2 Course aims and objectives This course examines how the mind fits into the physical world. This is one of the central issues in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and we will address it by examining some of the following questions: How do our everyday explanations of behaviour, e.g. Asha walked to the shops because she needed to buy bread, relate to neurological explanations of that same behaviour, e.g. Asha walked to the shops because of activity in her motor cortex? Does the mind work like a computer? Where is my mind? Is it in the head or can it extend beyond my skull and into the world? What is innate knowledge and do we have any? What is the nature of introspection? These issues bring together traditional concerns from the philosophy of mind and findings from psychology and neuroscience, and we will draw on a variety of sources in exploring possible answers to these questions. Intended learning outcomes By the end of this course, students should: Have a grasp of fundamental issues in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, e.g. non-reductive materialism, eliminative materialism, varieties of functionalism, the extended mind hypothesis, tacit theories, nativism. Be able to critically analyse and engage with literature by key philosophers in this field. Understand how empirical work can support philosophical arguments, and be able to use empirical data in their essays and arguments. Be able to present arguments clearly and concisely both within a classroom context and in a 2,500 word essay. Gain transferable skills in research, analysis and argumentation People Course lecturer: Dr. J. Suilin Lavelle Course secretary: Ms. Lynsey Buchanan Course librarian: Teaching assistants: TBA TBA
3 Syllabus Personal and Sub-personal explanations Psychological explanations Cognitive architecture Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Introduction and functionalism Non-reductive materialism Eliminative materialism Mechanistic explanations The language of thought hypothesis Tacit theories The extended mind The modular mind The embodied mind Against the computational mind Review Asynchronous forum seminar Asynchronous forum seminar Asynchronous forum seminar Asynchronous forum seminar Asynchronous forum seminar Week 1: Personal and Sub-personal explanation In giving a personal-level explanation of behaviour we treat the person as an intentional agent, and we make sense of their behaviour in terms of reasons. Sub-personal explanations by contrast are concerned with underlying mechanisms that might explain how personal-level explanations could be true. These mechanisms might be computational, informationprocessing mechanisms or they might be neurophysiological mechanisms. Can these distinct types of explanations and the theories that underpin these explanations be integrated or are they radically incommensurable types of explanation? Class readings D.C. Dennett Personal and sub-personal levels of explanation. reprinted in J. Bermudez (Ed) Philosophy of Psychology: contemporary readings (Routledge 2006). Available as an Ebook. J.L. Bermudez Philosophy of Psychology: a contemporary introduction, ch.2 (Routledge, 2005) D. Davidson Psychology as Philosophy In Bermudez (Ed)
4 M. Tsarkiris & P. Haggard (2011). Neural, functional and phenomenological signatures of intentional action. In F. Grammont, D. Legrand, and P. Livet (Eds.) Naturalizing Intention in Action. MIT. Press. R. Van Gulick (2009). Functionalism. In B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann & S. Walter (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind ( ) Oxford University Press Week 2: Non-reductive materialism Non-reductive physicalists defend the token (as opposed to type) identity of the mental and the physical. Token identity is normally analysed in terms of supervenience. We will introduce the position and explore some of the arguments that have been given in support of it. Class reading L. Anthony (2007) Everybody has got it: a defence of non-reductive materialism. In B. McLaughlin & J. Cohen (Eds.) Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. ( ) Blackwells. L. Rudder-Baker (2009). Non-Reductive materialism. In B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann & S. Walter (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind ( ) Oxford University Press. T. Crane (2001). Elements of Mind. (sections 9-17) Oxford University Press. J. Fodor (1990). Making mind matter more. In his A Theory of Content and Other Essays. ( ) Bradford Books. S. Stich (1983). Will the Concepts of Folk Psychology Find a Place in Cognitive Science? in his book From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science: The Case Against Belief, (210-19) MIT Press. Week 3: Eliminative materialism Patricia and Paul Churchland are highly influential philosophers of mind who argue that beliefs do not exist. On their account, folk psychology, that is, our everyday understanding of the mind as consisting in beliefs and desires about the world, is radically misguided. In this lecture we explore the foundations of this view, before examining how Paul Churchland has developed it in more recent years. Class readings Paul Churchland, (1981) Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes. Journal of Philosophy, 78, 67 90
