•  3288
    There is a paradox about how our social understanding develops if we take seriously both theory theory and the cognitivist dictum that all skilful interaction has robust conceptual underpinnings. On the one hand, it is clear that young infants demonstrate a capacity to reliably detect and respond to other’s intentions. For example, recent experimental evidence confirms that they have the capacity to appropriately parse what would otherwise be an undifferentiated behaviour stream at its mentalist…Read more
  •  2191
    Turning Hard Problems on their Heads
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5 (1): 75-88. 2006.
    Much of the difficulty in assessing theories of consciousness stems from their advocates not supplying adequate or convincing characterisations of the phenomenon they hope to explain. Yet, to make any reasonable assessment this is precisely what is required, for it is not as if our ‘pre-theoretical’ intuitions are philosophically innocent. I attempt to reveal, using a recent debate between Chalmers and Dennett as a foil, why, in approaching this topic, we cannot characterise the data purely firs…Read more
  •  1754
    Understanding others through primary interaction and narrative practice
    with Shaun Gallagher
    In J. Zlatev, T. Racine, C. Sinha & E. Itkonen (eds.), The Shared Mind: Perspectives on Intersubjectivity., John Benjamins. 2008.
    We argue that theory-of-mind (ToM) approaches, such as “theory theory” and “simulation theory”, are both problematic and not needed. They account for neither our primary and pervasive way of engaging with others nor the true basis of our folk psychological understanding, even when narrowly construed. Developmental evidence shows that young infants are capable of grasping the purposeful intentions of others through the perception of bodily movements, gestures, facial expressions etc. Trevarthen’…Read more
  •  1155
    Many psychopathological disorders – clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – are commonly classified as disorders of the self. In an intuitive sense this sort of classification is unproblematic. There can be no doubt that such disorders make a difference to one’s ability to form and maintain a coherent sense of oneself in various ways. However, any theoretically rigourous attempt to show that they relate to underlying problems wit…Read more
  •  1113
    This chapter argues that the conceptual problem of other minds cannot be properly addressed as long as we subscribe to an individualistic model of how we stand in relation to our own experiences and the behaviour of others. For it is commitment to this picture that sponsors the strong first/third person divide that lies at the heart of the two false accounts of experiential concept learning sketched above. This is the true source of the problem. To deal successfully with it we must reconsider ou…Read more
  •  1104
    This paper explores the idea that when dealing with certain kinds of narratives, ‘like it or not’, consumers of fiction will bring the same sorts of skills (or at least a subset of them) to bear that they use when dealing with actual minds. Let us call this the ‘Same Resources Thesis’. I believe the ‘Same Resources Thesis’ is true. But this is because I defend the view that engaging in narrative practices is the normal developmental route through which children acquire the capacity to make sens…Read more
  •  1081
    Enacting is Enough
    with Erik Myin
    PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 15 (1): 24-30. 2009.
    In the action-space account of color, an emphasis is laid on implicit knowledge when it comes to experience, and explanatory ambitions are expressed. If the knowledge claims are interpreted in a strong way, the action-space account becomes a form of conservative enactivism, which is a kind of cognitivism. Only if the knowledge claims are weakly interpreted, the action space-account can be seen as a distinctive form of enactivism, but then all reductive explanatory ambitions must be abandoned
  •  1057
    In his contribution to this volume, Avrum Stroll makes the assertion that there is ‘a feature of [Wittgenstein's] later philosophy that occurs only in On Certainty. This is a unique form of foundationalism that is neither doxastic nor non-doxastic' (Stroll, this volume, p. 2). He also holds that Wittgenstein’s increased attention to metaphorical language in explicating this foundationalism is yet another feature that sets it apart from the rest of his corpus. I raise doubts about appealing to ei…Read more
  •  1037
    Presumptuous Naturalism: A Cautionary Tale
    American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2): 129-145. 2011.
    Concentrating on their treatment of folk psychology, this paper seeks to establish that, in the form advocated by its leading proponents, the Canberra project is presumptuous in certain key respects. Crucially, it presumes (1) that our everyday practices entail the existence of implicit folk theories; (2) that naturalists ought to be interested primarily in what such theories say; and (3) that the core content of such theories is adequately characterized by establishing what everyone finds intui…Read more
  •  1028
    Was the Later Wittgenstein a Transcendental Idealist?
    In P. Coates & D. D. Hutto (eds.), Current Issues in Idealism, Thoemmes Press. 1996.
    In his paper "Wittgenstein and Idealism" Professor Williams proposed a 'model' for reading Wittgenstein's later philosophy which he claimed exposed its transcendental idealist character. By this he roughly meant that Wittgenstein's later position was idealistic to the extent that it disallowed the possibility of there being any independent reality that was not contaminated by our view things. And he thought it was transcendental in the sense that 'our view of things' is not something that we can…Read more
  •  1025
    Folk psychology is under threat - that is to say - our everyday conception that human beings are agents who experience the world in terms of sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings and who deliberate, make plans, and generally execute actions on the basis of their beliefs, needs and wants - is under threat. This threat is evidenced in intellectual circles by the growing attitude amongst some cognitive scientists that our common sense categories are in competition with connectionist theories …Read more
  •  1025
    Bradleyian Metaphysics: A Healthy Scepticism
    Bradley Studies 4 (1): 82-96. 1998.
