•  1572
    Gestalt psychology and the philosophy of mind
    with William Epstein
    Philosophical Psychology 7 (2): 163-181. 1994.
    The Gestalt psychologists adopted a set of positions on mind-body issues that seem like an odd mix. They sought to combine a version of naturalism and physiological reductionism with an insistence on the reality of the phenomenal and the attribution of meanings to objects as natural characteristics. After reviewing basic positions in contemporary philosophy of mind, we examine the Gestalt position, characterizing it m terms of phenomenal realism and programmatic reductionism. We then distinguish…Read more
  •  1351
    Some experiments in perceptual psychology measure perceivers’ phenomenal experiences of objects versus their cognitive assessments of object properties. Analyzing such experiments, this article responds to Pizlo’s claim that much work on shape constancy before 1985 confused problems of shape ambiguity with problems of shape constancy. Pizlo fails to grasp the logic of experimental designs directed toward phenomenal aspects of shape constancy. In the domain of size perception, Granrud’s studies o…Read more
  •  1219
    Behaviourism and Psychology
    In Thomas Baldwin (ed.), Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1870–1945, Cambridge University Press. pp. 640-48. 2003.
    Behaviorism was a peculiarly American phenomenon. As a school of psychology it was founded by John B. Watson (1878-1958) and grew into the neobehaviorisms of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Philosophers were involved from the start, prefiguring the movement and endeavoring to define or redefine its tenets. Behaviorism expressed the naturalistic bent in American thought, which came in response to the prevailing philosophical idealism and was inspired by developments in natural science itself. There were …Read more
  •  863
    The Prolegomena and the Critiques of Pure Reason
    In Volker Gerhardt, Rolf-Peter Horstmann & Ralph Schumacher (eds.), Kant Und Die Berliner Aufklärung: Akten des IX Internationalen Kant-Kongresses, Walter De Gruyter. pp. 185-208. 2001.
    This chapter considers Kant's relation to Hume as Kant himself understood it when he wrote the Critique of Pure Reason and the Prolegomena. It first seeks to refine the question of Kant's relation to Hume's skepticism, and it then considers the evidence for Kant's attitude toward Hume in three works: the A Critique, Prolegomena, and B Critique. It argues that in the A Critique Kant viewed skepticism positively, as a necessary reaction to dogmatism and a spur toward critique. In his initial state…Read more
  •  770
    Remaking the science of mind: Psychology as a natural science
    In Christopher Fox, Roy Porter & Robert Wokler (eds.), Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth Century Domains, University of California Press. 1995.
    Psychology considered as a natural science began as Aristotelian "physics" or "natural philosophy" of the soul, conceived as an animating power that included vital, sensory, and rational functions. C. Wolff restricted the term " psychology " to sensory, cognitive, and volitional functions and placed the science under metaphysics, coordinate with cosmology. Near the middle of the eighteenth century, Krueger, Godart, and Bonnet proposed approaching the mind with the techniques of the new natural s…Read more
  •  766
    The Sensory Core and the Medieval Foundations of Early Modern Perceptual Theory
    with William Epstein
    Isis 70 (3): 363-384. 1979.
    This article seeks the origin, in the theories of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), Descartes, and Berkeley, of two-stage theories of spatial perception, which hold that visual perception involves both an immediate representation of the proximal stimulus in a two-dimensional ‘‘sensory core’’ and also a subsequent perception of the three dimensional world. The works of Ibn al-Haytham, Descartes, and Berkeley already frame the major theoretical options that guided visual theory into the twentieth century.…Read more
  •  718
    The cognitive faculties
    In Daniel Garber & Michael Ayers (eds.), The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Cambridge University Press. 1998.
    During the seventeenth century the major cognitive faculties--sense, imagination, memory, and understanding or intellect--became the central focus of argument in metaphysics and epistemology to an extent not seen before. The theory of the intellect, long an important auxiliary to metaphysics, became the focus of metaphysical dispute, especially over the scope and powers of the intellect and the existence of a `pure' intellect. Rationalist metaphysicians such as Descartes, Spinoza, and Malebranch…Read more
  •  714
    According to the reading offered here, Descartes' use of the meditative mode of writing was not a mere rhetorical device to win an audience accustomed to the spiritual retreat. His choice of the literary form of the spiritual exercise was consonant with, if not determined by, his theory of the mind and of the basis of human knowledge. Since Descartes' conception of knowledge implied the priority of the intellect over the senses, and indeed the priority of an intellect operating independently of …Read more
  •  616
    Introspective evidence in psychology
    In P. Achinstein (ed.), Scientific Evidence: Philosophical Theories & Applications, The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2005.