5 P. Churchland (2007) The Evolving Fortunes of Eliminative Materialism. In B. Mclaughlin & J. Cohen (Eds.) Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. ( ) Blackwells. Highly recommended as a supplementary reading for this week. P. Churchland (1979) Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind. Cambridge University Press. Ch.4. T. Horgan and J. Woodward (1985) Folk Psychology is here to stay. Philosophical Review, 94, D. Lewis (1972) Psychophysical and theoretical identifications. Australisian Journal of Philosophy, 50, (pp are the most relevant). Week 4: Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology Scientific explanation is often taken to be the subsumption of an individual event under a law of nature. Individual events are explained by deducing them from laws together with initial conditions, and laws are explained by deducing them from more fundamental laws. In psychology laws are conceived of as effects (e.g. the McGurk effect) and are what psychologists set about explaining, they are not what does the explaining (Cummins 2006). Cummins tells that the primary target of explanation in psychology are capacities (e.g. the capacity to see depth, learn language etc.) How are capacities explained? We will explore some recent work in philosophy of science that suggests that psychological capacities are explained in terms of mechanisms Machamer et al (2000) define mechanisms as entities and activities organised such that they are productive of regular changes from start of set up conditions to finish or termination conditions (p.3). Class reading P. Machamer, L. Darden & C. Craver Thinking about mechanisms. Philosophy of Science, 67 (2000), R. Cummins How does it work? versus What are the laws? : Two conceptions of psychological explanation. Reprinted in Bermudez (Ed.) Philosophy of Psychology: Contemporary Readings. Routledge, R. Cummins, Functional Analysis Journal of Philosophy 1975 J. Bermudez Philosophy of Psychology: a contemporary introduction, ch.3 (Routledge, 2005) D. Lewis Reduction of Mind. reprinted in Bermudez & Macpherson (Ed s) C. Wright & W. Bechtel Mechanisms and psychological explanation In P. Thagard (Ed) Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science.
6 Week 5: The Language of Thought Hypothesis One of the most influential accounts of cognition is Fodor s computational mind, coupled with his language of thought hypothesis. Fodor claims that by understanding our cognitive processes as computational, we can explain human reasoning and inferential processes. Contained within our minds are representations of the world which can be cognitively integrated into reasoning processes. In this seminar we examine the computational theory of mind and the language of thought hypothesis. Class reading Fodor, J. (1987). Mental Representation: an introduction. In N. Rescher, Scientific Enquiry in Philosophical Perspective (pp ). University Press of America. Fodor, J. (1987). Psychosemantics. (Appendix). MIT Press Ayede, M. (2004). The language of thought hypothesis, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Online. Clark, A. (2001). Mindware: an introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press. ch.1 & 2 Crane, T. (1995/2003). The Mechanical Mind (2nd Edition ed.). Routledge. pp Cummins, R. (1989). Meaning and Mental Representation. M.I.T. Press. pp Dennet, D. (1977). A cure for the common code. Reprinted in Brainstorms, ch.6. (1978) MIT Press. Week 6: Tacit knowledge and theories in cognitive processes Many philosophers and psychologists have maintained that our cognitive processes are underpinned by various theories. This seems an odd claim to make: in what way could neural firings be understood to be theory-like? How do these cognitive processes resemble scientific theories, or other theories as we know them? Furthermore, philosophers like Stich and Fodor maintain that cognitive processes draw on tacit knowledge. What does it mean to say that we know something tacitly, and how can we tell if we have such knowledge if it is tacit? In this seminar we will look at the foundations for the claim that some of our cognitive abilities are subserved by theories. Class readings
7 Fodor, J. (1968) The appeal to tacit knowledge in psychological explanation. The Journal of Philosophy, Stich, S. (1978). Beliefs and subdoxastic states. Philosophy of Science, 45, Cummins, R. (1978) Programs in the explanation of behaviour. Philosophy of Science, Davies, M. & Stone, T. (2001) Mental Simulation, tacit theory, and the threat of collapse. Philosophical topics [Section 4 is most salient; obviously if you d like to write on this topic, you should read the whole thing at some point]. Manfredi, P. (1993). Tacit beliefs and other doxastic attitudes. Philosophia, pp Nisbett, R. & Wilson, T. (1977) Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes. Psychological Review, 84.3, pp Quine, W.V.O. (1972). Methodological reflections on current linguistic theory. In D. Davidson and G. Harman (Eds). Semantics of Natural Language Searle, J. (1992). The Unconscious and Its Relation to Consciousness. From his The Rediscovery of the Mind, pp (MIT Press). Stich, S. & Ravenscroft, I. (1999). What is folk psychology? Cognition, 50, Week 7: The extended mind hypothesis Clark and Chalmers have famously argued that cognitive and mental processes can include as proper parts, elements that are located in an organism s external environment. We will show how their argument for extended cognition is based on a particular version of functionalism, and outline and assess a recent argument Mark Sprevak has made that the extended mind may constitute a reductio of functionalism. Class readings A. Clark & D. Chalmers (1998) The Extended Mind. Analysis : Mark Sprevak (2009) Extended Cognition and Functionalism. Journal of Philosophy Secondary reading Adams, F. And Aizawa, K. (2008). The Bounds of Cognition. Blackwell.
