•  27
    Self-reflexive cognitive bias
    with Joshua Mugg
    European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3): 1-21. 2021.
    Cognitive scientists claim to have discovered a large number of cognitive biases, which have a tendency to mislead reasoners. Might cognitive scientists themselves be subject to the very biases they purport to discover? And how should this alter the way they evaluate their research as evidence for the existence of these biases? In this paper, we posit a new paradox, which bears a striking resemblance to some classical logical paradoxes. Suppose that research R appears to be good evidence for the…Read more
  •  299
    Disagreement about the kind law
    Jurisprudence 12 (1): 1-16. 2020.
    This paper argues that the disagreement between positivists and nonpositivists about law is substantive rather than merely verbal, but that the depth and persistence of the disagreement about law, unlike for the case of morality, threatens skepticism about law. The range of considerations that can be brought to bear to help resolve moral disagreements is broader than is the case for law, thus improving the prospects of reconciliation in morality. But the central argument of the paper is that law…Read more
  •  209
    Etiological Kinds
    Philosophy of Science 88 (1): 1-21. 2021.
    Kinds that share historical properties are dubbed “historical kinds” or “etiological kinds,” and they have some distinctive features. I will try to characterize etiological kinds in general terms a...
  •  498
    Are sexes natural kinds?
    In Shamik Dasgupta, Ravit Dotan & Brad Weslake (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science, Routledge. pp. 163-176. 2021.
    Asking whether the sexes are natural kinds amounts to asking whether the categories, female and male, identify real divisions in nature, like the distinctions between biological species, or whether they mark merely artificial or arbitrary distinctions. The distinction between females and males in the animal kingdom is based on the relative size of the gametes they produce, with females producing larger gametes (ova) and males producing smaller gametes (sperm). This chapter argues that the prop…Read more
  •  144
    Innate cognitive capacities
    Mind and Language 22 (1): 92-115. 2007.
    This paper attempts to articulate a dispositional account of innateness that applies to cognitive capacities. After criticizing an alternative account of innateness proposed by Cowie (1999) and Samuels (2002), the dispositional account of innateness is explicated and defended against a number of objections. The dispositional account states that an innate cognitive capacity (output) is one that has a tendency to be triggered as a result of impoverished environmental conditions (input). Hence, the…Read more
  •  204
    Natural Kinds and Crosscutting Categories
    Journal of Philosophy 95 (1): 33. 1998.
    There are many ways of construing the claim that some categories are more “natural" than others. One can ask whether a system of categories is innate or acquired by learning, whether it pertains to a natural phenomenon or to a social institution, whether it is lexicalized in natural language or requires a compound linguistic expression. This renders suspect any univocal answer to this question in any particular case. Yet another question one can ask, which some authors take to have a bearing on …Read more
  •  13
    Book Reviews-Historical Ontology (review)
    Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 449-451. 2003.
  •  79
    Mind-Dependent Kinds
    Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2): 223-246. 2016.
    Many philosophers take mind-independence to be criterial for realism about kinds. This is problematic when it comes to psychological and social kinds, which are unavoidably mind-dependent. But reflection on the case of artificial or synthetic kinds shows that the criterion of mind-independence needs to be qualified in certain ways. However, I argue that none of the usual variants on the criterion of mind-dependence is capable of distinguishing real or natural kinds from non-real kinds. Although …Read more
  •  154
    Crosscutting psycho-neural taxonomies: the case of episodic memory
    Philosophical Explorations 20 (2): 191-208. 2017.
    I will begin by proposing a taxonomy of taxonomic positions regarding the mind–brain: localism, globalism, revisionism, and contextualism, and will go on to focus on the last position. Although some versions of contextualism have been defended by various researchers, they largely limit themselves to a version of neural contextualism: different brain regions perform different functions in different neural contexts. I will defend what I call “environmental-etiological contextualism,” according to …Read more
  •  10
    [Book Review: Historical Ontology] (review)
    Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 449-452. 2003.