    In preparation for examining the place of introspective evidence in scientific psychology, the chapter begins by clarifying what introspection has been supposed to show, and why some concluded that it couldn't deliver. This requires a brief excursus into the various uses to which introspection was supposed to have been put by philosophers and psychologists in the modern period, together with a summary of objections. It then reconstructs some actual uses of introspection (or related techniques, d…Read more
  •  598
    Visual space can be distinguished from physical space. The first is found in visual experience, while the second is defined independently of perception. Theorists have wondered about the relation between the two. Some investigators have concluded that visual space is non-Euclidean, and that it does not have a single metric structure. Here it is argued that visual space exhibits contraction in all three dimensions with increasing distance from the observer, that experienced features of this contr…Read more
  •  577
    In Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Richard Rorty locates the perceived ills of modern philosophy in the "epistemological turn" of Descartes and Locke. This chapter argues that Rorty's accounts of Descartes' and Locke's philosophical work are seriously flawed. Rorty misunderstood the participation of early modern philosophers in the rise of modern science, and he misdescribed their examination of cognition as psychological rather than epistemological. His diagnostic efforts were there…Read more
  •  541
    Science, Certainty, and Descartes
    PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988. 1988.
    During the 1630s Descartes recognized that he could not expect all legitimate claims in natural science to meet the standard of absolute certainty. The realization resulted from a change in his physics, which itself arose not through methodological reflections, but through developments in his substantive metaphysical doctrines. Descartes discovered the metaphysical foundations of his physics in 1629-30; as a consequence, the style of explanation employed in his physical writings changed. His ear…Read more
  •  528
    The first two sections of the paper characterize the nineteenth century respect for the phenomenal by considering Helmholtz’s position and James’ and Russell’s move to neutral monism. The third section displays a moment’s sympathy with those who recoiled from the latter view -- but only a moment’s. The recoil overshot what was a reasonable response, and denied the reality of the phenomenal, largely in the name of the physical or the material. The final two sections of the paper develop a th…Read more
  •  504
    Radical Empiricism, Critical Realism, and American Functionalism: James and Sellars
    Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (1): 129-53. 2015.
    As British and American idealism waned, new realisms displaced them. The common background of these new realisms emphasized the problem of the external world and the mind-body problem, as bequeathed by Reid, Hamilton, and Mill. During this same period, academics on both sides of the Atlantic recognized that the natural sciences were making great strides. Responses varied. In the United States, philosophical response focused particularly on functional psychology and Darwinian adaptedness. This ar…Read more
  •  495
    This chapter poses questions about the existence and character of the Scientific Revolution by deriving its initial categories of analysis and its initial understanding of the intellectual scene from the writings of the seventeenth century, and by following the evolution of these initial categories in succeeding centuries. This project fits the theme of cross cultural transmission and appropriation -- a theme of the present volume -- if one takes the notion of a culture broadly, so that, say, se…Read more
  •  397
    Mental Acts and Mechanistic Psychology in Descartes' Passions
    In Neil Robertson, Gordon McOuat & Tom Vinci (eds.), Descartes and the Modern, Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 49-71. 2008.
    This chapter examines the mechanistic psychology of Descartes in the _Passions_, while also drawing on the _Treatise on Man_. It develops the idea of a Cartesian “psychology” that relies on purely bodily mechanisms by showing that he explained some behaviorally appropriate responses through bodily mechanisms alone and that he envisioned the tailoring of such responses to environmental circumstances through a purely corporeal “memory.” An animal’s adjustment of behavior as caused by recurring pat…Read more
  •  382
    It seems intuitively obvious that metameric matching of color samples entails a loss of information, for spectrophotometrically diverse materials appear the same. This intuition implicitly relies on a conception of the function of color vision and on a related conception of how color samples should be individuated. It assumes that the function of color vision is to distinguish among spectral energy distributions, and that color samples should be individuated by their physical properties. I chall…Read more
  •  359
    This article critically examines the views that psychology first came into existence as a discipline ca. 1879, that philosophy and psychology were estranged in the ensuing decades, that psychology finally became scientific through the influence of logical empiricism, and that it should now disappear in favor of cognitive science and neuroscience. It argues that psychology had a natural philosophical phase (from antiquity) that waxed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that this psycholo…Read more
  •  352
    Representation and content in some (actual) theories of perception -- Representation in perception and cognition : task analysis, psychological functions, and rule instantiation -- Perception as unconscious inference -- Representation and constraints : the inverse problem and the structure of visual space -- On perceptual constancy -- Getting objects for free (or not) : the philosophy and psychology of object perception -- Color perception and neural encoding : does metameric matching entail a l…Read more
  •  338
    Philosophy of Perception and the Phenomenology of Visual Space
    Philosophic Exchange 42 (1): 31-66. 2011.