    Leemon McHenry has recently written an article which aims "to evaluate the plausibility of Bradley's conception of metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In the process of this evaluation he draws an important distinction between two kinds of metaphysical project, which he labels "'pure' and 'naturalized' metaphysics" (McHenry, 1996, p. 159). In McHenry's terms, the pure metaphysician approaches his task by appeal to 'pure thinking' alone. Although he defines the method of pure metaphysicians as …Read more
  •  1012
    The Mindlessness of Computationalism: The Neglected Aspects of Cognition
    In P. Pyllkkänen & P. Pyllkkö (eds.), New Directions in Cognitive Science, Finnish Society For Artificial Intelligence. 1995.
    The emergence of cognitive science as a multi-disciplinary investigation into the nature of mind has historically revolved around the core assumption that the central ‘cognitive’ aspects of mind are computational in character. Although there is some disagreement and philosophical speculation concerning the precise formulation of this ‘core assumption’ it is generally agreed that computationalism in some form lies at the heart of cognitive science as it is currently conceived. Von Eckardt’s recen…Read more
  •  961
    Consciousness and Conceptual Schema
    In Paavo Pylkkanen & Tere Vaden (eds.), Dimensions of Conscious Experience, John Benjamins. pp. 15-43. 2001.
    There are two importantly different ways in which consciousness resists incorporation into our familiar object-based conceptual schema which, when analysed, help to explain why it is regarded as such a philosophically recalcitrant phenomena. One concerns the nonconceptual nature of basic forms of conscious experience, the other concerns the fact that attempts to understand the nature of such experience in an object-based schema, as is demanded by some forms of physicalism, is inappropriate. My c…Read more
  •  935
    Deciding what role perspicuous representations play in Wittgenstein’s philosophy matters, not only for determining what one thinks of the contributions of this great figure of twentieth century philosophy but also for recognising the ‘live options’ for conducting philosophical enquiries full stop. It is not surprising, given this importance, that perspicuous representations is the topic of the opening chapter of Gordon Baker’s posthumous collection of essays on philosophical method. In that cont…Read more
  •  933
    Misreadings, clarifications and reminders: A reply to Hutchinson and read
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14 (4). 2006.
    This is a reply to Hutchinson, P. and Read, R. “An Elucidatory Interpretation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: Critique of Daniel D. Hutto’s and Marie McGinn’s Reading of Tractatus 6.54″. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 14(1) 2006: 1-29. A further reply from Hutchinson, P.”Unsinnig: A Reply to Hutto” is also forthcoming.
  •  910
    The core claim of this paper is that mind minding of the sort required for the simplest and most pervasive forms of joint attentional activity is best understood and explained in non-representational, enactivist terms. In what follows I will attempt to convince the reader of its truth in three steps. The first step, section two, clarifies the target explanandum. The second step, section three, is wholly descriptive. It highlights the core features of a Radically Enactivist proposal about elemen…Read more
  •  902
    Nonconceptual content and objectivity
    Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy (6). 1998.
    In recent times the question of whether or not there is such a thing as nonconceptual content has been the object of much serious attention. For analytical philosophers, the locus classicus of the view that there is such a phenomena is to be found in Evans remarks about perceptual experience in Varieties of Reference. John McDowell has taken issue with Evans over his claim that "conceptual capacities are first brought into operation only when one makes a judgement of experience, and at that poi…Read more
  •  892
    Knowing what? Radical versus conservative enactivism
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 4 (4): 389-405. 2005.
    The binary divide between traditional cognitivist and enactivist paradigms is tied to their respective commitments to understanding cognition as based on knowing that as opposed to knowing how. Using O’Regan’s and No¨e’s landmark sensorimotor contingency theory of perceptual experience as a foil, I demonstrate how easy it is to fall into conservative thinking. Although their account is advertised as decidedly ‘skill-based’, on close inspection it shows itself to be riddled with suppositions thre…Read more
  •  871
    The Narrative Practice Hypothesis: Origins and Applications of Folk Psychology
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 60 43-68. 2007.
    Psychologically normal adult humans make sense of intentional actions by trying to decide for which reason they were performed. This is a datum that requires our understanding. Although there have been interesting recent debates about how we should understand ‘reasons’, I will follow a long tradition and assume that, at a bare minimum, to act for a reason involves having appropriately interrelated beliefs and desires. He left the party because he believed the host had insulted him. She will head…Read more
  •  868
    The narrative practice hypothesis: Clarifications and implications
    Philosophical Explorations 11 (3). 2008.