  •  466
    Researchers in the cognitive sciences often seek neural correlates of psychological constructs. In this paper, I argue that even when these correlates are discovered, they do not always lead to reductive outcomes. To this end, I examine the psychological construct of a critical period and briefly describe research identifying its neural correlates. Although the critical period is correlated with certain neural mechanisms, this does not imply that there is a reductionist relationship between this…Read more
  •  106
    Carving nature at the joints
    Philosophy of Science 60 (1): 100-113. 1993.
    This paper discusses a philosophical issue in taxonomy. At least one philosopher has suggested thc taxonomic principle that scientific kinds are disjoint. An opposing position is dcfcndcd here by marshalling examples of nondisjoint categories which belong to different, cocxisting classification schcmcs. This dcnial of thc disjoinmcss principle can bc recast as thc claim that scientific classification is "int<-:rcst—rclativc". But why would anyone have held that scientific categories arc disjoint…Read more
  •  36
    The Arab Street: Tracking a Political Metaphor
    Middle East Journal 63 (1): 11-29. 2009.
    Understanding Arab public opinion is central to the search for sustainable po- litical solutions in the Middle East. The way Westerners think about Arab public opinion may be affected by how it is referred to in their news media. Here, we show that Arab public opinion is rarely referred to as such in the US media. Instead, it is usually referred to as the Arab street, a metaphor that casts Arab public opinion as irrational and volatile. We trace the origins of this metaphor to similar expression…Read more
  •  179
    Nature and nurture in cognition
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2): 251-272. 2002.
    This paper advocates a dispositional account of innate cognitive capacities, which has an illustrious history from Plato to Chomsky. The "triggering model" of innateness, first made explicit by Stich ([1975]), explicates the notion in terms of the relative informational content of the stimulus (input) and the competence (output). The advantage of this model of innateness is that it does not make a problematic reference to normal conditions and avoids relativizing innate traits to specific popula…Read more
  •  191
    Innateness as a natural cognitive kind
    Philosophical Psychology 29 (3): 319-333. 2016.
    Innate cognitive capacities are widely posited in cognitive science, yet both philosophers and scientists have criticized the concept of innateness as being hopelessly confused. Despite a number of recent attempts to define or characterize innateness, critics have charged that it is associated with a diverse set of properties and encourages unwarranted inferences among properties that are frequently unrelated. This criticism can be countered by showing that the properties associated with innaten…Read more
  •  65
    Averroes’s Method of Re-Interpretation
    International Philosophical Quarterly 38 (2): 175-185. 1998.
    One contentious issue in contemporary interpretations of medieval Islamic philosophy is the degree of esotericism espoused by its proponents, and therefore the degree of interpretive effort required by its modem readers to ascertain the author's real beliefs. One philosopher who has been accused of esotericism is Averroes (Ibn Rushd), particularly because he is quite explicit in distinguishing among the different types of reasoning appropriate to different classes of people: philosophers, theolo…Read more
  •  128
    The Pitfalls of Microphysical Realism
    Philosophy of Science 78 (5): 1156-1164. 2011.
    Microphysical realism is the position that the only real entities and properties are found at the most fundamental level of nature. In this article, I challenge microphysical realism concerning properties and natural kinds. One argument for microphysical realism about entities, the “nothing-but argument,” does not apply to properties and kinds. Another argument, the “causal exclusion argument,” cannot be sustained in light of modern physics. Moreover, this argument leads to an objection against…Read more
  •  153
    In this paper, I argue that Edward Said’s central thesis in Orientalism has a direct explanatory role to play in our understanding of the work produced in at least one area of scholarship about the Arab and Islamic worlds, namely Arab-Islamic philosophy from the classical or medieval period. Moreover, I claim that it continues to play this role not only for scholarship produced in the West by Western scholars but also within the Arab world itself. After recalling some traditional varieties of Or…Read more
  •  75
    Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System (review)
    with Alicia Juarrero
    Philosophical Review 110 (3): 469. 2001.