    In the philosophy of perception, direct realism has come into vogue. Philosophical authors assert and assume that what their readers want, and what anyone should want, is some form of direct realism. There are disagreements over precisely what form this direct realism should take. The majority of positions in favor now offer a direct realism in which objects and their material or physical properties constitute the contents of perception, either because we have an immediate or intuitive acquainta…Read more
  •  336
    The Cartesian circle
    In Stephen Gaukroger (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Descartes' Meditations, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 122--141. 2006.
    The problem of the Cartesian circle, as it is called, has sparked ongoing debate, which intersects several important themes of the Meditations. Discussions of the circle must address questions about the force and scope of the famous method of doubt introduced in Meditation I, and they must examine the intricate arguments for the existence of God and the avoidance of error in Meditations III to V. These discussions raise questions about the possibility of overturning skepticism, once a skeptical …Read more
  •  334
    Spatial Perception and Geometry in Kant and Helmholtz
    PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984. 1984.
    This paper examines Helmholtz's attempt to use empirical psychology to refute certain of Kant's epistemological positions. Particularly, Helmholtz believed that his work in the psychology of visual perception showed Kant's doctrine of the a priori character of spatial intuition to be in error. Some of Helmholtz's arguments are effective, but this effectiveness derives from his arguments to show the possibility of obtaining evidence that the structure of physical space is non-Euclidean, and these…Read more
  •  324
    Psychology as a natural science in the eighteenth century
    Revue de Synthèse 115 (3-4): 375-391. 1994.
    Psychology considered as a natural science began as Aristotelian "physics" or "natural philosophy" of the soul. C. Wolff placed psychology under metaphysics, coordinate with cosmology. Scottish thinkers placed it within moral philosophy, but distinguished its "physical" laws from properly moral laws (for guiding conduct). Several Germans sought to establish an autonomous empirical psychology as a branch of natural science. British and French visual theorists developed mathematically precise theo…Read more
  •  307
    The brain's 'new' science: Psychology, neurophysiology, and constraint
    Philosophy of Science 67 (3): 388-404. 2000.
    There is a strong philosophical intuition that direct study of the brain can and will constrain the development of psychological theory. When this intuition is tested against case studies on the neurophysiology and psychology of perception and memory, it turns out that psychology has led the way toward knowledge of neurophysiology. An abstract argument is developed to show that psychology can and must lead the way in neuroscientific study of mental function. The opposing intuition is based on ma…Read more
  •  297
    Descartes was both metaphysician and natural philosopher. He used his metaphysics to ground portions of his physics. However, as should be a commonplace but is not, he did not think he could spin all of his physics out of his metaphysics a priori, and in fact he both emphasized the need for appeals to experience in his methodological remarks on philosophizing about nature and constantly appealed to experience in describing his own philosophy of nature. During the 1630s, he offered empirical supp…Read more
  •  296
    A review of: Manfred Kuehn. Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768-1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy. (McGill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas.) xiv + 300 pp., app., bibl., index. Kingston, Ont./Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987. $35.
  •  292
    Review of: R. Steven Turner, In the Eye's Mind: Vision and the Helmholtz-Hering Controversy. xiv + 338 pp., frontis., illus., figs., tables, bibl., index. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  •  287
    The theory of knowledge in early twentieth-century Anglo American philosophy was oriented toward phenomenally described cognition. There was a healthy respect for the mind-body problem, which meant that phenomena in both the mental and physical domains were taken seriously. Bertrand Russell's developing position on sense-data and momentary particulars drew upon, and ultimately became like, the neutral monism of Ernst Mach and William James. Due to a more recent behaviorist and physicalist inspir…Read more
  •  285
    Psychology old and new
    In Thomas Baldwin (ed.), Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1870–1945, Cambridge University Press. 2003.
    During the period 1870-1914 the existing discipline of psychology was transformed. British thinkers including Spencer, Lewes, and Romanes allied psychology with biology and viewed mind as a function of the organism for adapting to the environment. British and German thinkers called attention to social and cultural factors in the development of individual human minds. In Germany and the United States a tradition of psychology as a laboratory science soon developed, which was called a 'new psychol…Read more
  •  278
    The chapter focuses on attributions of the transparency of thought to early modern figures, most notably Descartes. Many recent philosophers assume that Descartes believed the mind to be “transparent”: since all mental states are conscious, we are therefore aware of them all, and indeed incorrigibly know them all. Descartes, and Berkeley too, do make statements that seem to endorse both aspects of the transparency theses (awareness of all mental states; incorrigibility). However, they also make …Read more