal, non-reductive, structural, categorical properties. First, I differentiate ostensivism from other precise forms of primitivism. Next, I examine the core belief ‘Revelation,’ and propose a revised version, which, unlike standard statements, is compatible with a yet unstated but plausible core belief: roughly, that there are interesting things to be discovered about the nature of the colors. Finally, I show that ostensivism is the only view on color that can accommodate both proposed core beliefs.
In the history of external information systems, the World Wide Web presents a significant change in terms of the accessibility and amount of available information. Constant access to various kinds of online information has consequences for the way we think, act and remember. Philosophers and cognitive scientists have recently started to examine the interactions between the human mind and the Web, mainly focussing on the way online information influences our biological memory systems. In this article, we use concepts from the extended cognition and distributed cognition frameworks and from transactive memory theory to analyse the cognitive relations between humans and the Web. We first argue that while neither of these approaches neatly capture the nature of human-Web interactions, both offer useful concepts to describe aspects of such interactions. We then conceptualize relations between the Web and its users in terms of cognitive integration, arguing that most current Web applications are not deeply integrated and are better seen as a scaffold for memory and cognition. Some highly personalised applications accessed on wearable computing devices, however, may already have the capacity for deep integration. Finally, we draw out some of the epistemic implications of our cognitive analysis.
The first centuries after Śākyamuni Buddha’s death
saw the rise of multiple schools of thought and teacher lineages within
the Buddhist community as it spread throughout the Indian subcontinent. These new forms of scholarly monastic communities had distinct
theoretical and practical interests and, in their efforts to organize,
interpret, and reexamine the Buddha’s scattered teachings, they
developed a particular system of thought and method of exposition
called Abhidharma (Pali, Abhidhamma). The Sanskrit term
abhidharma seems to derive from the expression
“concerning (abhi) the teaching(s) (Skt.,
dharma, Pali, dhamma).” For the Buddhist
exegetical tradition, however, the term means approximately
“higher” or “further” teaching, and it refers
both to the doctrinal investigations of the new scholastic movement and
to the body of texts yielded by its systematic exposition of Buddhist
In this paper, I defend Non-Inferentialism about mental states, the view that we can perceive some mental states in a direct, non-inferential way. First, I discuss how the question of mental state perception is to be understood in light of recent debates in the philosophy of perception, and reconstruct Non-Inferentialism in a way that makes the question at hand – whether we can perceive mental states or not – scientifically tractable. Next, I motivate Non-Inferentialism by showing that under the assumption of the widely-accepted Principle of Cognitive Economy, any account that treats mental state perception as an inferential process commits itself to an unrealistically inefficient picture of our cognitive architecture. Drawing on research in cognitive science, I will then show that my Non-Inferentialist view receives direct support by the available empirical evidence. I conclude that there is no psychologically relevant sense in which perception of mental states differs from paradigmatic cases of perception, such as the perception of ordinary objects.
While philosophers of mind have devoted abundant time and attention to questions of content and consciousness, philosophical questions about the nature and scope of mental action have been relatively neglected. Galen Strawson’s account of mental action, arguably the most well-known extant account, holds that cognitive mental action consists in triggering the delivery of content to one’s field of consciousness. However, Strawson fails to recognize several distinct types of mental action that might not reduce to triggering content delivery. In this paper, we argue that meditation provides a useful model for understanding a wider range of types of mental action than heretofore recognized. Conclusions yielded by two distinct bodies of current psychological research on meditation and cognition, and meditation and introspection, buttress meditation’s suitability for this role.
Our goal in this paper is to experimentally investigate whether folk conceptions of explanation are psychologistic. In particular, are people more likely to classify speech acts as explanations when they cause understanding in their recipient? The empirical evidence that we present suggests this is so. Using the side-effect effect as a marker of mental state ascriptions, we argue that lay judgments of explanatory status are mediated by judgments of a speaker’s and/or audience’s mental states. First, we show that attributions of both understanding and explanation exhibit a side-effect effect. Next, we show that when the speaker’s and audience’s level of understanding is stipulated, the explanation side-effect effect goes away entirely. These results not only extend the side-effect effect to attributions of understanding, they also suggest that attributions of explanation exhibit a side-effect effect because they depend upon attributions of understanding, supporting the idea that folk conceptions of explanation are psychologistic.
Reviewed by: Regina Elisabeth Fabry, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany Lisa Quadt, smartphones, that is, technological artifacts which serve information processing as well as cognitive outsourcing and scaffolding. The possibility, however, that the area of social cognition bears an even bigger potential for cognitive extension has only recently been taken into account. In this paper I want to bring together the topics of extended cognition and social cognition and then specifically pursue the question in how far the mechanisms of shared intentionality already contain the sources of a social externalism.
Glyn Humphreys’ research on attention and binding began from feature-integration theory, which claims that binding together visual features, such as colour and orientation, requires spatially selective attention. Humphreys employed a more inclusive notion of binding and argued, on neuropsychological grounds, for a multi-stage account of the overall binding process, in which binding together of form elements was followed by two stages of feature binding. Only the second stage of feature binding, a re-entrant (top-down) process beginning in posterior parietal cortex and returning to early visual areas, required attention. In line with his commitment to converging evidence, Humphreys considered that investigating the role of attention in motion-induced blindness could be a route to better understanding of the cognitive role of the attention-dependent second stage of feature binding. He suggested that this role might be to resolve ambiguity and to generate a single consistent interpretation of the perceptual input.
When attention is otherwise engaged, observers may experience inattentional blindness, failing to notice objects or events that are presented in plain sight. In an inattentional blindness experiment, an unexpected stimulus is presented alongside primary-task stimuli, and its detection is probed. We evaluate a criterion that is commonly used to exclude observers from the data analysis. On the final experimental trial, observers do not perform the primary task, but instead look for anything new. Observers who fail to report the unexpected stimulus on this full-attention trial are excluded. On the basis of 4 hypothetical experiments and a review of 128 actual experiments from the literature, we demonstrate some potentially problematic consequences of implementing the full-attention-trial exclusion criterion. Excluded observers may cluster in experimental conditions and the exclusion criterion may lead researchers to understate the pervasiveness of inattentional blindness. It may even render us blind to inattentional blindness on the full-attention trial.
There were some really good papers last month. The three I picked to summarize all involve error-based learning on fast time-scales. One is in the saccade system in monkeys, the other in the songbird system in…songbirds. …
perceptual representation is probabilistic, why doesn't normal conscious perception reflect the full probability functions that the probabilistic point of view endorses? For example, neurons in cortical area MT/V5 that respond to the direction of motion are broadly tuned: a patch of cortex that is tuned to vertical motion also responds to horizontal motion, but when we see vertical motion, foveally, in good conditions, it does not look at all horizontal. The standard solution in terms of sampling runs into the problem that sampling is an account of perceptual decision rather than perception. This paper argues that the best Bayesian approach to this problem does not require probabilistic representation.