•  2935
    The overwhelming majority of those who theorize about implicit biases posit that these biases are caused by some sort of association. However, what exactly this claim amounts to is rarely specified. In this paper, I distinguish between different understandings of association, and I argue that the crucial senses of association for elucidating implicit bias are the cognitive structure and mental process senses. A hypothesis is subsequently derived: if associations really underpin implicit biases, …Read more
  •  2023
    A Bayesian mind is, at its core, a rational mind. Bayesianism is thus well-suited to predict and explain mental processes that best exemplify our ability to be rational. However, evidence from belief acquisition and change appears to show that we do not acquire and update information in a Bayesian way. Instead, the principles of belief acquisition and updating seem grounded in maintaining a psychological immune system rather than in approximating a Bayesian processor.
  •  1333
    Explaining the Abstract/Concrete Paradoxes in Moral Psychology: The NBAR Hypothesis
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3): 351-368. 2012.
    For some reason, participants hold agents more responsible for their actions when a situation is described concretely than when the situation is described abstractly. We present examples of this phenomenon, and survey some attempts to explain it. We divide these attempts into two classes: affective theories and cognitive theories. After criticizing both types of theories we advance our novel hypothesis: that people believe that whenever a norm is violated, someone is responsible for it. This bel…Read more
  •  961
    The science of belief: A progress report
    WIREs Cognitive Science 1. forthcoming.
    The empirical study of belief is emerging at a rapid clip, uniting work from all corners of cognitive science. Reliance on belief in understanding and predicting behavior is widespread. Examples can be found, inter alia, in the placebo, attribution theory, theory of mind, and comparative psychological literatures. Research on belief also provides evidence for robust generalizations, including about how we fix, store, and change our beliefs. Evidence supports the existence of a Spinozan system of…Read more
  •  905
    Against alief
    Philosophical Studies 165 (1): 197-211. 2013.
    This essay attempts to clarify the nature and structure of aliefs. First I distinguish between a robust notion of aliefs and a deflated one. A robust notion of aliefs would introduce aliefs into our psychological ontology as a hitherto undiscovered kind, whereas a deflated notion of aliefs would identify aliefs as a set of pre-existing psychological states. I then propose the following dilemma: one the one hand, if aliefs have propositional content, then it is unclear exactly how aliefs differ f…Read more
  •  612
    Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
  •  578
    Seeing and Conceptualizing: Modularity and the Shallow Contents of Perception
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2): 267-283. 2018.
    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.
  •  542
    The automatic and the ballistic: Modularity beyond perceptual processes
    Philosophical Psychology 28 (8): 1147-1156. 2015.
    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 mandator…Read more
  •  530
    People cannot contemplate a proposition without believing that proposition. A model of belief fixation is sketched and used to explain hitherto disparate, recalcitrant, and somewhat mysterious psychological phenomena and philosophical paradoxes. Toward this end I also contend that our intuitive understanding of the workings of introspection is mistaken. In particular, I argue that propositional attitudes are beyond the grasp of our introspective capacities. We learn about our beliefs from observ…Read more
  •  510
    Numerical Architecture
    Topics in Cognitive Science 5 (1): 367-386. 2013.
    The idea that there is a “Number Sense” (Dehaene, 1997) or “Core Knowledge” of number ensconced in a modular processing system (Carey, 2009) has gained popularity as the study of numerical cognition has matured. However, these claims are generally made with little, if any, detailed examination of which modular properties are instantiated in numerical processing. In this article, I aim to rectify this situation by detailing the modular properties on display in numerical cognitive processing. In t…Read more
  •  503
    Inferential Transitions
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3): 532-547. 2018.
    ABSTRACTThis paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian [2014] calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit t…Read more
  •  422
    Modularist explanations of experience and other illusions
    Consciousness and Cognition 76 (76): 102828. 2019.
    Debates about modularity invariably involve a crucial premise about how visual illusions are experienced. This paper argues that these debates are wrongheaded, and that experience of illusions is orthogonal to the core issue of the modularity hypothesis: informational encapsulation.
  •  397
    The outlier paradox: The role of iterative ensemble coding in discounting outliers
    with Michael Epstein, Jake Quilty-Dunn, and Tatiana Emmanouil
    Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1. forthcoming.