8 Adams, F. And Aizawa, K. (2010). Defending the bounds of cognition. Available here: Clark, A. (2011). Supersizing the Mind. O.U.P. Rowlands, M. (2009). Extended Cognition and the mark of the cognitive. Philosophical Psychology, 22, pp Rupert, R. (2004). Challenges to the hypothesis of the extended mind. Journal of Philosophy, 101, pp Shapiro, L. (2011). Embodied Cognition. Ch. 3 & 6. Routledge Week 8: The modular mind Whatever the architecture of our mind turns out to be, it must have some kind of plausible evolutionary story. The field of evolutionary psychology aims to give evolutionarily plausible stories for our current cognitive capacities. One particular view of how the mind is structured the Modularity view has been of particular interest to evolutionary psychologists, as both proponents and opponents of Modularity draw on arguments from evolutionary pressures to support their claims. Class Reading Carruthers, P. (2004). The mind is a system of modules shaped by natural selection. In C. Hitchcock (Ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science (pp ). Blackwell. Cowie, F., & Woodward, J. (2004). The mind is not (just) a system of modules shaped (just) by natural selection. In C. Hitchcock (Ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science (pp ). Blackwell. Secondary Reading Buller, D. & Hardcastle, V. Evolutionary psychology, Meet Developmental Neurobiology: Against Promiscuous Modularity Brain and Mind 1: Carruthers, P. (2006). Simple heuristics meet massive modularity. In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence and S. Stich (Eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. Fodor, J. (1983). Precis of The Modularity of Mind. Brain and Behavioural Sciences 8, 1-5 Samuels, R. (1998). Evolutionary psychology and the massive modularity hypothesis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 49, Sterelny, K. (2003). Thought in a Hostile World. (ch.10) Blackwell. Week 9: The embodied mind
9 What is Embodied Cognition? In this seminar we will look at the collection of views described as embodied, and how they purport to contrast against traditional computational views of the mind. In this seminar we will look at the broad differences between the views, focussing next week on a particular dispute regarding the representational nature of mental states. Class reading Shapiro, L. (2011) Embodied Cognition. (Chapters 2 & 3) Routledge. Secondary reading Anderson, M. (2003) Embodied cognition: a field guide In Artificial Intelligence, 149, Barsalou, L.W. (2008) Grounded Cognition. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 59, Boroditsky, L & Prinz, J. (2007) What thoughts are made of. Haugeland, J. (1998) Mind Embodied and Embedded. In Having Thought: Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind. ( ) Harvard University Press. Pfeifer, R. & Scheier, C. (1999) Understanding intelligence (parts II and III) MIT Press. Wilson, M. (2002) Six views of embodied cognition In Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9.4: Week 10: Against the computational mind Representational mental states have been the standard explanation for cognitive processes in the philosophy of mind. Recently, however, the explanatory value of representational states has been challenged by a group of philosophers promoting a replacement program: to replace representational mental states with an alternative explanation for our behaviour and thought. In this seminar we will look at the plausibility of these views. Class reading Van Gelder, T. (1995) What might cognition be if not computation? Journal of Philosophy 92, Grush, R. (2003) In Defence of Some Cartesian Assumptions Concerning the Brain and its Operations Biology and Philosophy 18, Secondary reading Brooks, R. (1991) Intelligence without representation. Artificial Intelligence, 47, Calvo Garzón, F. (2008) Towards a general theory of antirepresentationalism. British Journal of Philosophy of Science, 59, Chomsky, N. (1959) Review of Verbal Behaviour. Language, 35,
10 Clark, A. & Toribio, J. (1994) Doing without representing? Synthese, 101, Gallagher, S. (2008) Are Minimal Representations Still Representations. International Journal of Philosophical Studies Wheeler, M. (2008) Minimal Representing: A response to Gallagher. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 16, Week 11: Review This week we will bring together the themes of the course, discuss essay strategies, and anything else you d like to go over. Please note: do not use the format of the course readings as your template for the bibliography, as I ve collated them from different sources so they are not uniform. In other words, do as I say, and not as I do... Resources Please ensure you have completed the library induction tutorial. Should you have any problems accessing any of the materials for the course please contact the course librarian *NAME* in the first instance. In addition to the course readings, you will also receive a copy of Lycan and Prinz (Eds.) Mind and Cognition: An anthology. This extremely useful anthology has reprints of several of the papers covered in the course, and papers on just about every topic we look at. Office Hours My office hours will be ***. Office hours are a good time for you to come and discuss ideas for your essays. Please don t think you need a problem to come to office hours; I am always willing to use this time to chat through any thoughts you may be having about topics covered in the course, or topics for your essays. If you are unable to meet with me during office hours, please send me an and we can arrange an alternative time.
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