    The Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) is a recently conceived, late entrant into the contest of trying to understand the basis of our mature folk psychological abilities, those involving our capacity to explain ourselves and comprehend others in terms of reasons. This paper aims to clarify its content, importance and scientific plausibility by: distinguishing its conceptual features from those of its rivals, articulating its philosophical significance, and commenting on its empirical prospects…Read more
  •  804
    Folk psychological narratives and the case of autism
    Philosophical Papers 32 (3): 345-361. 2003.
    This paper builds on the insights of Jerome Bruner by underlining the central importance of narratives explaining actions in terms of reasons, arguing that by giving due attention to the central roles that they play in our everyday understanding of others provides a better way of explicating the nature and source of that activity than does simulation theory, theory-theory or some union of the two. However, although I promote Bruner's basic claims about the roles narratives play in this everyday …Read more
  •  776
    Questing for Happiness: Augmenting Aristotle with Davidson?
    South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (4). 2004.
    Drawing heavily on Aristotle, Tabensky attempts to establish ‘an ethic that flows from the very structure of our being’, but he also calls on Davidson’s arguments about the essentially social character of rationality to shore up Aristotle’s claim that we are essentially social beings. This much of his project, I argue is successful. However Tabensky takes this a step further and proposes a pluralist ethic on the grounds that a ‘fully’ or ‘properly’ instantiated account of the ‘ideal’ conditions …Read more
  •  737
    It is possible to pursue philosophy with a clarificatory end in mind. Doing philosophy in this mode neither reduces to simply engaging in therapy or theorizing. This paper defends the possibility of this distinctive kind of philosophical activity and gives an account of its product—non-theoretical insights—in an attempt to show that there exists a third, ‘live’ option for understanding what philosophy has to offer. It responds to criticisms leveled at elucidatory philosophy by defenders of extre…Read more
  •  637
    The Cognitive Basis of Computation: Putting Computation in Its Place
    with Erik Myin, Anco Peeters, and Farid Zahnoun
    In Mark Sprevak & Matteo Colombo (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Computational Mind, Routledge. pp. 272-282. 2018.
    The mainstream view in cognitive science is that computation lies at the basis of and explains cognition. Our analysis reveals that there is no compelling evidence or argument for thinking that brains compute. It makes the case for inverting the explanatory order proposed by the computational basis of cognition thesis. We give reasons to reverse the polarity of standard thinking on this topic, and ask how it is possible that computation, natural and artificial, might be based on cognition and no…Read more
  •  610
    The limits of spectatorial folk psychology
    Mind and Language 19 (5): 548-73. 2004.
      It is almost universally agreed that the main business of commonsense psychology is that of providing generally reliable predictions and explanations of the actions of others. In line with this, it is also generally assumed that we are normally at theoretical remove from others such that we are always ascribing causally efficacious mental states to them for the purpose of prediction, explanation and control. Building on the work of those who regard our primary intersubjective interactions as a…Read more
  •  511
    Cognition without representation?
    In A. Reigler & Markus F. Peschl (eds.), Understanding Representation, Plenum Press. 1999.
    A principled understanding of representations requires that they have objective, systematic content. It is claimed that there is an interesting form of nonconceptual, intentionality which is processed by non-systematic connectionist networks and has its correctness conditions provided by a modest biosemantics; but this type of content is not properly representational. Finally, I consider the consequences that such a verdict has on eliminativist views that look to connectionism as a means of radi…Read more
  •  442
    Interacting? Yes. But, of What Kind and on What Basis?
    Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2): 543-546. 2009.
    De Jaegher’s (2009) paper argues that Gallagher, who aims to replace traditional theory-of-mind accounts of social understanding with accounts based on direct perception (hereafter DP), has missed an important opportunity. Despite a desire to break faith with tradition, there is a danger that proponents of DP accounts will remain (at least tacitly) committed to an unchallenged, and perhaps unnoticed, sort of individualism inherent in traditional theories (i.e. those that regard our engagement wi…Read more
  •  351
    Basic Emotion Theory, or BET, has dominated the affective sciences for decades (Ekman, 1972, 1992, 1999; Ekman and Davidson, 1994; Griffiths, 2013; Scarantino and Griffiths, 2011). It has been highly influential, driving a number of empirical lines of research (e.g., in the context of facial expression detection, neuroimaging studies and evolutionary psychology). Nevertheless, BET has been criticized by philosophers, leading to calls for it to be jettisoned entirely (Colombetti, 2014; Hufendiek,…Read more
  •  242
    Professor Dennett has recently embarked on what he considers a “demystifying philosophical investigation” with respect to the phenomena of consciousness. In essence the strategy he has employed is one of getting us to “trade in” our ordinary intuitions so as to soften us up for the first phases of a full-fledged “scientific” explanation of consciousness in terms of sub-personal systems and their ontogenetic origins. His hope is that, once we are freed from certain misleading metaphors about the …Read more