    Ensemble perception—the encoding of objects by their group properties—is known to be resistant to outlier noise. However, this resistance is somewhat paradoxical: how can the visual system determine which stimuli are outliers without already having derived statistical properties of the ensemble? A simple solution would be that ensemble perception is not a simple, one-step process; instead, outliers are detected through iterative computations that identify items with high deviance from the mean a…Read more
  •  370
    Against dispositionalism: belief in cognitive science
    Philosophical Studies 175 (9): 2353-2372. 2018.
    Dispositionalism about belief has had a recent resurgence. In this paper we critically evaluate a popular dispositionalist program pursued by Eric Schwitzgebel. Then we present an alternative: a psychofunctional, representational theory of belief. This theory of belief has two main pillars: that beliefs are relations to structured mental representations, and that the relations are determined by the generalizations under which beliefs are acquired, stored, and changed. We end by describing some o…Read more
  •  231
    Locke's Answer to Molyneux's Thought Experiment
    with Mike Bruno
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 27 (2): 165-80. 2010.
    Philosophical discussions of Molyneux's problem within contemporary philosophy of mind tend to characterize the problem as primarily concerned with the role innately known principles, amodal spatial concepts, and rational cognitive faculties play in our perceptual lives. Indeed, for broadly similar reasons, rationalists have generally advocated an affirmative answer, while empiricists have generally advocated a negative one, to the question Molyneux posed after presenting his famous thought expe…Read more
  •  212
    Unconscious logical inference seems to rely on the syntactic structures of mental representations (Quilty-Dunn & Mandelbaum 2018). Other transitions, such as transitions using iconic representations and associative transitions, are harder to assimilate to syntax-based theories. Here we tackle these difficulties head on in the interest of a fuller taxonomy of mental transitions. Along the way we discuss how icons can be compositional without having constituent structure, and expand and defend the…Read more
  •  202
    Assimilation and control: belief at the lowest levels
    Philosophical Studies 177 (2): 441-447. 2020.
    The core of Zimmerman’s picture posits an inverse correlation between an action’s automaticity and belief’s role in the action’s execution. This proposal faces serious problems. First, high-attention, high-control actions don’t seem to heighten awareness of one’s beliefs. Second, low-attention, low-control actions are caused by the same states at play when executing high-attention, high-control actions, in which case there is no ontological difference in the states involved in these behaviors. T…Read more
  •  201
    The Fragmentation of Belief
    In Cristina Borgoni, Dirk Kindermann & Andrea Onofri (eds.), The Fragmented Mind. forthcoming.
    Belief storage is often modeled as having the structure of a single, unified web. This model of belief storage is attractive and widely assumed because it appears to provide an explanation of the flexibility of cognition and the complicated dynamics of belief revision. However, when one scrutinizes human cognition, one finds strong evidence against a unified web of belief and for a fragmented model of belief storage. Using the best available evidence from cognitive science, we develop this fragm…Read more
  •  170
    Responsibility and the brain sciences
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5): 511-524. 2008.
    Some theorists think that the more we get to know about the neural underpinnings of our behaviors, the less likely we will be to hold people responsible for their actions. This intuition has driven some to suspect that as neuroscience gains insight into the neurological causes of our actions, people will cease to view others as morally responsible for their actions, thus creating a troubling quandary for our legal system. This paper provides empirical evidence against such intuitions. Particular…Read more
  •  103
    The Powers that bind : doxastic voluntarism and epistemic obligation
    with Neil Levy
    In Jonathan Matheson (ed.), The Ethics of Belief, Oxford University Press. pp. 12-33. 2014.
    In this chapter, we argue for three theses: (1) we lack the power to form beliefs at will (i.e., directly); at very least, we lack the power to form at will beliefs of the kind that proponents of doxastic voluntarism have in mind; but (2) we possess a propensity to form beliefs for non-epistemic reasons; and (3) these propensities—once we come to know we have them—entail that we have obligations similar to those we would have were doxastic voluntarism true. Specifically, we will argue that we ha…Read more
  •  78
    Expectations and morality: A dilemma
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4): 346-346. 2010.
    We propose Knobe's explanation of his cases encounters a dilemma: Either his explanation works and, counterintuitively, morality is not at the heart of these effects; or morality is at the heart of the effects and Knobe's explanation does not succeed. This dilemma is then used to temper the use of the Knobe paradigm for discovering moral norms