    Action theory has given rise to some perplexing puzzles in the past half century. The most prominent one can be summarized as follows: What distinguishes intentional from unintentional acts? Thanks to the ingenuity of philosophers and their thought experiments, we know better than to assume that the difference lies in the mere presence of an intention, or in its causal efficacy in generating the action. The intention might be present and may also cause the intended behavior, yet the behavior may…Read more
  •  169
    Two concepts of concept
    Mind and Language 10 (4): 402-22. 1995.
    Two main theories of concepts have emerged in the recent psychological literature: the Prototype Theory (which considers concepts to be self-contained lists of features) and the Theory Theory (which conceives of them as being embedded within larger theoretical networks). Experiments supporting the first theory usually differ substantially from those supporting the second, which suggests that these the· ories may be operating at different levels of explanation and dealing with different entities.…Read more
  •  58
    The notion of 'natural kinds' has been central to contemporary discussions of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Although explicitly articulated by nineteenth-century philosophers like Mill, Whewell and Venn, it has a much older history dating back to Plato and Aristotle. In recent years, essentialism has been the dominant account of natural kinds among philosophers, but the essentialist view has encountered resistance, especially among naturalist metaphysicians and philosophers of science. …Read more
  •  140
    Innateness and Domain Specificity
    Philosophical Studies 105 (2): 191-210. 2001.
    There is a widespread assumption in cognitive science that there is anintrinsic link between the phenomena of innateness and domain specificity. Many authors seem to hold that given the properties of these two phenomena, it follows that innate mental states are domain-specific, or that domain-specific states are innate. My aim in this paper is to argue that there are no convincing grounds for asserting either claim. After introducing the notions of innateness and domain specificity, I consider s…Read more
  •  175
    Al-fārābi on the democratic city
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (3). 2003.
    This essay will explore some of al-Farabi’s paradoxical remarks on the nature and status of the democratic city (al-madinah al-jama'iyyah). In describing this type of non-virtuous city, Farabi departs significantly from Plato, according the democratic city a superior standing and casting it in a more positive light. Even though at one point Farabi follows Plato in considering the timocratic city to be the best of the imperfect cities, at another point he implies that the democratic city occupies…Read more
  •  31
    The perils of a science of intentional change
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (4): 427-428. 2014.
    The attempt to construct an applied science of social change raises certain concerns, both theoretical and ethical. The theoretical concerns relate to the feasibility of predicting human behavior with sufficient reliability to ground a science that aspires to the management of social processes. The ethical concerns relate to the moral hazards involved in the modification of human social arrangements, given the unreliability of predicting human action.
  •  114
    Should we eliminate the innate? Reply to Griffiths and Machery
    Philosophical Psychology 22 (4). 2009.
    Griffiths and Machery (2008) have argued that innateness is a folk notion that obstructs inquiry and has no place in contemporary science. They support their view by criticizing the canalization account of innateness (Ariew, 1999, 2006). In response, I argue that the criticisms they raise for the canalization account can be avoided by another recent account of innateness, the triggering account, which provides an analysis of the concept as it applies to cognitive capacities (Khalidi, 2002, 2007;…Read more
  • Meaning-Change and Theory-Change
    Dissertation, Columbia University. 1991.
    Some philosophers and historians of science have suggested that the meanings of scientific terms change in the course of the history of science in such a way that the comparison of successive theories becomes impossible. This claim of "incommensurability", usually associated with Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, has attracted attention for its relativist and anti-rationalist implications. It would seem to make the choice between two theories into a random affair, not one of direct comparison. ;T…Read more
  •  290
    How Scientific Is Scientific Essentialism?
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (1): 85-101. 2009.
    Scientific essentialism holds that: (1) each scientific kind is associated with the same set of properties in every possible world; and (2) every individual member of a scientific kind belongs to that kind in every possible world in which it exists. Recently, Ellis (Scientific essentialism, 2001 ; The philosophy of nature 2002 ) has provided the most sustained defense of scientific essentialism, though he does not clearly distinguish these two claims. In this paper, I argue that both claims face…Read more